The University of Wisconsin System has received a $2.3 million grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates in support of its ongoing Math Initiative, a coordinated, systemwide effort. The Math Initiative is designed to help students complete—in their first year of college—relevant introductory mathematics education that aligns to their program of study and is guaranteed to meet a math requirement for students who transfer within UW System and remain in the same broad field of study.

“This grant allows UW System to build on work underway to place the right students in the right math courses at the right time,” said James P. Henderson, UW System Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. “For example, students in some fields of study will benefit more from an introductory statistics or quantitative reasoning course than from a college algebra course designed as a pre-requisite for calculus. Instead of defaulting to algebra for all, we must focus on the mathematics knowledge and skills our graduates will need to succeed in their chosen fields.”

UW System’s approach reflects nationally recognized models—including work led by the National Association of System Heads, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and The University of Texas at Austin’s Charles. A. Dana Center—with tailoring by faculty and staff representing every UW System institution. That work started in August 2017 with UW math faculty and will expand to include other UW faculty and staff during the grant period, which extends from January 2018 to December 2020.

“This initiative actively engages faculty to improve student achievement in introductory and developmental math courses,” said Jennifer Kosiak, professor in the UW-La Crosse Department of Mathematics and Statistics, who co-leads a UW System math steering committee with Carrie Tirel, associate professor of mathematics at UW-Fox Valley.

UW System will distribute almost 90 percent of grant dollars to its institutions, with remaining funds used to provide technical support and curriculum tools for System institutions and to measure and monitor progress to:

  • Increase enrollment in math (developmental, introductory or higher level) in students’ first year.
  • Increase completion of developmental math in the first year.
  • Increase student success in introductory courses in the first year.
  • Ensure transferability of introductory courses across UW System institutions.

The grant ultimately helps both transfer and non-transfer students to clearly understand the introductory math courses that best match their broad fields of study, even if they have yet to select a specific major.

The UW System includes 13 four-year universities, as well as two-year campuses that will be paired with a four-year campus in the region under a newly approved restructuring plan. UW System institutions serve 176,000 students, including 152,000 undergraduates.


About Great Lakes: Dedicated to making college education a reality since 1967.

Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates was established as a nonprofit group focused on a single objective: helping students nationwide prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education and student loan repayment. As a leading student loan guarantor and servicer, Great Lakes has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance and repayment planning to more than 8 million borrowers—as well as assistance to colleges and lenders nationwide. The group’s earnings support one of the largest and most respected education philanthropy programs in the country. Since 2006, Great Lakes has committed nearly $260 million in grant funding to promote higher education access and completion for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. For additional information, visit*

*Since November 2018, Great Lakes is known as Ascendium Education Group. For information, visit

Media Contact

Stephanie Marquis UW System (608) 263-1700