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Dear University community,

Today, the Universities of Wisconsin released a consulting firm’s independent financial assessment of UW Oshkosh and six other UW institutions. You can find the financial assessments as presented to the Board of Regents and a statement from Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman HERE.

Current and prospective students and our stakeholders need to know how UWO is responding to the challenging headwinds disrupting higher education everywhere. The new financial assessment is a powerful validation of our progress in erasing UWO’s deficit. We all recognize that our response came with a significant impact on people. The analysis outlines UWO’s financial status before and after implementation of the Institutional Realignment Plan (IRP). It acknowledges our reduction of an $18 million deficit to approximately $3 million through difficult but necessary measures while we have continued to concentrate on fortifying student services and experiences. We have more work to do, and the financial assessment endorses some cost-saving and identity-enhancing initiatives already in motion.

A month ago, we made it a point to provide our Shared Governance leaders, the Faculty Senate’s budget committee members and Strategic Planning Committee representatives a detailed overview of the then-draft UWO assessment, which was funded by the Universities of Wisconsin administration. As you review the findings and recommendations for UWO, I hope you will note the consultant’s acknowledgement of our hard decisions this academic year and, in a matter of months, our strides toward closing the university’s deficit. As the assessment states, UWO was “responsive and decisive” and has “substantially changed the trajectory of its financial situation…”

The firm’s assessment urges us to continue on the course we have charted. In the short term, that includes following through on the adoption of one of our new academic restructuring proposals designed by UWO faculty, staff and students to save additional administrative costs while reorganizing colleges and launching new schools centered on Wisconsin career clusters. As you know, the new models developed and our focus on building a “UWO 2.0” that capitalizes on the university’s experiential-learning strengths are the result of considerable collaborative visioning, planning and design undertaken in-house. I appreciate everyone’s contributions toward imagining and realizing this more sustainable, distinctive UWO.

Among its many examinations and findings on topics ranging from educational costs to campus infrastructure to compensation, the UWO financial assessment also concludes:

  • UWO’s mix of liberal arts education with strong professional programs including nursing, business, education, engineering and others are strongly aligned with the regional and state workforce. The analysis notes 80 percent of degrees conferred by UWO in FY2023 aligned with the “Top 20 Hot Jobs” in Wisconsin requiring bachelor’s degrees as identified by Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
  • Consultants noted UWO’s distinctive and “rich employer ecosystem across manufacturing, education, and health care industries…,” adding that UWO can enhance its experiential-based education strengths as a unique brand among other comprehensive universities, leveraging its Fox Valley location.
  • UWO has an opportunity to strengthen its enrollment by better capitalizing on and yielding students from its dual enrollment program, the Cooperative Academic Partnership Program (CAPP), largest in the Universities of Wisconsin. This, too, is a priority on which we are already focused.
  • UWO has opportunities to amplify its identity and success in NCAA Division III Athletics. In March, UWO Athletics reached another milestone, earning its 50th championship in UWO Gymnastics third-consecutive national title. We boast more than 500 student-athletes who are as competitive in the classroom as they are in their sports. As we market UWO to prospective learners everywhere, we certainly have room for more student-athletes, too.

Again, I invite you to review the UWO assessment on your time.

As we await our Faculty Senate’s referendum recommendation on a new academic model, and as we continue to stabilize our finances and enrollment in the months ahead, we maintain our laser-focus on student support and success.

Thank you for all you continue to do as stewards for a strong, sustainable UWO 2.0.

Chancellor Andy Leavitt


This post was originally shared as an email to the UWO community on Thursday, April 11, 2024.