The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is welcoming about thirty-three hundred new students to campus this weekend. The class is also much bigger than last year. Fox 25/48’s Erin O’Brien has more details on what this large incoming class means for the university’s budget.
Like he does every year, UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow helped move students into their dorms. But this year, there were 50 more cars to unpack.
The university increased their enrollment this year in an effort to offset state budget cuts. This summer, the joint finance committee reduced the UW system’s budget by 250 million dollars. UW-La Crosse will need to reduce its budget by nearly eight million dollars.
For students moving in on their first day of college life, those fifty extra people mean more friends.
“More students, more people, more opportunities. Meet new friends, meet different people from different parts.”
For the university, it means slightly larger class sizes and not enough housing.
One way the University is dealing with those extra 50 students is by using what they call ‘overflow’ housing, putting three students in rooms that typically hold two.
UW-La Crosse would like to build a new residence hall, but did not get approval to do so in the 2015-17 budget. Administrators hope to try again for the 2017-2019 budget.
Other changes are also being made in response to budget cuts. Positions will go unfilled, and supply budgets will be cut back. But Chancellor Gow says they don’t have a choice.
“I think it may be kind of the low point and I’m hoping legislators realize that we need to provide adequate funding for our UW institutions. You can just look around. This is the future of the state of Wisconsin and so we want to make that a great and vibrant future.”
About half of the freshman class moved in today, and the other half will move in tomorrow. And Saturday night, Chancellor Joe Gow will play his guitar for students with a band of other faculty members, in an annual tradition he calls, Chillin’ with the Chancellor.