MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Thursday (July 10) approved a 2003-04 budget that shows the effects of $110 million in state funding cuts and raises tuition to maintain access and quality for students.

State support comprises just 27.3 percent of the UW System budget in 2003-04, a decrease from 30.9 percent in 2002-03. In 1973-74, the first full year of operation for the UW System, state support comprised 49.9 percent of the university budget. New student tuition dollars are making up for some of the state funding decline.

“True to our word, we have done the best we can with this budget to preserve academic quality and keep the UW System accessible to Wisconsin students,” said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall.

Nevertheless, the budget report outlines the effects of the cuts by institution, including fewer courses, larger class sizes, reduced numbers of faculty and staff, and diminished ability to implement or continue important economic development initiatives, Lyall noted.

In an effort to narrow the state’s $3.2 billion deficit as part of the 2003-05 biennial budget, Gov. James Doyle proposed, and the Legislature passed, a $250 million GPR reduction for the UW System—the largest cut in the system’s history. The UW System will take the remaining $140 million in cuts in 2004-05.

Increased tuition rates will provide $50 million to offset budget cuts for the 2003-04 academic year. The offset will be generated through tuition increases of $250 per semester at the comprehensive universities and the UW Colleges, and $350 per semester at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee in each of the next two years. The tuition increase applies to resident and nonresident students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“While these are significant tuition increases, they are vital so that UW students continue to receive a high-quality education and access to the courses they need to graduate,” said Regent President Toby Marcovich of Superior. “It is important to note that financial aid is increasing to help our neediest students cope with tuition increases.”

Tuition rates for resident undergraduates in 2003-04 will be $4,554 at UW-Madison; $4,438 at UW-Milwaukee; $3,500 at the UW comprehensive universities; and $3,200 at the UW Colleges. Mandatory segregated fees vary by campus.

Read the full news release
Read a summary of the 2003-04 operating budget pdf

Regents begin comprehensive study of UW System’s future

The board took the first steps Thursday in what will be a year-long, in-depth examination of the goals and priorities of the UW System in the next decade and beyond.

At an afternoon retreat, Regent Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids, who will lead the study, said the board is right to capitalize on this “era of transformation” and the unlikelihood that state support will increase in the future.

In addition, Gottschalk reminded the board that an aging population is driving the nation’s priorities—another sign that public dollars probably will not be returned to higher education in the near future.

“It is now prudent to begin charting a new course for the UW System,” Gottschalk said.

The study, titled ‘Charting a New Course for the UW System,’ will center on major themes facing the UW, and will guide monthly regent discussions over the next year.

To gain background for the study, the board heard Thursday from Travis Reindl, director of state policy analysis for the American Association of State College and Universities, who provided the regents with a national outlook at the future of higher education.

“We are perched on a moment of structural change,” Reindl said. “And that’s a starting point we are beginning to realize in the world of higher education.”

Public colleges and universities are facing the worst revenue streams experienced in nearly 15 years, Reindl said. In nearly every state government, reserves have been tapped and there are no more one-time budget fixes. And, he added, when the economy takes a downturn, statutory and political forces mean higher education budgets are usually the first to be cut.

“We can’t look for new revenue sources to come online,” Reindl said. “The sentiment and the will just aren’t there.”

Reindl provided the regents with a series of charts that showed national trends of decreasing revenues, rising tuition costs, and measures of economic performance.

Part of the fiscal trouble stems from a tax structure that was developed in an old economy, he said, while growing enrollments add to an already complicated fiscal equation.

“We have democratized the expectation (of a college education), but we’ve privatized the financing,” he said.

Reindl outlined for the board a few examples of alternative governance structures, including universities that have gained “charter status,” “state-related status,” and “enterprise status,” all of which allow universities some autonomy from state oversight in exchange for performance on certain state-approved measures.

Reindl cautioned that some attempts by universities to change their status have grown too large and backfired, leaving the universities with exactly what they didn’t want.

“If you want to change something, change just that,” he said. “Don’t let it get mixed up with two or three other things.”

Reindl said “contractual agreements”—in which costs and benefits are clearly defined for the state and the university—are gaining some ground, but political forces have prevented such proposals from being adopted.

Reindl suggested that the regents might consider broad questions at the outset of the study, such as reminding legislators why public universities were first created and why they still exist. He also suggested that the regents might forecast where the state as a whole is headed in terms of demographics and economy, and structure the future of the university accordingly.

