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Walker’s budget includes cuts to UW-Law School

The University of Wisconsin Law School will have to do more with less under Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget proposal.

His 2011-13 budget includes a $250 million cut in state aid to the University of Wisconsin System that includes the state’s only public law school.

“We anticipate significant cuts to our budget,” UW-Law School Dean Ken Davis said.

How much of a financial hit the law school will endure remains to be seen, as Walker’s budget bill is being reviewed by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

But Davis said he doesn’t expect it to be any less than the approximately $500,000 the law school had cut during former Gov. Jim Doyle’s tenure.

Walker’s budget also recommends “modest annual tuition increases” at the University of Wisconsin System, which, Davis said, would apply to the law school as well.

Tuition for the 2010-11 academic year is $18,049.

Without knowing the extent of the cuts, Davis declined to speculate on the specific impact the reductions would have on law school operations, but he said in anticipation of cuts, the school froze hiring and scaled back on new programs.

“We don’t know the amount, but the money is going to come from somewhere,” he said. “So until we know what number is we can’t do much, but certainly we’ve been mindful of the fact that we’ll have to eliminate some things.”

U.S. News and World Report ranked UW-Law School No. 35 this year in its annual ranking of ABA accredited law schools in the country.

Outside of the budgetary cuts, Davis said the law school would be rolled into Walker’s plan to have the UW-Madison campus operate as a public authority, separate from the other 12 schools in the UW system.

Walker’s rationale for the move is that it would provide greater independence for the Madison campus and enable it to compete more effectively with other major research universities, both public and private, for high-quality faculty and research funding.

“I think in the interest of flexibility, it’s always a good thing,” Davis said.

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