MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents unanimously voted Thursday to approve a $6.564 billion annual operating budget for 2021-22.
Key takeaways of the annual budget presented by Sean Nelson, Vice President of Finance, include:
- State operational funding (GPR) increased $42.3 million or 4.4%
- Includes Pay Plan increase for employees
- Tuition-setting authority returned to the Board of Regents
- The Board’s budget resolution calls for no increase for resident undergraduate tuition in the upcoming academic year
- Average cost of attendance for an in-state student living on campus at UW System’s 4-year universities will increase by 1.0%
- 4th consecutive year at 1% or lower at the 4-year campuses
- Total segregated fees will increase at 4-year institutions by an average $10 per year (0.1%)
- Room and board rates will increase at 4-year institutions by an average $150 per year (1.8%)
Regent Bob Atwell said he appreciated the UW System’s ongoing efforts to keep costs down for students, but urged the Board to consider not just the cost to students, but also the cost of a UW education for students as part of a larger discussion of meeting higher education needs in Wisconsin.
In response, President Thompson reiterated his call for a blue-ribbon commission to study the overall state of higher education in Wisconsin, including both the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System.
Several Regents and Chancellors spoke in support of a commission, emphasizing the need to proceed without delay and to include input from campuses.
UW System President’s Report
System President Thompson told Regents it is vital that the University support the whole student as things return to pre-pandemic life – and that includes supporting students’ academic, financial, emotional, and overall health. He said the UW System is expanding some of its traditional programs, like the Summer Bridge Program, to address growing needs.
In a promising sign, Thompson told the Board that new fall freshman applications for UW System universities are up by about 30% over each of the last two years. Moreover, applications by Wisconsin residents, first-generation students, and underrepresented minorities are also up.
“I am thrilled with these positive application numbers,” he said. “It shows our strategies are working and we are setting the stage for success.”
Over the past 15 months, UW System has worked to simplify the application process, including waiving application fees, creating a new EApp, allowing students to use a single application for multiple universities, and suspending the ACT requirement.
Thompson also updated Regents on recent progress with UW System’s Administrative Transformation Program (ATP), the multi-year program to address Systemwide legacy process inefficiencies, risks, and gaps in functionality, and to build an administrative infrastructure for the future.
“I’m going to push this very hard in order for this university to be run like a modern institution,” Thompson said.
He reported that he and Chancellor Blank recently approved an amended timeline for implementing ATP that would simultaneously benefit all campuses, rather than UW-Madison going first and others following. Thompson also noted that a 10-year contractual agreement between UW System and Workday, Inc., for cloud-based enterprise resource planning software had been approved by Regents in the Business & Finance Committee earlier in the day and that a new Request for Proposal on implementation services was issued last week.
Turning to budget matters, Thompson noted that Governor Evers had signed the state biennial budget just this morning. That budget provides $8.25 million in additional GPR, $628.7 million for building projects, a 2 percent pay plan increase in each year, and returns tuition setting authority to the Board of Regents by not extending the tuition freeze.
“I want to thank Governor Evers and the legislature for their leadership, especially for investing in critical improvements in our infrastructure and support for our employees,” Thompson said.
Board President’s Report
Regent President Edmund Manydeeds III, in his first report to the Board as President, shared a few thoughts on his expected priorities.
As the UW System works to provide a pre-pandemic college experience for students this fall, he said it’s also recognized there likely will be lingering effects of COVID, particularly in the areas of student and employee behavioral health.
“We are actively engaged in a behavioral health initiative to improve the wellbeing and academic success of our students across the UW System – because we know that healthy students are more likely to stay in school, graduate, and lead productive and fulfilling lives,” he said.
Manydeeds is also focused on improving the campus climate for underrepresented students and employees. He noted the first recipients of the new Wisconsin Regents Opportunity Scholarships, which recognize underrepresented and underserved students, were announced this week. Funded by UW System, 267 students will be awarded scholarships in the inaugural round, totaling $995,000.
“We have to do more than just talk about equity, diversity, and inclusion. We have to live it, and weave it through everything we do in the System,” Manydeeds said. “It starts by doing just one thing a day to make that happen.”
Manydeeds also told Regents he wants to appoint a special committee to review the Board’s bylaws and governance issues. A key item for this committee to address is the UW System’s allocation of state GPR dollars to campuses.
Introduction of new colleagues
The Board welcomed new colleague, Dr. Jill Underly, who has just begun her term as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Underly has a deep background in public education, most recently serving six years as superintendent of the Pecatonica School District in southwestern Wisconsin.
President Thompson introduced Dr. Jim Henderson, recently named interim Chancellor at UW-Whitewater after Chancellor Dwight Watson announced his resignation for medical reasons. Henderson previously served as UW System Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.
Business & Finance Committee
The Business & Finance Committee approved a contract between UW-Madison and the National Football League. Under the agreement, the National Football League will support the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health’s 4-year multi-site, longitudinal, multi-discipline investigation involving the development and validation of new technologies toward muscle injury risk mitigation in collegiate football players, with a total budget of $3,999,974. The goal of the project is to incorporate advanced imaging and biomechanics to build digital models of athletes’ risk for hamstring strain injury.
