Admissions process guarantees individual review for every applicant

MADISON – College admissions processes at University of Wisconsin System campuses will follow a single, updated policy approved unanimously by the Board of Regents on Friday (Feb. 9).

The policy states that academic achievements are the most important factors in admissions decisions. It preserves long-standing, minimum academic requirements, and consolidates several previous UW System admissions policies, some of which were first approved more than 30 years ago.

Under the policy, UW campuses are to admit students who are likely to succeed at the university, and who will both benefit from and contribute to the educational environment.

The policy requires campuses to employ a comprehensive, or “holistic” admissions review process. The process first considers a potential student’s academic achievements. Applications of qualified students are also reviewed for evidence of leadership and/or community service, if an applicant is a military veteran, returning adult, or nontraditional student; as well as socioeconomic background, and status as a member of a historically underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

Regent President David Walsh of Madison noted that college admissions can be complex, and he encouraged Regents and others to remember the importance of diverse student environments that enhance education for all students.

“Diversity isn’t just race,” Walsh said. “It’s geography. It’s handicapped. It’s the veterans. It’s the football player. They all bring something to this campus. It’s about having a better educational experience for our students.”

The policy includes a clause requiring the Board of Regents to review the admissions policy every five years to ensure that the language remains current and applicable.

President Kevin P. Reilly said he recommended that the Board approve the updated policy because it is balanced, legal and reasonable. He said the updated policy can also be a way the University of Wisconsin can make progress toward a just and humane society, as envisioned by former U.S. President Gerald Ford in a 1999 column in the New York Times.

“Already the global economy requires unprecedented grasp of diverse viewpoints and cultural traditions,” Reilly cited from Ford’s column. “I don’t want future college students to suffer the cultural and social impoverishment that afflicted my generation. If history has taught us anything in this remarkable century, it is the notion of America as a work in progress.”

Walsh said business leaders support the updated policy because they want to hire graduates of all backgrounds who have had experiences necessary for success in what is becoming a global workplace.

Regent Vice President Mark Bradley of Wausau noted that former Regent Ody Fish, who died this week at the age of 81, played a role in establishing the UW’s admissions policy more than 30 years ago. Even in 1976, he said, UW policy noted that the university needed a flexible admissions policy to admit students with a likelihood of success from diverse backgrounds.

“Ody Fish believed in that principle and joined with his colleagues to pass that resolution unanimously 35 years ago,” Bradley said.

Bradley also confirmed with Regents and UW System staff that the policy is believed to comply with state law, and that the updated policy is unlikely to lead to changes in admissions outcomes at any UW campus.

Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee, chair of the education committee, said she was proud that the Board acted to approve the updated admissions policy.

“It is the right decision,” she said.

UW-Madison keeps teaching, research as top priorities

Integrating teaching and research at all levels of university work creates a campus culture that has kept UW-Madison an internationally preeminent institution of higher education, Regents learned Friday.

“That culture affects virtually everything,” said UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell. “It particularly affects who’s here, our faculty, staff and students.”

The campus, the largest in the UW System, is home to 29,500 undergraduates, 9,000 graduate students, 2,500 professional students, and 2,200 faculty, most of whom are not part of the campus’s medical programs.

Compared to its peer institutions, it has the 6th largest student headcount, but the 9th largest faculty, Farrell said.

The culture of integrating research approaches across the campus’s education is a key factor in attracting outstanding faculty and graduate students, who conduct much of the campus’s research, Farrell said.

“A surprisingly large number of faculty say, ‘That’s a place I want to be’,” Farrell said, noting that the campus is able to attract promising faculty, but a relative lack of financial resources compared to other research universities can make it difficult to retain faculty and researchers for the long-term. “We are looked at in the nation as a terrific farm team. The challenge is to not be so ripe for the picking.”

Farrell said the campus strives to give students the tools they need to use the academic knowledge they learn at UW-Madison to solve problems in college, and in the future.

“What’s true today may not be true tomorrow. Lifelong learning is essential,” Farrell said.

Farrell also noted satisfaction with outcomes from this approach, for example, the campus’s status as the No. 1 producer of business executives, as measured by the number of CEO’s in the S&P. Likewise, he said, the campus is the No. 2 provider of Peace Corps volunteers, a drop this year from No. 1 in previous years.

“What our students do matters; what they do when they leave matters,” Farrell said.

The campus is proud of its record in attracting federal and private grant support for research, particularly in sciences like engineering and biotechnology, he said. Farrell said UW-Madison receives more grant funding from the National Science Foundation than any other public research university. Humanities and social sciences researchers are also active, but tallies of grant dollars may not reflect this activity, he said.

