MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System is seeking reinvestment from the state to help increase the number of college graduates in the state and to propel creation of more better-paying jobs.

At a Board of Regents meeting Thursday in Madison, UW System President Kevin P. Reilly reiterated that the UW System is cognizant of the state’s current economic troubles, but emphasized that funding the university’s new initiatives would ultimately offer significant payback to Wisconsin residents.

“This is an investment we all need to make. It’s an investment with a huge return that the state cannot forego, cannot do without. This is an investment, it’s not an expenditure,” Reilly said.

UW System’s request for new initiatives in the 2011-13 operating budget seeks $66.3 million in additional state general purpose revenue (GPR) and $17.4 million in fees, for a total of $83.6 million of ongoing annual funding.

The requested funding would support the UW System’s Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, which aims to increase the number of UW graduates by 80,000 over the next 15 years, while also leveraging university research to create more private-sector jobs.

The Board of Regents unanimously approved the operating budget request.

Reilly emphasized to the Board that the request for $83.6 million to fund new initiatives represents about one-third of the total requests submitted by individual UW campuses. The list has since been narrowed down to investments that have the biggest returns-on-investment.

New funds for the “More Graduates” initiative would help support an additional 5,900 undergraduate students.  That growth would come from retaining an estimated 2,200 students who might otherwise have dropped out after freshman year, and adding 3,700 new students through better recruitment efforts.

The “More Jobs” initiative would expand access System-wide to electronic publications and research databases across all 26 UW campuses and support UW-Milwaukee’s continuing efforts to build a thriving research enterprise. Plans call for improved graduate assistant support for research at UW-Madison, and new emerging technology centers at UW comprehensive campuses.

The budget request also asks for reinstatement of a 2% state pay plan that was rescinded in June 2009 for non-represented employees. Unionized employees received that 2% increase.

Reilly emphasized that the UW is sensitive to the state’s fragile economic condition and the scarcity of public resources. “On the other hand, we cannot just sit on the sidelines waiting for someone else to push our state toward economic recovery. More and more people are convinced that the UW System is an economic catalyst.  We need to use the UW to get us moving quickly along the road to recovery and long-term prosperity,” Reilly said.

Regent President Chuck Pruitt added, “We are not asking for unconditional support. We are prepared to deliver measurable performance against goals that have met with near universal acceptance.”

In setting the context for budget discussions, Pruitt reminded the Board that in the early 1980s, the State allocated about 14 cents of every tax dollar to the UW System. “Today, fewer than 9 cents of every tax dollar collected by Wisconsin goes to support our public university,” Pruitt said.

Reilly added that while keeping an eye on affordability for students is a key priority, the UW System must also maintain its commitment to affordability for the taxpayer.

“We know that we must drive down the per-capita cost, so the amount of funding we’re requesting for new enrollments is only 75% of the per-student state support we’ve requested in previous budget calculations,” Reilly said. “That’s an important signal from the university to the state, to the people of Wisconsin, that we want the UW to do what it needs to do for them but in a way that does not break the bank.”

Regent Jeff Bartell said that given Wisconsin’s per capita expenditures per student are already lower than the national averages, he had concerns about further reducing those expenditures by 25%, as outlined in the proposed budget request.

UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin also questioned the notion that the cost of educating students is going down. She noted that asking for differential tuition to provide additional educational support doesn’t gibe with saying it could be done for less.

Associate Vice President for Budget and Planning Freda Harris explained that the reduced funding rate would only apply to about 3,700 of the new enrollments, which would likely include more non-traditional students who will take more courses online, receive more credit for prior learning, or benefit from transfer opportunities.  Along with seeking new funds to expand educational access, UW System must also advocate for its base budget – funds necessary to sustain current levels of instructional quality and student services.

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells noted that public support for the university’s mission is contingent on producing more and better prepared graduates. “We are not going to get a larger share of the dollar if we don’t engender confidence that we’re going to play our role,” Wells said.

