The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Thursday (June 6) adopted the 2002-03 operating budget but chose not to set tuition for the coming academic year.
Because the conference committee is still working to balance the state’s $1.1 billion budget deficit, the 2002-03 budget is based on assumptions that the university will have to cut $10 million from its current budget and $30 million from the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
“The ultimate impact of these reductions on our enrollments and services cannot be known until we know what tuition increase will be included in the final bill – whether tuition will be capped at the Governor’s proposed 10 percent, or 8 percent, or somewhere in between,” UW System President Katharine Lyall told the board during its meeting at UW-Milwaukee.
“We are therefore not asking you to set a tuition schedule today but will ask you to do so in a special meeting no later than the first week of July, so that tuition bills can be timely sent and parents and students can plan for their financial obligations for the fall.”
With the 2002-03 fiscal year, state funding as a percentage of the university budget will fall to its lowest level ever since the UW System merger in 1971, Lyall noted. State funds will comprise 31.3 percent of the UW budget in 2002-03. At merger, the state provided 50 percent of university funding.
Lyall explained to the board how the various proposals to balance the state budget would affect the UW’s economic stimulus package, a comprehensive plan to enroll additional students in high-tech, high-demand majors and develop new programs to strengthen Wisconsin’s economy.
Under Gov. Scott McCallum’s proposal to trim $41 million from the UW budget and cap tuition at 10 percent, the university could implement 50 percent of the stimulus package and enroll students to current targeted levels. The latest Republican proposal would cut an additional $10 million and allow the UW to do just 28 percent of the stimulus package and reduce enrollments by 2,000 full-time equivalency students. The latest Democratic version would be $10 million less than the governor’s, which would allow for implementation of 72 percent of the stimulus package and increase enrollments by 2,000 FTE students.
Building Our Resource Base
The Board of Regents on Thursday concluded its yearlong look at alternative approaches to funding public higher education by approving the “Building Our Resource Base” final report.
Based on the final report, the UW System will now move forward to immediately implement the following items as part of a long-term funding strategy:
- Seek approval from the state to keep interest income from tuition revenue, gifts, grants, contracts and federal reimbursement funds. The UW already keeps interest earnings on auxiliary, trust and some financial aid funds.
- Invest a portion of auxiliary funds in longer-term securities; the board already has the flexibility to invest in this manner.
- Develop an enhanced private fundraising strategy, including feasibility/marketing studies with a consultant, and continue to seek additional federal funding.
- Move toward more self-supporting tuition for adults and professional programs.
- Set the current tuition policy goal that UW System reach 95 percent of the peer midpoint for resident undergraduate tuition.
- Give Regents full authority over tuition rates through a revenue control compact component.
- Expand the definition of “standard costs to continue” to provide predictable funding for library acquisitions, postage increases, Internet costs and other areas.
- Link financial aid increases to tuition increases, which has been the board’s position for several years.
- Encourage greater use of differential tuition on campuses to meet unfunded but high-priority student needs.
The report also includes recommendations for other items for further study, possible pilot study and long-range consideration.
“This report positions the UW System well for the next decade in funding strategy,” concludes the report.
Trends in faculty retirement
The board on Thursday also heard an update on an important personnel issue-faculty retirement, known as “The Graying of the Faculty.”
Frank Goldberg, associate vice president for policy analysis and research, briefed the board on the latest statistics on faculty retirement. In 1998, the UW System predicted that 38.4 percent of university professors would retire by 2007-08. Through 2000-01, Goldberg reported, 12.5 percent of faculty from 1997-98 had retired. Goldberg added that the UW System was hiring more female and minority professors to replace retiring white male professors.
Carol Sue Butts, provost at UW-Platteville, explained to the regents the dynamics of one generation of faculty leaving and another generation of faculty beginning their careers.
“This is an exciting time on campus,” she said. “There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”
Butts said new faculty are more research-based, focus on academic disciplines rather than having an institutional focus, are savvy with instructional technology and are very productive in terms of obtaining grants and publishing. But they are not as engaged in campus life and shared governance and haven’t developed a strong appreciation for campus citizenship.
In particular, Butts said the start-up costs of new professors are a challenge for the UW System. She noted that the average start-up cost for an assistant professor in the sciences at UW-Madison is $500,000; the average for all new assistant professors at the Madison campus is $164,000.
Joe Heim, political science professor at UW-La Crosse, offered his perspective on how faculty retirements and hiring new professors affect instructional quality, research, service and academic departments.
“The negatives are there, but the positives are there as well,” he said.
Several regents commented on the presentations and the trends in faculty retirements. In particular, Regent Lolita Schneiders noted the UW System must continually work to erase the negative stereotype of faculty workloads.
“The perception is that faculty do not work very hard, and that could not be any further from the truth,” she said.
Regents consider deferred maintenance backlog
Members of the Board of Regents’ Physical Planning and Funding and Business and Finance committees received an update on the increasingly critical deferred maintenance problems on UW campuses.
Tom Bittner, UW System planning & systems specialist, reported that the UW campuses face a $646 million maintenance backlog and that the problem will accelerate over the next decade.
