WEST BEND-The Board of Regents voted Friday to make changes to improve employment policies and practices of the University of Wisconsin System, and upheld a freeze on the granting of new concurrent positions to individuals who accept administrative limited appointments.
“These changes are the beginning of a process to reform employment policies within the state’s public university system,” said Regent President David G. Walsh of Madison. “This is a real commitment, and we should all be on board.”
Walsh and UW System President Kevin P. Reilly froze the granting of concurrent appointments in August, pending the Board’s review of a larger set of employment policies and practices, including terms of employment, use of accrued leave, compensation and competitiveness. The full Board will vote before the freeze is lifted.
According to Regent Charles Pruitt of Milwaukee, who chairs the Business and Finance Committee, the Board’s actions are intended to ensure the principle that employees will be paid at rates that are commensurate for current duties, not those of any prior position.
“The status quo is not acceptable,” agreed Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee. “I do support the notion that we’re not trying to tie hands and discourage, but I think we are also trying to be accountable.”
Board members noted the deep concern they share with state citizens about felony crimes committed by UW employees, and voted to require that when any UW employees are accused of criminal activity, their respective institutions immediately commence internal investigations and take appropriate disciplinary actions.
“The bottom line is that the public doesn’t understand why a person who has been convicted of a heinous crime has not been disciplined earlier, or why they are still on the payroll,” Walsh said. “We need to tell the public why we can’t move faster, and then move as quickly as possible.”
Following Board action, the UW System will consult with faculty and staff governance groups to review position titles designated as limited appointments, and consider implementing a fixed-term contract system in lieu of limited-term appointments.
The Board also upheld Reilly’s recent action to require the president’s approval for any settlements involving the termination of a limited appointee, and required that such settlements also be reported to the Board.
The actions now require administrators who assume faculty positions to be compensated at a rate consistent only with their faculty duties, and the Board directed that any such employees granted leave to transition to teaching must provide a work proposal and subsequent report, and will receive no more than one semester to do so. Administrators that do serve as limited appointees for more than five years would be eligible for two semesters of leave.
The Board’s actions also require the UW System to develop a revised sick leave policy; to present for review by the full Board compensation offered to the president and chancellors; and to prepare a recommendation on the sufficiency of the UW’s internal audit functions.
“I do believe that one of the key ingredients here was that we needed to send a very strong message,” Pruitt said.
Regent Michael Spector of Milwaukee warned that the Board may be looking to make sweeping changes to UW personnel structures too quickly, and urged the Board to gather more information before enacting more changes.
“I understand the urgency of this response, but whatever we’re doing, we need to make sure we’re doing it right, and that we put in place something that will stand the test of time,” agreed Regent Judy Crain of Green Bay. “I want to clear things up and to be able to explain what the university is doing about this, but I want the answers to be right.”
The UW System will report to the Board on these matters by November 2005.
Board approves tuition waiver for hurricane victims
College students displaced by Hurricane Katrina and who now plan to attend UW System campuses will receive nonresident tuition remissions for the Fall 2005 semester, under a resolution approved Friday by the Board.
“We fully recognize the impact this disaster has had on the lives of university students on the Gulf Coast,” Reilly said. “Allowing those victims to continue their education with little or no tuition cost is a way we can truly help.”
On Sept. 2, Reilly announced the UW System’s intention to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina by welcoming Gulf Coast college students to several UW campuses. In most cases, these students will enroll for the Fall 2005 semester as a class of students designated by the Board as “Hurricane Katrina Victims.”
Students who qualify for this tuition assistance are those who were enrolled at, or had been actively attending, a higher education institution located in areas in Mississippi and Louisiana now designated as federal disaster areas. Many colleges and universities in these areas have been closed for a semester or longer ― some indefinitely.
“These students have nothing,” said UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley. “They’re scared to death that down the road they will get a tuition bill they won’t be able to afford.”
“If you remove any opportunity to receive financial aid, you may as well not admit them at all,” agreed Regent Jesus Salas of Milwaukee. “They are coming here in some dire economic straits.”
The Board directed Reilly and Regent President David G. Walsh to consult with legislative leadership and the Governor regarding options to reduce, not charge, or otherwise provide financial aid support for these students. A special meeting of the Board may be held after these consultations to establish a tuition rate for the “Hurricane Katrina Victims.”
The action will not affect enrollment or financial aid already established for current UW students. The university may be able recoup some federal funds to cover the tuition waivers, Regents learned.
“Our hearts are open to these resilient students, and so must be our doors,” Walsh said.
New Adult Student Initiative part of UW Colleges, UW-Extension integration
UW-Extension and UW Colleges are taking the lead in a collaboration with UW campuses to expand how the university serves working adults, President Reilly and two UW chancellors announced Friday.
The Adult Student Initiative will build on the statewide networks and locations of the UW Colleges and UW-Extension to reach out to adult students who wish to earn their bachelor’s degrees. It is also a direct response to Board directives following the report of the Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion.
