MILWAUKEE – With college affordability a top priority, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approved a UW System proposal recommending increased state funding for financial aid at its meeting Thursday at UW-Milwaukee.
The UW System will request an increase of $6,384,100 in 2017-18 and an additional $6,384,100 in 2018-19 for the Wisconsin Grant-University of Wisconsin (UW) program, which is the state’s largest financial aid program for students attending UW institutions. The program is administered by the state’s Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB).
The Regent-approved financial aid request will now be forwarded to HEAB for inclusion in that agency’s biennial budget submission to the Department of Administration.
- See the UW System June 9 news release
- See the UW System PowerPoint presentation, “2017-19 Biennial Budget Request – Wisconsin Grant”
“At a time when there is legitimate concern about the rising levels of student debt, what we’re really talking about is not just the cost of a student’s UW experience, but rather the net cost. The amount of state and federal support a student receives plays a significant part in keeping that net cost down. It is incumbent on us to advocate for the support necessary for our students,” said Regent President Regina Millner.
One in four resident UW System undergraduates – more than 32,000 students – received a Wisconsin Grant in 2014-15. The average grant was $1,773.
“This is an overdue and prudent enhancement of state support for our students,” said Regent Gerald Whitburn. “I think it should be a priority in the upcoming budget process.”
Regents approve annual operating budget
The Regents voted unanimously to approve a $6.23 billion annual operating budget for 2016-17 that includes significant reductions in fund balances.
- See UW System PowerPoint presentation on Annual Budget
UW System President Ray Cross identified five key takeaways of the budget:
- Fund balances have continued to steadily decrease, and are down $75 million this year over last year. It is estimated fund balances will be down an additional $160 million by the end of FY 2017;
- Tuition balances have decreased by nearly 50% since 2012-13, and are estimated to have decreased by 67% by the end of FY 2017;
- Balances will be significantly lower still once the Department of Administration releases previously approved capital projects that the UW has funds waiting to support;
- Overall GPR support of UW System, including debt service, is currently lower than in 2007-08 – despite student enrollments that have increased by 7,000 since that time;
- Adjusting for inflation, GPR support for UW System is the lowest it has been in UW System history.
“As our entire state continues to feel the ripple effects of an historic economic downturn, UW Chancellors continue to make tough choices to find ever greater efficiencies, while also focusing on educational programs and research efforts that will fuel economic recovery,” said Regent President Millner. “Also critically important are the broader benefits that all of Wisconsin derives from having an educated workforce and citizenry. For that, we want to ensure UW System institutions retain a robust capacity to serve as economic engines for the state.”
Other budget highlights:
- GPR and tuition combined create an instructional operating budget of $2.56 billion.
- In accordance with the state’s biennial budget, the university’s annual operating budget includes a freeze on tuition for resident undergraduates at 2012-13 levels. Last year, the Board approved increases in nonresident and graduate tuition as well as self-supporting programs.
- Segregated fees will see an average $59 increase at four-year-institutions. About 70% of that increase ($41) is due to major projects previously approved by the Board of Regents and the State as well as student-supported projects such as mental health programming. About $18 of the increase is attributed to operating costs.
- Room and board rates at the four-year institutions will increase by an average 1.7%, with those increases primarily due to new and renovated residence halls, facility maintenance projects, and rising food costs.
UW-Milwaukee is ‘Shaping the World’
Leading the presentation, “Made in Milwaukee. Shaping the World,” host Chancellor Mark Mone told Regents that UW-Milwaukee’s recent designation as a top tier research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education places the university among the top 115 research institutions in the United States.
“Public research universities like UW-Milwaukee introduce vital research and innovation,” Mone said, noting that UWM faculty members are working on drug development, Great Lakes research and other innovations that will improve lives worldwide while contributing to the Wisconsin economy.
UWM’s research mission also allows it to provide students with unique learning opportunities, Mone said, adding that students engaged in undergraduate research are more likely to complete their degrees and are often better prepared for their post-graduate careers.
Students also benefit from UWM’s partnerships with businesses and community organizations that provide internships and other training; the Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship, which provides training in entrepreneurial thinking and practice; and a math intervention program that has helped students more quickly accumulate credits toward their degrees, reducing their time to graduation and student debt.
