Photo of June 6, 2019, Board of Regents meeting, hosted by UW-Milwaukee

UW-Milwaukee hosted the Board of Regents June 2019 meeting

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – For a future that includes a dynamic, healthy state economy, the University of Wisconsin System is the answer.

That was the message of UW System leadership at Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting in Milwaukee.

“The UW System is invaluable to this state and we must not be passive when it is so clear that no one else, no other entity, can do what we can do to help our state and our economy,” Cross said.

Cross told Regents that in every region of the state he has visited, he’s heard from employers and community leaders who are screaming for talent.

“The UW System is the answer. We develop the talent in Wisconsin. We attract the talent to Wisconsin. We are Wisconsin’s talent magnet,” Cross said.

Regent Vice President Drew Petersen underscored that central message.

“The University of Wisconsin System is an invaluable asset. It is vitally important to this state,” Petersen said. “The UW System deserves and has earned an infusion of investment. The returns have been calculated. They are significant and they benefit us all.”

Petersen noted the need for the Board to tenaciously advocate on behalf of the System. “If we are going to build on the momentum we’ve generated for the past several years, stalling progress is a risk Wisconsin cannot afford. Now is the time for continued action,” Petersen said.

Cross acknowledged that the Joint Finance Committee’s recent decision regarding the UW System’s proposed operating budget posed “some ups and downs, but mostly missed opportunities.”

“Our commitment to advocating for the UW System is unwavering. It is just too important,” Cross said.

“Now more than ever, we all need to remember what the UW System offers and delivers to the people of Wisconsin in every community in the state.”

Cross told Regents that the UW System’s capital budget request, which focuses on the renovation and repair of UW facilities and expanding STEM-related capacity, provides another opportunity to invest in the UW.

“If we are to attract, to develop and to retain the world-class talent Wisconsin desperately needs, we need world-class classrooms and added STEM capacity,” Cross said.

UW System’s Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin

The UW System is developing the nation’s most significant, integrated, multi-campus higher education program to meet the pressing needs of freshwater access and security.

The Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin would include all 13 UW System institutions, cross multiple disciplines, and solidify Wisconsin’s world leadership in freshwater science, technology, entrepreneurship, and economic growth.

It would also fill the global, regional, and local demand for a water-focused workforce through the explicit structuring of curriculum, training, and workplace experience.

“The idea is to unleash the collective assets that are in the UW System,” said Val Klump, Dean of UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences. “It’s a very unique program. There is nothing like it in the world.”

Led by UW-Milwaukee, the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin will address 10 grand water challenges in Wisconsin and the world. Each challenge will be addressed by a consortium of campuses. The Collaborative is designed to unleash the collective assets of the UW System and place them into an elite, one-of-a-kind program of training and research, while launching a talent development program in which students fully engage in a diverse, multidisciplinary course of study across UW campuses.

Overall, the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin would require $27.6 million in ongoing state support phased in over three biennia. Funding for the collaborative is separate from the UW System’s $107.5 million operating budget request for 2019-21.

By 2025, the Collaborative will include 1,000 new undergraduate students studying water science; 400 new graduate research students; 100 new faculty, researchers, and water professionals; and a total of 650 new jobs.

Photo of Chancellor Mark Mone

Chancellor Mone

Collaboration propels UW-Milwaukee

UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone told Regents that funding UWM’s proposed budget will be critical to help retain faculty as well as support capital improvements at a time when UWM was “doing a tremendous amount with fewer resources.”

Describing UWM as at a crossroads, he said re-investment would help the institution address the needs of southeastern Wisconsin and the rest of the state. Mone described for Regents fresh evidence of the university’s commitment to creating collaborative solutions to help meet Wisconsin’s needs in key areas including health care, entrepreneurship, workforce development, and narrowing achievement gaps in education.

Redesignated as an R-1 university, UW-Milwaukee is focused with “deliberate intent on maintaining research in addition to its access mission,” Mone said.

Regent Introductions

Regents welcomed two new members: Karen Walsh of Madison and Olivia Woodmansee, a student at UW-La Crosse.

Walsh is director of the Berbeewalsh Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to human and animal health and welfare. She was a reporter for news outlets including Wisconsin Public Radio prior to serving two decades in a variety of public information and communications positions at UW-Madison. A native of Columbus, Wis., she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from UW-Madison.

“When I think of the students that attend college in the UW System, I think not only of urban students but also the students from rural, small towns – because those students are me. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work,” Walsh said.

Woodmansee, who is originally from New Glarus, is pursuing a degree in Mathematics and English at UW-La Crosse. She has been active in student government and across the campus, including service on the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee as member and chair. After graduation, Woodmansee plans to go to law school.

“I am looking forward to serving all the students and faculty members, and really listening and taking in as much information as possible and serving the Board as well as I can,” Woodmansee said.

Education Committee

Interim Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Karen Schmitt provided a status update on the UW System Math Initiative. In January 2018, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates (now Ascendium Education Group) awarded the UW System a $2.3 million grant to help advance the goals of the Math Initiative. Through this initiative, UW faculty, staff, and administrators across the system work collaboratively to improve student success during the first year of college by reducing student time in developmental math courses; increasing completion rates in first-year math classes; and ensuring seamless transfer of math course credits across the UW System.

