MADISON — A commission examining university security across the University of Wisconsin System expects to issue a report about its findings before the start of the next academic year, the Board of Regents learned Thursday (May 10).
UW System President Kevin P. Reilly appointed the President’s 2007 Commission on University Security following the tragic shootings that took place in April on the Virginia Tech campus. The 18-member commission, chaired by Sue Riseling, chief of police at UW-Madison, is conducting an analysis of campus security within the UW System.
Reilly said Thursday that the commission is studying efforts to prevent and respond to threats or violence on campus. He said expects that the commission’s work will reassure members of the university community about their safety, and better prepare campuses to carry out security plans.
“The goal is to be as prepared as you possibly can be,” Reilly said. “We need to be as competent as we can be.”
Regent Jeffrey Bartell of Madison, who represents the Board on the President’s Commission on University Security, said the members are smart and engaged campus representatives.
“They know the operations of the campuses, and they know the educational mission,” Bartell said. “This is a very good group to make recommendations. Obviously, this is going to take resources, and it’s going to take funding.”
Other commission members represent a variety of UW safety, administrative and student services units. The President’s Commission is separate from a Task Force appointed by Governor last week to examine safety at all public and private college campuses in Wisconsin, but the two groups will coordinate efforts. UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard will co-chair the Governor’s Task Force.
“We want to learn from each other as we go along,” Reilly said.
One of the commission’s greatest challenges will be to review prevention and response efforts at the larger four-year campuses that may have more support and resources, Riseling said, but also at the UW Colleges, which may now work with local governments or agencies to provide some services.
The commission’s goals include improving mental health services in the university community, and decreasing the risk of violence on campus, the presenters said. Riseling said the Commission will accelerate its work to present a report to the Board in July.
In reviewing the events at Virginia Tech, Riseling reminded Regents that violence is the end result of a process that can be understood and sometimes predicted.
“No one snaps,” she said. ”Most of us have lives that are well put together. We have things that tie us in to the larger. Things go wrong along the way, and you send up a signal. Sometimes those signals are heard, and sometimes those signals are missed. How do you teach people to recognize those red flags?”
Marcy Hufendick, a member of the Commission, and a senior counselor at UW-Parkside’s Student Health & Counseling Center, reminded Regents that one in four Americans today lives with some form of diagnosable mental illness, and UW institutions offer students and staff a variety of counseling and related services.
She said campus officials can prevent violence by knowing and recognizing warning signs of threatening actions, knowing the appropriate responses, and intervening as appropriate.
Regent Brent Smith of La Crosse asked if the university’s current mental health services were sufficient. Riseling said that none of the UW campuses currently meet the recommended national guidelines that universities provide a minimum of one mental health professional for every 1,500 students on campus, but that different structures do exist to prevent potential violence.
Mental health staff are also sometimes challenged to provide intensive, specialized services, which are becoming more common, Hufendick added.
“Our ultimate goal is to educate our students and help them become productive citizens,” Hufendick said. “There needs to be an investment by all of us. It’s going to require a solid commitment by colleges, university presidents, Regents and all of the campus community members.”
Regent Thomas Loftus of Sun Prairie thanked President Reilly for quickly appointing the security commission. He said that as more military veterans attend college, more mental health and other services may be required to meet their needs. He suggested that the state and the university may be able to act during the state budget process to support and fund positions for more mental health personnel in the university.
Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee asked who in school or university communities should be equipped with information about mental health warning signs.
Riseling said that students on the commission have suggested that their peers should receive information about warning signs at orientation, and that similar training should be given to all university staff who may be in a position to respond.
“It’s going to have to be a layered recommendation,” Riseling said.
Hufendick said access to information is important, but the university must respect federal and state privacy laws when dealing with any students or staff.
“We do need to take a look at how we collect information, who stores it, what do we do with it, what does it mean, if it means anything?” Hufendick said. “Those are some questions that will be unique to every situation.”
Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler of Oshkosh said she has worked in the mental health field, and recognizes that the Commission has a challenging responsibility.
“This really has to become a coordinated community response,” Connolly-Keesler said. “Every campus has to take this on.”
Board of Regents, UW System to launch strategic planning process
The Board of Regents and leaders of the UW System will begin a strategic planning process to map out how the university can best serve the needs of students and the state over the next several years, President Reilly said Thursday.
Reilly reminded the Regents that the “Growth Agenda for Wisconsin,” the UW’s biennial budget request, is only a first step toward fulfilling the university’s vision to be Wisconsin’s premier developer of advanced human potential, of jobs, and of communities across the state.
