The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents began its meeting at UW-Milwaukee in closed session, formally appointing new chancellors at UW-Madison, UW-Parkside and UW-Whitewater, approving all terms of their employment.

See the full UW System news release on these appointments.

UW-Milwaukee poised to reinvigorate Milwaukee region

The Regents began their public meeting with a presentation by UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos E. Santiago about that university’s Master Plan to become the “Research University of the Future.”

“Reinvention is what we need to do in Milwaukee,” said Santiago. “The university [UW-Milwaukee] is poised to support the city in multiple ways.”

The university aspires to become a major research university through a number of initiatives including the physical expansion of the school’s 93-acre campus, and the creation of a School of Public Health and a School of Freshwater Sciences.

Santiago’s plan for funding the expansion is well underway, with $125 million in donations from private donors already secured. Santiago hopes UW-Milwaukee’s plan will increase the $200 million southeastern Wisconsin currently receives annually through contracted research done in the region’s institutions of higher education. For the plan to come to fruition, however, the school must triple external research funding from its current base of $33 million.

“It’s more than building a public research university,” said Santiago, “It’s fundamentally important to the city, the region, and the state.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett echoed Santiago’s enthusiasm for UW-Milwaukee’s distinct role in reinvigorating the Milwaukee region, where only 18 percent of city’s residents have college degrees.

Zilber Barrett

Mayor Barret and Mr. Zilber listen to Chancellor Santiago’s presentation.

“We’ve got the ingredients here in this community,” said Barrett. “A commitment to higher education and incredible natural resources will move us forward.”

“If Milwaukee is going to compete with its peer cities, that statistic [number of degreed residents] needs to double,” said Santiago.

Philanthropist Joseph Zilber also spoke to the importance of the growth of UW-Milwaukee, particularly in the creation of a School of Public Health to meet the growing health concerns of the Milwaukee region.

“We are not adequately dealing with public health problems that are destroying our communities large and small,” said Zilber.

Along with growing public health issues, Milwaukee currently ranks as the 7th poorest city in the United States, a ranking Barrett believes can be changed through the resources of UW-Milwaukee.

“We can make this great state even greater,” said Barrett.

Fund for Wisconsin Scholars will award first grants this fall

Mary Gulbrandson, Executive Director of the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, appeared before the Regents to discuss her organization’s efforts to provide more need-based aid to students at Wisconsin’s public universities and colleges. The charitable foundation was established last year through a $175 million donation from John and Tashia Morgridge.

The organization will offer its first need-based grants to students this fall, distributing $5.5 million to first-year and second-year students at UW System campuses and Wisconsin Technical Colleges. In subsequent years, the foundation aims to provide at least $7.5 million in grants annually.

“We believe in this global knowledge-based economy, all persons have value,” said Gulbrandson.

“The board is enthusiastic about this program,” said Regent Jeff Bartell.

“On behalf of the students across Wisconsin I would like to thank you for your work,” added Regent Colleene Thomas.


Mary Gulbrandson explains how the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars will provide need-based financial aid to Wisconsin students.

“Hopefully, this will impact generations of students in Wisconsin,” said Gulbrandson, who added that the foundation is working to create partnerships with other donors to grow the Fund’s endowment to provide even more grants.

“The message [to students] should be ‘when you go to college,’ not ‘if,’” said Gulbrandson.

“Our core challenge is to make sure that message gets through to all our kids and families,” said Reilly. “We’re working on it, and we’ll be working harder on it in the years ahead.”

To help send that message, UW System President Kevin P. Reilly announced to the Board that he and his wife Kate will donate $70,000 out of his next year’s salary to the Reilly Family Scholarship Fund at the UW Foundation.

“Kate and I both benefited greatly from our own educational experiences,” said Reilly.  “We want others to have the same opportunities for personal enrichment and professional success.”

The Reillys established their scholarship fund in 2007 as a permanent endowment to provide need-based grants to UW System students at all 26 campuses.

The donation comes as the UW System works to increase the $6 million of privately funded, need-based financial aid it currently provides low-income students annually.

“Need-based financial aid can be the deciding factor for hardworking Wisconsin families and students who find themselves in a tough situation,” said Reilly. He explained that there is a growing gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.”

