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November 6, 2003

University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
November 2003 Meeting
Day One News Summary

Credit transfer plan receives initial endorsement

MADISON—A plan to further enhance the credit transfer process between the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Technical College System was endorsed Thursday (Nov. 6) by the Board of Regents’ Education Committee.

The committee’s action, as part of the Regents’ November 2003 meeting, paves the way for the full board to endorse the plan Friday morning.

Meeting at the UW-Extension’s Lowell Center in Madison, the regents reviewed the six-point plan before it was endorsed later in the afternoon by the board’s Education Committee.

“We and the technical colleges believe that this plan will go a long way to enhancing transfer opportunities and creating more options for students to earn a four-year degree,” said UW System Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Larry Rubin, the university’s ombudsperson on credit transfer issues, in a presentation to the full board.

The six-point plan will do the following:

  • allow UW institutions to transfer WTCS occupational/technical courses, such as accounting or computer science, on a course-by-course basis without a formal program agreement;
  • establish a list of WTCS general education core courses that will transfer to any UW campus, and allow up to 30 core credits to apply to a student’s selected degree program;
  • develop a new written format for degree completion program agreements that will show what courses will transfer, how they apply to a degree and what a student still needs to graduate;
  • provide printed reports to students through the UW’s Transfer Information System (http://www.uwsa.edu/tis/) that will serve as credit transfer contracts;
  • allow completed WTCS liberal arts degrees (up to 72 credits) to satisfy UW general education requirements;
  • create a broad-based committee to explore additional options and develop a plan to increase the number of Wisconsin citizens with bachelor’s degrees.

Rubin said the last point was a departure from the plan approved by the WTCS board, which had proposed increasing the number of college parallel, or liberal arts, programs on technical college campuses.

Regent Nino Amato, who is president of the WTCS board, said the regents’ plan would go back to his board for consideration but that he was comfortable with the new language.

“I think we’ve made real progress in the last six months,” he said.

UW System President Katharine C. Lyall said the proposed plan would receive ample review from faculty governance groups before implementation. She said the plan builds on the numerous collaborations between the two systems and will further facilitate student success in Wisconsin.

“We are joined at the hip, and we need to work together very closely on credit transfer issues and many other issues as well,” Lyall said.

Read background materials on the credit transfer plan

Davis addresses recent regent criticism

In pointed comments Thursday, Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee rebutted detractors of the Board of Regents who have criticized the board in recent days and weeks.

Speaking after the credit transfer presentation because she cannot attend Friday’s full board meeting, Davis said the most recent criticism of the board “is offensive to me.” “Our goal is to be as public as we can be,” Davis said. “But there is a balance that needs to be achieved.”

She admitted that the board has made mistakes recently and will probably make some mistakes in the future. However, “the most important issues are being obfuscated by small mistakes blown out of proportion,” she said. Davis added that she would no longer talk to news reporters about issues “extraneous to the mission of the university.”

As part of her role chairing a regent study group reviewing the university’s research and public service mission, Davis said she has met recently with business and industry leaders, legislators, students and others. No one, she added, has raised issues related to recent criticism of the regents.

“I am not minimizing the public’s need to know,” she said. “But let’s not lose focus on what’s most important in this state.”

Board of Regents President Toby Marcovich of Superior told Davis that her comments “echo the sentiment of many members of this board.”

“Let’s keep this as our guiding principle as we strive to maintain the quality of our institutions and keep the UW System at the forefront of higher education,” Marcovich said.

Education Committee reviews plan to focus on liberal arts education

In addition to endorsing the new credit transfer plan, the board’s Education Committee on Thursday heard about a new UW System initiative to review the value of a liberal arts education.

Dubbed “The Currency of the Liberal Arts: Rethinking Liberal Education in Wisconsin,” the plan seeks to underscore the value of the liberal arts in the 21st century. The plan is an initiative of the Office of the President and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and it will involve participation of students, parents, citizens, business leaders, lawmakers and others.

Rebecca Karoff, senior program administrator in the Office of Academic and Student Services, briefed committee members on the plan.