Successfully attracting grants is a time-intensive but important process, he said.

“This is basically starting over every year, and re-creating a $900 million business,” he said. “The vast majority of that $900 million goes to people. It’s not stuff.”

Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities and planning at UW-Madison, reviewed how the campus has invested in research facilities in recent years. He noted that the campus has worked with the state to jointly pay for facilities to support research in general science; health sciences, including medical education, research and clinical trials; and cross-college biosciences.

“[This partnership] has really enabled us and our researchers to compete in a growing area,” Fish said.

Currently, the campus is developing the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, a public-private institute that will support research throughout the UW System. The project will integrate academic and student life facilities, and the state has contributed one-third of the necessary funding for the facilities, Fish said.

“It’s really transformational for the campus,” he said.

Regent Thomas Loftus of Sun Prairie noted that UW-Madison is part of the state’s public university system, but operates mostly with non-state dollars.

“You’re not going back to a place where you will be state-funded,” he said. “I would hope that the Regents would consider that we think of this university in this way; that we need a new approach to this university.”

Loftus urged Regents to consider ways it can invest in UW-Madison to keep it an asset for Wisconsin and the nation.

Regent Michael Spector of Milwaukee commended UW-Madison for self-generating the resources it needs to meet its mission. He suggested that the Board consider more strategic planning to integrate UW-Madison with other parts of the university system toward achieving additional cost efficiencies and service to all of Wisconsin.

Farrell said the campus is strategically working to improve, not just to maintain current levels of success. UW-Madison will use its upcoming reaccreditation to advance its accountability and assessment practices, both areas of national interest, he said.

“We understand we have challenges, but aiming to not fall behind is a terrible place to be, and we have no intention of doing that,” Farrell said, noting that colleges and universities are expected to be different than 10 years ago. “There’s a whole host of aspirations that 10 years ago, weren’t there, or were expressed in a different way. One of our challenges is to anticipate what those aspirations will be so we’re there.”

The Board also approved a resolution of appreciation to commend UW-Madison for hosting the February meeting and for its contributions to Wisconsin.

View a presentation from UW-Madison pdf

Growth Agenda gains momentum; Board honors UW-La Crosse Interim Chancellor Hitch

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly reported to the Board on Friday that Gov. Jim Doyle has indicated that he will propose reinvestment in the UW System as part of his budget address next week. Reilly thanked those around the state who have helped advocate for the UW’s “Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.”

The Governor’s [State of the State] speech recognized that the University of Wisconsin System gives the state a “unique” advantage,” Reilly said. “It was encouraging to hear him credit this university’s innovative energy as the key to the state’s success.”

“We’re hearing from more and more supporters that they agree our Growth Agenda will indeed be a wise investment for Wisconsin,” Reilly continued. “And we’ve heard leaders from both parties, and both houses, express support for the UW’s emphasis on affordability, access, and economic development.”

Reilly said that at least 75 community leaders, business executives, and elected leaders have publicly endorsed the “Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.” Recent endorsements include support from:

  • The Academic Staff Senates at UW-Oshkosh and UW-Madison;
  • The Classified Staff Advisory Committee of UW-Stevens Point;
  • La Crosse County Board Chair Steve Doyle;
  • The members of United St. Croix Valley Days; and
  • Sen.  Dave Hansen.

Reilly said he also plans to continue to promote the Growth Agenda around the state, having recently visited Stevens Point, and with upcoming visits to the Fox Valley and Superior.

“We’ll have to work ever harder in the coming months, but now we’ve got an agenda with momentum to work on,” he said.

Regents on Friday also thanked UW-La Crosse Elizabeth Hitch for her service since last summer as interim chancellor.

President Reilly praised Hitch for her commitment to explaining the campus’s “Growth and Access Plan” to audiences in the 7 Rivers Region and around the state, and for her efforts to help the community cope with loss of a UW-L student.

“Liz has been a leader to helping the community find solutions to student safety on and off-campus,” he said.

Regent Brent Smith of La Crosse presented Hitch with a resolution of appreciation commending her for her interim service.

“The campus and community is better off due with the leadership you’ve provided in the last eight months,” Smith said.

Hitch said her time as interim chancellor was “challenging, rewarding, frustrating, rewarding, energizing, and more.”

Hitch said she was astounded by the talent on the UW-La Crosse campus, and has been enlightened by listening to and interacting with both champions and critics.

“It was an honor to have been asked, and a privilege to have served,” Hitch said.

