MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents officially voted Friday to approve two new university personnel systems that will give the Board administrative authority for all UW System employees.

Development of the new personnel systems – one for UW-Madison employees and the other a separate system for all other UW System employees – was authorized and directed by Act 32 of the state’s 2011-13 biennial budget, as part of larger efforts to provide the University with greater operational flexibility.

The new systems will simplify titling structures, protect existing employee rights, and establish a compensation structure that allows each institution to consider market competition and merit pay as part of efforts to recruit and retain a highly qualified and diverse workforce.

On Friday, Regents approved resolutions setting forth the Board’s overarching authority for university personnel systems; first-time governance rights for University Staff; a code of ethics policies for the full workforce; and technical statutory changes needed to accomplish the legislative intent of the statute regarding UW System personnel policies.

Regent John Drew, one of two Regents to speak in dissent, commended the efforts to engage the campus communities in developing the proposals, but said such efforts were “an inadequate substitute for collective bargaining, where workers and management sit down as equals and negotiate.”

Regent Tony Evers also expressed his discomfort, noting that in the new era of flexibility on campuses, all employees need protection.

Chad Goldberg, a sociology professor at UW-Madison and a member of the Faculty Senate, addressed the Board. He did not question the good intentions of those who developed the new personnel systems, but said he could not support those plans because the managerial flexibility offered could potentially erode employee rights. “Greater freedom for a supervisor to treat staff better is not the same thing as the right to due process and fair treatment,” he said.

The new personnel systems came before the Board after extensive input from faculty, academic staff, and classified staff at every UW institution.

With the Board approval of the personnel systems, state statutes now require their approval by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) before the new systems can be implemented on July 1, 2013.

President Reilly addresses need for pay plan

As part of his regular report to the Board, UW System President Kevin P. Reilly reiterated that improved compensation for UW employees will continue to be a high priority.

“It’s an issue that impacts not only our 45,000 employees statewide, but also the ability of the UW System to fuel a stronger workforce and stronger businesses in Wisconsin, and the quality of the education our 181,000 students receive,” Reilly said.

While faculty salaries at UW System institutions have fallen more than 18% behind the national average, Reilly reminded the Board that most UW System employees also have gone four years without a raise, and have taken additional cuts to their compensation through mandatory unpaid furlough days and larger contributions towards the cost of benefits.

He told Regents there is general recognition that the sizeable compensation gap relative to peers cannot be closed in one budget cycle, but efforts must be made to at least begin narrowing the gap, “or we will all pay the price in lost talent and sliding reputation.”

The Board of Regents is seeking greater authority over compensation matters – an idea supported by the Legislative Task Force on UW Flexibilities, which included legislators in both houses and from both sides of the political aisle.

“There is clear recognition that the University operates differently from other state agencies, in different markets, and that should be reflected in how we deal with our own employees,” Reilly said.  He noted, however, that it will not be known until the end of the fiscal year whether that authority will be delegated by the legislature.

Regent Tim Higgins reported that in his visits to UW institutions, the faculty continues to be proud of the system they’re part of, though they also continue to express concern at their personal situation. “Their continuing support, their efforts to do the very best with the limited resources available, is something we should be very proud of,” Higgins said. “Closing that (compensation) gap should be one of our first priorities.”

Revised non-resident enrollment guidelines approved

The Regents unanimously approved changes to a section of the UW System Freshman Admissions Policy that increase the cap on non-resident undergraduate enrollment from 25 percent to no more than 27.5 percent, based on a rolling three-year average.

The policy change was prompted by an unanticipated and increased number of non-resident freshmen choosing to enroll at UW-Madison in fall 2012, which contributed to a 25.8 percent non-resident enrollment. This is the first year since merger that UW-Madison has exceeded the limitation of 25 percent non-resident students.

Minnesota reciprocity students are excluded from the limitation on non-resident undergraduates.

Regent Regina Millner noted that as part of the new standard, UW-Madison – the only UW System institution currently affected by the new cap – would create 200 more freshman spots for Wisconsin students. Increased revenues from out-of-state tuition would fund that larger class, she said.

“The UW System exists first and foremost for the benefit of Wisconsin residents,” said Regent John Drew. “I think it is a good thing we have a cap on non-resident enrollment. It is, in some ways, a guard against the tendency to maximize revenue, and tries to balance the needs of our in-state students.”