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a national think tank, reports that the income gap between the top and bottom quintiles has grown significantly in most states over the past 20 years. Wisconsin currently has the 23rd largest income gap between the top and bottom quintiles.

“If current trends continue, we will lack a diverse and informed public that can participate in a knowledge-based economy and succeed in an information-rich world,” said Reilly.

See Mary Gulbrandson’s presentation pdf

Board of Regents freeze tuition at UW Colleges for second year

The Board of Regents set tuition for the 2008-09 academic year, freezing tuition for a second year for the UW System’s 13 two-year colleges. It is an unprecedented effort that will affect more than 12,500 UW Colleges students.

“I know that you, as Regents, have the utmost concern for keeping undergraduate and graduate tuition affordable,” said Reilly, adding that “this freeze brings the UW Colleges more in line with the Wisconsin Technical College System tuition rates for liberal-arts transfer students.”

“I think it’s essential that we have that access point for place-bound and low-income students,” added Regent Thomas.

The Regents approved a 5.5 percent tuition increase for undergraduate students, mirroring the increase set last year which was, at the time, the lowest percent increase in seven years. The increase would maintain UW-Madison’s tuition as the second-lowest among peer Big 10 universities. Tuition at UW-Madison will rise by $348 annually, $340 at UW-Milwaukee and $265 at the four-year comprehensive campuses.

Regent Bartell expressed his concern that any increase may make it difficult for some students. “What do we say to these students, who are working their heads off trying to work to support themselves?”

President Reilly explained that many student groups have expressed their concern about quality instruction and student services, even if it means tuition increases.

“All of our students recognize that they don’t want access to something that is low quality,” said Reilly.

“I am concerned about quality as well as tuition burden,” said Regent Judy Crain. “Balancing those things is very difficult.”

Of the funds generated by the increase, 3 percent will be dedicated to partially funding the state-mandated Veterans Tuition Remission.

“We are strongly in favor of subsidizing university education for our veteran students, in recognition of their service to our country,” said Reilly. He added that he hoped the state would “honor its current crop of Wisconsin veterans in the future by fully funding the remission of their tuition with state General Purpose Revenue.” The Board will vote on a resolution tomorrow requesting the state fully fund the program.

“For the first time, you [Regents] are being asked to consider increasing tuition to fund a portion of veterans’ tuition remissions,” said Associate Vice President Freda Harris. “In 2005-06, the remissions cost $4.3 million. In the current fiscal year, the cost has grown to $17.5 million.”

“This program is severely underfunded,” said Regent Brent Smith, noting that the UW System will only receive about $9.5 million dollars in state funding to offset the growing costs.

“This is a one-time challenge that we hope is going to be a one-time challenge,” said Regent Vice President Charles Pruitt about the lack of state and federal funding for the program.

“The university is doing the right thing,” added Regent Elizabeth Burmaster.

A small portion of the tuition increase — 1.6 percent — will support the UW System’s Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, the UW System’s plan to enroll and retain more college students, produce more college graduates for Wisconsin’s workforce, and stimulate the development of high-growth industries.

“With this funding, we will add more than 2,000 new full-time equivalent students,” said Harris. “We will grow our online enrollments, and we will work on targeted programs to meet regional and state needs.”

“But, there are a number of challenges, as we work to balance the momentum of the Growth Agenda with significant state budget shortfalls,” added Reilly, pointing to the recently passed Budget Repair Bill that will require the UW System to absorb some portion of the $270 million lapse to all state agencies. “We hope to able to avoid pulling back on the Growth Agenda.”

Also approved today is a freeze to nonresident graduate tuition at 2007-08 levels. Current rates for these students are more than $3,500 above the peer median.

“Holding this tuition at the 2007-08 rate will bring us closer to the peer median,” said Harris.

“[This freeze is] critical to attracting and retaining the best graduate students,” said Pruitt.

Budget, Finance and Audit Committee approves undergraduate differential tuition for UW-Madison School of Engineering

The Business, Finance and Audit Committee approved a proposal by the UW-Madison School of Engineering to implement a differential tuition to combat competition with the private sector for faculty and staff, and to expand the school’s focus on engineering-related fields in biology and health care.

