MENOMONIE, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today voted to approve tuition and fee increases for 2023-24, including a tuition increase for resident undergraduate students for the first time in 10 years.
The approved recommendation provides for adjustments in tuition and segregated fees that vary by university but average 4.9% (or $404) for resident undergraduates.
Accounting for an average 3.5% increase in room and board rates, the average increase to the overall total cost of attendance for Wisconsin resident undergraduate students at the four-year campuses would be 4.2% (or $706).
In making the recommendation, UW System President Jay Rothman told Regents the system is guided by two priorities: (1) to remain affordable for students; and (2) to continue to deliver an outstanding educational experience in a financial sustainable manner, and that maintaining long-term financial viability requires both securing additional revenue as well as strict expense management.
Regent Scott Beightol, chair of the Business & Finance Committee, told the Board that several universities also propose to increase program-specific differentials in certain fields of study. He noted these programs have a few things in common: (1) they are high-cost to deliver; (2) they are in high demand by prospective students, yet often lack the resources to expand capacity to enroll more of them; and (3) their graduates are in high demand from employers – in areas like nursing, computer science, and engineering – that generally pay higher salaries as well.
“It is important to all of us that a UW education continues to be affordable, but as resident tuition rates have been held flat for the past 10 years, inflation has increased a cumulative 26%, and it’s time to use this operational lever,” Beightol said.
Beightol added that even under this proposal, GPR tuition and auxiliary fund balances are still projected to decrease and UW System will continue to address operational expenses and drive efficiencies.
“It is also essential for us as Regents to be responsible stewards of the value of a UW education, which means we must be mindful of both the affordability and the quality we offer to students,” Beightol said.
In remarks to the Business & Finance committee earlier on Thursday, President Rothman noted that this proposal strikes that balance, with the University of Wisconsin remaining the best value of any public university system in the Midwest for its residential students, even with a tuition increase.
Many Regents spoke out in support of the increase.
Regent Dana Wachs noted the UW System is in competition with a host of similar institutions for talented professors. “Now is the time to start taking steps to preserve this institution and preserve it into the future,” he said.
“I am wholeheartedly in support of this,” added Regent Bob Atwell. “This is a rational investment for students and families in the state and a tremendous value if they pick the institution that meets their aspirations.”
Regent Kyle Weatherly said he’s come to support the increase after talking to dozens of student groups around the state. “They wish it wasn’t happening, but they understand the need,” he said, noting that students became much more understanding after learning the increase would support a payplan for the faculty members they clearly appreciate.
Regent President Walsh added that maintaining quality underpins her support of the tuition increase. “I’m very concerned about quality – and the campuses need to have the resources to deliver on this.”
UW-Stout: “Fueling the Workforce through the Polytechnic Advantage”
Chancellor Katherine Frank told the Regents she is proud of the work UW-Stout is doing to serve the needs of Wisconsin – but she believes the university can do much more.
With increased support from the state, such as approving the renovation of Heritage Hall and for distinct challenges related to being a polytechnic university, UW-Stout can turn out more graduates to meet the state’s workforce needs, she said, during the host campus presentation.
“Adhering to our mission and fulfilling the promise we have made to our students and to the state is our job; it must be the outcome of this institution’s work on behalf of the state of Wisconsin,” Frank said. “The fact of the matter is that we could be producing even more graduates to fill high-need workforce areas across the state with the appropriate investment in our institution.”
UW-Stout is producing impressive results: Nearly 60% of graduates remain in Wisconsin, and the employment rate of recent graduates has risen to 99.4%, based on a new First Destination report. The 99.4% includes success for first-generation students – more than one-third of those enrolled at UW-Stout – and veterans.
Frank noted that just 3% of U.S. universities are classified as polytechnics. She cited several other polytechnics, such as Ferris State in Michigan and Cal Poly Humboldt, which are smaller than UW-Stout but receive significantly more state funding.