Pruitt also reiterated the importance of the university being given greater flexibility to do its work.

“Two of the statutory changes requested – expanding tuition authority to include educational quality initiatives and authorization to address competitive compensation needs across the UW System – would be small but pretty important steps that the State could take to provide our Chancellors and university leadership with a greater ability to recruit and retain top talent, and give this Board of Regents greater flexibility to selectively use tuition dollars to enhance education quality. I think they are an important part as we look to the long-term future of the University System,” Pruitt said.

The Board also approved a capital budget request that would require $54.0 million in state-supported bonding for new major projects, remodeling, and expanding academic facilities. The university has pledged $17.4 million of private matching funds for these projects. In addition, the Board is seeking authority to construct $212.2 million of new projects that will not require any state support. The Board is also requesting $108.6 million in state-supported bonding for maintenance, repair, and renovation of existing academic facilities.

The budget requests are now forwarded to the State for consideration by the governor and lawmakers.

See UW System PowerPoint pdf .

Board recognizes Gov. Jim Doyle

Gov. Jim Doyle (left) and Regent Walsh

Gov. Jim Doyle (left) and Regent Walsh

The Board of Regents recognized outgoing Gov. Jim Doyle on Thursday for his commitment to higher education over eight years in office

Regent David Walsh, a long-time personal friend of the Governor, presented Doyle with a resolution of appreciation on behalf of the Board. He said that Doyle has played a major part in sending “a strong message to the people of Wisconsin that education is part of the solution, not the problem.” He cited Doyle’s efforts to increase access to higher education through increased financial aid and the development of programs like the Wisconsin Covenant. Walsh also pointed to Doyle’s strong support for expanded research opportunities, including stem cell research, as an investment in a stronger economic future.

Regent President Pruitt saluted Doyle for having his “courage in standing up and being counted in the tough fights” related to higher education.

Addressing the Board, Gov. Doyle praised UW leadership for staying the course in difficult economic times.

“We are still in the middle of a very deep recession. It takes real management to come through a difficult time, management that’s based on maintaining very high values, maintaining a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish and how to do it when you don’t have all the resources you want to have,” Doyle said.

He also urged Regents to continue to push for increased affordability and access to higher education in the state.

“In the long run…the real focus has to be on how you continue to move this great, great system forward, and continue to make sure that some young person growing up in a little town in Wisconsin or in our biggest city, who has worked really hard in high school and always wanted to go to college, has the opportunity to go to absolutely world-class higher education. That’s what we’ve done in Wisconsin, that’s something I am incredibly proud of and I hope all of you in this room share in that pride,” Doyle said.

Wisconsin Partnership Program provides annual report

UW-Madison’s Robert Golden, Dean of the School of Medicine and Public Health, presented the 2009 Report of the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP) to a joint session of the Budget, Finance & Audit Committee and the Education Committee.

The report, developed annually by the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in collaboration with the Wisconsin Partnership Program’s Oversight and Advisory Committee (OAC), describes the activities leading to the awarding of grants by both the OAC and by the Medical Education and Research Committee (MERC) for projects that advance population health in Wisconsin.

Golden reported that the Wisconsin Partnership Program has completed the first year of its second Five-Year Plan and continues to fund many vital health improvement projects across the state, despite the difficult economic climate.

He told Regents that the OAC has identified the promotion of healthy weight; physical activity and good nutrition; and the reduction of the incidence and severity of obesity as its next targeted initiative. He called the epidemic of diseases related to obesity, inactivity, and poor nutrition one of the most pressing health issues facing Wisconsin.

The WPP also continued its commitment to addressing infant mortality rates in Wisconsin’s African-American community, which is among the worst in the nation. The WPP has committed $10 million to this effort, and in late 2009, wide-ranging organizations representing Beloit, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine started planning proposals to help improve outcomes in their communities.

View the Wisconsin Partnership Program PowerPoint pdf .

