UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward Defends UW Surplus

MacIver News Service | May 7, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] University of Wisconsin-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward released a statement on Monday addressing the UW System’s $648 million in excess reserves at the end of 2011-2012. UW System officials have been under fire since it was discovered that the university had a cash balance of over $1 billion.

Last month, four accountants in the state Assembly that make up the “CPA Caucus,” discovered that the UW System had a $1.05 billion cash balance. Of that money, $648 million was from sources that it had spending discretion over at the end of fiscal year 2012, and according to Tim Higgins, a member of the Board of Regents, $207 million had not been allocated for any specific use.

According to Interim Chancellor Ward, UW-Madison accounts for $298 million of the $648 million in excess reserves. Of the $298 million, approximately $102 million is in reserves dedicated to temporarily funding student financial aid programs while money is raised from charitable donations to fund the program.

Another $51 million is in Fund 136. This money is from revenue-producing operations in schools and colleges on campus and is in over 500 accounts. These funds are used to pay for things ranging from music equipment rentals to the Babcock Dairy Plant.

The statement did not address the $207 million that had no specific spending allocation and did not say how much money UW-Madison holds with no specific funding purpose.

The large amount of cash in these reserves has prompted lawmakers to call for freezes in tuition and to cut funding for state universities. Governor Scott Walker said at a press conference on Monday that he would consider reallocating some UW system funding to local school districts and greater tax relief.

UW officials still think the UW System needs increased funding despite its very large surplus.