“The philosophy of and approach to learning at a polytechnic university are different than at traditional comprehensive universities,” she said. “An investment in Stout is a sound investment in meeting workforce needs not only in this region, but also across the state.”
Frank cited UW-Stout’s three educational tenets – applied learning, career focus and collaboration with business and industry – as the foundation of its workforce readiness approach to higher education.
“While comprehensive universities are beginning to embrace hands-on learning, UW-Stout emphasizes applied, project-based learning with career-focused outcomes that have been part of our educational philosophy for more than 130 years,” she said. “We reinforce that students’ learning environments will be the labs and studios that outnumber traditional classrooms on our campus by three to one.”
Frank emphasized the importance of Heritage Hall, UW-Stout’s top capital project, to the university’s mission and thanked the Regents for their support in the 2023-2025 biennial budget.
“It will transform a dying 50-year-old home economics building into a state-of-the-art learning facility that addresses the high-need workforce areas of childcare, mental health and wellness, and tourism, and through cross-sector connections helps to support the workforce challenges of other sectors like manufacturing,” she said.
Frank also led a panel discussion with representatives from four workforce sectors in Wisconsin: health care, manufacturing, tourism and public service. Four of the panelists were alumni.
The panel discussed challenges in their industries; how a polytechnic like UW-Stout helps the state address workforce needs; how well UW-Stout prepares graduates for the workforce; why investment in infrastructure like Heritage Hall is necessary for the success of its graduates in meeting workforce needs; and how their industry sector is changing and what institutions like UW-Stout can do best to prepare students to work within those sectors.
Regent President’s Report
In her regular report to the Board, Regent President Karen Walsh updated Regents on two ongoing chancellor searches. She said a Search & Screen Committee, to be chaired by Regent Kyle Weatherly and vice-chaired by Professor Adrienne Viramontes, was recently charged with its mission to find a successor for UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford, who is leaving to become chancellor of Indiana University Southeast. The national search will officially open on April 3 and the deadline to submit nominations and applications for full consideration is May 31.
The Parkside Special Regent Committee also includes Regents Héctor Colón, John Miller, Ashok Rai, and Jennifer Staton in addition to Weatherly as chair.
At UW-Platteville, the chancellor search is nearing its final stages, with three finalists selected by the Search & Screen Committee, led by Regent Cris Peterson as chair and Professor Christina Curras as vice-chair. UW-Platteville students, faculty, staff, and community members will have the opportunity to interact with the candidates in upcoming public forums and provide feedback to the Special Regent Committee, whose members include Regents Scott Beightol, Mike Jones, Edmund Manydeeds, and Rodney Pasch, in addition to Regent Peterson as chair.
The committee will interview finalists in April and then recommend its top candidate to the Board for approval. The person selected will be UW-Platteville’s 15th chancellor.
Walsh also announced the inaugural recipient of the Regents Business Partnership Award, presented to 3M Menomonie and UW-Stout. The award is intended to recognize the active and mutually beneficial collaborations between UW universities and one of their valued business partners. 3M Menomonie has been a consistent presence at UW-Stout’s Career Conference for over 20 years, hiring interns and also providing support to Stout programs, lab equipment, and building campaigns.
Finally, Walsh extended early congratulations to the approximately 23,000 students who will be presented with their University of Wisconsin diplomas in coming weeks.
UW System President’s Report
System President Jay Rothman opened his report with an update on the enrollment initiatives included in the System’s new strategic plan to support the goal of increasing the number of graduates from UW System universities by 10% — to 41,000 graduates annually – by 2028.
Enrollment initiatives being developed and/or underway include dual enrollment practices, direct admissions, online education, and expansion of recruiting efforts targeting international students.
Providing an update on state legislative actions, Rothman told Regents budget negotiations continue to dominate conversations in the State Capitol. Rothman reported on his testimony before the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities on UW’s integral role in Wisconsin’s workforce and demographic needs. He also testified before the State Building Commission on UW System’s capital budget request. He told Regents that the Joint Finance Committee will hold four listening sessions in April around the state (including one hosted by UW-Eau Claire) and the system is working to have good representation at those hearings.