Mone pointed out that UWM is a leading educator of first-generation college students, adults age 25 and older, students of color and veterans. It is one of only three universities nationwide that partners with all three of the major veteran support programs — the Pat Tillman Foundation, Upward Bound and Vet Success.
Noting that most UWM graduates remain in Wisconsin, Mone said the university is one of the best investments that the state and the UW System can make, benefitting Wisconsin students, families, and taxpayers.
“For any region to strive, it must have strong public research universities,” Mone said. “The stronger and more vigorous the city and region, the stronger and more vigorous is the state. UWM provides that foundation.”
Regents Updated on Information Security
The UW System is actively taking steps to set policies that control access to computer networks and safeguard the flow of information, according to David Miller, UW System’s Vice President for Administration.
Although a systemwide Technology and Information Security Council (TISC) was formed in 2011, the UW System has relied primarily on institution-level security policies and procedures. Efforts began in 2015 to augment each institution’s work by developing a systemwide IT security program.
The subsequently-adopted Regent Policy Document 25-5, Information Technology: Information Security, describes the process by which IT security will be comprehensively managed across the System.
”The UW System is committed to protecting the information that is critical to support teaching, research, business operations, and our educational community,” Miller said, as part of a presentation updating Regents on information security efforts.
“Cyber security is not only an administrative and IT community responsibility, but everyone has a responsibility for the proper handling and protection of confidential information. The enhanced policies being developed will apply to the entire UW System, including faculty, staff and students,” Miller said.
Regent welcomes and farewells
The Board recognized the service and accomplishments of Regent Emeritus Charles Pruitt, whose term on the Board has concluded. Pruitt served 13 years as a Regent, including two years as Board president (2009-11) and two years as vice president (2007-09).
Drawing on his experience serving with three UW System presidents, Pruitt said he had two main thoughts to share with those who follow him in service on the Board.
“The Wisconsin Idea is the single most powerful mission statement of any public university system in the nation,” Pruitt said.
He also encouraged Regents to embrace their role as advocates of the University. Indeed, he challenged anyone who has seen the look of pride and joy in the eyes of new graduates and their families, or the life-changing discoveries made by UW researchers, or the magic that happens when a great teacher inspires students, not to take on that role. “It is your highest calling,” he said.
Regent President Millner introduced three new colleagues on the Board: Lisa Erickson of Osceola, Tracey Klein of Brookfield, and Bryan Steil of Janesville.
Lisa Erickson, who will serve as the non-traditional Student Regent, decided to return to college after a 26-year hiatus to finish her degree in journalism, with a minor in food science. She attends UW-River Falls.
Tracey Klein has served as general counsel to acute care hospital, multi-provider health care system, multi-specialty clinics, managed care companies, and health insurance companies for more than 30 years. She is a shareholder in Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C., and is chair of Reinhart’s Health Care Practice.
Bryan Steil is corporate counsel at Regal Beloit Corporation, which is a leading manufacturer of motors and motion control products. He previously worked as an attorney at a large international firm in Chicago and served as an aide to Congressman Paul Ryan in Washington, D.C.
The Education Committee heard a first reading of a proposed mission change for UW-Oshkosh. The new mission statement mentions liberal education to reflect the significant curriculum reform efforts that have taken place over the last five years through the development of the University Studies Program (UW-Oshkosh’s new general education program); the addition of a global learning outcome; an emphasis on economic development and entrepreneurship; and focus on civic engagement and sustainability.
In other action, the Education Committee:
- Approved the UW-Extension’s UW Flexible Option Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. This is a competency-based degree completion program. It would be the first UW Flexible Option baccalaureate degree to be offered by UW-Extension
- Approved a Master of Science in Microbiology at UW-La Crosse;
- Approved UW-La Crosse to join as a partner in the existing collaborative and online Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology program with five UW comprehensive institutions. UW-Extension provides administrative and financial support;
- Approved an online/hybrid Master of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point. The degree is a professional degree with the acronym M.N.R. (not a master of science);
- Approved a Bachelor of Science in Dairy Science at UW-Platteville;
- Approved UW-Madison’s and UW-Milwaukee’s proffers from the trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust Estate for $6,271,978 for fiscal year 2016-2017 in support of scholarships, fellowships, professorships, and special programs in Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Music. This year, the trustees are accumulating remaining net income of $752,500 in a special fund for the construction of a music performance building at UW-Madison;
- Heard UW-Eau Claire’s mission statement addendum, which contains a description and list of the academic programs offered by the campus at the bachelor, masters and professional doctorate levels. This element was missing in the last version of the mission and was added to comply with Regent policy and state law;
- Heard a presentation by UW-Milwaukee Provost Johannes Britz on how UWM is meeting its unique mission of serving as a research/doctoral institution while providing access to higher education for Southeastern Wisconsin.
