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December 10, 2004

University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
December 2004 Meeting
Day Two News Summary

UW-Madison working to improve local, state and national math and science education, Regents learn

MADISON—The University of Wisconsin-Madison is adding to its list of nationally known contributions through a project to improve the quality of math and science education in schools, the Board of Regents learned Friday as part of a presentation by the host campus for its December meeting.

Through a project called System-wide Change for All Learners and Educators, or SCALE, the campus is partnering with other universities, school districts in Madison, Denver and Los Angeles, and research centers to improve how students are taught math and science skills in elementary, middle and high schools.

The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, harnesses the university's expertise in several areas, including math and science research and teacher preparation.

"UW-Madison is a truly great university because of its strengths across disciplines," said Provost Peter Spear.

The grant to the School of Education is one of the largest ever to the campus. The work of SCALE bolsters the strong educational research studies ongoing at the UW-Madison campus, and in a way, furthers national efforts like No Child Left Behind to focus on "what works" in schools, said Education Dean Charles Read.

"All of [these research studies] are really aimed at making a difference in schools," Read said. "We're focused on what works too, but in a somewhat broader sense."

Principal Investigator Terry Millar and researcher David Griffiths told the board about the goals and aspects of the project, which include giving students "immersion experiences" in which they conduct studies like scientists, giving teachers more in-depth knowledge about the math and science content they teach, and sharing findings among the project's partners.

"Math and science education of our young people is a problem," Griffiths said. "There are, increasingly, many signs that our educational status in the world is not terribly competitive."

The project also furthers the National Science Foundation's goal to get students interested in research at an earlier point in their academic careers, he said.

Art Rainwater, superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District, said he appreciated the long-term partnerships the district has with UW-Madison, and the national reputation that the research-based partnership brings.

Rainwater said the project promises to make math and science more accessible to K-12 students, particularly students of color, those who live in poverty, and those who are unlikely to continue in the field.

"For the first time, we begin to see hope that every child will have access to these disciplines," Rainwater said. "Our only mission is to see that every child who graduates from high school has the maximum number of opportunities for a successful life."

Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee urged the researchers to work and share results with other researchers to impact districts with even greater diversity and more pressing challenges, like the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Read said the School of Education has many projects that benefit Milwaukee Public School students, and that the work with the Los Angeles school districts will translate to similar districts. He agreed that it is important for UW-Madison to share its findings with other UW campuses, including UW-Milwaukee, which also has an NSF grant for research to improve math and science education.

Millar cited an example of a partnership with UW-River Falls in which UW-Madison researcher Francis Halzen shared progress of the NSF-funded IceCube project at the South Pole with River Falls area teachers.

Regent Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee encouraged further idea exchanges like this among UW campuses.

"We really do need to take advantage of the fact that we are a system," Olivieri said.

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells reminded the group that many of the UW comprehensive universities were founded as teacher's colleges, or "normal schools," and that many collaborations still exist related to education and teacher training.

Rainwater said there are no advantages in keeping research findings solely within the university or state.

"What we learn and what L.A. learns isn't confined to us," he said. "If we want to change education in this country, we've got to share it with each other."

UW System President Kevin Reilly thanked the presenters for their role in helping to shape a lifelong learning for students.

"In the past, we did very little to cultivate the next generation of customers, and I think you can see that has changed," Reilly said.

Regent Charles Pruitt of Shorewood closed the day with a resolution thanking UW-Madison for this and other presentations as host campus for the meeting. He noted that the Regents meet on the campus nine times each year, but this month gave them a chance to see the full spectrum of what the campus has to offer.

"We thank you for opening up the cocoon and giving us a glimpse of what is inside," he said, addressing host Chancellor John Wiley during his presentation.

View the SCALE presentation [pdf]

Read the resolution of appreciation to UW-Madison [pdf]

Reilly praises UW-Eau Claire Rhodes Scholar, shares "good news"

A senior geography and history major from UW-Eau Claire has been chosen to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, a remarkable first for the comprehensive campus, UW System President Kevin Reilly reported to the board on Friday.

Reilly and the board congratulated Chauncy Harris Jr., the UW-Eau Claire student chosen as one of 32 Americans named a 2005 Rhodes Scholar.