“We announce this initiative to the Board of Regents in the same semester in which the Board has undertaken a ‘rethinking exercise,’ as a complementary effort (albeit on a smaller scale) and a reminder to all of us that—fiscally challenged though we may be—we must not lose sight of the academic core that lies at the heart of UW System institutional missions,” Karoff wrote in a summary of the plan.

Several committee members welcomed the plan and said they looked forward to future discussion and development of the initiative. They emphasized that a liberal arts education provides the foundation for a person’s success not just economically, but for their entire life.

“This is a daunting task but a very worthy one,” said Regent Fred Mohs of Madison.

Read background materials on the liberal arts plan

In other business, the committee:

  • gave its initial review to a new bachelor’s degree program in engineering physics at UW-Madison;
  • approved the report on the Industrial and Economic Development Research Fund;
  • approved revised faculty personnel rules at UW-Green Bay.

Business and Finance Committee approves “Return to Wisconsin” program

The Business and Finance Committee approved a resolution Thursday to allow UW System campuses to begin a pilot of “Return to Wisconsin,” a program that would offer a 25 percent discount on tuition for nonresident students who are children or grandchildren of UW alumni at participating campuses.

The program would admit these nonresident students to UW campuses in addition to enrollment targets already in place, according to the resolution. Members of the committee and chancellors in attendance made it clear that no students from Wisconsin will be displaced under the pilot, which the committee will revisit for consideration after three years.

Participating campuses include UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater.

“Return to Wisconsin” students would be held to the same academic standards as all other applicants, committee members noted. Further, because these students would pay more than the full cost of their education, the program would provide the UW System with additional dollars to educate students from Wisconsin.

“Current limitation isn’t on seats in classrooms—it’s on revenue,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard. “If resident students were paying the rates nonresident students were, there would be no limitation. We would take all of them we could get.”

UW System Vice President for Finance Debbie Durcan noted that the additional revenue would not replace the state funding that currently supports education for resident students.

“Return to Wisconsin” is also intended to better relationships with alumni and to help address the state’s “brain gain” problem by attracting to UW campuses out-of-state students, who often then stay to live and work in Wisconsin.

“We think this will have a positive impact on our alums and our relationships with them,” said UW-Stevens Point Interim Chancellor Virginia Helm.

Committee Chair Mark Bradley of Wausau welcomed the participation of several UW campuses.

“I think we’ll have a richer pilot with more campuses participating,” Bradley said.

The pilot program is scheduled to begin in Fall 2004.

A discussion held earlier in the day as part of the regents’ “Charting A New Course” study included details of a similar proposal to allow discounted tuition for certain nonresident students at UW-Platteville.

In a presentation to the Revenue Authority and Other Opportunities working group, UW-Platteville Chancellor David Markee introduced the “UW-Platteville Regional Enrollment Plan,” a program to attract nonresident students from Illinois and Iowa who are interested primarily in engineering, a field in which UW-Platteville is nationally regarded.

The program is designed to meet the workforce needs of the area and throughout the state of Wisconsin, Markee said.

“When UW-Platteville grows, the region grows,” Markee said. “We are an economic engine.”

The proposal calls for the campus to attract an additional 2,000 students over a period of 10 years, with 200 students in the first year.

Students recruited under the workforce initiative proposal would pay resident tuition rates, plus a premium of $4,000, Markee said.

The discounted amount would be less than the standard rate of UW-Platteville nonresident tuition, which totals $13,546 in 2003-2004. The $4,000 premium, which Markee said would increase in subsequent years as needed, would fully cover the cost of education and fund any related facility-enhancement and added personnel needs.

Importantly, Markee said, this program would not decrease access for resident students.

“This is entrepreneurial, risk-taking kind of thinking that I believe institutions around the country are trying to do more of,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard, a member of the study group.

The group unanimously recommended that the UW-Platteville proposal be presented as part of the group’s final proposal to the Board in June, which will also encourage other campuses to develop similar initiatives. In addition, the working group recommended that the proposal also be presented to the Business and Finance committee and possibly the full Board at its December meeting. If approved, the program would begin in Fall 2005.

The Business and Finance Committee did not take any action previously listed on the agenda regarding executive compensation.