UW-Madison presents first annual Athletics Department annual report

Under the new reporting guidelines approved by the Board of Regents in November, officials from UW-Madison presented the Board with their first NCAA Division I Athletics 2011-12 Annual Report.

UW-Madison Athletic Director Barry Alvarez called the submitted report “comprehensive and thorough.”

The report provides information related to the well-being and success of UW System student-athletes; the fiscal health of the athletic department and financial viability of UW athletics programs; the success of the academic mission of the institutions; and the athletics department’s compliance with rules and regulations of the NCAA and the Big 10 Conference.

Michael Morgan, Senior Vice President for Administration & Fiscal Affairs, told Regents that a review by the Office of Operations Review and Audit of UW-Madison’s annual report found that it included all information called for under the Board of Regents’ reporting framework.

Morgan added that the report indicates that UW-Madison’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics was financially viable during the year ended June 30, 2012, no compliance issues were identified, and it was determined that the athletics department has established benchmarks that are capable of being used to assess student-athlete academic progress.

Regent Jeff Bartell commended the extensive and in-depth information provided in the report. He also requested an “executive summary” in future reports to help Regents navigate through the detailed data.

Several Regents questioned the 48% six-year graduation rate for African-American student-athletes relative to the overall graduation rate of 61%. Alvarez pointed out that the stories behind the numbers – including athletes turning professional, transferring out of UW, or graduating in more than six years – sometimes can skew the data unfavorably. At the same time, he noted there are on-campus programs, such as the Beyond the Game initiative, which provide academic support and mentorship to help mitigate such achievement gaps.

Presidents’ reports

In his report, Regent President Brent Smith updated Board members on recent and upcoming activity and communications with the legislature, as it goes about developing the state’s 2013-15 biennial budget.

“We have considerable vested interest in what that budget will look like,” Smith noted, and that is reflected in the busy schedule of face-to-face meetings scheduled with newly elected legislative leaders and others. “We will use those opportunities to discuss ways we can work together in the upcoming legislative session,” Smith said.

In President Reilly’s report, he shared news from around the UW System.


In other business, the Board:

  • Approved a resolution of appreciation for UW-Madison and its hosting of the December 2012 meeting;
  • Approved new salary ranges for the Chancellor positions at UW-Madison and UW-Eau Claire;
  • Approved the appointment of Professor Kenneth Taylor to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Partnership program;
  • Approved changes to Board of Regent policy with respect to when and on whom criminal background checks must be performed.; that resolution directs each institution to implement an amended policy by March 2013;
  • Approved revised UW-Madison Center for Advanced Studies in Business guidelines relating to the operation of the Fluno Center for Executive Education;
  • Approved the consolidation and elimination of a series of Regent Policy Documents concerning the investment and administration of UW System Trust Funds;
  • Reaffirmed its adoption of the Investment Policy Statement for the UW System Trust Funds;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to adjust the project budget and construct the $3.5-million gift-funded All Season Softball Practice Facility project;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to petition for annexation of 388 acres comprising the entire Spooner Agricultural Research Station into the city of Spooner, Wisconsin;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request for authority to purchase a property, located at 3435 North Lake Drive, Milwaukee, from the UW-Milwaukee Real Estate Foundation, Inc. for $645,000; this property will become the official chancellor’s residence;
  • Approved UW-Oshkosh’s request for authority to construct the Lincoln Hall Renovation project and increase the budget by $424,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing for a total cost of $4,900,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing;
  • Approved UW-Superior’s request for authority to increase the budget of the Ross and Hawkes Halls Renovation project by $1,079,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing;
  • Approved UW System’s recommendation for four All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects on three campuses totaling about $4 million;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to sell approximately 2.93 acres of land and buildings located at 6101 Mineral Point Road in Madison, Wisconsin, site of the former Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Building, to University Research Park, LLC;  and
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to modify the 2013-15 Capital Budget recommendation with UW-Milwaukee’s request for enumeration of $65,300,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing to exercise the buyout option of the leasehold interest in the property at 1915 E. Kenilworth Place, Milwaukee, from the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee in September 2013.



The UW System Board of Regents will hold its next meeting February 7-8, 2013, in Van Hise Hall, Madison

Related: Read December 6 (day 1) news summary