“This is not just about what we need in the next two years,” Reilly said. “It’s a much bigger, higher-stakes game than that.”
The Growth Agenda, he said, is focused on leveraging UW resources to make Wisconsin competitive in the 21st century knowledge economy. The Board of Regents has asked the state to provide support for university initiatives that can produce more baccalaureate degrees, help attract more college-educated people to Wisconsin, and help grow jobs and the state’s per-capita income.
“You can’t do any one of these and be successful — we have to do all three,” Reilly said.
Reilly presented what he described as “big picture” data that can inform the university’s strategic planning and Growth Agenda initiatives.
Among other items, Reilly noted that:
- In 2004, Wisconsin ranked at or above the national average in the percentage of 9th graders who go on to graduate from high school, enter college, enroll in a second year of college, and graduate within 150 percent of program time. However, Wisconsin lags the “best performing states” in all these categories, and lags the national average in terms of the population age 25-44 with a bachelor’s degree.
- In 2005, Wisconsin’s percent of population age 25-64 with a bachelor’s degree or higher lagged the national average – 27.3 percent, compared to the U.S. average of 29.2 percent. Massachusetts had the highest, with 40.3 percent.
- In Wisconsin, workers (pop. age 18-64 in 2005) who have a bachelor’s degree earn more than those with a high school diploma, but the difference is much greater in other states. In Wisconsin, with a four-year college degree can expect to earn $15,288 more, compared to the $20,384 national average. In California, college graduates earn $25,480 more than those with a high school diploma.
Reilly presented data from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems showing how Wisconsin must produce 36 percent more college graduates annually over the next 20 years to match high-performing nations, where 55% of working adults have college degrees. Combined, colleges and universities in the state would need to produce 12,000 additional degrees annually.
Boosting this performance would require additional resources, Reilly said. Projections show that if the state could not provide more state funding, and students were asked to pay those costs, students at four-year campuses would have to pay 33.1 percent more in tuition and fees, while student costs at the freshman-sophomore campuses would need to more than double.
To keep tuition at current levels, Wisconsin would need to provide $545.6 million more each year, an annual increase of 34.4 percent, Reilly said.
“We know what we need to do, “Reilly said. “We can’t get anywhere near what we need to do unless we have all the sources of revenue maximized, and unless have a lot more success in attracting college-educated people into Wisconsin.”
Reilly outlined seven distinct areas that could be included in a UW System strategic plan. They are:
- Tuition/financial aid policy, state investment, and private investment;
- Degree program offerings;
- Enhancing quality and productivity;
- Attracting, retaining, and graduating a wider, deeper cut of Wisconsin’s population;
- Removing regulatory barriers to productivity and cost efficiency;
- More strongly linking university education and research to entrepreneurism and job creation in Wisconsin; and
- Role of the liberal arts and sciences.
A UW working group is already studying potential ideas about tuition and financial aid policies, Reilly said. He said future presentations will inform about the national outlook for higher education and the Regents’ role in setting and implementing strategic plans.
In the end, he said, a successful strategic plan will be the result of collaboration with not only faculty, staff, and students, but also stakeholders from outside the university, including elected officials.
Regent Davis added that engaging parents and community members will also be critical in the strategic planning process. Regent Salas said he believes prioritizing tuition and financial aid reflects the concerns of the Board and the public, and that a plan could include specific goals about for student access and affordability.
Regent Loftus also suggested that the process examine overall enrollment levels, and the number of students who graduate each year. He added that increasing graduation rates of the students who already enroll at UW campuses would also grow the number of college-educated citizens.
Regent Elizabeth Burmaster of Madison said she believed the proposed plan would examine the right issues using the right principles. A key to success will be communicating about the need for partnerships, she said.
“We have to stress that we’re only strong if we do this together,” Burmaster said.
UW System to implement code of conduct for student loan arrangements
The UW System is set to establish a code of conduct that will guide university agreements related to student loans and relationships with lending institutions.
The Business, Finance and Audit Committee on Thursday approved a resolution that would establish the code of conduct, which may incorporate elements of codes and policies adopted by other universities and financial aid organizations.
The resolution will be considered by the full Board on Friday. The action followed discussion of business practices related to educational lending in the UW System.
“We are investigating how best to create an informed service on this matter of securing student loans while at the same time creating appropriate relationships with lenders,” said UW System Executive Senior Vice President Donald Mash.
Regents reviewed existing state ethics rules, and heard from financial aid officers representing UW-Madison and the UW Colleges.
