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Friday, May 10, 2002

University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
May 2002 Meeting
Day Two News Summary

Budget may force UW Colleges to turn away students

FOND DU LAC - For the first time ever, the UW Colleges may have to turn away qualified students if the university's budget situation does not improve.

UW Colleges Chancellor William Messner told the Board of Regents at its meeting Friday (May 10) at UW-Fond du Lac that the 13 freshman/sophomore campuses of the UW System have never in their history denied access to students who are academically qualified.

"We are the UW System's institution of access," Messner told the board. "When we close our doors, the UW System makes a statement it has never made before."

Applications are up sharply at the UW Colleges, and enrollment is projected at 9,000 full-time equivalency students, the highest ever for the two-year institutions, Messner said. That number would translate to more than 13,000 actual students.

The regents, after lifting the temporary freeze on undergraduate admissions in March, set an enrollment target for the UW Colleges at 7,700 FTE students based on projected UW System budget cuts. The original enrollment target for the UW Colleges was 8,200 FTE students.

"Under normal circumstances, we would let the motor run" on admissions, Messner said. "If we adhere to the reduced enrollment target, we will turn away significant numbers of students unless we find the resources for them."

Many of the four-year UW System campuses have admitted or are getting closer to admitting their Fall 2002 incoming classes. But the admissions cycle typically runs later for the UW Colleges, which enrolls many part-time and non-traditional students.

Messner said he planned to hire 40 new professors to teach at his campuses this fall. He has scaled that number back to 25-30 because of the state's budget crisis.

"For us staffing - faculty and academic staff - is the key issue," he said.

Regent Jonathan Barry described the admissions situation of the UW Colleges as "uncomfortable," adding that it could spill over into the Wisconsin Technical College System. Barry is president of the WTCS board.

UW System President Katharine Lyall said she hoped the Legislature could resolve the budget dilemma in the next 30 days so the university can know exactly how many students it can ultimately admit this fall.

Enrollment at the UW Colleges has been steadily rising since the mid-1990s. Enrollment was 5,983 FTE students in 1996 and reached an all-time high of 8,517 FTE students this year. Actual enrollment for 2001-02 is 12,377 students at the UW Colleges.

UW System to host third economic summit

Building on the successes of its first two economic summits, the University of Wisconsin System will host its third statewide economic summit Oct. 14-16 in Milwaukee.

While the first two summits explored the challenges and opportunities of Wisconsin's changing economy, Economic Summit III will focus on specific steps needed to improve the state's economic climate, said Jay L. Smith, president of the UW System Board of Regents.

"With great anticipation I look forward to the next Economic Summit," Smith said. "The UW System is committed to providing the important strategic thinking needed to enhance Wisconsin's economy in the future."

Smith announced the dates for Summit III during his report to the board. The summit will be held again at the Midwest Express Center.

The dates for Summit III are a bit earlier than the past two years, Smith noted, with the hope that Wisconsin's gubernatorial candidates will be able to share their plans to strengthen the state economy.

Smith acknowledged the current state budget crisis has somewhat diverted the UW System's follow-up efforts from Summit II. "But I want to assure you that planning for Summit III is moving forward with renewed vigor," he said.

"This same state budget crisis has very effectively underscored the need in Wisconsin for strategic economic development planning," Smith added. "In January business leaders and state officials told us after Summit II that the UW System is best positioned for this leadership role."

To assist in planning the agenda for Summit III, the UW System will survey several hundred business and labor leaders, government officials and economic development experts. "The feedback we receive will help us identify what outcomes we need to achieve with Summit III," Smith said.

Smith also noted that Richard Wegner, veteran state government official and experienced businessman, is joining Summit Coordinator Laurie Dies on a temporary basis to help plan and promote the summit.

"I think good things are ahead of us and we should all be excited," Smith concluded.

UW System to graduate nearly 25,000 students

UW System President Katharine Lyall noted in her remarks to the board that the university will graduate this month nearly 25,000 "capable, eager and enthusiastic seniors, launching them into a world of change in which they will contribute in many ways."

Lyall noted many of the changes that have occurred for these students: they were the first students to apply online for admission; use the UW's integrated library system; move from computers to laptops to hand-held computing devices; and get their music from the Internet instead of tapes and CDs.

Students have also increased their volunteerism, watched older faculty and staff retire and work with newer and younger professionals, and could benefit in many ways from university research breakthroughs in medicine, especially stem cell research.

"It is hard to imagine a more exciting future or a more challenging set of opportunities for our graduates," Lyall said. "We need to remind ourselves, amid the more mundane struggles over budgets and politics … this is what we do best! And this is why our universities are such critical assets for Wisconsin's future."

Full text of President Lyall's remarks

Action Items

In other action, the Board of Regents approved:

  • The bequest of Winifred Nybroten to establish the Norman and Winifred Nybroten Scholarship Fund at UW-Platteville;
  • A new food service contract at UW-Eau Claire;
  • A new bachelor's degree in athletic training at UW-Eau Claire;
  • Renaming the UW-Madison environmental studies institute after Gaylord Nelson;
  • Construction of a new child care center at UW-River Falls;
  • A gift-in-kind of decorative masonry at UW-La Crosse;
  • The Hutchison Hall window replacement project at UW-La Crosse;

Background materials

Resolutions

The board also adopted a resolution of appreciation for the UW Colleges for hosting the May 2002 regents meeting and a memorial resolution for Dr. Adolf Gundersen, a former member of the board who died last month.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Board of Regents is scheduled for June 6-7 at UW-Milwaukee.

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