In other action, the Education Committee:

  • Heard an update from the co-chairs of the UW System Task Force for Advancing Teacher Education and School Leadership in the State of Wisconsin. The group’s recommendations will be presented to the Board at an upcoming meeting;
  • Approved UW-Eau Claire’s Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT). This program responds to newly adopted accreditation requirements from the Commission on the Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), which require all institutions that offer athletic training as a major to do so at the master’s level, so that graduates will be eligible to take the Athletic Training Certification examination;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Landscape and Urban Studies. This program will complement the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (B.L.A.), which is professionally accredited, and for individuals wishing to become licensed landscape architects. The B.S. in Landscape and Urban Studies will prepare students for positions in public or private agencies, which oversee conservation, land management, cultural resource preservation, as well as urban and regional planning;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s Master of Science in Biostatistics. Given the ongoing evolution of big data and the myriad ways large information datasets can be utilized, this degree program responds to unfolding public health challenges in Wisconsin, as well as critical workforce needs;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) in Environmental Engineering. The B.S.E. in Environmental Engineering program is interdisciplinary and combines several disciplines of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Freshwater Sciences, College of Letters and Sciences, and School of Public Health;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s Master of Arts in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Applied Linguistics. This program will provide students with access to a graduate program in an area of high need;
  • Approved UW-Oshkosh’s Bachelor of Science in Education in Technology and Engineering Education. Students completing the degree will be recommended for the Technology and Engineering Education teaching license through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to enter careers as licensed teaching professionals. The delivery of this major will involve faculty and curriculum from UW-Oshkosh and Fox Valley Technical College;
  • Heard the annual report on tenure designations, promotions, and new tenured appointments made at the 13 UW institutions. Pursuant to s. UWS 3.06, Wis. Admin. Code, the criteria and procedures for promotion and the granting of tenure are established by each institution, and must include an evaluation of teaching, research, and professional and public service contributions to the institution;
  • Approved the transfer of tenured UW-Extension faculty to UW-Madison Cooperative Extension;
  • Approved the transfer of UW Colleges and UW-Extension Emeritus status to the seven receiving UW System institutions. UW-Extension emeritus faculty and staff will hold their emeritus title at UW-Madison with the associated privileges provided in that University’s emeritus policy;
  • Approved a request to the trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust Estate for $6,412.118 for fiscal year 2019-20. These funds support student scholarships, student fellowships, academic programs, Vilas Research Professorships, and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorships at both UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Music; and
  • Heard a presentation from UW-Milwaukee Provost Johannes Britz, “An Outstanding Learning Environment for All Students.”

Business and Finance Committee

Robin Van Harpen, UW-Milwaukee Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Affairs, provided the institution’s current impact, an overview of tuition and fee revenue, the institution’s strategy to enhance efficiency and service excellence and meet strategic priorities, and how the institution is planning to address the challenges presented going forward.

In other business, the Business & Finance Committee:

  • Heard a report from representatives of State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) on UW Trust Fund assets. As of March 31, 2019, those assets stood at $582 million, comprised of $449.16 million in the Long-Term (endowment) Fund and $132.88 million in the shorter-term Income Cash Fund. For this quarter, the markets saw a recovery in both the stock and bond markets after weak performance in the final quarter of 2018. The Long-Term Fund increased in value 7.13% (before fees), while the UW Fund Custom Benchmark gained 7.09%.  The Income Cash Fund gained 0.61% for the period;
  • Approved UW-La Crosse’s agreement with Follett Higher Education Group, Inc. to assume operation of the Bookstore and Textbook Rental Services;
  • Approved UW-Stevens Point’s agreement with Barnes & Noble College to assume operation of the Bookstore and Textbook Rental Services;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s two-year Sponsored Research Agreement with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company that extends a previous agreement. The agreement will involve research conducted in the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering on conversion of Biomass, Ethanol, and Ethylene into distillate fuel types. ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company shall pay the University $1,578,040, which represents the total sponsored research effort over the full duration of the agreement;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Sponsored Research Agreement with Pfizer Inc. for the conduct of a clinical trial. The research will be conducted by the Department of Radiology and will help improve the use of magnetic resonance and ultrasound in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with certain liver diseases. Pfizer Inc. shall pay the University $1,810,178;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Sponsored Research Agreement with GE Precision Healthcare LLC that extends a previous agreement. The agreement will involve research conducted in the department of Medical Physics that will allow improvements to the capabilities of computed tomography (CT) imaging using artificial intelligence. GE Precision Healthcare LLC shall pay the University $513,514;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Sponsored Research Agreement with Siemens Medical Solutions that extends a previous agreement. The agreement will involve research conducted in the departments of Medical Physics, Radiology, and Medicine focused on the improvement of the quantitative accuracy of 4D digital subtraction angiography (4D DSA) techniques. Siemens Medical Solutions shall pay the University $603,719 for two pending research projects;
  • Heard an update on preplanning efforts related to future replacement of the Shared Financial (SFS) and Human Resource Systems;
  • Heard an update regarding ongoing efforts across the UW System to enhance and strengthen information security centrally and at UW institutions; and
  • Heard an update on the UW System Shared Services Initiative, the UW System Restructuring, Software License Savings, the UW System Nonrenewal Lease Savings, the UWSA Policy Review, and the Digital Learning Environment Project.