“You won’t get to the finish line in the first go-round,” he said. “What has to underlie this is a culture with some long-term conversation and institutional memory.”

Read the AASCU report pdf

UW System recommits to diversity plan following Supreme Court ruling

UW System admissions policies are “acceptable and constitutional,” following rulings in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall reported to the board on Thursday.

“The way we have handled admissions decisions in Wisconsin—individually and not with formulas or point systems—is an acceptable and constitutional process,” Lyall told the board.

Lyall emphasized that the court’s rulings confirmed that diversity is an essential part of the collegiate educational experience. She said the UW System now will redouble its efforts to increase diversity among its students, faculty and academic staff through its strategic plan known as Plan 2008.

“This will require continued focus on pre-college preparation, retention and graduation, need-based financial aid, and steady improvements in campus climate over the next five years so that we arrive at 2008 a better and more inclusive university system,” Lyall said. “We will recommit to the regent goals of 2008 and the vision of a university that serves all of Wisconsin’s citizens well.”

Lyall also reported to the board on several assignments UW faculty and staff have undertaken in the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea.

As part of their assigned duties, many faculty and staff are involved in public service work with outside organizations at the state and federal levels, Lyall said.

For example, Lyall reported that, last year, 42 faculty and staff experts worked with organizations such as the National Wildlife Health Lab; the National Science Foundation; the Smithsonian Institution; the National Institute for Nursing Research and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health; NASA; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This work is in keeping with the UW System’s mission to contribute beyond the boundaries of the university and the state for the benefit of the greater good. Their work made progress in important research, educational improvements and medical advances, she said.

“These are some of our Wisconsin Idea contributors in a real and active sense,” Lyall said. “I want to recognize and honor all our faculty and staff who give their time and professional talents to the Wisconsin Idea—it is alive and well and will continue.”

Regents thank Smith, Gottschalk for service to board

The board on Thursday also recognized the tenure of two regents whose roles have recently changed.

Through resolutions of appreciation, the board thanked Regent Emeritus Jay Smith of Middleton, who will step down from the board this month after remaining past his term to complete budget negotiations; and former Regent President Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids, whose term as president ended last month although he will remain on the board for two more years.

Regent Fred Mohs of Madison presented Smith’s resolution of appreciation, highlighting his leadership as board president and as co-chair of the UW System’s statewide economic summits.

“Even more important than the Economic Summit was Jay’s vision for more board involvement,” Mohs said. “In the end, everyone had input. This is a valuable legacy, and one that should be pursued and perfected.”

In accepting the resolution, Smith outlined lessons he had learned during his tenure, and offered the board points to consider as they undertake the year-long study on the future of the UW System—what Smith called a “strategic re-think.”

“It’s a great honor to be a regent, and with that honor comes great responsibility,” Smith said. “I’ve learned that we often don’t need to recreate—we need to reconfirm.”

Smith said the board has struggled to clearly define the state’s higher education needs, and has been forced to operate without knowing the true expectations of the state Legislature.

“With that knowledge, we could more clearly establish our goals and priorities,” Smith said. “The board’s job is to protect higher education. I’ve learned that if the board does not do this, no one else will. Take this as an opportunity to find a new way to communicate.”

During the forthcoming comprehensive study, Smith suggested the board should establish a single voice in articulating goals and priorities; stabilize the system’s resource base; and continue to press for management flexibility from the Legislature in exchange for meeting performance goals.

“What will be the model for the next decade?” Smith asked. “The answer is in your hands.”

In addition, Regent Roger Axtell of Janesville introduced a resolution of appreciation thanking Gottschalk for his leadership during his term as president.

Regent President Toby Marcovich announced that he asked Gottschalk to serve the next year as leader of the board’s study of the future of the UW System.

Gottschalk said Thursday’s resolution of appreciation was a surprise, and he intends to serve the remainder of his term as vigorously as ever.

In other business, the board approved the following resolutions:

  • Extension of UW-Madison’s contract with the Collegiate Licensing Company, which administers the university’s trademark licensing program;
  • Authority for UW-Madison to construct the Microbial Sciences Building and parking structure as part of the campus’ TechStar initiative;
  • Authority for UW-Milwaukee to proceed with the west wing portion of the Lapham Hall North Wing remodeling project;
  • Approval for UW-Stout to construct a north campus residence hall;
  • Cancellation of the board’s meetings scheduled for Aug. 21-22.


The next meeting of the Board of Regents will be Sept. 4-5 in Room 1820 of Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.