OSHKOSH–Wisconsin will have a difficult time filling jobs in the future if it doesn’t pursue an economic development strategy to revitalize its metropolitan areas and attract young people to the state, an economist told the UW System Board of Regents on Thursday (Oct. 9).
Terry Ludeman of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development explained to the regents that young educated workers today are attracted to dynamic metropolitan areas that offer a high quality of life. Once there, they seek employment in these destination cities, which include Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, San Diego and Portland, Ore., he said.
“The key for Wisconsin is not to chase down big companies and convince them to come to Wisconsin,” Ludeman said. “The key is to build places in Wisconsin where young people want to live and work.”
Ludeman said that Madison, which houses the UW System’s flagship campus, is the only city that fits this description in Wisconsin. “Because of UW-Madison, Madison is a place that young people want to be,” he said. Ludeman added that most of Wisconsin’s population growth of young, educated workers is located in the counties that border the Twin Cities and Chicago metropolitan areas.
Ludeman went on to explain that the state’s population growth among young people is not keeping up with that of the “Baby Boom” generation, which is expected to retire over the next 30 years. Because of this trend, Wisconsin could face serious problems in the future in meeting its workforce needs, he said.
“The real problem in Wisconsin is supply, not demand,” Ludeman said.
Several regents said that the UW System, through the UW-Milwaukee campus, can help transform Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin into a desirable location for younger, educated workers. UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells and UW-Stevens Point Interim Chancellor Virginia Helm added that their campuses are working with community partners to reinvigorate their regions as attractive places to live and work.
The board also heard from Patrick J. Farley, administrator of the Division of Intergovernmental Relations at the Wisconsin Department of Administration, who reviewed population trends in the state. Farley’s comments were similar to Ludeman’s in reviewing how Wisconsin’s population is changing and how these trends will challenge policymakers in the future.
The presentations were part of the board’s study of the future, titled “Charting a New Course for the UW System.” Working groups of the Board of Regents continued their work Thursday to support the study of the UW System at the board’s October meeting on the UW-Oshkosh campus. The five working groups each include representation by regents and a wide variety of stakeholders in the UW System.
UW-Oshkosh officials briefed the Regents’ Education Committee Thursday on how students are engaged in learning opportunities on campus and beyond.
Provost Keith Miller and several of his colleagues, in a presentation titled “Student Learning in an Engaged Institution,” shared with the committee highlights of several campus-community partnerships, including:
- The Center for New Learning, a flexible degree program for returning adult students already in the workforce;
- Human Services and Professional Leadership Development: The Milwaukee Experience, which provide Oshkosh students with an experience to work with the homeless and underprivileged in Milwaukee;
- The Living Healthy Program, in which nursing students help operate a clinic for the uninsured;
- The Wisconsin Family Business Forum, which provides support and resources to family businesses; and
- The Polio Project, an interdisciplinary research project in which students interview survivors and conduct research on the polio epidemic in Winnebago County between 1950 and 1960.
Committee members said the examples presented moved beyond passive learning and mere transmittal of knowledge, instead inviting students to contribute to their own development and to be more consciously involved in their educations.
The committee also heard from two UW-Oshkosh faculty members, Denise Clark, who spoke about Community-Based Special Education; and Colleen McDermott, who addressed the E. Coli Beach Project.
Committee members said they appreciated these remarkable examples of campus-community partnerships that provide reciprocal learning environments for students, community members, and faculty members.
The committee also discussed the shortage of special education teachers and nurses. While UW-Oshkosh has increased enrollments in both education and nursing, the shortage is also a function of the inability to hire enough faculty in these two areas, committee members said.
In other business, the committee deferred action on a proposed plan to expand credit transfer opportunities. Committee members said there are still elements of the plan that haven’t been ironed out with the Wisconsin Technical College System, but that a vote could occur as soon as next month.
The committee also heard a first reading of a revised mission statement for UW-Extension. Chancellor Kevin Reilly explained to the committee how UW-Extension sought input and approval from a variety of internal and external constituent and governance groups, arriving at an entirely revised mission statement that is significantly shorter and more concise.
The revised mission strongly emphasizes the extent to which UW-Extension represents the public service mission of the entire UW System, and re-stakes its claim to the Wisconsin Idea, Reilly said.
The committee commended Reilly on the process undertaken statewide with its stakeholders, as well as the results of the revision.
After conducting a public hearing—which Extension plans to do statewide through compressed video—it will be brought back to the Board for a second reading and approval.
In addition, the board:
- Authorized an M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies at UW-La Crosse. The committee noted that the program is impressive and meets a compelling state need in the health care arena.
- Approved a resolution to revise Faculty Personnel Rules regarding the renewal of probationary faculty appointments at UW-Stevens Point. The rule change brings Stevens Point into conformance with Wisconsin Open Meeting Law.
