Photo of UW-Superior Chancellor Renee Wachter giving the host campus presentation, “Small But Mighty: A Story of Superior Impact,” to the Board of Regents at its October 10, 2019, meeting hosted by UW-Superior.

UW-Superior Chancellor Wachter gives the host campus presentation, “Small But Mighty: A Story of Superior Impact,” to the Board of Regents at its October 10, 2019, meeting hosted by UW-Superior.

SUPERIOR, Wis. – From improving human nutrition to assuring clean water to growing the farm economy while caring for animals, the Dairy Innovation Hub will harness the intellectual and creative power of three University of Wisconsin institutions to address the most complex challenges facing the state’s dairy industry, the UW System Board of Regents heard Thursday.

The Legislature allocated $8.8 million for the Dairy Hub in the 2019-21 budget to UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, and UW-River Falls.

Last week, the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee released the funding, $1 million this fiscal year and $7.8 million allocated for 2020-21. The funding will allow for hiring dozens of faculty and researchers, creation of an Advanced Dairy Management Academy, improving research labs and farms, and purchasing equipment.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for increased collaboration among our campuses,” said Dale Gallenberg, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at UW-River Falls. “We look forward to serving as a model for other collaborative initiatives within the UW System.”

Photo of Dairy Innovation Hub presentation at the Board of Regents meeting hosted by UW-Superior on October 10, 2019.

Dairy Innovation Hub presentation at the Board of Regents meeting hosted by UW-Superior.

The vision for the Dairy Innovation Hub was originally crafted by industry partners following the 2017 UW System Dairy Summit and was supported as a top priority by members of the state’s Dairy Task Force 2.0.

Wayne Weber, Dean of the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture at UW–Platteville, stated that “our industry supporters are vital to the success of our programs. We greatly appreciate their support and we will continue to work with them in setting priorities for the Hub. In fact, one of our first items of business is to establish an advisory council that will consist of members of each of the three campuses along with equal representation from industry.”

The three campuses have already been working together to plan for the launch of the Hub. Now that it has received final approval, they are working in earnest to launch Hub activities.

“We are excited for the possibilities this funding will provide our faculty and staff to work together on research and talent development for the state,” said Kate VandenBosch, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison.

In addition to research, academic programming is an important aspect of the initiative. The deans agreed that developing the future leaders of the dairy industry is an essential function of each campus that will be fostered by the Hub.

UW-Superior: Small But Mighty

As part of her presentation, “Small But Mighty: A Story of Superior Impact,” UW-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter told Regents that supporting the financial and emotional wellbeing of students is one of the institution’s key priorities.

“We want to help students find their ‘superior,’ their bold, audacious dreams that exist just below the surface … Those dreams are our inspiration,” Wachter said.

She noted that the UW-Superior Foundation provided $850,000 in scholarship support and over $1.3 million in support to the campus last year. The Swenson Scholars program, now in its 25th year, has awarded more than 930 annual scholarships for a total of more than $6 million. To date, the Swenson Family Foundation has contributed a total of $12.4 million to the UW-Superior Foundation.

“When these students succeed, it impacts the generations that follow,” said Wachter, noting that 46% of the UW-Superior population are first-generation college students and 38% are Pell Grant-eligible.

UW-Superior is also working to better understand and address the mental health and well-being needs of students. A working group recently traveled to California to attend the Greater Good Sciences Center Summer Institutes, leading to the addition of the Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being on campus, which delivers preventative tools and techniques to the campus community.

Wachter highlighted UW-Superior’s tremendous impact on the community. The university supports $54.4 million in economic activity, $44.4 million in income and 626 jobs – direct and indirect – in Superior and Douglas County alone. These activities provide $3.06 million in state and local tax revenues.

UW-Superior’s engagement with the local community is also evident in academic partnerships that often allow organizations to analyze and seek solutions to problems that would otherwise be beyond their scope and resources, Wachter said. A highly successful partnership between the University’s Legal Studies and Criminal Justice Program and the Superior Police Department was highlighted.

Following Wachter’s presentation, the Regents approved a resolution expressing their support for the important research conducted by UW-Superior’s Great Waters Research Collaborative and the Lake Superior Research Institute, specifically focusing on the ballast water management system.

Business and Finance Committee

The Regents approved a report on the 2018-19 year-end program revenue balances as categorized by each institution and the System as a whole. In 2018-19, tuition program revenue balances decreased by $55.9 million, a reduction of 56% since FY 2013. While total program revenue balances increased by $11.1 million in FY 2019, the largest increase is attributable to restricted gift funds and other restricted funding such as student financial aid funds which cannot be repurposed for other needs.

