WAUKESHA – University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross told the Board of Regents Thursday that there is significant momentum in UW System Administration and legislative efforts to seek a reduction in the Governor’s proposed budget cut and growing support for a dedicated funding structure.

“I think we’re on the right track,” Cross said.

The interest in and progress toward securing transformative flexibilities that UW System has long sought – in some cases since the 1970s – is also advancing, Cross said.

Greater operational freedoms in categories such as budgeting, human resources, planning and construction, financial management and procurement would help the System gain ground on the vast majority of peers around the country who already benefit from greater autonomy.

However, Cross stressed the need for sharpened accountability metrics that will better measure and improve graduation rates to leverage a new, annual affordability index “that also contributes to the university tuition setting process.”

“We have always welcomed accountability. We value it. Students want it. Parents and taxpayers appreciate it. Legislators expect it,” Cross said.

Several chancellors shared first-hand examples of how flexibilities would benefit their campuses. Current cumbersome capital project processes “mean less building, less square footage, and less programming,” said UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen. In the human resources arena, Cathy Sandeen, chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, noted that flexibilities could help address recruitment and retention issues. “Under the current system, even we have the resources, we have no way to make a general salary adjustment, we don’t have a merit mechanism,” she said.

“We’re trying to apply as much creativity and innovation to this as possible,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller. “These flexibilities are very important to our future.”

Regents engaged in robust discussion over different possible strategies.

“Our challenge is to advocate for our fair share while understanding the realities,” said Regent Gerald Whitburn.

“Our responsibility is to get the absolute best deal for our students, taxpayers, chancellors, and citizens,” said Regent Drew Peterson.

UW Colleges and UW-Extension are “Inspiring Innovation, Creating Futures”

Access and partnerships are defining themes of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, Chancellor Cathy Sandeen told the full Board in her presentation, “Inspiring Innovation, Creating Futures.” “We really touch citizens throughout the state,” she said. “There is not one thing we do that is not done in collaboration with someone else. In this way, for every dollar we receive from the state of Wisconsin, we are able to leverage that through our partnerships and collaborations.”

“We tend to be frugal, we tend to be humble. I think we need to do a better of job of making it clear what we do and what we have to offer,” Sandeen said.

Business and Finance Committee

The Business and Finance Committee voted to recommend approval of tuition increases in selected non-resident, graduate, and professional programs at UW-La Crosse, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, and UW-Whitewater. The changes seek to bring tuition rates closer to market rates for these programs. No changes are being sought for resident undergraduate tuition rates under these requests.

The Committee also approved implementation of tuition increases for 2015-16 in selected non-resident, graduate, and professional programs at UW-Madison as part of a four-year plan developed by the institution and supported by the panel. These changes, too, would bring rates closer to market rates for comparable programs. No changes are being sought for resident undergraduate tuition rates.

Committee members applauded the campuses’ market-based and comparative peer analysis in arriving at their different tuition proposals.

“I’m sensitive that we stay in a comparatively good, healthy spot looking at our peer institutions and our competition,” Regent Margaret Farrow said. “And at the same time we need to stay tuned to the people of our state.”

The changes will come before the full board for a vote on Friday. ​

UW Colleges and UW-Extension: Steven Wildeck, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Financial Services, led the presentation, “Finance and Administration in Two Distributed State-wide Institutions: Challenges and Opportunities.” UW Colleges and UW-Extension face unique challenges because they are so widely spread out across the state, Wildeck said. A significant portion of their funding is also dependent on partners, who may be facing their own financial challenges.

In other business, the Business and Finance Committee:

  • Heard an update on 16 operational policies intended to complete the initial implementation guidance for the University Personnel System. The new system, and its related operational policies, will be effective July 1, 2015, for all UW institutions other than UW-Madison;
  • Approved an agreement with Compass Group USA, Inc. (doing business as Chartwells) to provide dining services at UW-La Crosse;
  • Approved an agreement with Compass Group USA, Inc. (doing business as Chartwells) to provide dining services at UW-River Falls;
  • Approved an agreement with Compass Group USA, Inc. (doing business as Chartwells) to provide dining services at UW-Superior;
  • Approved an agreement with Nebraska Book Company, Inc. (doing business as Neebo) to provide bookstore services at UW-Stout.


Audit Committee

The Audit committee approved the conversion of internal audit positions at individual UW institutions to UW System Administration positions, with Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz providing overall supervision of the systemwide internal audit function.

