UW-Platteville hosted the UW System Board of Regents’ April meeting.

PLATTEVILLE – The University of Wisconsin System is developing a new report card to measure progress toward meeting the goals in its 2020FWD strategic plan and initiatives.

“The UW System is committed to accountability and transparency. While we have more than 55 different pieces of data we currently illustrate on our Accountability Dashboard, we want to take our reporting to the next level,” said UW System President Ray Cross, at Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting at UW-Platteville. “We want to establish systemwide goals that align with key initiatives from our 2020FWD plan and create an easy-to-understand report card that shows our progress.

As part of a presentation on UW System accountability, Jim Henderson, Vice President for Student and Academic Affairs, highlighted a variety of system-level outcomes for a group of metrics from the UW System’s Accountability Dashboard that relate to each of the four main focus areas of the 2020FWD strategic framework: the educational pipeline, the university experience, business and community mobilization, and operational excellence.

“The key part of this plan is to set some goals as part of our accountability,” Henderson said.

“What we’re trying to shift to, in terms of the System and each individual campus, is setting goals for the metrics that are most important – and that ties into the performance-based funding, outcome-based funding, that is the conversation in the legislature,” Cross said.

UW System presents Annual Financial Report

The UW System’s Total Net Position decreased by $110.2 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 over the previous year, according to the 2016 Annual Financial Report presented Thursday to the Board’s Business and Finance Committee. This is the first time that the Total Net Position has declined since at least 2002, when new financial reporting requirements were established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.

There were two main reasons for the decrease in net position:

  • The Department of Employee Trust Funds, which manages the Wisconsin Retirement System, reported the UW System pension plan’s net position dropped from a $330 million pension asset in FY 2016 to a $220 million liability in FY 2016. This dramatic $550 million reduction was due to the Department of Employee Trust Funds changing its actuarial assumptions and less-than-expected investment earnings.
  • State resources dedicated to the UW System also declined in FY 2016. Operating appropriations were down $94 million between FY 2015 and FY 2016; the remaining portion of the UW System’s $250 million budget reduction in the 2015-17 biennium will need to be absorbed in FY 2017. Capital appropriations were also down $68 million.

The UW System’s 2016 Annual Financial Report includes an unmodified or “clean” audit opinion from the Legislative Audit Bureau.

Chancellor Shields addresses the Board of Regents at the Board's April meeting, hosted by UW-Platteville.

Chancellor Shields addresses the Board.

UW-Platteville is a Steward of Place

Host Chancellor Dennis Shields told Regents that the UW-Platteville – like its sister institutions in the UW System – holds a distinctive role and relationship with its community and region.

“As stewards of place, we foster community engagement, support economic development, and educate future generations,” Shields said. “The UW-Platteville fabric has been woven throughout southwest Wisconsin for 150 years.”

UW-Platteville is committed to investing in three major areas: students, talent and infrastructure. “We need community partners to advocate for the same type of investments,” Shields said.

Close relationships between area businesses and the university foster a productive pipeline of well-prepared talent to meet real-life market and workforce needs, Shields said.

Agriculture professor Tera Montgomery told Regents that UW-Platteville is asking students to problem solve and create new things. “That’s going to benefit them not only in school but for a lifetime as well,” Montgomery said.

Shields noted the UW-Platteville is estimated to have a $394 million economic impact on the state’s economy, with a significant portion of that — $250 million — focused in southwest Wisconsin.

Looking ahead, Shields called for reinvestment in UW-Platteville and across the UW System to allow the institutions to continue to provide accessible, affordable, high quality education.

“An investment in our campus is an investment in Wisconsin,” said Shields.

UW System to consider water consortium

Following on a presentation by Dr. Susan Baxter to the Board last month on the forward thinking collaborative biotechnology research project that she heads in the California State University System, Vice President Henderson presented the Board with a proposal to create a similar consortium around water issues in Wisconsin.

Primarily focused on the Colleges and on the comprehensive campuses, the goals of proposed consortium will be to engage more students in undergraduate research, support faculty and academic staff in research and creative works related to water issues, Henderson said. The objective is also to sharpen the collective efforts of the UW System to enhance the prominent role that water plays in both economic development and the lives of Wisconsin citizens, he added.

