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Conclusion of a hard week, the road ahead

Dear University community,

We have all just gone through a week none of us want to go through ever again. As your Chancellor, I recognize and accept the weight of my decisions and the impact they have on so many of you and your families.

People are sad, mad and grieving with the loss of jobs and the planned transition at UWO Fond du Lac. Deepening our loss and hurt is the passing of our dear colleague and friend Martin Rudd, whose memorial service I will see many of you at this afternoon. It is too much.

This week offered space to process. I realize grief and pain do not operate on a clock or calendar. Yet, I know you want us to move forward and offer better detail about where we are going. I appreciate shared governance leaders’ reminder to me this week that, as we move into next week and beyond, anger may not subside, yet it needs to be directed in a way that is helpful to UWO’s next steps.

Sharing details and voices ahead

To that end, I want to lay out for you a series of forums that I hope you will build into your calendars. These provide opportunities for Provost Ed Martini and me, beyond our normal employee and student shared governance meetings, to detail the path and plans ahead and to hear directly from you. I am including a student forum organized by Oshkosh Student Government, which I also very much appreciate.

  • 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 – Chancellor’s Town Hall, location TBD.
  • 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 – Oshkosh Student Government forum in Reeve Theatre, 307
  • 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 2 – Chancellor’s Town Hall in Reeve Union ballrooms.
  • 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15 – UWO Fond du Lac Town Hall.
  • 12:40 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 – UWO Fox Cities Town Hall.

The Access Campus town halls have long been scheduled but they are, frankly, too far into the future. So, while we will honor them, I ask colleagues there to expect more details early next week on a series of open office hours at each campus that I will host over the next one to two weeks. I will be available for faculty, staff and students at UWO Fond du Lac and UWO Fox Cities.

As for the structure of the town halls, Provost Martini and I will use a portion of each to share further details on the scope of our workforce reductions and impacts. We will also run through continuity plans for the futures of UWO units, programs, colleges and divisions. There will be opportunity for questions and comments during and after our presentations.

Pay plan

Finally, I also want to address our pay plan status.

As you may know, the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) this week approved pay plan increases for state employees except Universities of Wisconsin employees. This is not what you deserve, especially given the negative impact on your salaries and positions from the Institutional Realignment Plan. You and UWO are worthy of greater state investment.

Universities of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman is disappointed in JCOER’s decision, too, and continues his work to advocate for your just raises. I appreciate his efforts and will keep you informed of any headway in discussions.

This was an incredibly tough week for everyone, especially those who received the news of a layoff or their home campus closure. We must and will continue to support colleagues and students. And, at the same time, we must turn our gaze and efforts toward a future UWO that best serves our people and our region. I know we can get there.

Chancellor Andy Leavitt