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Updates from Academic Affairs


Dear colleagues,

As the fall semester quickly approaches and we continue to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead, I’m writing to share with you a few important updates from Academic Affairs.

First, I’m grateful to have been able to join many of the college leadership team meetings in person over the last few weeks as I continue to get to know people and programs. I’m also excited that so many of you have taken the time to come visit during my office hours. I’ve learned a great deal in those conversations and am regularly reminded of the depth and breadth of the experience and expertise across our campuses. As a reminder, office hours are every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m., unless otherwise posted, and you can sign up for slots through the form on our website. For those at Fox or Fond du Lac, or anyone otherwise unable to come in person, we can also chat via Teams.

In the many conversations I’ve had in my first six weeks on the job, I continue to be impressed with the strong foundation on which we will continue to build, and the spirit with which we are approaching the significant and immediate challenges in front of us. Along those lines, I’d like to clarify a few issues below, and to offer a sneak preview of what I’ll be discussing in my convocation remarks on Aug. 31, particularly around the entangled issues of faculty workload, layoffs and our academic structure.

Faculty workload

As the Chancellor’s message of Aug. 3 indicated, we will be exploring all options in Academic Affairs to help reduce costs, realize efficiencies, and eliminate our structural deficit. While faculty positions will not be included in the university layoff plan, we are indeed asking faculty to do more. Most faculty should expect to see an increase in their teaching loads beginning in the spring 2024 semester and continuing into the 2024-25 academic year. In most cases, this means that most faculty should anticipate at least a 21-credit load this academic year and should plan for a 24-credit load for 2024-25. It is my expectation that we will have our academic structure and workload fully reset and realigned no later than the end of the spring 2025 semester, at which point we would be positioned to revisit and begin a wider reinstating of course releases for research active faculty befitting the research enhanced university we are and will continue to be.

There are a number of moving parts that will shape the implementation of this plan, not least of which is the voluntary retirement plan, which will have a different impact across our many units. In many areas, faculty already teach a full load; in others, they will take on additional classes, including those previously taught by IAS, whose ranks will unfortunately diminish significantly in the year ahead. It pains us all to consider the departure of dedicated and dear instructional colleagues, many of whom have been with us for years and, in some cases, decades. It is an indication of the seriousness of our financial situation that we are faced with this prospect, and it is a necessary part of our solution.

In the meantime, in consultation with the deans and with faculty senate leadership, we will maintain existing course releases for department chairs, for probationary faculty in their first-four years, and for faculty whose course releases are supported by external funding. Deans will be working with their leadership teams to develop and implement appropriate workload assignments in areas where we do not have sufficient demand to offer additional sections. Other exceptions to a minimum 21-credit hour load for AY23-24 and a 24-credit hour load for AY24-25 will require approval by chairs, deans, and myself.

Program array and academic structure

Similarly, as the Chancellor’s message shared, we are not eliminating academic programs at this time. We will, however, move with a strong sense of urgency to revisit the work this university has done previously to update our program array and the structure of our colleges and departments. You all have already done the critical work to prepare for these decisions. It is now time for us to act—intentionally, strategically, swiftly, and decisively—to position us for the future.

We can and must find greater efficiencies in the delivery of our curricula, including reducing the overall number of academic departments and the administrative overhead costs, personnel included, required to run them. We must take a hard look at our program and degree requirements, removing obstacles to student success and persistence while exploring the opportunities for more collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative programming that can prepare a diverse range of learners to tackle the challenges our region, state, nation, and world will face in the decades to come. We will also be changing the way we approach our online portfolio, moving to better integrate our online offerings into the academic colleges and units that are delivering those courses. I will be sharing more details about all of these initiatives at convocation next Thursday.

Recruitment, hiring and pay adjustments

The Chancellor’s message last Friday announced “the suspension of all recruitments, hirings and non-pay-plan salary adjustments except as necessary to facilitate instruction.” Many of you have asked questions about what this means in practice. Human Resources has added additional guidance on these topics to the Institutional Realignment Plan website, and I encourage you all to visit that page, read through it for additional details, and submit any additional questions you might have.

Below, I will provide a few specific points of guidance for Academic Affairs:

  • “Instruction” or “instructional” will for these purposes refer specifically to recruitments and appointments that are directly involved in the delivery of credit-based instruction or direct supervision of students for credit-based activities.
  • Instructional recruitments that are open will remain posted and allowed to continue standard recruitment activity until the position is filled.
  • All non-instructional open recruitments that do not have an accepted offer will be pulled offline as of Aug. 22, 2023, and will be considered frozen. An accepted offer is defined as having an approved offer card in PageUp and having an employment contract issued to the candidate.
  • Exceptions can be requested on a case-by-case basis and must receive written approval, via e-mail, from the division’s vice chancellor (VC) before being entered into PageUp from the hiring department. The requisition will still go through normal review and approval, including PARA review. The respective VC will be responsible for advocating for the position through the PARA review.
  • Non-instructional positions that are funded externally will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are not automatically an exception.
  • Adjustments due to faculty tenure and promotion and professorial productivity increases will go through normal review and approval process through the Provost’s office.
  • Overloads will continue to be reviewed through the PARA process.

The road ahead

The changes we institute this year will result in us looking very different overall as an academy and as a university in the years ahead, but it is important to reinforce that the changes we implement will differentially impact areas of Academic Affairs. Simply put, we do not have an across-the-board problem when it comes to instructional costs and curricular inefficiencies, and we will not realize sustainable solutions with across-the-board cuts. Now is the time for strategy. Now is the time for making hard choices.

In short, we are building “UWO 2.0,” and we are designing with the end in mind. The Chancellor and I will lay out this vision at convocation along with sharing next steps in our institutional realignment and ways that you can actively get involved to help shape the future of UWO. We need you all to be part of the conversation and part of the process as we chart our course forward together.

We all know the road ahead will be difficult, particularly in the short-term. But as you all have reminded me over the past six weeks, this is a strong, resilient institution that is ready for change. I look forward to continuing to work with you to realign and build the university that the region, the state, and that we ourselves, the UWO community, need and deserve.

Best Wishes,


Dr. Edwin Martini
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs