Thank you, President Marcovich. Good morning, everyone.
There’s the old saying that the month of March comes in like a lion, and we did our part by roaring our way around both capitols last week, so let me say a few words about that.
We began in the state Capitol last Wednesday, with a joint informational hearing of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee and the Senate Higher Education and Tourism Committee. As you know, I was invited by Senator Sheila Harsdorf and Representative Rob Kreibich to brief the committee on our efficiency and effectiveness plans, my proposal for consolidating the Madison-based administrative offices of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, and on credit transfer between our system and the Wisconsin Technical College System. WTCS President Dan Clancy joined me for this latter discussion. There was also conversation about Representative Kreibich’s proposal to make the freshman-sophomore UW Colleges satellites of our four-year universities. UW-Fox Valley Dean Jim Perry and Marinette County Board vice chair Ted Sauve shared their views on this topic.
Until last Wednesday, we had not seen more than press releases regarding the Kreibich proposal, so it was good to be able to listen at greater length to his ideas. Now that we have a better understanding of what he is contemplating, I feel more comfortable raising some serious questions about the efficacy and appropriateness of his merger notions. I have communicated my thoughts to both committees, and there is a copy of this letter in your packets.
I won’t take up more of our time on this today, but I do hope you will read my letter and let me know if you have any questions or reactions.
I do think that Representative Kreibich, and many of his colleagues, share our desire to produce more baccalaureate degree holders in Wisconsin, and that is good. But, as we listen, and evaluate these ideas and others, we must make sure that when we act, we do the right thing – the smart thing -particularly as we restructure and retool. And we must make sure that we do not do anything that will hurt our students or their ability to succeed.
The day after the hearing in the state Capitol, Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations Kris Andrews and I were in Washington, D.C. to meet with our congressional delegation. We were joined by Regent Bradley, who did a terrific job of representing this Board and the UW System, and pressing the case for our federal priorities.
You heard from him yesterday regarding his concerns about federal financial aid, which is just one of the topics we discussed. I heard some very strong, bipartisan support for the university’s efforts to bring more federal dollars into Wisconsin, and we all need to keep making this case. Whether it is cutting-edge research, student financial aid, or strategies to address severe workforce shortages, like nursing, our universities are leading the way, and they deserve their fair share of federal funding. I should say that Kris Andrews does a fine job of keep our just desserts on the federal radar screen, along with her colleague Rhonda Norsetter of UW-Madison. While we’re talking about the Washington scene, let me offer our condolences to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, whose mother passed away on March 2nd at the age of 86.
I should also mention that many UW students will be in Washington next week to share their concerns about federal financial aid.
My brief stop in D. C. reminded me that I had been there just three weeks earlier for the annual meeting of the American Council on Education. While there, I joined two UW colleagues to accept an award honoring programs offered by the UW System Office of Professional and Instructional Development.
Our Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars Programs won the 2005 TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Certificate of Excellence. These professional development programs seek to strengthen the understanding of student learning among early career, non-tenured faculty, as well as more senior career faculty leaders. This kind of professional development ultimately enhances undergraduate teaching and the classroom learning experience for students.
I’d like to recognize OPID Director Lisa Kornetsky, Assistant Director Donna Silver, and Anthony Ciccone, Director of the Center for Instructional and Professional Development at UW-Milwaukee, who developed these exciting programs.
The Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars Programs are the signature features of the UW System’s faculty development efforts. They are systemwide in approach and impact; and represent a diversity of disciplines and institutions. Lisa, Donna, and Anthony, thanks to you and your colleagues for your work to strengthen the UW System community of teacher-scholars.
Another bit of good news from Washington: We learned that Congressman Mark Green has plans to introduce a bill later this month that would honor the father of Regent Mark Bradley. As many of you know, Mark’s father, John H. Bradley, was one of the flag-raisers at Iwo Jima during his service as a Navy corpsman in World War II. He earned the Navy Cross for his bravery in service, and his story was told in the best-selling book Flags of our Fathers, by Regent Bradley’s brother, James. John is also remembered for his many years of community leadership and philanthropy in the Antigo community. Congressman Green is proposing to honor John Bradley’s service by designating the Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Appleton, Wisconsin, as the ”John H. Bradley Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic.”
More “good news.” I’m also pleased to announce that Wisconsin’s potential is being recognized through another national initiative.
The UW System is participating in a pilot program with the Association of American Colleges & Universities, or AAC&U, which will make Wisconsin the first state to be part of a national initiative to champion the value of liberal education.
The decade-long campaign, titled Liberal Education and America’s Promise: Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College, or LEAP, will encourage individual students to consider a liberal arts education, while also underscoring how the liberal arts contribute to the nation’s health and the knowledge economy.