In other business, the Audit Committee:

  • Approved changes to the pre-existing internal audit charter to align that charter with the Board of Regents Audit Committee Charter adopted when the committee was created in 2013. The changes ensure consistency with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing and current office practices.

Education Committee

The Education Committee approved modifications to several Board of Regents administrative rules to reconcile any potential inconsistencies between the Wisconsin Administrative Code and the federal standards regarding institutional obligations in addressing issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence.

The relevant rules included: Ch. UWS 4 (“Procedures for Dismissal of Faculty”), Ch. UWS 7 (“Dismissal of Faculty in Special Cases”), Ch. UWS 11 (“Dismissal of Academic Staff for Cause”), and Ch. UWS 17 (“Nonacademic Student Misconduct”).

UW Colleges and UW-Extension: UW-Extension Provost Aaron Brower and UW Colleges Provost Greg Lampe led a presentation, “UW Colleges, UW-Extension: Education for the Future.”

The Colleges’ Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree-completion program, targeted for place-bound adult learners who already have an associate’s degree, expects to award its first eight degrees this spring, Lampe said. It is forecast that the program, which includes partners at six UW campuses, will have about 200 students in fall 2015 – well ahead of early projections.

In other business, the Committee:

  • Approved a B.S. in Criminology at UW-River Falls;
  • Approved a B.A. and B.S. in Public Relations at UW-Oshkosh;
  • Approved an online collaborative M.S. in Data Science at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Superior;
  • Approved UW-Stout’s newly developed B.S. in Engineering. UW-Stout is also working with its two consortial partners, UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls in the Northwest Engineering Consortium, to develop commonly-shared engineering courses;

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

As part of her update, Associate Vice President Alexandria Roe reported that UW System staff is working closely with the Department of Administration on the UW’s 2015-17 Capital Budget request.

She also reported on a delegated gift-funded project undertaken at UW-Superior, which renovated a portion of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve Administration and Laboratory Building using $432,000 of grant funds.

UW Colleges and UW-Extension: Steven Wildeck, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Financial Services, led the presentation, “Facilities Partnerships with Counties and Cities.” He reported that 17 governmental partnerships governmental partnerships, comprised of 14 counties and three cities, provided about $12 million to UW Colleges in 2014.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request for authority to sell excess property, a portion of a condominium unit located on the fifth floor of the Plankinton building on West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee;
  • Approved UW-Stevens Point’s request for authority to modestly increase the budget and construct the $75.3 million Chemistry-Biology Science Facility project. The project will construct a 176,500 GSF chemistry-biology science facility to provide functional contemporary space for classrooms, teaching and research labs, offices, and associated support space;
  • Approved UW System’s request for four All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects, three at UW-Madison and one at UW-Oshkosh, with an estimated total cost of $4.3 million. These projects focus on roof replacements, bleacher safety upgrades, storm drain replacement, and energy conservation;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request to enter into lease of space agreements with the UWM Real Estate Foundation for the purpose of providing housing space at the Cambridge Commons and Riverview residence halls, and to provide 456,000 GSF of housing and academic space at the Kenilworth Square facility.

Research, Economic Development and Innovation (REDI) Committee

Wisconsin’s second-stage businesses are responsible for more than 35% of the state’s existing jobs, but the technical assistance programs and information services that could help them expand are not well developed or coordinated, according to Mark Lange, UW-Extension’s executive director for Business and Entrepreneurship.

New “Business Intelligence Teams,” trained and coordinated by UW-Extension and initially funded by a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, can address the gaps, Lange said, by providing expertise in market research, web marketing, and geographic information systems.

Al Leidinger, president of Waukesha-based Mathison Manufacturing, shared how company had benefited by that expertise, as one of three companies participating in an “economic gardening” pilot program.

In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Heard a report from WiSys Technology Foundation executive director Arjun Sanga on WiSys programs and project support, as well as successful campus initiatives currently under way;
  • Heard an update from UW-Madison’s Discovery to Product Director John Biondi on the Igniter/Discovery to Product (D2P) initiative; and
  • Heard an update from Lisa Johnson, vice president of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), on current initiatives and programs, with a focus on WEDC’s efforts to collaborate with the university and state businesses to foster entrepreneurial activities and business innovation.


The UW System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 9 a.m., April 10, 2015, at UW-Waukesha.