In other business, the Business & Finance Committee:
- Approved an amendment to RPD 25-4, “Strategic Planning and Large or High Risk Projects.” Under the amendment, the authority to approve certain projects would be delegated to the UW System President or the UW System institution chancellors, depending on the cost and scope of the proposed project. The proposed revision would additionally include reporting requirements to the UW System Office of Learning and Information Technology Services, which would maintain a master list of all IT projects valued greater than $50,000;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request to proceed with a project to replace the electronic door access system on its campus, which has been designated as a large or high-risk information technology project. Total project cost is estimated at $6.0 million;
- Approved a 10-year master service contract with Workday, Inc. at a total cost of $59 million for contemporary cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) software as a component of the Administrative Transformation Program (ATP). ATP is a multi-year program across the UW System to address legacy process inefficiencies, risks, and gaps in functionality, and to build an administrative infrastructure for the future. Workday was selected following UW System’s evaluation of the two major cloud-based ERP software options available through the portfolio of the National Association of State Procurement Officials;
- Approved the UW System Semi-Annual Status Report on Large/Vital Information Technology Projects, which provides the Board of Regents with the information it needs to execute appropriate oversight over the large and high-risk IT projects across the UW System. The report includes individual progress reports on 14 major information technology projects;
- Approved a bookstore and textbook rental services contract between UW-Eau Claire and Follett Higher Education Group, Inc. The contract would commence in July 2021 for one year, with five renewable one-year extensions. Annual net revenue to the contractor is valued at approximately $1.43 million, while estimated commission to UW-Eau Claire for the life of the contract is $1.41 million;
- Approved two additional one-year extensions to the current contract between UW-La Crosse and Compass Group USA, Inc. for dining services operations. Estimated annual net revenue to the contractor is valued at approximately $6.05 million, while UW-La Crosse will receive a minimum annual guarantee of $200,000 annually or commission from cash sales, retail, catering, alcoholic beverage, camps, conferences, campus cash, branded concepts and all convenience store items, whichever is greater;
- Approved two additional one-year extensions to the current contract between UW-River Falls and Compass Group USA, Inc. for dining services operations. Annual net revenue to the contractor is valued at approximately $3.52 million, while UW-River Falls will receive approximately $278,000 annually in commission from the combined return on all point sales, retail sales, convenience store sales, catering, and alcohol sales;
- Approved two additional one-year extensions to the current contract between UW-Superior and Compass Group USA, Inc. for dining services operations. Annual net revenue to the contractor is valued at approximately $1.41 million, while UW-Superior will receive a minimum of $38,500 from an annual guarantee or commission from cash sales, retail, catering, alcoholic beverages, and casual meals, whichever is greater;
- Approved a standard research agreement between UW-Madison and Galilei Biosciences, Inc., which is sponsoring a two-year research project involving the biochemical and cellular characterization and validation of small-molecule compounds that are important in cancer and other research. The work includes interdisciplinary effort from researchers in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and collaboration with researchers from WARF Therapeutics;
- Approved a master clinical trial agreement between UW-Madison and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, replacing a previous master clinical trial agreement that recently expired. In the past decade, UW-Madison has received over $10 million in research funding from Novartis, a global pharmaceutical leader producing innovative patented medicines to enhance health outcomes for patients and healthcare professionals;
- Approved amendments to RPD 17-4, “Equal Employment Opportunities,” to update the policy to comply with federal law, and state law and executive orders; and
- Heard a presentation from UW System’s Office of Trust Funds on the history of the UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) Program, a voluntary, supplemental retirement savings program through which employees can invest a portion of income for retirement on either a pre-tax basis, an after-tax basis (Roth), or a combination of both. Officials also shared an overview of upcoming program enhancements.
The Education Committee approved amendments to Regent Policy Document (RPD) 4-12, “Academic Program Planning, Review, and Approval in the University of Wisconsin System,” to incorporate provisions requiring institutions to review credit requirements of degree programs that require more than 130 credit hours to complete and to reduce the number of students who accumulate excess credits. The proposal recognizes and seeks to address the institutional systems and processes that may present a barrier to students completing their degrees in a timely manner without amassing excess credits.
In other business, the Education Committee:
- Approved UW-Eau Claire’s request for a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Bioinformatics. Program graduates will have the programming and statistical skills to be employed as data scientists or data analysts generally, with a focus on data science in the life science sector specifically. The Bureau of Labor Statistics National Industry-Occupational Employment Matrix projects a 30.9% increase in demand in these fields between 2019 and 2029;
- Approved UW-Platteville’s request to establish a Master of Science in Sport Administration. The new program will better prepare students for leadership positions in youth sport, professional sport, esports, and intercollegiate sports through a curriculum focused on global perspectives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts national growth of 10% in sport leadership by 2029.