Using a continually updated database management system that continuously records the latest data on UW facility conditions across the state, Bittner projected out future deferred maintenance costs through 2003, noting, “The current decade will be the most critical.”
Bittner said the UW System contains an aging physical plant with 1,300 GPR facilities that have roughly 35 million gross square feet. Of those buildings, 84 percent are 20 years or older, and in order to avoid an insurmountable maintenance backlog it is critical to put major funding into cyclic or ongoing maintenance programs, he said.
He noted that of the maintenance backlog, overall, some 64 percent falls in the building systems category – electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning. Another 13 percent is interior maintenance and 9 percent is the building “envelope” – roofs, exterior siding and other features.
Regents discussed the need for a new method of capital budgeting that takes into account the identification of maintenance needs and their intent to use the deferred maintenance data in their consideration of the university’s capital budget needs for 2003-’04 at their August meeting.
The Regents’ Education Committee adopted several resolutions for full board consideration on Friday, including:
- Retention and graduation goals.
- UW institutional and system report on PK-16 Plan/K-16 Councils.
- AODA strategic plan and assessment strategies.
- Promotions and tenure designations.
- Creation of a B.S./B.A. in environmental studies at UW-Oshkosh.
- Renaming the UW-Milwaukee Division of University Outreach to the School of Continuing Education.
- Approval of a charter school proposal at UWM.
- Disbursement of business education funds by institution.
The board also heard a presentation of residence life at UWM and held its first reading of a proposal to create a B.A. in global studies at UWM.
Business and Finance Committee
A highlight of the Thursday Business and Finance Committee meeting was a presentation on UW-Milwaukee’s Student Technology Service.
The program just received national recognition for its innovation in the field of higher education technology. UWM received the “Exemplary Practices in Information Technology Solutions Award” from EDUCAUSE, the first UW System campus to be so recognized.
Joseph Douglas, the campus director of information technology, reported that the program in which students service the campus’ computer needs has now grown to involve almost 300 students.
He noted that it is entirely student run and introduced incoming manager, Tahirah Laughinghouse, a junior who is majoring in information sciences.
The regents commended the program both for its innovation and cost effectiveness. Douglas observed that if STS didn’t exist, the campus would have to hire 85 people and spend 60 percent more to meet the needs.
The program has also expanded to include the Milwaukee Area Technical College and the Milwaukee Public Schools, with graduates from those schools coming to UWM as students and working in the program.
Douglas noted that it is a great training ground for students and several other UW campuses are beginning similar programs.
The committee also heard a brief report from Vice President for Finance Deborah Durcan. She noted that the university system is projecting a $3.8 million shortfall on costs for utilities for this fiscal year, adding that one cause for this has been the construction of new buildings without the allocation of state GPR funds to cover utility costs for those facilities.
She also briefed the regents on a new program for UWM Architecture and Urban Studies students, who will pay $525 per semester and receive a laptop computer for their schoolwork and wireless access to the Internet in the Architecture building on campus.
Regent Phyllis Krutsch noted that these special course fees and differential fees have been an excellent way to allow students in specific disciplines or on specific campuses to get the unique educational services that they need. She said that this is a “better way to go” than large across-the-board tuition hikes.
Physical Planning and Funding Committee
In light of Columbia Hospital’s decision to relocate, UWM Chancellor Nancy Zimpher outlined for the committee the university’s desire to possibly acquire the facility. She expressed that it is an exciting opportunity for the campus to address long-standing space and parking needs. UWM will study how the structure could meet campus needs in the next biennium.
Assistant Vice President for Capital Planning and Budget Nancy Ives told the committee that the State Building Commission approved about $1.2 million for various UW System projects at its May meeting.
Ives also updated the committee on the status of the proposed cogeneration facility at UW-Madison. The building commission approved moving forward with the facility, contingent on board approval, Ives said. She added that negotiations are proceeding and funding is being finalized. The project will be ready for regent action in the near future, she said.
The committee also reviewed its 2001-02 accomplishments, including various maintenance aspects and long-range planning, which all are intended to enhance the quality of the learning environment, Ives said.
In other action, the committee approved the following resolutions:
- The $5 million Weeks Hall addition at UW-Madison.
- The $550,000 UWM Student Union Atrium Floor Replacement project.
- Approval for UW-Platteville to accept the gift of a Swine Center and to use existing state funds for a revised Dairy Center Replacement Project.
- The $26 million Fine Arts Center Remodeling and Addition project and projects to expand and repair parking lots at UW-Stevens Point.
- Authorization for UW-Extension for a 10-year lease of radio tower space for WVSS-FM public radio near Menomonie.
These projects, along with $8.5 million for various maintenance projects, will be submitted for consideration at the June State Building Commission meeting. Ives also mentioned that it might be necessary to seek approval to modify existing space and/or acquire equipment at the UW-Madison Veterinary Animal Diagnostic Laboratory for the study of chronic wasting disease. UW-Madison took over the facility last year. Funding for the study of chronic wasting disease is available from the federal government and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The Board of Regents will continue its June meeting on Friday (June 7) starting at 9 a.m. at UWM’s Sandburg Residence Hall.