UW budget cuts change student assistance

Solution Center
A UW-Fox student seeks assistance at the campus Solution Center. · photo by Vinnie Oestreich

Students’ access to information and assistance on campus from the Student Affairs (SA) and Information Technology (IT) departments have drastically changed due to budget implementation in the UW Colleges.

At UW-Fox Valley, administration eliminated two admissions staff members, one front desk receptionist, one financial aid/veteran’s support staff position and reduced academic advisers employed in student affairs, now known as the Solution Center across the UW Colleges.

Remaining Solution Center positions are three Solution Center advisers, an events coordinator, information specialists and academic advisers.

UW-Fox Valley has two campus information specialists, Steve Bloedow and Cillia Losselyon, who are available to answer general questions students have.

“As the information specialists, we’ll try to answers as many questions as we can. If we can’t help them, then [we] schedule it with one of our advisers that’s still here,” Information Specialist Steve Bloedow said.

Academic advisers’ roles have been expanded to include not only academic advising, but financial aid, accessibility services and at-risk advising and career advising.

Tina Koch, Solution Center adviser, also addressed the importance of supporting students while in the midst of change.

“[The Solution Center] is still undergoing implementation, but we hope it achieves its goal of assisting students,” Koch said.

Meanwhile, UW-Fox IT has been absorbed into the UW Colleges Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE).

Previously, campus IT was composed of a network administrator, a PC support specialist, a Distance Education coordinator, web design, classroom audiovisual support, a director of IT and the IT Help Desk staffed by 8–12 student workers.

CASE shares Distance Education responsibilities and classroom support, but also integrates library services. Student assistance for tech-related issues has also diminished from a team of Help Desk workers to one CASE associate, Kris Kissing.

Thomas Frantz, former director of Information & Instructional Technology, assessed the benefits and drawbacks of this new model.

“Obviously, you can’t expect the same degree of operations we had when we were using a lot of students, but the idea is that having it in the library, people know where to go, since it’s the same in [every UW Colleges campus],” Frantz said.

Frantz indicated that the help desk elimination was expected.

“[The IT Help Desk] was unusual. Most of the other campuses didn’t have that kind of function,” Frantz said. “The task force that studied the cuts tried to determine a way to streamline things and achieve some kind of parity between the campuses.”

Frantz’s IT director role ended Feb. 21, but he remains employed at UW-Fox Valley as an instructor.

CASE student workers, in contrast to the former Help Desk staff, presently either work in library services or in the Distance Education section of IT, although streamlining their obligations is a possibility, according to Kissling.

“We are moving toward hybrid CASE student workers for the fall that will be able to do both library and Distance Education support,” Kissling said.

The campus business services office has also seen major changes, transferring most financial operations from each campus to Madison’s UW Colleges Central Office.

Due to this, students will no longer be able to pay in person at the business office. Instead, they can either send checks by mail or pay online.

Bloedow, a former financial specialist, addressed the potential difficulties in this change.

“You can’t come in on the due date anymore, so you’re going to want a few days to make sure [payments] gets there on time,” Bloedow said.

Currently, the business office is closed to student financial transactions, but receipts for departments like the Barlow Planetarium, gift shop and theatre ticket sales are still filed on campus. These operations are run part time by financial specialist David Zimmerman.

“It’s more of a data entry role, and making sure the deposit gets done every week so it can get sent to the bank,” Bloedow said.

Like the business office, many operations in the Solution Center and CASE are dealt with centrally.

The central office processes admission and record-related duties such as grade changes, posting degrees and suspensions.

Additionally, tech support questions the CASE Associate cannot answer are reported to Central Information Technology Services (CITS). Tech-related incidents forwarded, since January, are resolved within two business days on average, according to an email from CITS Chief Information Officer Werner Gade.

Students in need of student affairs support from the Solution Center can visit the Student Affairs office weekdays 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and those in need of tech-related support from the CASE Help Desk can visit the library on weekdays 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m..