“It’s a simple concept. By increasing the percentage of state residents who hold four-year college degrees, we can improve Wisconsin’s economy,” Reilly said. “The UW must have programs in place to educate more nontraditional students if we are to improve the quality of Wisconsin’s workforce.”
Reilly also outlined how the initiative would work with adult students to offer appropriate credit for prior learning, and that funds are available for the new initiative because UW-Extension plans to reallocate dollars from some programs that are no longer active. Savings will also be achieved by centralizing some administrative functions with UW Colleges.
The integration of the UW-Extension and the UW Colleges is progressing with a shared vision for the future, UW Colleges Interim Chancellor Margaret Cleek and UW-Extension Interim Chancellor Marv Van Kekerix told the Board of Regents on Friday.
The integration follows a proposal President Reilly put forth last February to combine administrative functions of the two institutions under a single chancellor.
Cleek and Van Kekerix said their coordinated efforts and joint planning emphasize ways the combined institutions can better serve students and the state.
“It’s not exactly a simple undertaking,” Van Kekerix said, noting the differences in organizational cultures and missions. “But we are excited about our progress and our prospects for the future.”
Cleek said the joint committee has focused on how an integrated entity would further the system’s commitment to access, active faculty and staff governance and strong partnerships with UW System comprehensive and doctoral campuses. She also said the goals of what could emerge as a new entity would be to increase access, quality and efficiency.
“The combination of our two institutions will preserve our unique missions,” Cleek said, adding that the integration will also allow for joint improvements.
Van Kekerix highlighted programs that will focus on expanding student access to baccalaureate degrees, which include several adult-student initiatives, such as support for degree completion, distance-education programs and face-to-face instruction.
Along with reaching out to adult students, Cleek said efforts are being made to increase diversity among students.
“When do you begin to reach out to people who are interested in higher education?” she asked. “The answer is ‘early on’.”
Cleek said the committee’s next step is to develop two fully integrated models for the likely new entity, one of which it will follow upon its creation.
“I think we’ve made some real steps in the right direction,” Van Kekerix said.
Regent Charles Pruitt of Milwaukee praised the work of the committee, calling their efforts “right on point.”
Reilly thanked the leadership and staff of UW-Extension and UW Colleges, who he said have put their energies and ideas into shaping this dynamic, new direction.
“I am impressed, and inspired, by their efforts to make this an integration not just of paperwork and processing, but of one culture, mission and service,” Reilly said.
As part of his report, Reilly also welcomed students back to campus for the start of the new academic year, and read “Marginalia,” a poem by Billy Collins, as way of inspiring hard work in the classroom.
Board shows appreciation to UW-Extension
While hosting the Board’s two days of meetings, UW-Extension truly showcased its ability to expand the boundaries of the university to the boundaries of the state, Regents noted today in a resolution of appreciation.
The resolution thanked UW-Extension for its presentations by youth members of 4-H, and for informational sessions on dairy modernization and community involvement, efforts to reach out to adult students, datacasting, and the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network.
The Board also honored George Brooks, former UW System Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, with a resolution of appreciation. Brooks recently retired after more than 30 years of service with the UW System.
In other business, the full Board:
- Authorized the UW System’s participation in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, an interstate initiative to increase educational opportunities for students;
- Accepted the 2005-06 Auxiliary Reserves Report and the 2004-05 Report on Base Salary Adjustments to Recognize Competitive Factors;
- Approved the implementation of the Master Term Sheet for the University Square Redevelopment Project at UW-Madison;
- Approved naming the new UW-Madison Park Street Residence Hall the “Newell J. Smith Hall”;
- Granted authority to increase the scope and the budget of the UW-Madison University Ridge-Phase III project by $1,192,200 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing;
- Approved the Design Report for UW-Superior’s Wessman Arena Locker Room Addition project for a total project cost of $1,124,000;
- Granting authority to construct various maintenance and repair projects at an estimated total cost of $7,523,500;
- Recommended the 2005-07 Capital Budget revision be submitted to the Department of Administration and the state Building Commission;
- Accepted the Annual Report on 2004 Undergraduate Drop Rates;
- Approved the addition of an online degree program for a Consortial Master of Business Administration, as well as a UW-Stout program for a B.S. in Golf Enterprise Management;
- Approved allowing UW-Eau Claire to offer a B.A. and B.S. in Women’s Studies and authorizing a consortium between UW-La Crosse and UW-Milwaukee to offer a program for a Doctor of Physical Therapy;
- Approved a four-year extension for UW-Milwaukee’s charter school, the School for Early Development and Achievement, to operate a public school;
- Approved amendments to the UW-Oshkosh Faculty Personnel Rules; and
- Authorized UW-Madison, UW-Stout and UW-Superior to recruit for Provosts and Vice Chancellors within their respective salary ranges.
The Board of Regents will hold its next regular meeting Thursday and Friday, October 6-7, 2005 in Madison.