UW System President Ray Cross said the campuses face “some very difficult choices” because of the pandemic fallout, and that’s why he is recommending cuts and consolidations in programs and services.

“We’re facing, at this point, some very difficult choices and the challenges ahead require that we act in a very aggressive and quick manner,” Cross said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“The threats to the institutions are great in the long term if we don’t act quickly,” he said.

Cross said the schools need to reduce duplication of programs, consolidate administrative functions and operations – like information technology, human resources and purchasing – and be more strategic in online programs.

Cross said the campuses will be open in the fall, and there will be some face-to-face classes. The COVID-19 shutdown that began in March forced the schools to send most students home to complete their semester online.

“We are doing everything we can. We will be open in the fall. The question is, what modality will we be delivering our educational experience next fall, and that’s what we’re working on, how to do that, how best to do it, and that’s why this blueprint is important,” he said.

In another segment, Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said his organization wants a “smart restart” for the economy.

The MMAC board voted unanimously in favor of a resolution calling for a phased-in restart before May 26 – the end date for Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer-at-home” order extension.

The “smart restart” has the support of five Milwaukee-area hospital CEO’s, Sheehy said.

The original stay-at-home order was a “blunt instrument” that closed a lot of businesses, Sheehy said, but “we believe we have flattened the curve.”

“The gating criteria tells us that we have, again, flattened the curve. The health care institutions are in a good place, we’re seeing a declining number of hospitalizations, a declining number of deaths, and that we can start to re-open an economy that is going to have to operate for some period of time now until there is a vaccine,” he said.

Also on the program, WisPolitics.com Editor JR Ross previewed Tuesday’s 7th Congressional District special election.

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