In other business, the Business and Finance Committee:

  • Received a quarterly overview and summary of total Trust Funds assets, investment performance, and cash flows to/from portfolios managed by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB);
  • Received the FY 2018-19 Budget-to-Actuals Report which is based on final financial data for the fiscal year and presents the status of the UW System budget by major areas of activity in comparison to actuals;
  • Received the semiannual update on gifts, grants and contracts awarded to UW System institutions. Total gifts, grants and contracts for 2018-19 were approximately $1.674 billion, an increase of $148 million from the prior year. Federal awards increased $86 million, while non-federal awards increased by $62 million;
  • Heard a presentation on the FY 2017-18 cost-benefit analysis summary of foundations and other affiliated organizations. In 2017-18, UW institutions received $203.1 million from their primary foundations, while providing $9.1 million in administrative support;
  • Received an update on UW-Shared Services, which has been operational since April 2019;
  • Received an update on progress towards addressing outdated and under-resourced purchasing and payment processes and systems;
  • Received an update from Rob Cramer, UW System’s Vice President of Administration, and Laurent Heller, UW-Madison’s Vice Chancellor for Finance, on UW System’s long-term efforts to transform business processes and to implement selected cloud-based software for finance and HR to better meet changing needs;
  • Approved the expenditure of the principal of the bequest from the Kenneth A. and Dona M. Griesemer trust fund for the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Approved eight contractual agreements involving UW-Madison:
    • Monsanto Company
    • Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp.
    • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
    • General Motors
    • Phillips Healthcare
    • Caterpillar
    • Plumrose USA Inc.
    • Phoenix Nest
  • Heard a report from Vice President Cramer on several projects including UW-Shared Services, the UW Restructuring Project, UW System payroll, information security, and the Title and Total Compensation (TTC) project.

Education Committee

UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone and Phyllis King, UW-Milwaukee’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, provided the Education Committee with an update on the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin. This initiative builds on the collective assets of all 13 campuses to collaborate on freshwater research, training, innovation, and economic development.

King told Regents that the collaborative positions Wisconsin as a global leader in water, and should position the state to attract significant talent – including teaching, research and student talent – from all over the world. She noted that the collaborative is currently conducting a search for an executive director and expects finalists to be named soon.

Noting that the Freshwater Collaborative could be a major pillar of UW System’s future budget requests, Mone said the initiative will provide sharp focus on providing and ensuring water quality in both rural and urban settings.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Approved changes to four Regent Policy Documents:
    • RPD 4-3, “Criteria for the Use of Animals in Research”
    • RPD 4-6, “Granting of Degrees, Honors and Awards”
    • RPD 4-7, “Add/Drop Policy for Courses”
    • RPD 24-4, “Policy on the Role of Resident Assistants in Residence Halls”
  • Approved the reappointments of two council members to the Natural Areas Preservation Council for three-year terms: Dr. Sharon Dunwoody and Dr. Kenneth Rhoads Bradbury. Dunwoody is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Journalism at UW-Madison. Rhoads Bradbury is Director and State Geologist of the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey in Madison;
  • Approved UW-La Crosse’s request for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, responding to extremely strong growth in technology fields and strong student interest. The Computer Science program at UW-La Crosse has seen an increase of 82% in undergraduate student enrollment over the past five years;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Data Science to meet substantial student interest and rapidly increasing data science employment opportunities. Between 2014 and 2018, undergraduate declared majors in Computer Sciences grew 316%, in Statistics 241%, and Mathematics 170%;
  • Approved UW-Whitewater’s request for a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Analytics. Employer need and student demand are expected to grow at an accelerated pace as the Foxconn facility begins operations in southeastern Wisconsin and the economy in general becomes more reliant on effective uses of data;
  • Heard an update on UW student behavioral health workgroups;
  • Heard a presentation from UW-Superior on embedded influential learning experiences;
  • Deferred the annual reports on UW System academic program array and remedial education to a later meeting, due to lack of time.

Audit Committee

Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz, Director of Compliance Katherine Ignatowski, and Director of Risk Management Angela Ryan provided an update to the committee on the interactions between enterprise risk management, compliance, and audit.