Joint meeting of Audit/Business & Finance Committees

In a joint meeting of the Audit and Business & Finance committees, Regents were updated on communications and trainings by the UW System and Board of Regents to improve the management and transparency of relationships with primary fundraising foundations, real estate foundations, and other affiliated organizations. Regents were also briefed on UW governing policies for these organizations as well as the designated oversight responsibilities of UW System, Board of Regents, and institutions.

In other action, the two committees:

  • Heard a report on FY2019 external audit engagement by Plante Moran.

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee approved UW System’s request for authority to construct various 2017-2019 Classroom Instructional Technology Improvement Program projects at an estimated cost of $4.2 million. The projects are expected to result in 11 appropriately sized and equipped instructional spaces, some of which will provide active learning environments that are designed to promote flexible, interactive, student-centered learning experiences.

In other business, the Capital Planning & Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW-Parkside’s request to finish the contract documents and construct the Wyllie Hall Renovation, Phase I (Levels D2/D1/L1) project for $35.3 million to update the building’s infrastructure and create a fully integrated and accessible student services environment that supports academic success;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request to amend the lease of office space for the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center, which operates the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole with researchers from the UW-Madison departments of physics and astronomy. The scientific center has occupied space at 222 West Washington Avenue in Madison since 2005. Remaining at this location allows the center to continue use of a high-capacity, high-speed fiber network that was constructed between UW-Madison and Network222 during the center’s initial occupancy of the building. The lease amendment includes a new five-year term and a decrease in the base rental rate for a $6,000 annual savings;
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct four All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects at an estimated cost of $8.3 million. These projects include Central Heating Plant fuel reliability upgrades at UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls, a chiller replacement at UW-Milwaukee, and the rehabilitation of a storm water detention pond at UW-Madison;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute the remainder of the design contract and construct the UW-managed Kinesiology Relocation project for a total estimated project budget of $12,000,000 Gift/Grant Funds. This project renovates space in the Medical Science Center for the relocation of the Kinesiology Department from the Gym/Nat facility;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute the remainder of the design contract and construct the UW-managed Engineering Centers and Materials Science Lab Renovations project for $2.9 million Gift/Grant Funds. This project will renovate several labs in the Engineering Centers Building and the Materials Science Building for the College of Engineering;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to increase the budget of the UW-managed Biochemistry Electron Microscopes project by $450,000 Gift Funds. This project remodels areas of the DeLuca Biochemistry Building to provide specialized space to accommodate the requirements of two new electron microscopes;
  • Heard a semi-annual status report on leasing activity since December 2018;
  • Heard a semi-annual status report on UW solely managed capital projects that are underway at System institutions;
  • Heard a UW-Milwaukee presentation, “UWM’s Capital Planning – the Long Game,” which provided an overview of the challenges the university has with its aging physical infrastructure, its redevelopment plans, and the greatest repair and maintenance needs; and
  • Received an update on UW System’s 2019-21 Capital Budget request.

Research, Economic Development & Innovation Committee

The REDI Committee heard a presentation on the campus-based network of WiSys Technology Foundation’s regional associates and student ambassadors who continue to expand “in market” support for faculty and students at UW System comprehensive institutions. WiSys President Arjun Sanga and WiSys Regional and Licensing Associate Tony Hanson highlighted a wide and growing range of successful campus initiatives and introduce students from UW-Platteville who participated in one such event, the WiSys Prototype Hackathon.

In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Heard a panel discussion led by UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone and Vice Chancellor Joan Prince on how UWM prepares students to succeed in STEM majors and STEM-related internships in an increasingly diverse marketplace. Students with current summer internships shared their experiences.

Audit Committee

Assistant Vice President of Administration Ruth Anderson and Director of Risk Management Angela Ryan presented an update on UW System’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) program. Four areas of risk have been identified as areas of particular focus for the coming year: cyber security; physical safety and security; Title IX (including gender-based discrimination as well as sexual harassment and sexual violence issues); and data availability.

In other business, the Audit Committee:

  • Received an update from Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz on audit plan progress as well as the proposed 2020 Audit Plan to the committee for adoption. She also provided a high-level overview summarizing the results of recently issued audits;
  • Heard an update on the status of audits related to system security and access at each of the institutions;
  • Heard an overview of UW-Madison’s admissions process, in response to the recent scandals at other universities; and
  • Heard a report from General Counsel Quinn Williams and Director of Compliance Katie Ignatowski on compliance issues.


See more photos from the June 6, 2019, meeting.

The UW System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 9 a.m., June 7, at UW-Milwaukee.