Nov. 29 Student Senate Meeting


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

On Nov. 29, the Student Senate met for the first time since Thanksgiving break to discuss a few topics as the Fall 2021 semester is winding down. This meeting had two speakers, Vice Chancellor Paige Smith discussing the university budget and Dr. Carolyn Keller on strategic program planning.

Smith gave regular budget updates to the student senators, discussing revenue, expenditures, underspending and the impact of COVID-19 on the budget. The tuition reserves of the university, which Smith described as the “savings account,” has seen an increase, meaning more money is available to the campus if revenue falls behind or emergency funds are needed.

Smith went on to say that this is a great thing, as the university has seen a consistent decline in revenue for the last few years, roughly $5 million per year. So, seeing extra money go into the reserves is a good sign. As well as the revenue decline, the budget every year has been consistently underspent by about $3 to $4 million. This has been noted by both Smith and Chancellor Shields as a problem with the budget as that money could have been used for funding student resources and facilities.

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on university spending, a federal fund of $30 million was given to UW-Platteville to cover costs that might not have been covered. Because of this, budgeting was much less stressful and, at least financially, the university did not have to worry about COVID-19 as much. This means focusing on student resources was easier despite the setbacks.

Keller had a short presentation on the strategic program planning group. She mentioned the seven main focuses for the groups for the upcoming academic years. Campus climate, student diversity, graduate enrollment, major and minor choices or resources and student retention were a few of the ones listed. When the groups have created strategies and a plan to help with the focuses, Keller will meet back with the senators to discuss what the student body thinks of the plans. She also requested that the senators be involved with the groups to better help with the student voice in planning. 

After the speakers finished, the senators then went into the regular agenda and discussed the state of the construction for the Karrmann Library. Renovations to the library are expected to be done by May, but doors to the library should be completely open by April. They also discussed moving some of the departments and student resources to the library. One example was the tutoring center, which the library director was on board with. The branch libraries were also discussed. The also considered whether the branch campuses needed physical libraries still or if the buildings could be used for other purposes and the campus moved to an online library. 

After some bookkeeping and reminders to the senators about polls, finals week and some paperwork, the Nov. 29 meeting of the Student Senate ended. For the fall 2021 semester, only one more meeting of the senate will take place before the winter break.