In other business, the Audit Committee:

  • Heard a report from Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz on fiscal 2020 Audit Plan progress, an update on the charter for the Office of Internal Audit, a summary of recently issued audits, and an update on the status of system security and access audits at each of the institutions;
  • Heard an update from Associate Vice President Ruth Anderson, Director of Risk Management Angela Ryan, and Associate Vice President for Policy Analysis and Research Ben Passmore on internal controls and enterprise risk management;
  • Heard a report from Director of Compliance Katherine Ignatowski on the establishment of the Office of Compliance, the UW System Compliance Governance Structure, and the Office of Compliance Work Plan.

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

Regents approved UW-Parkside’s request to execute a 30-year ground lease with We Energies to host a solar photovoltaic array along the eastern edge of the main campus. This opportunity to partner with We Energies provides a solar photovoltaic site for research and study and increases the visibility of renewable energy efforts in southeast Wisconsin. Annual lease payments will be reinvested in university-funded sustainable initiatives.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW-La Crosse’s request to sell two parcels of improved land, each with a house originally constructed in the early 1900s. The houses were deeded to the university in 1967 by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare after being declared surplus, and were to be used for public educational purposes for 30 years. The university no longer has any use for these properties and has received an offer to purchase;
  • Approved UW-La Crosse’s request to enter into a facility use agreement to develop a shared tennis facility with the City of La Crosse and the Coulee Region Tennis Association for $250,000 Cash;
  • Approved UW-Eau Claire’s request to construct the $19.3 million Governors Hall Addition and Renovation project. The project will result in the addition of 46 beds to the building’s total inventory, replace all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, and enable the facility to meet current ADA regulations;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request to construct the $77.6 million Camp Randall Stadium Renovation/Field House Repairs project. This project renovates a portion of the stadium to create new club seating options in the south end zone area. It also restores the north façade of the fieldhouse, renovates the west side press box, and replaces the field turf in Camp Randall and the McClain Center;
  • Approved UW System’s request to construct the UW-Whitewater Heating Plant Boilers Fuels Retrofit project at an estimated total cost of $6.9 million to install new fuel oil burners and update the pressure vessels and gas burners to safely, reliably, and efficiently produce steam for the entire campus;
  • Approved UW System’s request to construct two 2017-19 Classroom Renovation/Instructional Technology Improvement Program projects for a total cost of $2.1 million. The first will construct a 50-seat active learning classroom in vacated space in Mitchell Hall at UW-Milwaukee, and the second will renovate space for an expanded mechatronics laboratory in Russell Hall at UW-Platteville;
  • Approved UW System’s request to construct All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects at a total cost of $4.8 million. The projects include multi-building elevator renovations at UW-Whitewater, a steam pit and utility line replacement at UW-Oshkosh, an increase to match current design estimates for a fuel reliability project at UW-Stout, and replacement of the campus fiber optic backbone at UW-Superior;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request to complete the design, increase the budget by $1.1 million Gift Funds, and construct phase II of the UW-managed Educational Sciences, Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) Renovation project;
  • Heard an overview from UW-Superior on its current athletic and recreation facilities and the university’s plan to support its students through facility enhancements;
  • Heard a report by UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt on the Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex facility project, which is the result of a unique community partnership bringing together the Mayo Clinic Health System Northwest, the Chippewa Valley YMCA, Blugold Real Estate (a wholly owned subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation), and the UW-Eau Claire for the creation of a facility that will provide athletic and recreational space benefiting the campus and community; and
  • Heard a report from Senior Associate Vice President Alex Roe on August Building Commission actions and fundraising activities to gift a research vessel to UW-Milwaukee.

Research, Economic Development & Innovation Committee

Momentum West Executive Director Steve Jahn and UW System/WEDC Talent Development Liaison Rebecca Deschane led a discussion on a Northwest Wisconsin Regional Internship Initiative. The University of Wisconsin Internship Network (UWIN) is a collaboration formed by the regional economic development organization Momentum West with three UW institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, and UW-Stout. The initiative is designed to increase the number of internships available to students in Western Wisconsin and primarily focuses on connecting students with small- and mid-sized organizations.

In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Heard a report by Regent Cris Peterson on the challenges and successes of owning and operating a dairy farming operation in the 21st In the dairy business for more than 100 years, her farm currently represents one of the most technologically advanced milking operations anywhere in the world; and
  • Heard UW-Superior’s presentation on the university’s commitment to meeting industry, research, and workforce needs. Dr. Richard Stewart discussed internships for Transportation and Logistics majors, and Dr. Matt TenEyck shared how the Great Waters Research Collaborative, a project of UW-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute, offers testing services for ballast water treatment, compliance, and monitoring.

See more photos from the October 10, 2019, meeting.

The UW System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 9 a.m., Oct. 11, 2019, at UW-Superior.