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 (former Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates) awarded a $2.3 million grant to help UW System advance Math Initiative goals through December 2020.

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. In 2020, they are 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.


“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
  • Use multiple measures for math placement
  • Implement evidence-based innovations in teaching, including for developmental math
  • Develop UW Math Gateways Model based on gateway math common course descriptions and learning outcomes


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UW System Gateway Math Courses

The University of Wisconsin System Math Steering Committee representing all 13 institutions developed, vetted and—in September 2018—finalized course descriptions and learning outcomes for the most common gateway mathematics courses in the system:

UW System Math Initiative representatives since have been sharing the course descriptions and learning outcomes with Wisconsin educational partners, such as the Wisconsin Technical College System, Wisconsin Mathematics Council, Wisconsin section of the Mathematics Association of America and Wisconsin PK-12 education administrators and high school mathematics instructors. Outreach to secondary education has included venues such as the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), curriculum and instruction Cooperative Educational Service Agency district representatives and the UW-Madison Professional Learning and Community Engagement College Readiness in Math Symposium.

Please contact Alice Pulvermacher for additional information.

In the News

Retention Strategies

UW Oshkosh math department discussion

Retention Strategies in Math Courses slide 1

Retention Strategies PPT pptx

Building on Student Centered Strategies
Working Across Disciplines
Collaborating Systemwide
Supporting Student Success
Removing Barriers to Student Success