Outside of the budget process, Rothman said the Minnesota-Wisconsin Reciprocity bill, introduced by Sen. Rob Stafsholt and Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, would ensure that remaining funds paid by Minnesota reciprocity students would be returned to the universities they attend instead of the state fund. “This change would have a significant, positive financial impact for many of our universities,” he said.
Rothman added that legislation to extend the successful Merit Scholarship Program is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature. This scholarship program was created in 2017 and has provided over $1.5 million in financial aid to nearly 300 students over the last five years. The program was set to sunset on April 1st, and this legislation would allow the program to continue.
Finally, Rothman recognized several significant accomplishments in the UW System family.
He saluted the System’s showing in this year’s awarding of Fulbright Scholar and Fulbright Student Program winners. In the Scholar program, six UW universities were represented with 14 winners named. In the Student program, five UW universities were represented with 16 winners overall.
Rothman told Regents that a group of donors has committed $2.1 million to the Moon Shot for Equity Fund initiative at UW-Milwaukee dedicated to ensuring that students of color graduate at the same rate as white students to help eliminate longstanding equity gaps. The investment is a critical boost for students, allowing the university to make retention, re-entry, and emergency grants to students whose education is at risk or has been interrupted for various reasons.
He also said the UW-Madison School of Education has received a $5-million gift from Susan and James Patterson to extend its Teacher Pledge program through the 2026-27 academic year. This donor-funded initiative, which started in 2020, pays the equivalent of in-state tuition and fees, testing, and licensing costs for students enrolled in of the school’s teacher education programs. In return, graduates “pledge” to teach for three or four years at a PK-12 school in Wisconsin.
Rothman also congratulated the UW-Madison women’s hockey team, which recently upset Ohio State to win an unprecedented seventh championship at the Women’s Frozen Four. The Badgers have won the last three straight championships (not including 2020 when it was cancelled due to COVID).
Finally, Rothman recognized UW-Stout’s Manufacturing Outreach Center which was recently recognized with a Regional Impact Award from Momentum West, which promotes economic development in the region.
Regents receive ATP progress report update
In a joint meeting of the Audit and Business & Finance Committees, Regents received an update on the Administrative Transformation Program (ATP). The program, which was authorized by the Board in 2020, seeks to modernize the outdated, disconnected technology and supplemental systems across the UW System by standardizing finance, human resources, and research administration business processes and implementing Workday and Huron Research Suite, integrated, cloud-based technology systems.
ATP leadership shared issues identified during the project’s Planning and Architect Phase, and corrective actions taken by the team to address those gaps. Among these are the provision of additional staffing and financial resources to the non-UW-Madison universities to ensure successful adoption of Workday at those institutions.
The team continues to monitor key risks, which include staffing challenges and the integration of ancillary systems. While the team has implemented mitigating actions, these and future unknowns could affect the project’s scope and schedule.
The project is tracking under budget, with financial contingencies available to resolve those challenges. While acknowledging the potential impacts of these risks on the scope and schedule, ATP leadership continues to target July 2024 as an achievable implementation date.
The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), widely considered the premier Division III conference in the country based on its number of NCAA championships, presented Regents with an annual update on their value and impact to the campus communities they serve.
WIAC Commissioner Danielle Harris said student participation in athletics should be considered a strong enrollment tool, with WIAC student-athletes earning higher GPAs than the overall student body, higher retention rates, and higher graduation rates. “Our students have immediate connections through their teams and coaches, and instantly have mentors for future success,” she said.
Employers appreciate student-athletes, Harris said, because they tend to be self-confident, natural leaders, with emotional regulation skills and an understanding of how to bounce back from a bad loss. They also tend to be disciplined and have great time management skills, which translates well to a work environment.
