MADISON-The University of Wisconsin System must be free from state-imposed management mandates if it is to maximize resources during another biennia of limited state tax support, Board of Regents Vice President David Walsh said Friday (March 11) during the Board’s March meeting.

Walsh was responding to a presentation by Rep. David Ward (R-Fort Atkinson), who is serving as a higher education liaison as a member of the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance. Ward told the Board that while higher education is a priority for the state, other commitments may take most of the available state funding in the 2005-07 biennial budget.

“A lot of things are interrelated,” Ward said, adding that if the state had a budget surplus, legislators would invest in the UW System. “When times are tough, you’ve got to look at your priorities.”

Ward said the Joint Committee on Finance would pay close attention to tuition, a pay plan for university employees, capital building projects, and cuts in the number of state jobs.

“We do not want to price students out of an education,” he said, adding that he was aware of the university’s difficulties in attracting faculty and staff. “We have an ability-to-pay issue that we’re very worried about.”

Ward said the state is still managing budget deficits, and that in addition to considering the UW System’s budget, the Joint Committee on Finance will also spend time considering needs for shared revenue, medical assistance, and K-12 schools.

Walsh, of Madison, suggested the state and the university would benefit most from nonpartisan budget deliberations.

“Financial aid, access, quality, the future, economic development – this is what we talk about,” Walsh said. “What’s really important to us is the system itself. We need flexibility to run it like a business.”

Walsh said the UW System is a vehicle to help the state increase its tax base by graduating more students and retaining them as workers, but the university needs state investment to do its part.

Regent Peggy Rosenzweig of Wauwatosa asked Ward if proceeds from sale of university lands or other cost savings would be returned to the university’s budget. It was noted that allocation of funds from these sales would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Ward said the Joint Committee on Finance is expected to begin voting on the biennial budget in April.

Reilly reports on restructuring plans; national honors

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly talked with state and federal representatives this month to voice the university’s concerns about state and federal support, and to hear representatives’ ideas about the UW System’s future, he reported to the Board on Friday.

Reilly reminded the Board that he was part of a recent joint informational hearing of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee and the Senate Higher Education and Tourism Committee, at which he reviewed the UW’s plans for efficiency and effectiveness, the proposal to consolidate the Madison-based administrative offices of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, and  credit transfer between the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The joint committee also heard about a proposal from Rep. Rob Kreibich (R-Eau Claire) to make the freshman-sophomore UW Colleges satellites of its four-year universities.

It was helpful to gain a greater understanding of Kreibich’s proposal, Reilly said. He said the ideas do raise some questions for the UW System to consider about what kinds of changes will be most effective and appropriate.

“I do think that Representative Kreibich, and many of his colleagues, share our desire to produce more baccalaureate degree holders in Wisconsin, and that is good,” Reilly said. “But, as we listen, and evaluate these ideas and others, we must make sure that when we act, we do the right thing – the smart thing -particularly as we restructure and retool. And we must make sure that we do not do anything that will hurt our students or their ability to succeed.”

Reilly also reported that the Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars Programs, offered through the UW System Office of Professional and Instructional Development, won the 2005 TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Certificate of Excellence. The programs seek to strengthen the understanding of student learning among early career, non-tenured faculty, as well as more senior career faculty leaders.

Read Reilly's letter to legislative committees pdf

Read Reilly’s remarks

Board honors former UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Mash

The Board on Thursday passed a Resolution of Appreciation for Donald J. Mash, who recently assumed the duties of Executive Senior Vice President for the UW System following seven years of service as chancellor at the UW-Eau Claire campus.

Regent Roger Axtell of Janesville presented Mash with the resolution, which honored Mash’s commitment to students, the Eau Claire community, and his long career in higher education.

Axtell said he admired Mash for his ability to compellingly tell the UW System’s story. He recalled a speech Mash gave in June 2004 that encouraged the university community to make the case for investment in its mission.

Mash told the Regents that his time at UW-Eau Claire was a “labor of love.” He said he was constantly inspired by the impressive students, teaching excellence, and commitment to a healthy and respected campus environment.

Mash, the first member of his immediate family to complete high school, was visibly emotional as he described how his mother encouraged him to continue his college career at a point when he wasn’t sure he wanted to, or could afford to, continue. That experience, he said, changed his life, and has kept him committed to fighting for a quality, accessible higher education system.

“We have a significant challenge to reach down to young students and let them know that college is possible,” Mash said. “I think we have a responsibility to get the importance of this experience out there.”

Mash said the UW System should continue to strive to provide access, to nurture young students, and to make sure they have the opportunity to return to the state what it invests in their education.

“That’s the essence of public higher education,” he said.

Read the Mash Resolution pdf

Board approves UW-Madison apparel contract, capital projects, salary adjustment

The full Board of Regents on Thursday voted 10-4 to approve a new sponsorship agreement with adidas Promotional Retails Operations, Inc., which provides shoes, equipment, and apparel to the UW-Madison intercollegiate athletic teams.

The full Board approved the resolution, forwarded from the Business and Finance Committee, which considered the agreement on Thursday.

UW-Madison students Joel Feingold and Liana Dalton, a member of the university’s Labor Licensing Committee, spoke against the proposed contract in its present terms. They asked the Board to be proactive in ensuring the contract would require adidas to be publicly accountable for meeting labor standards.

Vice Chancellor Darrell Bazzell and Casey Nagy, chief of staff to the UW-Madison Chancellor, noted that the proposed agreement provides economic benefits to UW-Madison and its Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. They also told the Board that under the contract, adidas must abide by the Collegiate Licensing Company Labor Codes of Conduct, with which the UW-Madison is affiliated. If that code is breached, the university and the board may terminate the agreement with adidas. adidas must also allow UW-Madison “unfettered access” to its records, they said.

Nagy and Chancellor John Wiley noted that questionable labor practices do exist within the apparel industry, and that this contract offered greater transparency and the chance to monitor labor practices than previous contracts.

“We try to find a responsible partner to work with, and we think we’ve found that with adidas,” Nagy said. “Bringing sunshine to the practices in this industry would be in everyone’s best interest.”

The Board also on Friday approved a salary adjustment for UW-Madison Business Dean Michael Knetter. His salary, of $247,659 in state-supported dollars, will now be augmented by $50,000 in private dollars. No additional state funds will be necessary for the adjustment. The Regents voted on the matter in a closed session, as permitted by state statute.

Read a news release on Dean Knetter

The Board also passed several resolutions to:

  • Authorize a Master of Arts degree in Women’s Studies/Gender Studies at UW-Madison;
  • Authorize a Doctor of Audiology degree through a consortium including UW-Madison and UW-Stevens Point;
  • Approve 2005-06 annual budget allocation decision rules;
  • Vote affirmatively on non-routine shareholder proxy proposals for UW System Trust Funds;
  • Approve a UW-Green Bay Phoenix Sports Center expansion and remodeling;
  • Approve a UW-Madison Dayton Street residence hall, Ogg Hall demolition, and Camp Randall press box remodeling project expansion;
  • Approve a UW-Platteville residence hall site utility extension maintenance and repair project; and
  • Approve the Board’s 2006 meeting schedule.
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The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will hold its next meeting Thursday, April 7-8, 2005, in Madison.

Related: Read Mar. 10 (day 1) news summary