Henderson said the goal is to launch the UW Collaborative on Water in the fall of 2017.

Education Committee

The Education Committee approved a Collaborative Online Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing degree-completion program, proposed by UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, and UW- Stevens Point with administrative and financial support from UW-Extension.

This online degree completion program will predominantly attract adult and nontraditional students. It also directly responds to a high-need area as supported by extensive input from Wisconsin employers.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Heard an update by Vice President Henderson on efforts related to improving student success in math and the math cut score;
  • Approved stand-alone Masters and Doctoral programs in Atmospheric Science at UW-Milwaukee. Although both of these degrees already are offered at UW-Milwaukee, they presently are housed within the Department of Mathematical Sciences. This atypical arrangement for graduate-level Atmospheric Science programs makes it difficult to recruit the best-possible prospective graduate students and limits local, regional, and national program exposure;
  • Approved a Doctoral program in Epidemiology at UW-Milwaukee. As one of the fundamental disciplines in the field of public health, a Ph.D. in Epidemiology will raise the national profile of UW-Milwaukee’s Zilber School, and position UW-Milwaukee as a state and national leader in doctoral training in epidemiology. The program will respond to on-going public health challenges in Wisconsin, as well as critical state and national workforce needs;
  • Approved the post-tenure review policy for four institutions: UW Colleges, UW-Madison, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Whitewater; and
  • Heard a presentation by UW-Platteville Provost Elizabeth Throop, “Pioneers in the Field: UW-Platteville as a Leader in Experiential Learning.”

Business and Finance Committee

Linda Mulroy-Bowden, director of residence life at UW-Platteville, described the creative private/public partnerships the university developed to build its two newest residence halls as part of the presentation, “Mapping Our Destiny: Intentional Decision-Making at UW-Platteville.”

Mulroy-Bowden told Regents in the Business and Finance Committee that the development process was an example of data-informed, intentional decision-making that was a direct response to growing enrollment, as well as an analysis of engagement and retention rates of students who live on campus. Ultimately, the new buildings provided an enhanced student experience.

In other business, the Business and Finance Committee:

  • Approved UW System’s request to extend an existing contract with Desire2Learn, Ltd. (D2L). The UW System has contracted with D2L for its enterprise Learning Management System (LMS) since 2003 when the vendor was selected through a competitive bid process, and has signed five-year extensions in 2008 and 2013. This option to extend the contract is being sought to allow an orderly transition to a new platform in the event that Desire2Learn is not the successful bidder of a new, on-going contract;
  • Approved UW-Whitewater’s agreement with A’Viands, LLC to provide dining services at the institution. The contract would be effective June 1, 2017 for a five-year period, with the option for two one-year extensions. Estimated annual net revenue to the vendor is approximately $4.6 million, totaling approximately $32.4 million over the potential life of the agreement. Estimated commissions to the institution over the life of the contract are approximately $3.63 million. In addition, the vendor is expected to invest $1.0 million in campus facilities;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Master Clinical Study Agreement with Target PharmaSolutions, Inc. A general description of the services to be provided under the agreement includes longitudinal, observational, non-interventional studies of FDA-approved medications and other therapies used in usual clinical practice;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Sponsored Research Agreement with Madison Vaccines, Inc. The agreement involves a clinical study of a potential prostate cancer vaccine;
  • Approved a series of subcontracts between UW-Madison and Johnson Controls, Inc., under which the institution is completing portions of work that Johnson Controls has contracted to perform under agreements with the State of Wisconsin – Division of Facilities Development (DFD). While these energy improvement projects were previously approved by the Board of Regents and the State Building Commission, the Board of Regents has not specifically approved the individual subcontracts with UW-Madison through which the institution is expected to receive over $16 million;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s agreement with Amazon Pickup Points, LLC to locate and operate a facility on campus where students, faculty and staff can pick up merchandise ordered through Amazon on-line. This agreement replaces the agreement the Board approved in August 2016, which will not be executed. After additional consultation with faculty, staff and students at the institution, the parties have decided that a location at Sellery Hall would better serve the campus community; and
  • Heard a report from Regent Bryan Steil, chairman of the Subcommittee on Investments, on the first meeting of this newly formed subcommittee of the Business and Finance Committee. The meeting included discussion of background information on the structure, management, and oversight of UW System Trust Funds.

Capital Planning & Budget Committee

The Capital Planning & Budget Committee approved UW-Whitewater’s request for authority to increase the budget of its new residence hall project by $6 million and to construct the $34-million project to build a six-story, 410-bed residence hall. The university has experienced a housing shortage during the last 10 years and this project will help alleviate that deficit and provide supportive services and programs for students with accessibility challenges.

In other business, the Capital Planning & Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to increase the budget of the Southeast Recreational Facility project by $9 million and construct the $96.5 million project. This project demolishes the existing SERF building and constructs a new four-story recreational facility;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request for authority to modify the operating lease of space for student housing and the Peck School of Arts in the Kenilworth Square Facility to reduce the annual rent escalator and extend the term of the lease from 26 to 30 years. This modification will reduce annual rent payments for the university;
  • Approved UW-Platteville’s request for authority to construct the $15.3 million Williams Fieldhouse Addition, Phase II project, which also includes creation of an outdoor, multi-sport, artificial turf field and an outdoor storage building;
  • Approved UW-River Falls’ request for authority to construct the $15.1 million Rodli Hall Renovation project to repurpose the facility by replacing all infrastructure systems, windows, roof, and utility services and revitalizing interior spaces to transform it from an old, underutilized former food service building to a modern support center for students;
  • Approved UW-Stout’s request for authority to construct the $8.9 million Bowman Hall Exterior Envelope Renovation project to repair and restore its 1897 vintage masonry envelope and replace failing windows and doorways with historic replicas. The project will also provide structural repairs, a copper roof replacement, and other modifications for the signature clock tower;
  • Approved UW-Stevens Point’s request for approval for the execution of a 25-Year ground lease between the Board of Regents and Portage County to allow construction of a trailhead improvements project that includes a shelter, restroom facility, and parking lot in the Schmeeckle Reserve;
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct four all agency maintenance and repair projects at UW-Madison for an estimated total cost of $5.8 million. Two of these projects address facility maintenance and repairs and the two others focus on programmatic remodeling and renovation; and
  • Heard a presentation from UW-Platteville, “Building for the Future: Strategic Planning and Anticipating the Changing Needs of Students and Industry.”

REDI Committee

Tricia Braun, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Chief Operating Officer, provided Regents in the Research, Economic Development and Innovation Committee with highlights of the state’s new “Think-Make-Happen” initiative. This shared messaging program was developed with research generated through the Future Wisconsin collaborative of business, government, and educational partners.

The initiative will designed to help address the “people gap” that is occurring across Wisconsin, with 46,000 positions expected to be unfilled by 2030 due to an aging workforce and anticipated retirements. The program will also address the “perception gap” that typically associates Wisconsin with cheese, Packers and cold winters, without enough awareness of broad and diverse range of career opportunities available in the state.
In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Heard an update from UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields and Dr. Wayne Weber, Dean of the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, on UW-Platteville’s economic and business development initiatives and the collaborations developed to link students and faculty with outside partners; and
  • Heard an update from Mark Lange, UW-Extension’s Executive Director of the Business and Entrepreneurship Division, on UW-Extension business activity research initiatives that provide broader and deeper competitive research and trend analysis to support the sustainable growth and success of start-ups and existing businesses across the state.

Audit Committee

Vice President of Administration Robert Cramer and colleagues provided an update on progress toward goals to improve information security and implementation of the related policies.

In other business, the Audit Committee:

  • Heard a report from Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz on audit plan progress to date. The Committee also received a high-level overview of recently issued reports related to emergency preparedness, payroll continuous auditing, and international education; and
  • Heard a summary by Director Steven Mentel of two best practices letters recently issued to the chancellors relating to grading data security and international education.


The UW System Board of Regents will continue its meeting at 9:00 a.m., April 7, 2017, at UW-Platteville.