"All of us at UW System are proud of Chauncy's individual accomplishment, and we take pride knowing that Chauncy credits UW-Eau Claire for preparing him for the Rhodes program," Reilly said. "He says Eau Claire's strong curriculum, research opportunities and accessible faculty allowed him to ‘go beyond the work and experiences that are typical of college'".

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Donald Mash said he was pleased to that Harris, a "very special student" who could have gone anywhere for college, chose to attend UW-Eau Claire. He added that the campus has learned a great deal about the process for student applications to the Rhodes program, and that the campus will seek to help more students at comprehensive campuses who wish to become eligible.

Reilly also updated the board about a meeting he held with student government representatives and the United Council of UW Students, shared items about private giving to UW campuses, and noted that UW institutions received $22 million in federal investments through the omnibus spending bill recently passed by Congress.

In response to questions from several regents, Reilly said he continues to have collegial discussions with the Governor and the Legislative Audit Bureau about the exercise the UW System submitted to the state to reduce administrative expenses.

Reilly stressed that the recent 10 percent reduction plan was only an exercise, and that no budget reductions have yet been made. He added that the system continues to tie the exercise to a report due in February to the Joint Audit Committee about administrative efficiencies.

Read President Reilly's remarks

Marcovich appoints Regent committee on building projects

Following the Business and Finance Committee action on Thursday to postpone votes on two capital projects at UW campuses, Board of Regents President Toby E. Marcovich on Friday appointed a four-Regent committee to meet with representatives of the Department of Administration to discuss the projects.

At Thursday's committee meeting, Regents learned of a recommendation from DOA to use non-state-supported bonding, instead of cash already raised, for building projects at UW-Stevens Point and UW-River Falls.

Speaking Thursday against the recommendation from DOA, UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Linda Bunnell said using state bonding to pay for the project would in effect "make students pay for it twice."

Regents Brent Smith, David Walsh, Milt McPike and Beth Richlen will work with UW System staff and others to seek clarification from DOA officials on their bonding recommendation and report back to Marcovich, perhaps by the end of the month. Marcovich said he intends to convene a meeting of the Executive Committee if further action is needed.

"We certainly don't want to see those projects stopped, but the concern is that students don't pay for this twice," Marcovich said.

In other business, the board approved resolutions to:

  • Accept the 2003-04 report on State Imposed Costs added to resident undergraduate tuition;
  • Accept the 2003-04 Continuing Appropriation Report for submission to the Legislature;
  • Make available the principal and income balances of the $1.7 million Ella M. Seitz bequest for spending for research space in the Interdisciplinary Research Center.
  • Accept a report on 2005-06 sabbaticals;
  • Authorize three new academic programs, a B.A. in Actuarial Science at UW-Milwaukee, a B.S. in Special education at UW-Stout, and a Master of Public Health at UW-Madison. In response to a concern from Regent Jesus Salas of Milwaukee, UW System Assistant Vice President Ron Singer suggested the Regents could be notified about new programs earlier in the planning process to allow them more opportunities to review proposals;
  • Grant authority to modify the Marshfield Farm Land Agreement. The plan allows UW-Madison to restructure its land agreement with the City of Marshfield, removing a 50 ft wide by 300 ft long strip of land from the University's leased holdings for use by the city for the development of a rail corridor.  UW-Madison, would in exchange, obtain an additional four acres of land near the UW-Madison Marshfield Agricultural Research Station Headquarters;
  • Grant authority to increase the budget of the Microbial Science Project at UW-Madison;
  • Grant authority to increase the budget of the Central Campus Utility Improvements Project at UW-Madison;
  • Grant authority to execute an easement to the Town of Richfield, Washington County for right-of-way purposes;
  • Grant authority to increase the budget of the Lapham North Wing Remodeling Project at UW-Milwaukee;
  • Approve a design report to construct a Dairy Center at UW-Platteville. This center would allow the dairy herd at the university to increase from 90 to 200 head of cattle;
  • Approve 2005-07 Capital Budget Revision and Additions, including removing the university owned resident hall component of the University Square development project at UW-Madison.    
  • Cancel the full board meeting scheduled for January.

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The Board of Regents will hold its next meeting Thursday and Friday, Feb. 10-11, on the UW-Madison campus.