The committee also heard from Vice President for Finance Debbie Durcan, who reported that a Legislative Audit Bureau administrative audit of the UW System may be ready for release in mid-December.

Durcan also noted that there are implications for the Board of Regents in the investigation of Strong Funds and the EdVest program. Gov. Jim Doyle has granted permission for the College Savings Board to hire outside counsel to conduct a legal audit to determine whether investors were injured and what mechanisms are in place to prevent this from recurring. Strong Funds is also one of the investment options for participants in the university’s tax shelter annuity program.

Durcan also noted that the UW System and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) within the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development have reached an agreement on the funding level for fiscal 2004 for disabled students. That amount, $329,500, is one-half the funding the UW received last year, and continues a steady decline that means additional cuts at UW institutions.

Finally, Durcan said that the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance approved the UW System Auxiliary Reserve Plans for 2003-04, which had been presented to the Board in September.

The committee also:

  • approved a report on bequests to the university of $50,000 or more;
  • approved a report on gifts in kind to the university;
  • heard a statutorily required annual report on usage of sick leave by faculty and academic staff, which showed results within the normal range of experience over the prior 15 years; and
  • heard a report from Senior Vice President for Administration David Olien on the programming, funding, and staffing levels of all 13 radio and television broadcast stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to the Board of Regents.

Public offers input at annual trust fund forum

The Business and Finance Committee adjourned from regular session to hold its annual forum on UW System Trust Fund investments. Citizens were invited to address members of the committee regarding trust holdings.

Kim Jacobson, a representative of the Burma Refugee Coalition at UW-Milwaukee, asked the board to consider divesting of companies with operations in Burma, a country which she said is proven to have practices that violate human rights.

Jacobson said U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin co-sponsored a measure Congress passed this summer to strengthen sanctions against the country, and the Board of Regents could support that action by divesting of these interests.

“We think the university has a responsibility to stand up for the people of Burma,” Jacobson said.

Tony Schultz, a representative of the Student Labor Action Coalition at UW-Madison, asked the board to divest of holdings in Tyson Foods until a current labor dispute is fairly settled.

Ben Manski, a representative of the Four Lakes Green Party, echoed the requests regarding Burma and Tyson Foods.

Manski praised the committee members for actively engaging with those who spoke, but said he hoped the board would consider strengthening its socially responsible investment policy. He asked that the board instead urge proactive investment in sustainable companies, rather than continuing its divestment policy.

John Peck, a Madison resident who addressed the committee, reminded members that the university previously took actions to fulfill its socially responsible investment policy without negative financial impact.

“You can make just as much money being responsible as not,” Peck said.

He also reminded committee members that the university based its socially responsible investment policy on a similar measure at Stanford University, and committee members asked UW staff to request information on how Stanford invests its funds for comparison purposes.

Committee members agreed that the board should remain committed to its socially responsible investment policies, but reminded speakers that it also has a primary fiduciary responsibility to the university.

Information on UW Trust Funds is available at http://www.uwsa.edu/tfunds/.

Physical Planning and Funding Committee approves campus projects

Nancy Ives, UW System assistant vice president for capital planning and budget, reported to members of the Regents’ Physical Planning and Funding Committee Thursday that the State Building Commission approved approximately $24 million for various UW projects at its October meeting.

She also reported that the Building Commission is continuing to consider proposals to improve the efficiency of the university’s building program.

In other business, the committee approved resolutions for consideration by the full board that would:

  • authorize a project to replace scoreboards at UW-Madison's Camp Randall Stadium and Kohl Center;
  • authorize maintenance of seating risers and restrooms at Camp Randall Stadium;
  • authorize maintenance of the Camp Randall Sports Center, also known as the Shell;
  • authorize the hiring of consultants to update UW-Madison’s campus master plan and develop the university’s utility master plan;
  • approve the construction of a dairy science teaching center at UW-River Falls.

In conjunction with the UW-Madison master plan resolutions, UW-Madison Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning and Management Alan Fish presented an overview of the university’s east campus plan, which will focus on facilities for student services and the arts and humanities.

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The Board of Regents will continue its November meeting on Friday (Nov. 7) beginning at 9 a.m. in Room 1820 of Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.