Education Committee approves expansion of UWM charter school contract

After brief discussion, the Education Committee approved expansion of the charter contract for the Milwaukee College Preparatory School (MCPS) to take over operation of the Academy of Learning and Leadership (ALL), a charter school recently terminated by the City of Milwaukee.

The timing of the request did not allow the Office of Charter Schools to follow its normal process for overseeing new schools. The agreement was based, however, on the strength of MCPS as UW-Milwaukee’s highest performing charter school, and the desire by all parties to serve 300 students displaced by the closing of ALL just weeks prior to the new school year.

State Superintendent Tony Evers, who also serves as a UW System Regent, expressed his support for the contract approval. In a letter to fellow Regents, Evers said “the present situation demands immediate attention and the expansion of the UWM K-12 system seems to be a prudent solution.”

Regent Danae Davis expressed her confidence in the proposal, praising the success of MCPS and the expertise and caring of its principal, Dr. Rob Rauh, saying “You are a rare individual regarding the depth of your commitment” to the success of children.

The Committee also approved the amendment to the charter school contract with the Milwaukee College Preparatory School, to allow MCPS to expand for two years to a second site in order to accommodate the students who were displaced by the termination of ALL’s contract with the City of Milwaukee.

UW-Whitewater’s equity efforts presented to Committee

Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin led a presentation on actions that UW-Whitewater is taking to strengthen equity and excellence across its curriculum and co-curriculum. The report is the first follow-up to the Education Committee’s request for regular presentations on Inclusive Excellence work at the institutions.

The Committee heard from UW-Whitewater’s Provost Bev Kopper; Dr. Lauren Smith, chair of the Department of Women’s Studies; and Dr. Richard McGregory, interim director of Academic Support Services, who showed a powerful video titled “Like Family” telling the stories of students benefiting from UW-Whitewater’s programming to strengthen equity and diversity across the curriculum.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Approved UW School of Medicine and Public Health’s appointment of Dr. Patrick Remington to the Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Partnership Fund for a Healthy Future;
  • Approved the proposed M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Linguistics at UW-Milwaukee; and
  • Discussed priority areas for the new academic year.

Regent policy on interim appointments clarified

The Business, Finance, and Audit Committee approved amendments to the Regent policy addressing interim appointments, clarifying the protocols and processes for appointments of UW System Chancellors, Senior Vice Presidents, and Vice Presidents.

Regent President Pruitt reminded Committee members that it has been the long-term standard practice for the System president to make interim appointments as needed, on consultation with Board leadership. The proposed amendments build on existing policy by adding a new section on interim appointments.

Pruitt noted that the new policy would provide clearer guidance for the forthcoming appointment of a UW-Milwaukee interim chancellor, following this week’s announcement that Chancellor Carlos Santiago will leave next month.

The new policy explicitly authorizes the UW System President to make interim appointments, providing a process for making such appointments after appropriate consultation with Regent leadership. The new language limits the length of an interim appointment to no more than three years.

BFA Committee approves amended agreement with WiSys Technology Foundation

The Business, Finance, and Audit Committee approved changes to the Board’s agreement with WiSys to allow licensing revenues from WiSCAP-funded projects to be allocated differently from general WiSys funded projects. Under the new agreement, WiSCAP-funded projects will direct all but the inventor’s (20%) share back into the WiSCAP Fund until the Fund’s grant investments are repaid. Once WiSCAP grant investments are fully repaid, the standard WiSYS licensing revenue distribution formula would be applied. The goal of this change is to allow the WiSCAP Fund to become self-sustaining.

The Committee also approved a resolution allocating $2 million from the funds appropriated under Wisconsin statute to the WiSys Technology Foundation for the purpose of making grants and otherwise providing support for the Wisconsin Small Company Advancement Program (WiSCAP), as provided in the C.O.R.E. Jobs Act. These funds were appropriated to the Board of Regents on a “one-time” basis rather than ongoing base dollars.