“We have a crisis in engineering,” said UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley.

If approved by the full Board tomorrow, the differential will be phased in over three years with $300 per semester in 2008-09; $500 per semester in 2009-11; and $700 per semester in 2010-11 and ongoing. UW-Madison is currently the only Big 10 engineering school that is not employing a differential tuition.

“UW-Madison must provide students a competitive 21st-century engineering education,” said Paul Peercy, Dean of the School of Engineering, adding that both Wisconsin and the nation are facing a shortage of engineers.

Tess Rollmann, a UW-Madison Engineering student, speaks in support of the school's proposal for a differential tuition.

Tess Rollmann, a UW-Madison Engineering student, speaks in support of the school’s proposal for a differential tuition.

“We have more people interested in our engineering programs than we can admit,” said Tess Rollmann, a biomedical engineering student and representative of Polygon, the School’s student senate. The tuition differential also aims to decrease the time to degree by 1.7 semesters.

“Students were really engaged, and in the end, students supported this measure,” said Craig MacKenzie, former president of Polygon.

A number of area business leaders attended the meeting to show their support of UW-Madison’s School of Engineering.

“The school of engineering at UW-Madison is considered a first-tier engineering school,” said Mary Lou Young, a representative of Rockwell Automation.  “We are committed to keeping it that way.”

The proposal includes a plan to increase financial assistance to bridge the gap of the differential for low-income students.

“No student will be disenfranchised because of cash flow problems,” said Peercy.

“Up front, you have [ensured] that all students will have a chance to attend,” said Regent Elizabeth Burmaster.

There will be a review of the differential in three years.

See a UW-Madison School of Engineering presentation pdf

Two-part undergraduate differential tuition approved for UW-Superior

The Business, Finance and Audit Committee also approved a proposal by UW-Superior that would replace a previous library initiative differential with a lower fee. The proposal would charge students $68.50 rather than the $75 previously approved that expired this past spring. A second component of the differential would utilize $35 per semester for expanded career services on the campus.

In other business, the Business, Finance and Audit Committee:

  • Heard a presentation from Kristy Brown, Interim Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administrative Affairs at UW-Milwaukee, about the university’s master planning process; it is the first Master Plan the institute has had in 35 years;
  • Discussed the UW System Information Technology Report;
  • Approved the removal of the requirement for proxy voting service from the Trust Funds Investment Guidelines;
  • Discussed third-quarter gifts, grants, and contracts;
  • Discussed the UW System’s Budget to Actual report for the third quarter;
  • Approved a salary range adjustment for the UW-Milwaukee chancellor;
  • Heard a report by Vice President Debbie Durcan on the estimated utility savings for the fiscal year;
  • Approved a new food service contract for UW-Oshkosh;
  • Approved a new bookstore contract for UW-Eau Claire; and
  • Approved a new bookstore contract for UW-Platteville.

Education Committee approves new UW-Milwaukee programs

The Education Committee unanimously approved moving forward with UW-Milwaukee’s School of Public Health and School of Freshwater Sciences at its Thursday, June 5 meeting. In addition, the committee unanimously approved a new doctorate in Africology at UWM.

UWM Provost Rita Cheng opened the committee session with a presentation on UWM’s academic plans, which stress the dual goals of research growth and increased access. UWM’s growing programs in science, engineering and heath are vital to economic growth in southeastern Wisconsin, she said. UWM is the most diverse institution in the UW System, she added. The university’s Access to Success program has been successful in recruiting and retaining students, particularly students of color, she noted.

Increased graduation rates are vital in the new knowledge economy, she said, noting that Wisconsin ranks 31st in the nation in the number of college graduates. Only 22 percent of those in Wisconsin have a bachelor’s degree, and the rate falls to 18 percent in the city of Milwaukee.

The new programs approved by the committee are vital to the university’s efforts, she said.  The School of Public Health will engage in public health research as well as help develop a diverse public health workforce and inform public health policy, Cheng said. The School will offer four doctoral programs, a master’s and a certificate program.