- Approved UW-Whitewater’s request for a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity. The implementation of this program, together with an already successful online master’s program in Cybersecurity and the Cybersecurity Center for Business at UW-Whitewater, will further respond to the regional and national needs for cybersecurity talent to protect both business and government from cybersecurity attacks. The program will be offered both face-to-face and online;
- Approved UW-Whitewater’s request for a fully online Master of Science in Marketing. Graduates will be prepared to apply various aspects of marketing, to analyze complex marketing problems, to develop effective marketing strategies and tactics, as well as to leverage consumer insights and artificial intelligence for digital marketing and other data-driven marketing touchpoints in a global marketplace. Substantial growth in the field is projected through 2028;
- Heard the first reading of UW-Stout’s revised mission statement that represents its focus and identity as a polytechnic institution. The revised mission statement underscores the institution’s commitment to prepare students for careers through applied learning and research, professional experiences, and collaborative partnerships. UW-Stout will now hold a public hearing on the mission statement to solicit community feedback. After that process is complete, the Board will review the proposed final version of the revised mission.
- Heard a report from Anny Morrobel-Sosa, UW System Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, providing an end-of-year review on her office’s work in support of the Regents and for President Thompson’s key priorities for the UW System and the Renewed Wisconsin Idea for the 21st century; and
- Heard an update from Executive Director Marissa Jablonski on the status of planning for the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin.
Chief Compliance Officer Katie Ignatowski presented the Fiscal Year 2022 Compliance Plan, which was approved by the Audit Committee. Ignatowski noted that the Office of Compliance and Integrity (OCI) has worked with each UW System institution to identify individuals responsible for key compliance obligations, craft policies to codify standards for compliance, and develop tools and resources necessary to aid compliance efforts.
Ignatowski told Regents the OCI expects to finalize policies in 2022 related to youth protection and records management.
In other business, the Audit Committee:
- Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz provided a report on the Fiscal 2021 Audit Plan progress to date, as well as a summary of recently issued audits, including change requests of bank and contact information as well as purchasing cards continuous audit results; and
- Approved the chief compliance officer reporting line and an update to the Audit Committee charter.
Capital Planning & Budget Committee
The Capital Planning & Budget Committee approved UW-Eau Claire’s request to lease student athletics, events, and recreation space within the Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex. It also approved a new segregated fee that will be applied towards the lease of the facility.
The facility, which results from a unique community partnership between Mayo Clinic Health System Northwest, Blugold Real Estate, and the City of Eau Claire, will provide additional athletics and recreational needs for UW-Eau Claire and a collaborative use of space with Mayo Clinic, who contributes sports medicine, athletics and human performance training expertise, rehabilitation, medical imaging, and research conducted with the UW-Eau Claire Department of Kinesiology and other academic departments.
In other business, the Capital Planning & Budget Committee:
- Approved UW-Green Bay’s request for authority to exchange a Board-owned parcel of land on the south side of campus for one owned by University Village Housing, Inc. (UVHI) on the east side of campus. The exchange will allow UVHI to construct a new residence hall for first-year students on their south side parcel, which is located closer to the center of campus;
- Heard a presentation by UW-Madison regarding a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between UW-Madison and the University Research Park to identify parcels for development on and off-campus. The agreement also provides for investment at the UW-Madison Foundation to create a prudently managed endowment for the benefit of UW-Madison from the proceeds of these activities. UW-Madison expects to return to the Board of Regents in the next several months with more details;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to construct the Kohl Center Addition and Renovation project to provide additional space for strength and conditioning, sports medicine, academics, and administrative functions. Renovation work includes upgrades to practice/playing surfaces and service level spaces impacting locker rooms, media rooms, club rooms, and kitchen/dining areas.
- Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct a Minor Facilities Renewal project to replace the plumbing riser in the south tower of the Gruenhagen Conference Center at UW-Oshkosh and renovate restrooms to meet current ADA accessibility requirements;
- Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct three All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects: Replacing the roofs on the Allen Center and Watson Hall at UW-Stevens Point, and upgrading/replacing the central heating plant controls and upgrading exterior light fixtures, both at UW-Milwaukee;
- Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct a 2019-21 Classroom Renovation/Instructional Technology Improvement Program project to renovate space in Mitchell Hall to expand and enhance three heavily used instructional laboratories serving UW-La Crosse’s nationally accredited athletic training programs; and
- Approved UW-Madison’s request to authorize the previously approved $6,645 Program Revenue-Cash for the outstanding debt payment required to facilitate the transfer of 91 acres of land and improvements from the Department of Public Instruction to the Board of Regents be revised to $113,322.41 Program Revenue-Cash. The State Budget Office recently reviewed its original analysis and determined it had overlooked past projects at the building, which have increased the amount of outstanding debt to the new figure.
Research, Economic Development & Innovation Committee
Presenting to the REDI Committee, three WiSys faculty innovators highlighted their efforts to build a culture of research, discovery, and product commercialization at UW System comprehensive universities. Their unique perspectives were followed by updates from several students who have been recognized systemwide for excellence in undergraduate research, product development and start-ups.
UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford, WiSys Advisory Board Chair, led a panel discussion with three other chancellors highlighting the growth of intellectual property development, industry partnerships, and entrepreneurial ecosystems at UW System campuses and in their surrounding communities.
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 8:45 a.m., July 9, 2021, in Madison.