In other “Good News,” Reilly reported that:

  • UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley and Gov. Doyle announced in December that the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City had designated UW-Madison as one of its eight new “Kauffman Campuses,” a designation that brings $5 million to help train students in the principles and practices of entrepreneurship, and to spur greater research commercialization statewide.
  • WiSys and the UW System Office of Federal Relations continue to foster inter-campus and industry research collaborations. In January, approximately 40 faculty, staff, and industry representatives gathered at UW-Eau Claire to learn more about the tools and talents researchers are using to develop cutting-edge nanoscience, which could mean advances for Northwest Wisconsin industries, like forest products and plastics.
  • Four University of Wisconsin System students who have excelled in the classroom, while serving as strong campus and community leaders, received Alliant Energy/Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Awards, which recognize the outstanding scholarship and community-service efforts of students from traditionally underrepresented minority groups. The students, who are pursuing a degree in business or engineering at UW-Madison and UW-Platteville, receive $4,000 awards upon graduation.
  • The awards honor Erroll B. Davis, a former chief executive of Alliant Energy, who was the first Black leader of a “Business Week 1000” company. Davis served as a member of the Board of Regents from 1987 to 1994, and is now chancellor of the University of Georgia System. The Alliant Energy Foundation established a $400,000 endowment to fund the awards in 2006. The endowment fund honors Davis’s distinguished resume of public service
  • The 2006 award winners are:
    • Ninrat Datiri, a senior majoring in electrical engineering at UW-Madison. Datiri has worked for both IBM and Hewlett-Packard, and helped to build multicultural learning communities on campus;
    • ThaYeng Kong, a senior business administration major at UW-Platteville. He is active in the campus’s Hmong Club and has held business internships;
    • Natanael Jose Martinez, a recent UW-Madison graduate with degrees in management and human resources and marketing. Martinez works with middle-school English-as-a-Second-Language students and with UW-Madison’s PEOPLE program, designed to help high-school students bridge the gap between secondary and higher education; and
    • Der Vang, a graduate of UW-Platteville, with a degree in electrical engineering. He was active in several campus organizations, and is the first member of his family to have earned a college degree.

“These students are outstanding scholars who have made their campuses better places to live and learn,” Reilly said.

Reilly also noted the death of Regent Emeritus Ody Fish, who served two terms on the Board, first from 1970 to 1978, and then again from 1982 to 1989. In his first term, Ody helped write the legislation that established the UW System and its governing principles under Chapter 36 of the Wisconsin Statutes, Reilly said.

“We’ll remember Regent Fish as an engaging leader who devoted his time, energy, and extensive knowledge about the UW’s history to making this university the best it could be, with students always in mind,” Reilly said.

Reilly also noted the death in December of E. David Cronon, an influential former dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at UW-Madison, and a professor of history for more than four decades.

Board approves rules for technical college transfer programs; approves compensation for UW-Madison football coach

The full Board on Friday approved criteria that Regents will use when considering new liberal-arts or pre-professional transfer programs proposed by the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The criteria will guide the Board of Regents as it considers the needs and priorities of Wisconsin’s state-supported colleges and universities, as well as student access, fiscal well-being, and institutional missions when deciding whether to approve new transfer programs.

In March, the Regents are expected to consider a proposed liberal arts associate degree at Chippewa Valley Technical College, the first program to be considered under the newly adopted criteria.

The full Board also took action to:

  • Authorize a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at UW-Milwaukee;
  • Authorize the Milwaukee Renaissance Academy and the Seeds of Health elementary school as charter schools of UW-Milwaukee;
  • Re-appoint UW System representatives to the Natural Areas Preservation Council;
  • Authorize UW-Stevens Point to recruit for a Provost;
  • Approve a salary adjustment for UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Linda Bunnell, whose will now earn $187,476, which is 10 percent behind the peer median group, and nearly 20 percent behind peers at higher education institutions of comparable budget size;
  • Grant authority to UW-Madison to lease warehouse space and exercise an option to purchase facilities related to campus surplus programs;
  • Grant authority to UW-Oshkosh to sell land to the city of Oshkosh;
  • Grant authority to UW-River Falls to exchange land for a future building site; and
  • Grant authority for maintenance and repair projects in the UW System.
  • In closed session, the Board approved a salary adjustment for Liz Hitch, who is returning to her role as Provost at UW-La Crosse. As of Feb. 1, Hitch now earns an annual salary of $138,002.

Also in closed session, the Board approved a new compensation package for Badger Football Coach Brett Bielema. The package increases his compensation to $1.3 million in the first year. In addition to the compensation increase, the contract was extended an additional year, through Jan. 31, 2012.

Read a UW-Madison statement about Coach Bielema


The Board of Regents will hold its next meeting on March 8-9, 2007 on the UW-Parkside campus.

Related: Read Feb 8 (day 1) news summary