STEVENS POINT – University of Wisconsin System leaders must continue to stress that cuts to the UW budget must go no deeper than those proposed by Gov. Jim Doyle, Board of Regents President Guy Gottschalk said Thursday (May 8).
Speaking at the board’s May meeting at UW-Stevens Point, Gottschalk told board members that the university also needs legislators to approve the governor’s tuition increases to maintain educational quality and access for students.
In addition, Gottschalk emphasized that lawmakers should pass the governor’s proposed financial aid increase to offset the tuition cuts for less affluent students, and he urged legislators not to micromanage impending budget cuts to the university.
“We have our work cut out for us over the next few weeks to continue making the case that in terms of cuts to the university, to quote a recent editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal,’enough is enough,'” said Gottschalk, who is from Wisconsin Rapids.
Gottschalk said he and UW System President Katharine C. Lyall receive on a daily basis copies of letters of support sent to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance and legislative leadership from alumni, business leaders, former Regents and other university supporters.
On Thursday, Gottschalk gave the regents copies of a letter sent Wednesday to the Joint Finance Committee members from business and community leaders statewide in support of the university.
Doyle has proposed a $250 million cut in state general purpose revenue (GPR) support for the UW System in the 2003-05 state budget. To offset the cut, the governor has proposed tuition increases of $350 per semester at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee and $250 per semester at all other campuses.
The governor’s budget also calls for an increase of $23 million in financial aid. The funds would come from auxiliary student fees already set aside for important campus construction and renovation projects. UW System leaders are urging lawmakers to find a permanent funding source for the financial aid increases in future budgets.
Gottschalk welcomes new regents
Regent President Guy Gottschalk on Thursday welcomed several new members to the Board of Regents.
Mark Bradley of Wausau was appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle in January and joined the board starting May 1. Nino Amato, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System board in Madison, joined the board this month as well.
Two other new regentsEileen Connolly Keesler of Neenah and Charles Pruitt of Shorewoodcould not attend Thursday’s meeting and will join the board this summer.
Beth Ann Richlen began her tenure on Thursday as the board’s new student regent. Richlen is graduating this spring from UW-Stevens Point and will enroll this fall in the UW Law School at Madison.
Online learning promotes access through collaboration
Despite the demise of numerous online learning ventures at colleges and universities across the nation, increasing numbers of students are being served through UW System online education programs, the Board of Regents learned Thursday.
In the past five years, the number of students enrolled in online degree and certificate programs has grown nearly ten-fold, said Barbara Emil, dean of outreach and e-learning at UW-Extension and director of UW Learning Innovations.
In this current fiscal year, 3,630 students are enrolled in online programs, compared to 2,215 students two years ago and just 392 students five years ago. Emil said she expects the number of students enrolled online to grow by 10-12 percent next year, even though the UW System is not adding any new online programs.
Nearly every institution in the UW System is collaborating in some way through online associate degree, bachelor degree, certificate and graduate degree programs, Emil said.
“We built the system once and now use it for multiple purposes,” Emil told the regents.
Emil said the UW System has worked hard to bring down the internal costs of online education and is serving more students.
“We are serving people not necessarily able to avail themselves of other optionsworking adults,” Emil said.
Several regents praised the UW System’s achievements in online education at a time when so many other institutions nationally have failed in their efforts.
“I was worried when I joined the board that online education was dubious and would cheapen the overall educational experience,” said Regent Fred Mohs of Madison. “The successful efforts here have totally changed my mind. The people involved really need to be commended.”
Regent Jay Smith of Middleton asked Emil and UW-Extension Provost and Vice Chancellor Marvin Van Kekerix to examine how online enrollments could be boosted to serve additional students who may not be able to attend a campus in the future due to budget restrictions.
“Online education won’t necessarily be less costly, but it could be an additional source of revenue and could serve people who are not served in any other way,” Smith said.
Senator Lassa sworn in on campus
Julie Lassa, a 1993 graduate of UW-Stevens Point, was sworn in as senator for the 24th State Senate District on Thursday afternoon in the courtyard of the university’s Fine Arts Center.
Lassa was only the second person in UWSP’s 108-year history to take the oath of office on campus for government service. Lee Sherman Dreyfus, UWSP chancellor from 1967-1977, was sworn in as Wisconsin’s 40th governor on the steps of Old Main in January 1979.
Campus emphasizes progress in international education
International education was the focus of the Regents’ Education Committee meeting on Thursday.
The UW System has proposed that by 2010, 25 percent of its graduates will have experience studying abroad. In a presentation to the committee, three UWSP administrators and one student addressed how internationalizing at the university has given 14.2 percent of its graduates experience studying abroad and rated UWSP within the top 20 comprehensive universities for international study.
“Studying abroad is the best investment a student can make,” said Dave Staszak, director of international programs at UWSP.
Since 1969, more than 10,000 UWSP students and 270 faculty members have traveled abroad, and a recent campaign for an International Programs Endowment Scholarship has raised $135,000 for needy students.
The UWSP Division of Interior Architecture has integrated international study as part of the curriculum because their graduates do design work all over the world, according to its chair, Kathleen Stumpf. More than 50 percent of the division’s students study abroad, thanks to the encouragement of faculty and students who have traveled and share their experiences.
Regent Roger Axtell of Janesville agreed that faculty members who travel abroad encourage and influence generations of students to do the same, and that more should do so. He also advised that the UW System should engage international student alumni for financial support.
