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UW announces more cuts, no handshakes

UW System President Kevin Reilly said Wednesday in an electronic message that Wisconsin's university system faces bigger cuts than Governor Jim Doyle first thought. New projections show the state-budget deficit to be about $1 billion higher than initial estimates, pushing the shortfall total to about $6 million dollars.

Reilly said Governor Doyle's proposal to cut costs would mean eliminating the planned two percent pay increase for faculty and academic staff and requiring all state employees, including UW staff, to take eight days of unpaid leave in each of the next two years. Classified staff will be asked to either re-open contract negotiations to enable the furloughs or face layoffs.

"We know that the UW System institutions play a major role in the state's economic recovery and renewal," Reilly said. "With that in mind, we will continue to advocate for strategies that minimize further harm to our core mission of teaching, research, and service. At the same time, we must remain cognizant of the broader context - extreme economic turmoil that has resulted in business closings and family hardships all across the nation. We are not immune from those economic impacts."

Graduation sans handshakes

Graduates of UW-River Falls will not shake hands as part of the pomp and circumstance of their graduation ceremonies next weekend. UW-RF's Communications spokesperson Kevin Harter confirmed Thursday that UW-System officials have decided to forgo handshakes to prevent the spread of harmful germs including the H1N1 "swine flu" virus.

The system announced the news this week.

Though health officials have confirmed more than 20 cases of swine flu in Wisconsin, Harter says none of them came from UW-RF.

Harter said, "We have, and continue to promote prevention, including frequent hand washing, covering coughs and staying home if ill. The decision to not shake hands is another precaution."