MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today voted to waive the existing limit on the number of out-of-state students at UW-Madison.

For four years starting next fall, the UW System’s flagship campus will be able to accept more out-of-state undergraduates – but must also assure that the incoming freshman class enrolls at least 3,600 Wisconsin residents, which would roughly maintain the university’s in-state averages in recent years.

Under the plan, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank committed to more aggressively recruit Wisconsin’s top high school students and to also step up efforts to ultimately keep more UW graduates in the state by engaging more students with Wisconsin businesses while still in college.

Previously, UW-Madison’s out-of-state enrollment could not exceed 27.5 percent of total enrollment.

UW System President Ray Cross and Chancellor Blank both made the case that the plan could help to address a future demographic picture that shows a shrinking population of working-age adults in Wisconsin while the number of older workers and retirees in the state continues to expand. Unless action is taken now to counter that trend, Cross said, “this does not bode well for our future.”

Cross said the plan focuses on talent development, first attracting top talent both from Wisconsin and out-of-state to come to the UW, and then convincing them to stay in-state after graduation.

In affirming his support, Regent Mark Tyler said projections for Wisconsin’s future workforce suggest “we are going to transition from a skills gap to a population gap. States that don’t get in front of this and get it solved will have a very serious problem.”

Several Regents expressed concern that targeting only “top” students for recruitment, particularly as judged by ACT scores and grade-point averages, might overlook valuable and desirable talent that Wisconsin needs. Chancellor Blank pointed out that UW-Madison uses a holistic admissions process – and also that the Board would have opportunities to review outcomes of the new plan.

“UW-Madison is an institution that can bring talented young people into the state from around the nation and the world,” Blank said. “We can’t just be doing business as usual.”

Regents turn down possible involvement in FCC auction

 Malcolm Brett, Director of Broadcast and Media Innovations at UW-Extension, led a presentation and discussion regarding a proposed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) incentive spectrum auction. As authorized by Congress in February 2012, the FCC intends to stage a Television Spectrum Incentive Auction to acquire television broadcast frequencies (spectrum) at certain wavelengths to then be sold to Mobile Broadband providers.

After discussion, the Board voted to support a resolution affirming its ongoing commitment to “providing high-quality, locally-relevant educational, civic and cultural programming through WHA-TV,” the Madison-based public television station, and agreed to forego participation in the FCC’s Incentive Spectrum Auction, if the FCC includes Madison as an auction market.

“This Spectrum Auction was not our idea, and it’s not a good idea,” Brett told Regents. He said that if WHA-TV was invited to participate in the FCC auction, it could, at worst, result in the closing of WHA-TV and the loss of public television to south-central Wisconsin. Even discussing the option could severely impact the station’s vital year-end fundraising efforts, Brett said.

Regent Chuck Pruitt called this “an easy call.” “I can’t think of a more ultimate expression of the Wisconsin Idea than WHA and public television,” he said.

Several Regents urged deferring the decision to the Board’s Executive Committee until more particulars of any potential deal could be determined.

“The question is whether UW wants to remain in public television arena,” President Cross said.

“This is an educational tool, first and foremost,” said Regent José Vásquez. “We need to be very careful about we how treat it.”

Developmental/Remedial Education Update

While the majority of students admitted to the UW System are ready for and capable of pursuing college-level math and English courses, about one-in-five  students  overall require remedial work in math and about one-in-10 students require remedial work in English, interim Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs David Ward told Regents.

In August, 2014, President Cross spelled out two ambitious goals for the System to address in the next five years. First, the UW System would aim to reduce the number of students entering the UW System needing remedial math. Second, the University would seek to increase the first-year completion rate among students who require remedial math coursework.

Remediation works, Ward said, pointing to data that clearly showed if students identified as needing remedial coursework followed through and completed that work, their second-year retention and six-year graduation rates are nearly equal to those students who did not require remedial work. If such students do not complete the necessary remedial work, however, retention and graduation rates can drop significantly.

Ward said the UW’s collaborative efforts with its K-12 partners are key to better aligning curriculums to make sure high school graduates are, in fact, ready to do college-level work.

Noting that the demand for remedial education can vary widely among different UW campuses, Regent Gerald Whitburn questioned whether there needs to be greater uniformity in setting “cut scores” across the System – even while recognizing institutions’ different missions.

Regent Tony Evers, also the State Superintendent of Public Education, said working together with the UW System and individual campuses has been “really satisfactory.” He noted that starting in 2017-18, all students in grades 6-12 will be required to be involved in academic and career planning, which should give students an even clearer understanding of what college (or career) readiness entails.

