MADISON — A new grassroots organization has been created to help garner sustained support for Wisconsin public higher education, the group’s founder told the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents at Friday’s meeting.

The new group, called Citizens for Higher Education, will be a permanent presence that can communicate the public’s proven trust in and support for the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System, founding board member Harry Peterson told the regents.

The group is striving to create a governing board that is both politically and geographically diverse, said Peterson, a former UW-Madison administrator and emeritus president of Western State College in Gunnison, Colo.

“We can only thrive through bipartisan support,” Peterson said.

WTCS President Richard Carpenter told the regents he strongly supports the new organization and its quest for greater public support of higher education in the state. Carpenter said he has recently visited several UW campuses and realizes it is more important than ever for the two systems to increase collaboration.

“What we would question is just how much the public is aware of how willing we are to work together to harness our collective resources,” Carpenter said.

UW System President Katharine C. Lyall praised the new non-profit organization, calling it “another first and a great step in linking arms for higher education.”

Regent President Guy Gottschalk said Citizens for Higher Education could function as a complement to the regents’ “Engage Wisconsin” campaign, which is working to better inform students, parents, taxpayers and lawmakers about the future of the UW System.

Letter of support for Citizens for Higher Education from former Governors Earl and Dreyfus pdf
Remarks by Regent President Guy Gottschalk

President’s report

The UW System effectively serves students who come from Wisconsin families at nearly every income level, but the regents should pay particular attention to continued access for low-income students, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall told the board on Friday.

Lyall outlined a brief memo that noted while the UW System serves a broad spectrum of students, a slightly lower proportion of students come from families with incomes of less than $30,000. Although these proportions often change, she recommended that the regents follow these trends in making policy decisions.

“UW institutions are doing a remarkable job of serving students from across the income spectrum,” Lyall said. “We need to know more about the lowest quintile.”

Lyall said students from the lowest-income families – who primarily receive financial aid through need-based grants, loans and work-study – greatly benefited last year when the Legislature linked Wisconsin Higher Education Grants to increases in tuition. Students from families with incomes above $60,000 more often rely on non-need-based forms of aid, such as loans and grants, she said.

“I think understanding this picture will be helpful as we work with the new elected leaders to balance access and affordability to our system for the future,” Lyall said.

President Lyall’s full remarks

In other regent news:

  • Regent Gerard Randall brought the Board’s attention to a U.S. Supreme Court case that could decide the future of affirmative action in college admissions. The Court agreed Monday (Dec. 2) to hear the case, which originated at the University of Michigan.At Randall’s request, President Lyall and Regent President Gottschalk agreed to direct UW System General Counsel Patricia Brady to provide more information to the board about the case and how the board could support the University of Michigan as the case progresses.

Board approves construction projects, other items

The board on Friday also approved the following items:

  • a new master’s in health care informatics at UW-Milwaukee;
  • the reorganization of a School of Education at UW-Stout;
  • a UW-Oshkosh plan to charge undergraduate students differential tuition to fund the Oshkosh Personal Development Compact, a personal support network for students. The differential tuition would begin in Fall 2003;
  • an extended contract with Chartwells to provide dining services at UW-River Falls;
  • a temporary construction easement to UW-Fox Valley for the construction of an engineering lab that will be used for the collaborative engineering program with UW-Platteville;
  • a UW-Madison request for authority to name a portion of Camp Randall Stadium “Kellner Hal”;
  • $2,497,400 program revenue-cash for the Memorial Union Lakefront Cafeteria renovation, scheduled to be completed by November 2003;
  • $380,000 of Medical School gift funds to be used for the fourth floor generic research lab renovation in the Medical Science Center at UW-Madison;
  • $646,800 institutional funds for the second floor renovation of the Biotron building on the UW-Madison campus;
  • a UW-Oshkosh request to accept a gift of two parcels of land known as the Allen Marsh Preserve from the UW-Oshkosh Foundation;
  • a UW-Oshkosh request to grant an easement for a driveway adjacent to campus property;
  • $554,700 to remodel the Allen Center at UW-Stevens Point;
  • a budget increase of about $1.4 million for the Chamberlin Hall renovation project at UW-Madison.

In other action, the board cancelled its January meeting. The regents will meet again Feb. 6-7, 2003, in 1820 Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.