Regents Danae Davis and Judith Crain commented favorably on the speed and thoroughness with which the School of Public Health plans were developed. “As I’ve been listening, I’ve been impressed by the collaboration and the partnership” involved in the project, Crain noted.

The School of Freshwater Sciences, the first of its kind in the United States, will offer opportunities for faculty, staff and students in research, education and service related to freshwater issues.  The school would offer a doctorate and a master’s degree program in freshwater sciences as well as research opportunities for undergraduate students in a variety of majors, according to Cheng.

The School of Freshwater Sciences will build on UWM’s existing resources and expertise as well as the presence of a large number of freshwater-related industries in southeastern Wisconsin.

Regent Thomas Loftus asked UWM officials to clarify the scope of the new school’s work and its impact on the rest of the state, expressing concerns that legislators from other areas of the state might be reluctant to support a school focused on Lake Michigan and Milwaukee.

Val Klump, director of UWM’s WATER Institute – which will become part of the new school – emphasized that the school would be looking at freshwater issues impacting all Wisconsin streams, rivers and lakes, not just focusing on the Great Lakes.

Also in response to a question from Loftus, Klump emphasized the increasing importance of freshwater research and expertise, citing recent findings of pharmaceuticals in the waters of Lake Michigan and the growing need for fresh water for international food production.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Heard a report from Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin;
  • Authorized a number of programs including a Bachelor of Arts program in Design Arts at UW-Green Bay; a Bachelor of Arts program in Arts Management at UW-Green Bay; a Bachelor of Science program in Plastics Engineering at UW-Stout;  a Masters of Arts program in Spanish at UW-Milwaukee;  and a Masters of Arts program in Women’s Studies at UW-Milwaukee; and
  • Formally accepted a generous proffer from the Vilas Trust.

Physical Planning and Funding Committee

The Physical Planning and Funding Committee convened, and UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos Santiago introduced an update to the campus’s Master Plan. Director of the Office of University Architects/Planning and Transportation Claude R. Schuttey explained how each phase of progress will evolve, and potential sites for growth.

The Physical Planning and Funding Committee reviewed and approved multiple capital projects at UW System campuses:

  • Authorized a new academic building at UW-La Crosse;
  • Authorized a land use agreement for the construction of a UW-Madison faculty office building by the UW Medical Foundation, and accepted the facility as a Gift-In-Kind;
  • Authorized UW-Platteville to construct the outdoor track lighting portion of the Williams Fieldhouse addition as a separate project this year prior to the entire project;
  • Authorized UW-Stevens Point to purchase a city lot and house at 2016 Briggs St., and acquire nine parcels in the same block as they become available;
  • Approved seven minor projects as requested under the UW System All Agency maintenance fund involving program revenues;
  • Authorized UW-Superior to construct a new academic building project;
  • Authorized UW-Madison to grant a permanent easement for access to private property adjacent to the Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station;
  • Authorized UW-Stevens Point to adjust the budget of the Fine Arts Center remodeling and an additional project;
  • Authorized UW-Stevens Point to adjust the budget of the Dreyfus University Center remodeling and addition project;
  • Authorized a revision of the UW-Superior’s Jim Dan Hill Library funding and authority to construct Swenson Hall; and
  • Approved the bylaws of the Board of Regents to change the name of the Physical Planning and Funding Committee to the Capital Planning and Budget Committee.

UW System Associate Vice President David Miller reported that the Building Commission approved about $33.5 million of projects at its April meeting.

The committee also reviewed a draft of the UW System’s 2009-11 Capital Budget request, which will be presented to the Board for approval in August.  The draft included specific requests and outlined anticipated projects and funding over the next six years.

Miller also presented data about the extent of UW System’s backlogged maintenance projects.  Due to decreased state funding, the percentage of critical maintenance projects requested by campuses that are funded has dropped from 70 percent in 2003-05, to 22 percent in 2007-09.

See UW-Milwaukee Master Plan presentation pdf .

Photo Credit:UW-Milwaukee photographer Alan Magayne-Roshak


The Board of Regents will resume its June 2008 meeting on Friday, June 6, at 9 a.m.
in the Wisconsin Room at the UW-Milwaukee Union.

Related: Read June 6 (day 2) news summary