Business and Finance Committee
The Business and Finance Committee approved new application fee rates for UW-Madison undergraduates of $60 (a $10 increase) and undergraduates at other UW institutions of $50 (a $6 increase). Changes were also approved for UW-Madison Graduate and Professional Schools applications, which would change to $75 (a $19 increase) for the Graduate School, School of Pharmacy, and the School of Medicine and Public Health. For the School of Veterinary Medicine and the Law School the approved new rates will be $60 (a $4 increase).
In other business, the Business and Finance Committee:
- Heard a presentation led by Robin Van Harpen, UW-Milwaukee Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Affairs, on UW-Milwaukee’s response to fiscal challenges and how the institution plans to move forward;
- Approved a sponsored research agreement between UW-Milwaukee and Precision Systems, Inc.;
- Approved an agreement between UW-Green Bay and Compass Group USA, Inc., through its Chartwells Division, to provide dining services at the institution;
- Approved an agreement between UW-Parkside and A’viands, LLC to provide dining services at the institution;
- Approve an agreement between UW-Superior and Academic Partners to provide educational online program services at the institution;
- Approved an agreement between UW-Whitewater and Bottling Group, LLC, Pepsi Beverages Companies, to provide exclusive rights to soft drink pouring and vending at the institution;
- Approved UW-Madison’s Master Clinical Studies Agreement with NeOnc Technologies, Inc.;
- Approved a sponsored research agreement between UW-Madison and National Oilwell Varco, LP. The study extends a collaborative effort involving National Oilwell Varco, UW-Madison, Pennsylvania State University, and Texas A&M University;
- Approved two separate but related agreements awarding merchandising rights for UW-Madison Athletics: Gold Country, Inc., which involves on-site sales in UW Athletics facilities including Camp Randall and the Kohl Center as well portable sales operations at other sites by mutual agreement; and Fanatics Retail Group Wisconsin, which involves online sales through an established e-commerce provider;
- Approved an exception to Board policy that requires non-endowed gifts in excess of $250,000 to become Board-designated endowments. The exception is being requested by the Chancellor at UW-Madison and seeks to allow expenditure of the full $800,000 amount of the bequest from the Eleanor Casebier Trust;
- Approved amendments to two existing Regent Policy Documents and a new Regent Policy Document related to contracting authority. Changes to RPD 13-1 clarify when Athletics employment contracts must come before the Board. Changes to RPD 13-2 clarify authority for real property transactions including changes to lease authority resulting from 2015 Wisconsin Act 55. The new RPD presented seeks to establish Regent Policy with respect to capital projects managed solely by the UW System;
- Heard an update from Dean Robert Golden, of UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, on the progress of integration and requested amendments to the Integration Agreement;
- Heard a summary of gift, grant, and contract awards for the period July 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016: Total awards for the period were approximately $1.12 billion, an increase of $45.3 million compared to the prior year. Federal awards increased $42.3 million while non-federal awards increased by $3.0 million.
The Audit Committee approved the UW System’s fiscal 2017 audit plan as presented by Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz. The plan was developed based on results of a risk assessment survey, emerging topics in higher education, and discussion with peer institutions. Stortz told Regents that auditing of the implementation of recent Fair Labor Standards Act changes will be a high priority in the second half of 2016. Given the widespread implications, she said IT security also would be given the highest priority.
In other business, the Audit Committee:
- Heard a status report of audits that were approved as part of the fiscal 2016 audit plan;
- Reviewed audit reports including the Purchasing Card Continuous Auditing Letter for all institutions and four Grading Data Security reports for UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Stout;
- Reviewed the NCAA Athletics report for UW-Green Bay, the Program Revenue Balances report that was completed systemwide, and the UW-Stout Counseling Center report.
Research, Economic Development & Innovation Committee
In a presentation for the REDI Committee, UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone described UWM’s $62 million in 2015 research expenditures and new R1 status as the outcome of decades of strategic thinking, planning and top-tier research by faculty and staff.
