Alice Pulvermacher photo

Alice Pulvermacher
Office of Academic & Student Affairs, Project Director & Principal Investigator

This multi-institutional collaboration of UW faculty, staff, and administrators is working to improve student success by helping incoming students successfully complete their gateway mathematics course by the end of their first two semesters of study. This initiative builds on many years of foundational work on math education from across the UW System. The Math Initiative works directly with UW institutions to review national models, better meet our students’ needs, and enable them to achieve their educational goals.

The UW System Office of Academic and Student Affairs is supporting the Math Initiative with financial and administrative resources. In January 2018, Ascendium Education Group (the former Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates) awarded a multi-year $2.3 million grant to help UW System advance Math Initiative goals.

In 2018 UW institutions engaged faculty from arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, math, and other STEM programs as participants on their institutional change teams. In 2019 they engaged faculty from business, education, and nursing, and shared early progress with the UW System Board of Regents. Starting in 2020 and continuing in 2021, they have been working on strategies such as active learning and co-requisite math courses to support student success in developmental and gateway mathematics.

Institutional teams also include advising staff, data analysts, and representatives from two-year campuses. Read  a few quotes from Math Initiative participants and the funder pdf about this initiative.

Information about participants at each institution is provided in the “About Us” section of this website; and a glossary of terms and other resources related to the Math Initiative’s work are available in the “Resources” section. For more about Alice Pulvermacher, read a brief bio pdf .

Please contact with any questions.


“I really enjoyed this class. I was nervous about it ahead of time because I never thought I would be able to understand Abstract Algebra, but I understood a lot more than I thought I was going to. I owe a lot of that to the way Dr. McCabe organized the class and set up the group activities we did in class.”

“Despite not being in the physical classroom, the breakout rooms brought the classroom to life and helped me to connect with peers.”

Students’ comments on active learning strategies incorporated by Cindy McCabe, Chair, UW-Stevens Point Mathematical Sciences 

Find student success strategies shared through Math Initiative professional development

“What I especially appreciate about the UW System Math Initiative is that it incorporates support for both structural and instructional change. The depth of faculty engagement is a model for others.”

Sue Cui, Senior Program Officer, Ascendium Education Group


  • Increase enrollment rates in a math course in the student’s first year.
  • Reduce the number of students placed into developmental math courses.
  • Improve the success of students in developmental math courses.
  • Improve the success of students in their first credit bearing math courses.
  • Ensure transferability of gateway math courses within UW System.


  • Implement common cut score for math placement
  • Make data-driven decisions on multiple measures for math placement and early enrollment in gateway math
  • Create or expand bridge programs, math pathways and co-requisite courses
  • Implement evidence-based student success strategies, such as active learning, growth mindset, building community and increasing student engagement
  • Develop gateway math common course descriptions and learning outcomes to support seamless transfer among UW System institutions as well as other Wisconsin higher education institutions


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UW System Gateway Math Courses

The University of Wisconsin System Math Steering Committee representing all 13 institutions developed, vetted and finalized course descriptions and learning outcomes for the most common gateway mathematics courses/course sequences in the system and developed a document to guide implementation of co-requisites for gateway math:

UW System Math Initiative representatives since have been sharing the course descriptions and learning outcomes with Wisconsin educational partners, such as:

  • Wisconsin Technical College System
  • Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
  • Wisconsin Mathematics Council
  • Wisconsin section of the Mathematics Association of America
  • Wisconsin PK-12 education administrators and high school mathematics instructors

Outreach to secondary education also has included venues, such as:

  • Wisconsin School Counselor Association
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)
  • Curriculum and instruction Cooperative Educational Service Agency district representatives
  • UW-Madison Professional Learning and Community Engagement College Readiness in Math Symposium

In the News

  • The Evolllution

    Professional Development in a Pandemic — Part 2

  • The Evolllution

    Professional Development in a Pandemic — Part 1

  • UW System

    Faculty and instructors sharing their experiences applying student engagement strategies in remote teaching during UW System Math Initiative Showoff/Showdown  

  • Wisconsin Public Radio News

    UW System Joining Growing Movement To Reform Entry-Level Math Classes

Footage depicting students, faculty and staff who are not physically distanced was shot prior to March 2020.

Shortening Math Pathways
Paving a New Pathway to Success
Building on Student Centered Strategies
Working Across Disciplines
Collaborating Systemwide
Supporting Student Success
Removing Barriers to Student Success

Retention Strategies

UW Oshkosh math department discussion

Retention Strategies in Math Courses slide 1

Retention Strategies PPT pptx