Testimonials from current and former student-athletes showcased the need for continued investment in WIAC’s institutional athletic facilities.
Business & Finance Committee
Host campus UW-Stout provided an overview of how the university’s polytechnic mission meets workforce needs by preparing students to be career-ready through the educational tenets of career focus, applied learning, and collaboration. The presentation also addressed the costs associated with delivering a successful polytechnic education, including the financial and infrastructure support needed to continue to prepare career-ready graduates to help meet current demand and ultimately expand Wisconsin’s workforce.
In other business, the Business & Finance Committee:
- Held preliminary discussions of the proposed 2023-24 tuition and auxiliary rates;
- Approved UW-Green Bay’s contractual agreement with Compass Group USA, Inc., for dining services. The contractor will assume operation of dining expenses on Aug. 1, 2023, for one year with six one-year extensions for a potential seven-year contract. Annual net revenue to the contractor is valued at approximately $2.1 million. The contractor will invest $1.0 million to support dining improvements and facility enhancements;
- Heard the semi-annual report on gifts, grants, and contracts from July 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2022. Total gifts, grants, and contracts for the six-month period were nearly $1.2 billion, a 7.6% increase ($84.3 million) from the same period in the prior year. Federal awards increased $89.1 million (13.1%) largely attributed to research grants from various federal agencies. Non-federal awards decreased $4.8 million (1.1%), with the decrease primarily at UW-Madison and relates to funds received in the prior year from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to support new research buildings, pandemic support, grants to the Morgridge Institute for Research, and other operational and functional research support; and
- Heard the UW System Trust Funds quarterly investment report as of Dec. 31, 2022. As of that date, assets totaled $543.2 million, comprised of $508.7 million in the Long Term (endowment) Fund and $34.5 million in the Income Cash Fund (a component of the State Investment Fund). Ongoing concerns about an economic recession, tighter monetary policy, and geopolitical tension remained elevated over the quarter.
A panel led by UW provosts from Green Bay, Milwaukee, Parkside, Stout, and Superior explained the current process for academic degree program planning both at the UW System and campus levels. It focused on how campuses identify new program areas that sustain access for students to majors and careers while efficiently managing resources.
The discussion included a snapshot of the current array and its evolution over the past several years. Provosts also shared how program array planning is implemented on the campus level, including examples of programs that have been approved and eliminated. They also discussed improvements to the current planning process that would streamline the process for universities and allow for more responsiveness to changing student and workforce needs.
In other business, the Education Committee:
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Chicano/a Latino/a Studies. This program complements an undergraduate certificate and offers an interdisciplinary analysis of Mexican and Latin American origin people, cultures, and collectivities within the U.S. As the second largest and fastest growing minoritized population in Wisconsin, familiarity with their histories and cultures will be in demand at the university and in the workplace. Many courses in the program incorporate service and community-based learning;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for a Master of Science in Business: Data, Insights, and Analytics. The program responds to the increase of data availability and the desire of companies to use it as a competitive resource. It will be delivered in a part-time, online asynchronous format that students can complete in two years;
- Approved UW Oshkosh’s request for a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. The program will prepare graduates to enter a wide range of careers in biomedical technology and healthcare, including medical implants and prosthetics, devices and equipment, imaging and signal processing, and organ and tissue engineering. It will seek accreditation from the Association Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET);
- Approved UW-Stevens Point’s request for a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Community Planning. Elevating a current emphasis will provide students with a clearly defined major and dedicated curriculum, so they are well equipped to enter the workforce as city and regional planners, land trust and advocacy staff, and conservation project managers;
- Approved UW-Stevens Point’s request for a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Education and Interpretation. The program elevates an existing emphasis, which has been accredited by the North American Association for Environmental Education since 2014 and is one of only 12 in the country; and
- Heard a presentation by host UW-Stout on “Addressing Employer Needs for Talent and the Needs of the State through Championing Student Success.”
