Frequently Asked Questions

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How will cuts to staff and faculty take diversity into account, especially if seniority is a governing principle in faculty cuts?

Currently, Marquette’s faculty is the most diverse in its history. The Race, Ethnic and Indigenous Studies (REIS) hiring initiative has served to bring an exciting group of scholars to our campus who are in the formative stages of building a community at Marquette with potential for citywide and national recognition. In the three years since the inception of this program, we have hired more than 20 REIS scholars. The university retains its commitment to supporting REIS and will continue to do so this year with financial support from the vice president for inclusive excellence.

Additionally, as the university conducts searches for strategic growth opportunities, Marquette remains committed to hiring diverse faculty candidates across all disciplines.

Student diversity remains a priority as well:

  • The student body at Marquette continues to provide the most diverse classes in the university’s history, with students of color making up more than 26% (26.2%) of the campus population. More than 30% (30.1%) of the fall 2020 class are students of color.
  • The university has expanded its successful Urban Scholars program to offer 40 full tuition, four-year scholarships annually to high-achieving, low-income scholars from high schools in the Milwaukee area.
  • In support to our commitment to becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution, Marquette launched Spanish-language webpages to assist the growing population of Hispanic prospective students and their families, as well as connect current students to resources offered in their native or heritage language.

Why is the due date for the work groups’ recommendations after the deadlines for the deans’ financial targets and the submission of the budget to the Board of Trustees? If administration is making decisions before the work groups make their recommendations, how does this process have integrity and what is its actual impact?

The Board of Trustees will vote on and approve an operating budget for fiscal year 2021-22 in early December. This is not a line-item budget, but an overall budget with parameters. After the board approves the budget, the university administration will be responsible for defining the line items.

This is not in conflict with the workstreams – their work and input will provide key information for administrators as they define their line-item budgets.

For the six Academic Planning Workstream Work Groups, there are 85 team members. Of those 85 team members, two faculty serve on two work groups, making the actual number of participants in the six work groups 83. Of those 83:

  • ULC: 8 – 10%
  • Faculty: 60 – 72%
  • Staff: 15 – 18%

Why is this timeline so fast? Why can’t Marquette consider phasing its needed downsizing over a couple-year period to preserve the ability to deliver on the university’s mission?

More than three years ago, President Michael R. Lovell and the leadership of Marquette University recognized looming challenges and shared their concern with the Board of Trustees and the Marquette community.

More than 450 faculty, staff and students participated in an event called "Think Different, Act Different to go Beyond Boundaries" in November 2019 in the Alumni Memorial Union's Monaghan Ballroom. The purpose of the event was to respond by addressing the headwinds facing higher education.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the university has also taken several temporary mitigating actions to address its financial challenges. These include: merit suspension; 403(b) suspension; furloughs; operating budget reductions; and voluntary retirement programs for staff and faculty.

To close the financial shortfalls, how are the budget target reductions allocated across units? And what were the criteria in determining these allocations?

Marquette has a $45 million projected gap for next fiscal year. University leaders looked at a number of factors to allocate goals between academic affairs and administrative and operational units. Factors include levels of faculty and staff headcount, how those headcounts have changed over time, and how those relate to our enrollment levels, looking specifically at ratios of students to faculty and staff. Similarly, discretionary spending targets were looked at through a similar lens. Workstreams, partnering with campus, will identify the specific actions for us to achieve our goals.

Some universities have reported record high enrollments. Did their endowments allow really high discounts, or what did they do that we did not or could not?

While the evidence of record high enrollments at other universities remains unclear, it is also difficult to estimate whether higher enrollments are related to endowments or to high discounts. We have anecdotal data that certain private institutions increased their scholarships or grants by several thousand dollars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic the U.S. In general, endowments have restricted purposes attached to their funds, so spending endowment for additional financial aid is not plausible.

Why is Marquette eliminating hundreds of faculty and staff positions when it has a $700 million endowment of which more than $100 million is unrestricted?

The university’s endowment consists of hundreds of gifts given by many donors over time. The endowment is governed by the Board of Trustees-approved Investment and Spending Policies, which follow Wisconsin’s Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA). UPMIFA requires the institution to maintain intergenerational equity, meaning the university must make efforts to preserve the purchasing power of the endowment for current and future generations served by the university. The purpose of the endowment is not to fix short-term budget shortfalls or manage crises like those many institutions are facing now, but rather to support our Catholic, Jesuit mission and our commitment to academic and research excellence for current and future generations. Most of the funds have been designated by the donors to support student scholarships, academic programs and professorships, so the spendable amount from the endowment does benefit our operating budget. In addition, the “quasi” endowed funds identified as unrestricted are still subject to the university’s Investment and Spending Policies and are currently directed to operating budgets. In other words, the endowment provides an ongoing stream of funding for our students, faculty and programs, and the university is not free to dip into the principal of the fund without facing serious consequences or adversely impacting future generations.  

To what extent will administrative programs put in place over the years be considered for reduction or elimination?

The university has developed workstreams in eight key areas across campus to create a path to structural, strategic change in order to realign the university’s structure with future expected revenue levels. All areas of the university are included in this process, including academic and administrative units. Learn more about the workstreams.

What sort of positions is the university planning to eliminate, and how will those decisions be made (and by whom)?

Given current and expected lower enrollment and increasing pressure on tuition and discount levels, it is necessary to rightsize future expenses to align with lower expected revenues. University workstreams are in place to recommend actions needed to close the gaps, including aligning discretionary spending as well as faculty and staff levels with enrollment needs going forward. While any actions that affect our employees are difficult, avoiding a reduction of faculty and staff positions is not practical given that nearly two-thirds of expenses at institutions like ours are related to compensation. A range of 225 to 300-plus positions are expected to be eliminated, including faculty and staff positions throughout the university, with most eliminations occurring prior to the start of fiscal 2022.

All the mitigation strategies appear to focus on reducing expenses. Are strategies that increase revenue being considered? Such as tuition increases, motivating external research funding and more?

University leaders are looking at new revenue strategies, such as increasing the retention rate, the number of transfers, fundraising and research. The university also has programmatic opportunities – the nursing expansion is one example.

How many employees does Marquette have? What percentage of the Marquette workforce is a reduction of 300 people?

Marquette University has more than 2,100 budgeted full-time positions. Accordingly, a workforce reduction range of 225 to 300 employees is approximately 11-14% of total full-time employees, which is near the 10-15% drop in revenues expected from fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2024.