BFA Committee updated on major information technology projects

Senior Vice President Michael Morgan told the Committee that the Human Resource System project is currently on budget and on time. Phase I has been completed, he said, and the second phase, which includes testing and looking at functionality, is now underway.

“By all indications, the project is going well,” Morgan said.

Morgan also reported that current project manager Joe Hendrickson, who is leaving Huron, will be succeeded immediately by colleague Joy Walton.

Associate Vice President for Learning and Information Technology Ed Meachen presented progress reports on other major IT projects now underway: the Student Information System at UW-Eau Claire; the Identity and Access Management project directed by UW-Madison’s DoIT; and the Legacy Budget System. All are on time and on budget, with the Eau Claire system targeted for full implementation this fall and the IAM system expected to go live in 2011.

In other business, the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee:

  • Approved a five-year Athletic Apparel, Equipment, and Sponsorship Agreement between UW-Madison and adidas America, Inc.;
  • Approved a six-year Data Research Analysis Agreement between UW-Madison and Pfizer, Inc.;
  • Heard a quarterly status report from Julie Gordon, Director of the Office of Operations Review and Audit, on seven projects being planned or currently underway in the UW System: Student Evaluation of Instruction; Prior Learning Assessments; Student Assistance Funds; Service Learning; Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Implementation; NCAA Division III Athletic Departments; and the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Pilot Project; and
  • Heard a quarterly report of Gifts, Grants and Contracts awarded to UW System institutions in the fourth quarter. Total gifts, grants, and contracts for the period were $1.621 billion, an increase of $212.0 million over the same period in the prior year. Federal awards increased $289.8 million, while non-federal awards decreased by $77.8 million. The large increase in federal awards was primarily driven by substantially increased research funding opportunities associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Capital Planning & Budget Committee approves purchase of Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Campus

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee approved a request by UW-Milwaukee to purchase the 11-acre Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital campus at a cost of $20.2 million. This acquisition had been identified as one of the key opportunity sites for UWM because it adds contiguous space to the landlocked Kenwood campus.

A campus committee will recommend guidelines to determine the best potential uses of this property which could include providing new space for student services, health sciences, engineering, mathematics, or other departments.  Following the acquisition, it is likely that renovations of the buildings for UW use will span many years.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved a request by UW-Madison to construct the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research Center Tower project.  The $134.8-million project, funded with a 50/50 split of GPR and gift funding, is the second phase of the three-part WIMR project and will construct a seven-story research laboratory tower on a three-story base to remedy demonstrated research space deficiencies of the School of Medicine and Public Health;
  • Approved a request by UW-Madison to adjust the scope and budget of the Wisconsin Energy Institute Phase I Project and authority to construct the project. The project will construct a five-story building on the campus to house research labs and offices to support the Wisconsin Energy Institute;
  • Authorized a request from UW-Madison to lease space for the Belleville Family Medicine Clinic.  The lease will provide space for the clinic in a building that will be built and owned by the Madison Family Medicine Residency Corporation, on land donated to the corporation;
  • Approved a request by UW-Oshkosh to increase the scope and budget of the New Residence Hall Project by $1.7million PRSB.  The increase is due to the addition of two heating systems and the relocation of a server room;
  • Approved a request by UW-Stout to increase the budget of the Memorial Student Center Renovation project by $1-million program revenue supported bonding and to construct the Project. The $19-million project will remodel space in the center to improve deteriorated, inefficient, and outdated infrastructure, improve circulation and reconfigure space to serve current functional needs of the students;
  • Approved a request by UW-Superior for a small increase to the budget of the Rothwell Student Center Project.  The bids that were received for the parking lot portion of the project were $300,000 higher than what was originally estimated; and
  • Heard from Associate Vice President David Miller, who reported that the Building Commission has approved about $421 million for projects at its June and August meetings.

The full Board then went into closed session.

Photo credit: James Gill


The Board of Regents will resume its August 2010 meeting on Friday, August 20 at 9 a.m.

Related: August 20 (day 2) news summary