LA CROSSE, Wis. – As the UW System steps up to do its part in addressing the state’s current difficult economic situation, President Kevin P. Reilly reminded the Board of Regents and others on Friday that the university must at the same time not forget its overriding mission.
“We must not overlook our overall mission, that is, to produce college-educated citizens who are prepared to succeed in the innovation economy, and prepared to weather the kind of rough rides like we’re getting right now,” Reilly said. “We must do our part to help balance the state budget, yes, but while remaining focused on the state’s critical educational needs. By carefully maintaining our capacity to enroll and educate students, to help create the new industries and jobs of the future, to enhance life in local communities all across Wisconsin, we will function as one of the state’s big engines of recovery and renewal.”
Reilly added that the UW System will continue to advance the Growth Agenda as its vision for the state’s prosperous future, and to articulate what he hopes is now the familiar triumvirate of growing people, growing jobs, and growing communities to benefit all.
In his report to the Board, Regent President Mark Bradley updated the Regents on meetings that he and Pres. Reilly are now scheduling with the new state legislative leaders, including a meeting on Dec. 18 with Assembly Speaker-elect Mike Sheridan. Bradley said that the UW System is continuing to reach out to both new and re-elected legislators on both sides of the aisle to convey its continued interest in working together on higher education issues.
Bradley also informed the Board about other events around the UW System. He noted the formal opening this weekend of the new Nanotechnology Center for Collaborative Research and Development at UW-Platteville as a strong example of how the UW is actively working to leverage economic growth around the state.
As another example of how the UW System is working to build for the future, Bradley also pointed to the recent conference, “Liberal Education: A Unifying Mission for the 21st-Century University,” held in Madison. The conference, jointly sponsored by UW System and the System Advisory Group on the Liberal Arts (SAGLA), focused vital attention on the liberal education initiative which the UW System has championed. “This is cutting-edge work on the national scale, and University of Wisconsin is right in the center of it,” Bradley said.
He also noted that Pres. Reilly has convened a group, together with Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, that brings together policymakers from education, government, the media, business and the non-profit sector to provide leadership in rallying the public behind the value of a broadly integrative 21st-century education.
Bradley said both these initiatives – the new nanotechnology center in Platteville and UW’s Liberal Education initiative – have a direct connection with the UW System’s Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.
Bradley also informed Board members of an additional Regents meeting, not on the annual calendar, to be held on Jan. 16. At the meeting, Regents will officially approve and appoint new chancellors for both UW- Green Bay and UW-River Falls.
Rep. Ron Kind, who represents the 3rd Congressional District that includes five UW System four-year institutions – UW-Platteville, UW-La Crosse, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, and UW-River Falls – as well as the freshman/sophomore UW-Richland Center, addressed the Board.
Kind said the state’s institutions of higher education provide “tremendous value to the way of life and economic development” in Wisconsin. He commended the “interesting and innovative things being done to address the workforce challenges we have in the state and the competitive issues we have in the country.”
He noted, however, that while “We’ve got something great here, it’s not guaranteed. Balancing that with the budget crunch in Madison and Washington is going to be one of the great challenges of the day.”
The Board of Regents unanimously approved a recommendation for a 2.5% annual pay plan increase for UW’s faculty and academic staff for each year of the next biennium, as brought forward by UW System President Kevin Reilly.
“It’s not what we hoped to come forward with and it’s not what the faculty and staff deserve,” Reilly said. “But we want the public in Wisconsin and elected officials to know that we understand the depth of the (state’s economic) crisis and the anguish it is causing for families all across the state.”
Under the circumstances, he called the recommendation “reasonable and credible.”
The pay plan recommendation also includes endorsing state group health insurance benefits for domestic partners in the UW System.
UW-La Crosse students Derek Kockler and Eric Fuhrmann presented a resolution commending Regent Colleene Thomas for her “commitment and dedication in promoting the student voice in Wisconsin,” and particularly noted her work in advocating for the model of shared governance.
In other news:
After hearing reports from the Education Committee; the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee; and the Physical Planning and Funding Committee, the Board:
- Approved a resolution of appreciation to UW-La Crosse, as presented by Regent Brent Smith.
- Approved the new 2009-2014 Five-Year Plan for the Wisconsin Partnership Program, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
- Approved endorsement of the UW’s Shared Learning Goals for Baccalaureate Students, one of the action steps of its Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.
- Approved two doctoral programs at UW-Milwaukee: the Ph.D. in Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH), and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
- Approved four academic programs: the B.S. in Materials Science at UW-Eau Claire, the Bachelor of Science Education, and the Bachelor of Science Technology Education at UW-Stout, and the B.S. in Geosciences at UW-Stevens Point.
- Approved the establishment of a Lumber Grading Training Program at UW-Stevens Point.
- Approved a resolution affirming the current spending plan and asset allocation policy for the UW System Trust Funds.
- Approved an eight-year agreement between UW-Madison and Collegiate Licensing Company for the provision of trademark licensing services. The effective term of this agreement would run from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2016.
- Approved two projects at UW-Madison: Construction of the TomoTherapy addition project at the School of Veterinary Medicine, and demolition of the Union South Building and Hi Ray Hall as part of the enumerated new Union South construction project.
- Authorized UW-Oshkosh to construct the new academic building.
- Authorized UW-Platteville to increase the budget of the 2007-09 enumerated Williams Fieldhouse addition and to construct phase I of the project.
- Authorized UW-Stevens Point to accept a gift of 21 acres of land near Tomahawk, Wisconsin, from the UW-Stevens Point Foundation.
- Authorized UW-Whitewater to construct the Drumlin Hall Dining Hall renovation project.
- Approved modifying the UW System six-year plan and 2009-11 Capital Budget by requesting a multi-biennia fund for development of projects at UW-Milwaukee.
- Authorized UW-River Falls to remodel the former student union (now called Hagestad Hall), creating a one-stop enrollment services center.
- Authorized UW System’s three projects in the 2009-11 Capital Budget: UW-Milwaukee Master Plan Initiative; UW-River Falls Hagestad Hall Renovation Project; and UW-Stout University Centers Renovation and Infrastructure Project.
- Authorized UW-Stout to extensively remodel the existing Memorial Student Center (MSC).
Authorized UW System’s slate of 14 maintenance, repair, and renovation projects, including work on seven campuses.
The UW System Board of Regents will hold its next meeting Jan. 16, 2009
Related: Read December 4 (day 1) news summary