President of the Board’s Report

As part of her regular report, Regent President Regina Millner updated the Board on the progress of revisions to the Wisconsin Administrative Code: Chapters UWS 4 (Procedures for Dismissal), 7 (Dismissal of Faculty in Special Cases), 11 (Dismissal of Academic Staff for Cause), and 17 (Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures).  The revisions will incorporate federal laws and agency guidance received over the past few years regarding Title IX protections for students and employees.

Millner also reported that the Tenure Task Force will have its third meeting later this month. The task force has been considering questions of procedures, timelines and standards, as part of developing recommendations, which are scheduled to be presented to the Board  by the end of the year.

Millner offered congratulations to Dr. William Campbell, a UW-Madison alumnus, who was one of three scientists recently awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine. She also commended the winners of the UW System’s 2015 Women of Color in Education Awards and the 2015 Dr. P.B. Poorman Awards for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ People, who were to be honored immediately following the Board meeting.

UW System President’s Report

Noting the significant challenges faced by urban schools in Wisconsin, President Cross reported on his recent testimony before the Speaker’s Task Force on Urban Education. Along with the UW’s key role in educating teachers statewide, Cross pointed to the UW System’s Institute for Urban Education and its ongoing work with the Department of Public Instruction to prepare teacher to meet school districts’ changing needs. He also noted that the 2015-17 Biennial Budget required the Board of Regents to create an Office of Educational Opportunity within the UW System, which will act as a new authorizer of independent charter schools. “We are currently studying models for similar offices across the country to ensure that ours will build upon best practices,” Cross said.

On the federal front, Cross noted that Congress’ failure to extend the Federal Perkins Loan Program – which resulted in the program expiring – was a loss for students in the UW System and across the United States. “The Perkins program had a long and successful track record in making higher education more accessible and affordable for so many students with financial need,” Cross said. In 2013-14, nearly 16,000 UW System students received more than $28 million in need-based support through the Perkins loan program. Cross added that students who currently are receiving Perkins Loans will continue to receive them, but no new loans will be made.

As part of his report on news from around the UW System, Cross reported that UW-Stevens Point had just announced generous gifts totaling $2 million to establish an endowed faculty position in the College of Natural Resources. The endowed chair is expected to significantly enhance waterfowl and wetlands research, Cross said.

In a featured Faculty Spotlight, Cross introduced Dr. Brett Jones, Associate Chair of the Music Department at UW-Superior.  Jones, a percussion professor, spoke of the long – but very rewarding – hours that faculty spend working with students, performing on campus and in the community, and providing outreach in the local public schools.

“We are there for our students. That’s the most important reason we’re here,” Jones said.

“Every time we have a faculty member here or we visit a campus, we see examples of faculty doing not only what they’re asked, but going above and beyond, always to the betterment of students and making their communities better places to live. You’re a great example of that,” said Regent Ed Manydeeds.

In other business, the Board of Regents:

  • Approved UW System’s request for approval of three All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects totaling approximately $8 million that address utility renovations. Projects are located at UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, and UW-Platteville;
  • Approved UW-Stevens Point’s B.A. in Sustainable Food and Nutrition;
  • Retroactively approved UW-La Crosse’s M.S. in Therapeutic Recreation, which has been delivered by UW-La Crosse since 1991. UW-La Crosse noted a coding error in the summer of 2015. The M.S. in Therapeutic Recreation had previously been reported to UW System as a track in the Regent-approved master’s degree in Recreation, now renamed Recreation Management;
  • Approved re-appointment of Dr. James Bennett and appointment of Dr. David Mladenoff, both of UW-Madison, to three-year terms with the Natural Areas Preservation Council (NAPC);
  • Approved an Athletics Outfitter agreement for UW-Madison with Under Armour, Inc. ;
  • Approved a clinical trial agreement for UW-Madison with Alliance Foundation Trials, LLC;
  • Approved a master clinical trial agreement for UW-Madison with Biogen MA, Inc.;
  • Approved a clinical trial agreement for UW-Madison with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation;
  • Approved a clinical trial agreement and related amendment for UW-Madison with GlaxoSmithKline, LLC;
  • Approved a master clinical trial agreement for UW-Madison with EMD Serono Research & Development Institute, Inc.;
  • Approved a master services agreement for UW-Madison with ThromboGenics, Inc.;
  • Approved a research agreement and related amendments for UW-Madison with Walmart Stores, Inc.;
  • Approved a trademark and licensing agreement for UW-Madison with Fermata Partners, LLC; and
  • Approved a master services agreement for UW-Madison with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


The next meeting of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
will be December 10-11, 2015, in Madison.