“Our research is leading to solutions that have a significant impact on society,” said Mone, citing research projects that are on their way to commercialization and could boost the economy of southeastern Wisconsin while impacting lives on a global scale. A key example: cost-effective sensors that can detect drinking-water contaminants like lead and could provide early detection of the Ebola virus.
UWM Research Foundation President Brian Thompson, who will direct the new Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship, highlighted several examples of UWM’s entrepreneurial successes with its “ideas challenge” programs that encourage students and faculty to nurture business and product ideas and research breakthroughs into commercial development. He pointed to the current NSF-funded iCorps Entrepreneurial Cluster that is based at UWM, one of just 35 such sites in the country.
“ICorps is the gold standard for maximizing the success of technology leaving campus,” Thompson said. “It’s not about how to start a business. It’s about how to find out if there’s a market for your business.”
“The new center will educate students in life as well as in their jobs,” said David Lubar, president and CEO of Lubar & Co.
In other business, the REDI Committee:
- Heard an overview of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s new statewide organizational structure and highlights of key programs and outcomes of state-led economic and community development efforts, led by Vice President of Business and Community Development Barb LaMue; and
- Heard a presentation by BrightStar Foundation’s Vice President Lorrie Heinemann on BrightStar’s innovative approach to funding, highlights of its investment growth over the past two years, and how the organization might partner with the UW System to encourage and support increased funding of early-stage, job-creating companies that are affiliated with the university. BrightStar Foundation was created to fill an early-stage funding void in Wisconsin by providing charitable foundations, corporations, and high-net-worth individuals with a charitable vehicle to help fund job creation through capital donation.
Capital Planning and Budget Committee
The Capital Planning and Budget Committee approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to construct the $47 million Witte Hall Renovation project, which fully renovates the residence hall. Also approved was UW-Madison’s request for authority to increase the budget of the Memorial Union Renovation project by $4 million to provide funding for unforeseen conditions that were discovered during the project’s construction.
In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:
- Approved changes to Regent Policy Document 19-14, which addresses the naming of university facilities and lands. This update clarifies the previous policy, provides for Office of General Counsel review of certain naming agreements, and outlines naming criteria;
- Approved UW-Green Bay’s request for authority to construct a $4.9 million New Soccer Complex project; substitute $900,000 of Program Revenue Supported Borrowing for the $900,000 of Gift Funds as originally requested due to a lack of gift funding availability. This project constructs a new soccer complex that will include a stadium with turf field, and three support buildings for the Athletics Field Complex;
- Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct various 2015-2017 Classroom Instructional Technology projects at an estimated cost of $8.7 million;
- Approved UW System’s request for approval of four All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects at three universities with estimated total costs of $7.7 million that include an upgrade to a fiber optic backbone, an athletic field and its associated lighting; a programmatic lab remodeling; and an energy conservation project;
- Approved UW-Oshkosh’s request for authority to increase the budget of the Fletcher Hall Renovation and Addition project by $2.9 million to allow DOA to accept the bid received in May to complete the originally approved scope and intent of this project, which is to replace outdated mechanical and electrical systems, add safety systems, and provide other code-compliant upgrades;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to sell the historic Knapp House property on East Gilman Street in Madison;
- Approved UW-River Falls’ request for authority to sell the Pigeon Lake Field Station in Drummond, Wis., which was primarily used for biological research and other instructional programs. The university no longer uses this station due to low enrollments, a lack of available programming, and escalating operating costs;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to transfer two parcels of land in Stoughton, Wis., from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The parcels’ location, adjacent to the Kegonsa Research Center, makes it desirable for future academic, research, and support buildings, possibly for new School of Veterinary Medicine research and instructional facilities;
- Approved UW-Superior’s request for authority to sell two small pieces of land and grant temporary limited easements to the city of Superior for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Belknap Street (US Highway 2) Reconstruction project;
- Heard an overview of how UW-Milwaukee’s proposed capital plan will support and enhance the university’s academic and research mission; and
- Heard an update on UW System leasing.
All Committee approved resolutions will come before the full Board on Friday.
Photos by Derek S. Rickert/UW-Milwaukee
The UW System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 9 a.m., June 10, 2016, at UW-Milwaukee.