Business and Finance Committee
After adding language to show it was sensitive to the economic difficulties facing Wisconsin, the Business and Finance Committee approved a resolution calling for up to a four-percent pay increase each year of the upcoming biennium for UW System faculty and academic staff.
The increase is warranted based on salary data and economic indicators indicating UW System faculty are four percent behind their peers, panel members agreed. At the same time, committee members acknowledged that the state’s compensation reserve may not be able to fund four-percent salary increases in each of the next two years.
UW System President Katharine C. Lyall briefed the committee on the Board of Regents’ statutory responsibility for recommending a faculty and academic staff pay plan to the Director of the State Office of Employment Relations based on a study of market factors.
The director makes an independent recommendation to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations, Lyall said.
The committee also heard from two speakers, Warren Johnson, professor of chemistry at UW-Green Bay, representing The Association of University of Wisconsin Professionals; and David Nack, vice president of United Faculty and Academic Staff. Both expressed their desire for a fair pay plan.
While the committee took up other business, Regent David Walsh of Madison worked with staff to add new language that included “the UW System Staff and the Board of Regents is cognizant of the difficulty of funding the needed pay play in the current fiscal climate including lack of full funding in the compensation reserve and unavailability of tuition revenue…or base budget reallocation capabilities.”
The committee also gave initial approval to a pilot program that would give the out-of-state children of alumni of certain UW System schools a discount on tuition if they attend those universities.
The initial proposal called for the “Return to Wisconsin” pilot program at UW campuses at Eau Claire, La Crosse and Oshkosh. After discussion, the committee agreed to allow other UW System campuses to submit proposals to participate before the board takes final action on the new program in November.
In other action, UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells reported on plans the campus is developing to share from its recent economic impact survey to help area communities and businesses. Wells said he is committed to finding ways the campus and the region can work together for the good of the campus, Oshkosh and the greater Fox Valley.
The study, from NorthStar Economics Inc. of Madison, pegged the annual economic impact of UW-Oshkosh at $418 million. The study also showed a future market potential of UW-Oshkosh in the tens of millions of dollars.
Possibilities include such things as a Living, Learning and Serving community near campus, including a 30,000 square-foot campus outreach center that would benefit the community and university.
In other business, the committee unanimously approved the following resolutions for consideration by the full board:
- Contract for exclusive soft drink pouring rights and sponsorship agreement for UW-Madison Division of Intercollegiate Athletics;
- Agreement with Triad Management Services, Inc., in support of UW-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center at the South Pole, known as the “Ice Cube” project.
Physical Planning and Funding Committee
The state Building Commission recently approved nearly $66 million for various projects in the UW System, the Physical Planning and Funding Committee learned Thursday from Assistant Vice President Nancy Ives.
The committee also deferred an item that would have requested a budget increase for an expansion and renovation project that includes UW-Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium. The request would actually fund three projects – one for maintenance at Camp Randall, one for maintenance at the Shell athletic facility, and another for scoreboards. The committee decided to defer the item so staff can clarify information about the three separate components.
In recognition of a long history of commitment to UW-Stevens Point and their generous contributions of support, the committee also recommended that the board approve a request for authority to rename the UW-Stevens Point Fine Arts Center after John and Patty Noel. The Noels recently offered to provide $1 million for a renovation and addition to the center.
UW-Oshkosh Vice Chancellor Tom Sonnleitner also presented an update on the “Greening” of the Campus Master Plan and its focus on finding opportunities to apply environmentally friendly design principles to all renovations and new construction projects. The plan focuses on ways to conserve and enhance natural areas, promote a pedestrian and bicycle friendly environment, emphasize renovation of existing facilities rather than new construction, maximize energy conservation, and minimize all forms of pollution. Angela LeNoble, a UW-Oshkosh senior, described the students’ role in the green planning process.
In other business, the committee approved resolutions for consideration by the full board that would:
- Authorize the purchase of equipment for the UW-Extension WHA-TV Equipment Replacement project;
- Authorize construction of the Residence Life Community Center Addition at UW-Green Bay;
- Grant authority for MG&E Construct LLC to build a new greenhouse at the West Madison Agricultural Station;
- Approve the construction of a Walnut Street Greenhouse Replacement project at UW-Madison;
- Grant the University of Wisconsin Medical School, Department of Family Medicine authority to enter into a lease of clinic space at Chippewa Valley Technical College;
- Authorize construction of a Student Union Fireside Lounge & Kitchen Renovation project at UW-Milwaukee; and
- Authorize entry into a Joint Ownership Agreement with MGE Power, LLC which is a technical adjustment in the arrangement for the West Campus Cogeneration Facility.
The Board of Regents will continue its October meeting beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 10, on the UW-Oshkosh campus.