Regent Peggy Rosenzweig asked about the benefits of private lenders versus government loans. UW System General Counsel Pat Brady responded that if legislation that passed the state House of Representatives yesterday becomes law, comparative materials between these two types of loans will be required. Federal and private loans are regulated by different agencies and can differ widely in interest rates and other terms.
Responding to question from Regent Brent Smith about changes at UW-Milwaukee, Provost Rita Cheng explained that her campus’ lead auditor led a thorough investigation of the matter. “We are confident that the RFP process ended up with the very best providers for our students,” said Cheng.
The Business, Finance and Audit Committee also took action requiring regular reporting about major information technology projects in the UW System.
The vote follows a recent Legislative Audit Bureau report that focused on large information technology (IT) projects in 28 executive branch state agencies. That audit included a review of the UW’s implementation of an Appointment, Payroll and Benefits System, which was halted last year.
The committee voted Thursday to require regular reports to be given to the Regents and to legislative leaders about the progress of major IT projects. If approved by the full Board on Friday, UW institutions will be required to provide annual reports about an inventory of major IT projects and the current status of those projects. The committee will also receive supplemental reports if total expenditures on IT projects are expected to exceed the total annual budget of a university group charged with oversight of information technology systems.
Regents also received information about textbook costs at UW campuses and in higher education nationally, a review the committee requested last summer.
The review looked at institutional efforts to control costs in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and examined legislative initiatives to control textbook costs, according to Julie Gordon, director of Operations Review and Audit. The review also addresses textbook costs, factors driving textbook costs, and approaches for controlling costs. The review notes that some UW campuses offer textbook rental programs, while at others, the profit margin on textbooks at UW campus bookstores ranges from 17 to 25 percent.
Gordon said reviewers recommended that each UW institution also conduct its own review of practices for selecting and selling textbooks, with intent to control textbook costs to the extent possible.
“We strongly believe there is not a one-size fits all approach. We encourage campuses to involve all stakeholders in the review process,” said Gordon.
In other business, the committee:
- Heard an update about the UW’s response to the Legislative Audit Bureau Personnel Audit, which is due to the Legislature by June 1. Associate Vice President for Human Resources Alan Crist presented Regents with information about how new UW positions designated as limited appointments. He explained that employees in these positions serve at the pleasure of their appointing authority, with fewer job protections than other position types. The Board of Regents has eliminated the use of so-called “back-up” positions, but the law requires that some employees hired from existing UW System faculty or staff positions retain their concurrent appointment rights within the university;
- Approved a salary adjustment for external market and competitive factors for Provost Rita Cheng at UW-Milwaukee, whose salary will increase by $7,228 to $220,000, if approved by the full Board on Friday;
- Received a follow-up report on a program review of UW procedures and methods for removing data from surplus computers, which found that UW institutions have made progress in ensuring proper removal of data stored on state computers that are no longer to be used;
- Heard about six ongoing major projects in the Office of Operations Review and Audit, including:
- Textbook Costs
- Computer Security Policies, Procedures and Practices
- Student Mental Health Services
- Oversight of Student Organizations
- Tuition Waivers; and
- Academic Fees;
- Heard an update about risk management in the UW System. Sheri Ackley, director of the UW System Office of Safety and Loss Prevention, told the Regents that overall, the UW System has consistently lower injury rates than other state agencies. Property loss claims, she said, are about the same or slightly lower than claim rates in the rest of the state; and
- Learned that total gift, grant and contract awards of $864.7 million have been reported for the nine-month period ending March 31, 2007, representing an increase of $45.6 million over the same period last year.
The full Board will consider the committee actions on Friday.
New degree at UW-Green Bay offers opportunities for transfer students
A degree recommended for approval by the Education Committee on Thursday would expand opportunities for students who want to transfer to UW-Green Bay from a technical college in Northeastern Wisconsin.
The Bachelor of Applied Studies in Interdisciplinary Studies at UW-Green Bay, if approved by the full Board on Friday, would enable individuals who hold applied associate degrees from regionally accredited institutions to transfer credits toward a liberal-education baccalaureate degree.
The degree is similar to a Bachelor’s of Applied Studies at UW-Oshkosh, which was approved by the Board last month, and matches the mission of the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA), which seeks partnership and collaborations among public colleges and universities.
Programming in interdisciplinary studies has been offered to students at UW-Green Bay for more than 30 years, said UW-Green Bay Provost Sue Hammersmith. The new program will allow transfer students to earn a degree in this same high-quality program, she said. Students in the program would work with an adviser from the Adult Degree Program office to ensure they meet all requirements for graduation.
Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College is already the largest supplier of transfer students to UW-Green Bay, Hammersmith added.
The committee also recommended approval of a Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) at UW-Madison. Students who graduate from the three-year program would earn a clinical doctorate that prepares students for independent practice as physical therapists. If approved by the full Board on Friday, the D.P.T. will replace the existing Master of Physical Therapy and expand the curriculum to meet the advancing professional standards for preparation of physical therapists.
Physical therapy is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the state, and the employment rate of graduates from the master’s program is 100 percent, said Susan Skochelak, associate dean of the School of Medicine and Public Health. The UW-Madison program also includes a partnership with Howard University. Physical therapy education is also available through UW-Milwaukee and UW-La Crosse.
Meeting in joint session, the Education and Business, Finance & Audit Committee approved the 2006 Annual Report of the Wisconsin Partnership Fund for a Healthy Future. The report is developed annually by the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, in collaboration with the Oversight and Advisory Committee (OAC). These organizations plan for and oversee the use of funds allocated for public health, as stipulated by the Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner’s Order upon the transfer of funds received from the conversion of Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin to a for-profit stock corporation to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. The committees heard about several statewide public-health projects that have been supported through the partnership fund.
In other business, the Education Committee:
- Accepted a $14.8 million proffer from the Trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust Estate, which supports scholarships, fellowships, professorships, and music and other arts programs at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee;
- Approved amendments to revised faculty personnel rules at UW-Green Bay to reflect current administrative structure;
- Heard a presentation on Faculty Research at UW-Parkside, which was deferred from the Board’s March meeting. Gerald Greenfield, UW-Parkside’s associate provost, described faculty research and creative activities in the disciplines of art history, psychology, criminal justice, music, and visual arts, among others; and
- Heard a report from Rebecca Martin, UW System interim senior vice president for academic affairs. Among other items, she told the Board that UW and technical college representatives have determined that students who enroll in a transfer program in the Chippewa Valley would be eligible for financial aid, and that the program is expected to receive accreditation. The program was approved by the Board in March.
The full Board will consider the committee actions on Friday.
Historic UW-Madison observatory set for renovations
Once a major research laboratory, and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a renovated Washburn Observatory on the UW-Madison campus would house new programs and be more accessible to the public, the Regents’ Physical Planning and Funding Committee learned Thursday.
The committee voted Thursday to authorize funding for a $2.6 million renovation of the observatory, to be paid for with private gift funds. The project will renovate the first floor and upgrade all interior spaces, including new floor, wall, and ceiling finishes, as well as new signage in the main and basement levels. Lighting and architectural details will be rehabilitated and added items will reflect the building’s historic past.
Regents toured the observatory, a prominent Madison landmark just steps away from Van Hise Hall, as part of their committee session. Architects and project planners joined the tour to demonstrate historic preservation aspects and program enhancements of the renovation project.
The committee also received information about the state’s All Agency Projects Program, as well as changes in how the UW System plans for capital improvements.
UW System Planning and Systems Specialist Tom Bittner said the All Agency program supports maintenance and repair projects. Recent funding increases were intended to decrease the maintenance backlog, he said, but available funds are less than half of what is needed, and the program limits both project scopes and budgets. Bittner suggested that the UW may be able to make better progress on maintenance needs if this program were redefined or redesigned.
Kate Sullivan, director of facilities planning for the UW System, said the UW is changing integrated strategic planning, campus master planning, biennial planning, and pre-planning of projects to be more efficient and effective. The changes will also better comply with state statutes, and improve working relationships between campuses, UW System, and the Division of State Facilities in the Department of Administration, she said.
In other business, the committee:
- Amended a UW Colleges agreement with Waukesha County to grant an easement of less than an acre on which the county intends to construct a water tower;
- Granted authority to UW-Madison to construct the West Campus Utility Improvements Project, which will distribute the additional capacity provided by the West Campus Cogeneration Facility to the west side of campus. Project bids received are in the amount of $32.5 million; and
- Heard from Assistant Vice President for Capital Budget and Planning David Miller that the state Building Commission approved $37 million for projects at its April meeting. The projects are to be funded by $25 million in general fund supported borrowing and $12 million in program revenue.
The committee adjourned to closed session to discuss the naming of a facility. The full Board will consider the committee actions on Friday.
The Board of Regents will resume its May 2007 meeting on Friday, May 11, at 9 a.m. in Van Hise Hall.
Related: Read May 11 (day 2) news summary