LEAP will nicely complement our Currency of the Liberal Arts initiative, which promotes liberal arts among UW students. This also follows up on the presentation to this Board in November by AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.
AAC&U has already committed $17,000 to fund focus groups with high-school and college students, which begin next week, and it looks promising that further funding will be forthcoming.
Thanks to Cora Marrett and Rebecca Karoff for facilitating Wisconsin’s role in this venture. I agree with them that this new partnership can be a vital part of our mission to be a developer of advanced human potential, and a contributor to the overall health of the state.
Another of our new academic partnerships extends the reach of the UW System across international borders. Two weeks ago, I met with a delegation from the University of Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico, to sign an Academic Exchange agreement between our systems.
The agreement, known as the Jalisco-Wisconsin Consortium, will encourage exchange, and collaborative research and contacts among our faculty, staff and students. Governor Doyle signed the agreement on behalf of the state this week as part of his trade mission to Mexico. Ron Singer, Evan Norris and Sal Carranza of Academic Affairs led development of this agreement, and Sal represented the UW System as part of the delegation to Mexico.
Congratulations are also due to Senior Vice President Marrett for earning the Erich Bloch Distinguished Service Award from the Quality Education for Minorities Network. She won the annual honor for her “singular contributions to the advancement of science, and to the participation of groups underrepresented in science through policies, programs and public service.”
The network noted Senior Vice President Marrett’s leadership of the federal Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering; of the Directorate for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation; and of the Board for the Social Science Research Council. She also currently sits on several related boards. Congratulations on your award, Cora.
Spring is traditionally a time in which the Board honors UW System student leaders, and last night, we met with many of the institutions’ elected student representatives. Each of them had an extraordinary “good news” story of student success to tell.
I won’t have time to recount all their stories, but I’d like to highlight a couple. I mentioned yesterday that our Accountability Report shows we can improve in helping students explore world cultures, advising them on academics and out-of-classroom activities, and ensuring a smooth experience for students who wish to transfer. I believe we can learn some lessons from several of these student stories.
For example, we met Rachael Lehr, a third-year student at UW-Platteville, who majors in Chemistry-Criminalistics and German. She’s studied abroad in Germany three times. Rachel is also a UW System Student Ambassador, and serves as President of the Segregated University Fee Allocation Commission.
We also met with Matt Scheulke, a successful transfer student who will complete his undergraduate experience at UW-River Falls this semester. Matt transferred from UW-Platteville, and during his UW System experience, Matt was both a McNair Scholar and a student body president.
Our campuses have shared some other inspiring stories of individual student excellence.
We can learn a lot from the experiences of UW-Platteville criminal justice major Carl Wesley. He’s a non-traditional student who is married with 3 children. Carl successfully transferred to UW-Platteville after attending ITT in Greenfield and MATC in Milwaukee. In 2003, Carl was named a UW-Platteville multicultural student of the year, and recently received the American Multicultural Student Leadership Conference Change Maker award and scholarship. This November, he had a leading role in the campus production of “Blues for Mister Charlie,” which won Kennedy Center honors.
We can learn about balance from Kay Mikolajczak, a former All-America performer in both women’s basketball and women’s outdoor track and field at UW-Oshkosh. She’s been named by the NCAA as a 2005 recipient of the Today’s Top VIII Award. The award honors distinguished student-athletes for achievement in athletics, academics and community service. She was the only Division III honoree among the nation’s top eight student athletes. Kay graduated with a 3.93 cumulative grade point average in May with a major in biology and a minor in pre-physical therapy.
Dan Mitchell, a UW-Stevens Point senior music major, has been recognized in two national music composition competitions. He won the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers H. Robert Reynolds Wind Ensemble Composer’s Competition and will have his winning instrumental piece, “The Dawning of a Soul,” performed by the National Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall on May 28. Dan knows the Andrews to the question you might get asked on any New York City street: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
The UW System is filled with outstanding students who have stories like these to tell. We will have the chance to collectively hear even more stories of student success during the opening session of next month’s Board of Regents meeting. We will begin the first day of the Board’s April meeting at the State Capitol, where 100 of our UW students will be showcasing their undergraduate research as part of Posters in the Rotunda: A Celebration of Undergraduate Research.
This event, in its second year, is a wonderful chance to share the state-of-the art research our undergraduates are performing in a host of disciplines with many of our stakeholders, including elected officials. These students are not only developing innovative products and solutions, and sharing new knowledge, but they’re the front lines of the next highly educated workforce. I know you join me in looking forward to learning more about their exciting research.
President Marcovich, that concludes my report.