Capital Planning and Budget Committee
Glendalí Rodríguez, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Justin Utpadel, Director of Facilities Management, discussed UW-Stout’s long-range planning processes currently underway to prioritize facilities that are flexible, efficient, and resilient. UW-Stout’s planning and design work promotes curricular and co-curricular quality experiences to ensure overall student well-being.
The presentation briefly described the participatory planning processes for the Recreation Complex Renovation and Addition and the Heritage Hall Renovation and Addition.
In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to sell 3,230 square feet of agricultural land located at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station to the City of Madison for construction of the West Terminal Bus Rapid Transit Park and Ride facility. The entire transaction with the City includes a Permanent Limited Easement and a Temporary Limited Easement that will aid with the construction, maintenance, and access to the proposed West Terminal from the adjacent pedestrian path;
- Approved UW-Green Bay’s request for authority to sell two approximately 40-acre parcels of unimproved land located in Door County, Wisconsin. UW-Green Bay received a donation of 160 acres of unimproved land located in Peninsula Center, Door County, Wisconsin in 1971. The university has not used the property for research in many years and would like to divest itself of the property. The Door County Land Trust (DCLT) was contacted to determine their interest in purchasing the property. DCLT is a non-profit organization that acquires land to preserve and enhance the open space and the ecological integrity of Door County;
- Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct various All Agency maintenance and repair projects at an estimated total cost of $20,252,700 ($100,000 General Fund Supported Borrowing; $7,538,600 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing; and $12,614,100 Cash). The request includes a total of 10 projects; 6 for UW-Madison as well as 1 each for UW-Milwaukee, UW-Superior, UW-Parkside and UW-La Crosse:
- At UW-Madison, the Arlington ARS Hay Storage Replacement project replaces the Hay Storage structure in-kind. On June 26, 2022, a fire at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station (ARS) resulted in the total loss of the Hay Storage facility;
- At UW-Madison, the Witte Residence Hall – B Tower Ventilation Renovation project resolves condensation issues and associated air quality problems present in resident rooms due to excessive moisture;
- At UW-Madison, the Eagle Heights Fiber Optic Installation project installs new single mode fiber cables to various buildings in the Eagle Heights complex (868,000 GSF). Fiber optic cables were installed in 1998 and 2000 and the complex is running an old model of network switches that are beyond their usable life and need to be upgraded;
- At UW-Madison, the University Ridge Irrigation System Replacement project replaces the original irrigation system installed in 1991 at University Ridge Golf Course. The original irrigation system sprinkler heads, valves, and related parts are no longer available, resulting in significant replacement costs;
- At UW-Madison, the Phillips Hall Renovation project converts underutilized space in Phillips Hall into new housing. Project work includes renovation to create an additional 17 double-occupancy resident rooms with attached bathrooms within the existing under-utilized kitchen, loading dock, and common spaces;
- At UW-Madison, the University Health Services Floors 7-8 Renovation project renovates the 1,700 SF seventh floor reception area of the Mental Health Services operation and approximately 14,300 SF of offices and support space on the eighth floor for the University Health Services (UHS) operations. Project work creates new office space, a lactation room, and unisex restroom;
- At UW-La Crosse, the Wentz Hall Renovation project renovates the facility to improve life/safety systems and ADA accessibility. Project work includes installation of a full fire suppression system including the extension of a new water main from the municipal utility within the adjacent fire lane. New electrical conduits will be extended to all resident rooms;
- At UW-Parkside, the Student Center Elevator Renovation project modernizes and replaces elevator components and equipment for passenger elevator number one and the associated elevator machine room;
- At UW-Milwaukee, the Norris Infrastructure Renovation project requests an increase to the project budget to match recent bid results for the project scope approved at the May 4, 2022 State Building Commission meeting;
- At UW-Superior, the Solar Array Installation project constructs a new 440 KW, ground mounted photovoltaic solar array on the site of a former campus soccer field southwest of Ross Hall. This project will assist UW-Superior in complying with their energy reduction goals and provide an average savings of approximately 500,000 kWh annually;
- Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct various minor facilities renewal projects at an estimated total cost of $22,200,000 General Fund Supported Borrowing. This request includes a total of 3 projects from UW-Madison:
- The Multi-Building Fire Alarm System Renovations (Phases X-XI) project completely replaces fire alarm and smoke detection systems in approximately 730,000 GSF across eleven buildings (Below Alumni Center, Bock Laboratories, Bradley Memorial, Dairy Cattle, Genetics Biotech, Hygiene Laboratory, Ingraham Hall, Limnology, Material Science, Veterinary Medicine Charmany, and Water Science) to improve smoke and heat detection, provide additional audio/visual alarm signals to meet ADA code;
- The Multi-Building Fire Protection System Renovations project installs new fire suppression systems and upgrades the fire alarm and smoke detection systems in Bock Laboratories, Van Hise Hall, and Van Vleck Hall. Project work includes installing new piping, sprinkler heads, and notification devices as required to provide complete building coverage in each building by fire suppression systems as required for comparable new buildings;
- The Multi-Building Elevator Modernizations & Replacements project completes selected elevator replacements and modernization in multiple buildings. Project work will be completed in the following buildings: Bradley Memorial Building, Charter Street Heating Plant, Chemistry Building, Engineering Research Building, Hygiene Laboratory, Primate Center, Russell Laboratories, Steenbock Memorial Library, Stovall Hall, and Vilas Communications Hall;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority for completion of design and construction of the Libraries Collections Preservation Facility project for estimated total project cost of $35,228,400 Gift/Grant Funds. This project constructs a new off-site collections preservation facility to house some of the most valuable and important items from Special Collections and archives within the UW-Madison Libraries collections, valued at more than $2.36 billion. The project constructs an addition (~38,000 GSF) to the existing Verona Shelving Facility (10,000 GSF) located at 1061 Thousand Oaks Trail in Verona;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to complete the design and construction of the Near East Play Fields Renovation project for an estimated total project cost of $10,000,000 Gift/Grant Funds. The project will replace the existing natural turf outdoor playing fields east of the Bakke Recreation and Wellbeing Center on Observatory Drive with synthetic turf. The new fields will accommodate four soccer fields and one overlaid championship soccer field. The project also includes a 2,200 square foot support building;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to complete the design and construction of the Chemistry Second and Fourth Floor Lab Renovation project for an estimated total project cost of $10,952,000 Gift/Grant Funds. This project renovates two locations for the UW-Madison Department of Chemistry;
- Approved UW-Madison’s request for a budget increase of $1,552,200 ($1,133,100 General Fund Supported Borrowing and $419,100 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing) for a revised project budget of $24,312,200 ($16,115,600 General Fund Supported Borrowing; $6,509,600 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing; and $1,687,000 Cash) and construction of the South Campus Utility Improvements project. This project replaces and/or constructs new steam and primary electric/signal communication utilities along Dayton Street. The budget increase is needed to complete the originally approved project scope and intent, including connecting the Charter Street Heating Plant to the east campus steam distribution network and extension of chilled water laterals to the Teacher Education building;
- Heard UW-Madison’s update presentation on “Advancing UW-Madison’s Mission and Revenues Through Real Estate: West Campus District Plan.” The context that frames the real estate work was discussed, including the University’s broad opportunity to advance its mission and catalyze economic growth while capturing the compelling opportunity for industry partnerships in ways that accelerate the University’s research output; and
- Heard an update from UW System’s Senior Associate Vice President, Alex Roe, on the 2023-25 Capital Budget request and Program Revenue Borrowing.
The Audit Committee heard a progress report on the Fiscal Year 2023 Audit Plan from Chief Audit Executive Lori Storz.
Stortz also provided a summary of recently issued audits: Export Controls (executive summary) and Clearing Accounts (executive summary).
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 8:45 a.m. on March 31, 2023, at UW-Stout.