In addition to facing the challenges of increasing anxiety about world travel, especially from parents, study abroad programs are facing increased costs while, at the same time, facing a weaker economy, Staszak said. An increase in funding and scholarships is needed to bring up the percentage of UW System students studying abroad, he said.
“We can’t afford to not invest in this,” said Regent and State Supt. of Public Instruction Elizabeth Burmaster of Madison, who added that international studies should be a focus for preschoolers through college students. “An understanding of world culture and global studies are the skills the next generation needs to be world citizens.”
Having foreign students at UWSP has also created inter-cultural relationships both on campus and in the community, said Marcus Fang, director of the foreign students office. Long-lasting relationships are built through the host family program, he said, and significant learning takes place out of the classroom when foreign students participate in and coordinate events such as the annual International Dinner and Portage County Cultural Festival.
In other committee action, Regent Patrick Boyle of Madison, in an address as the outgoing chair of the committee, said the Board of Regents needs to update its mission statement to focus on each campus’ area of excellence. A master plan should be created for the 21st century, and the array of studies at each campus should reflect the needs of that region. He added that there will always be a need for a quality liberal arts education.
In other business, the committee approved changing the name of the School of Nursing at UW-Milwaukee to the College of Nursing.
UW-Stevens Point maximizes electronic resources to serve students
UW-Stevens Point is serving students more efficiently through increased use of web and electronic resources, UWSP staff members told the Regents’ Business and Finance Committee on Thursday.
Students at the central Wisconsin campus can use the Internet to apply for admission, pay all fees and register for classes, said David Dumke, interim associate vice chancellor for instructional technology, and David Eckholm, registrar and executive director of enrollment services.
UW-Stevens Point has saved an estimated $10,000 simply by not printing student grades, Eckholm said.
He and Dumke also said that the campus this year alone has accepted 1,200 of 1,800 student financial aid packages through this paperless process. Moreover, the campus plans to make its academic catalog completely electronic in the next few years.
In a related item, Dumke and Eckholm presented committee members with the results of a web registration pilot participation survey. In total, 439 students responded to the survey, with most of them saying they were satisfied with the direction the university has taken with web resources. Sixty-four percent of respondents thought access to the registration site was “very easy,” while only 1 percent found it “difficult.”
A majority of survey respondents96 percentsaid they found registering on the web to be “easy” or “very easy.” And 98 percent of web registration participants termed the overall value as either “good” or “excellent.”
Regents learn of capital renewal at UW-Stevens Point
UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Thomas F. George addressed the Regents’ Physical Planning and Funding Committee on Thursday to discuss old and new building projects on the campus.
The chancellor was excited to report that the planned addition to the Fine Arts Center should break ground in 2003. The facility, originally built in 1970, houses UWSP’s renowned Theatre and Dance Department, Music Department and Art Department. The popular programs have outgrown the facility. The renovation, which has been cut back to meet the regents’ constraints, will cost between $26 million and $30 million. A portion of funding for the building will come from substantial gifts through the UWSP Foundation.
George said the Global Environmental Management (GEM) Education Center is another important campus project. Campus officials say it will be a world-class, 100,000-square-foot facility costing $66 million over the next 10 years. The majority of funding has come from grants from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and federal sources, as well as substantial gifts through the UWSP Foundation. Chancellor George expressed his gratitude to U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau, for assistance with federal funding for GEM. The main concern still to be addressed is where to locate the facility, he said.
The chancellor also highlighted three aging buildings with capital renewal issues: Delzell Hall, the Student Services Center and Nelson Hall, all located on the south portion of the campus. All three buildings are being used for purposes different from that for which they were constructed, and all have deteriorated to varying degrees and will need significant capital updates if they are to continue to be used, George said.
Delzell Hall, named for Regent William Delzell in 1951, was originally built as a residence hall. It now houses the Counseling Center, Health Services, the Child Learning and Care Center and various other offices. Besides being difficult to retrofit as office space, the building has a leaky roof, which causes mold in the ceilings and walls.
“The mold is a particular problem for staff members with allergies,” said Bill Hetler, director of health services. “Sometimes students who come for us for help with allergies leave feeling worse than when they came in.”
The Student Services Center, built as the University Library in the 1950s, houses the ROTC program, Multicultural Affairs, Registration and Records, Admissions and the Bursar’s Office, among others. The portion of the building that housed the library’s “stacks” has ceilings too low for comfortable office use. In addition, the first floor of the building has no bathrooms. Remodeling over the years has caused some of the problems the space now faces.
The future of these two buildings could include being razed and replaced with new office space that would meet state building codes, handicap access and technology concerns.
Nelson Hall, the second-oldest building at UWSP, is also the oldest existing dormitory of the former State Normal School System. Built in 1916, it is listed on the Wisconsin State Inventory of Historic Structures and the Stevens Point City List of historic places. It once housed the Child Learning and Care Center, but concern that there was lead paint on the walls resulted in some part in its being moved to Delzell. It now houses News Services Photography, the Foreign Student Office and some others.
Nelson is deteriorating to a greater extent than the other buildings because of reticence to renovate old spaces. It would cost an estimated $4 million to bring the building up to code and make it usable as residential space, Chancellor George said, but the building’s future is uncertain.
Following the presentation, the committee adjourned for a tour of the campus.
The Board of Regents will resume its May 2003 meeting on Friday starting at 9 a.m. in the UW-Stevens Point University Center.
Staff from UW-Stevens Point News Services contributed to this report.