MADISON-As it strives to balance educational quality, access and ability to pay with its statutory limits for setting resident undergraduate tuition rates, the University of Wisconsin System needs to think and act more creatively, according to comments by several members of the UW System Board of Regents on Thursday (March 10).
The remarks came during a presentation before the full board on tuition and financial aid. Policies that guide tuition increases have changed only slightly in recent years, said Freda Harris, UW System Associate Vice President for Budget and Planning.
“In many ways, the UW System is still very much where it was in 1992,” she said.
Harris explained that the Board can spend tuition revenue as provided for in the state biennial budget approved by the Legislature and the Governor, and can raise additional revenue from tuition to cover employee pay plans and benefits, funds lost due to enrollment losses, and state-imposed costs not paid for in the state budget.
She also reviewed the Board policy that says tuition increases should be moderate and predictable, and that state-supported financial aid and graduate assistant support should increase at least at the same rate as tuition.
Harris noted that the Board requested additional funding for financial aid in its 2005-07 budget request to the Governor. That request would have ensured financial aid grants that matched tuition increases for students from families with incomes less than $46,000 a year, she said.
“These students would be held harmless for tuition increases,” she said, adding that the Governor did not include the “hold harmless” proposal in his budget.
Sharon Wilhelm, UW System interim assistant vice president for policy analysis and research, explained that nearly 100,000 UW students received a total of $700 million in financial aid in 2003-04. Three-quarters of these students are undergraduates, who receive 70 percent of all aid, she said.
Eighty percent of financial aid comes from the federal government, primarily as Pell Grants or Stafford Loans, while 9 percent of aid comes from state programs.
“For every one dollar provided in grants and scholarships to a UW resident undergraduate, two dollars are borrowed,” Wilhelm said.
However, Gov. Jim Doyle’s 2005-07 budget recommendation will require tuition increases between 5 and 7 percent. It included $37 million dollars to replace student auxiliary funds used last biennium to pay for financial aid; and $16.3 million to fulfill the statutorily required link between financial aid rates and tuition increases. Doyle also provided an additional $4 million in 2006-07 for the state’s largest grant program.
Wilhelm explained that WHEG grants are need-based, which could mean fewer aid dollars for many students if the U.S. Department of Education changes the tax tables used to determine a student’s need.
The Higher Educational Aids Board, which distributes WHEG grants, has determined a formula that attempts to provide the largest grants to students from the lowest-income levels, said HEAB director Connie Hutchinson.
Under current guidelines, the new WHEG formula could mean average WHEG increases of $400 to $670 for the 2005-06 academic year. However, federal tax table adjustments could decrease those amounts.
In considering future options, Regent Jesus Salas of Milwaukee urged the Board to continue its work to “hold harmless” the neediest students.
Regent Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee suggested the Board could consider a pricing structure that would set lower tuition rates for students from families with lower-incomes, offsetting cost of instruction with higher rates for those students more able to pay.
“If we have [pricing authority], we should see how we can use our authority to deal with this issue,” he said.
Regent Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids said he would not support increasing financial aid by reallocating additional savings through efficiencies in the next budget, which could already mean $65 million in cuts to academic and student support services in 2005-07.
Regent Mark Bradley of Wausau told the Board that he called on the Wisconsin congressional delegation in Washington D.C. with President Reilly and Kris Andrews, Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations.
Bradley reported that Wisconsin’s congressional delegation understands that UW students would be negatively affected by program cuts included in President Bush’s budget proposal, and proposed changes to the calculations used to determine need for financial aid.
“Every member of Congress we met with was very aware of the changes we are dealing with,” Bradley said.
While the President’s proposal is not expected to shape the final federal budget, campuses should prepare to have access to fewer federal financial aid dollars, he said.
He added that Rep. James Sensenbrenner said constituents don’t often contact their representatives about federal financial aid, so many aren’t aware of current problems.
UW System President Kevin P. Reilly told the Board that he recently discussed the need for students to mobilize around the issue of decreasing federal financial aid with elected student representatives and members of the student press.
Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee said she expected strong advocacy on the issue from the United Council of UW Students, and parents of UW students.
“I think a movement needs to be started pretty quickly and strongly,” she said. “Let’s be creative and try to figure out in our budget how to hold students harmless and provide as much access as possible.”
The Board of Regents will consider additional financial aid options by the end of this year. The Board did not establish tuition rates during its Thursday meeting.
UW System meets accountability goals, Regents learn
The UW System met or exceeded 12 of 20 goals in its most recent Accountability Report, but challenges, in many cases related to lack of resources, remain in meeting several others, President Kevin P. Reilly told the Board on Thursday.
Reilly explained that the report is a “balanced scorecard” that enables university stakeholders to observe the system’s achievements at a glance. Progress is measured against selected goals, benchmarks, and strategic tradeoffs made amidst shifting resources, Reilly said.
“It was also designed to help us strive for continuous improvement,” Reilly said. “We can weigh our performance gaps against student, faculty, and state priorities to inform our budget, management, and policy decisions.”
Reilly said the report measured progress in a time when state tax support for the UW System has now declined to 26 percent of overall resources, down from 52 percent when the UW System was created in 1972. Fifty-three percent of the UW System’s total budget now comes from gifts, grants, and program revenue.
The 2004-05 report, titled “Achieving Excellence,” also includes supplemental campus reports that indicate how UW institutions performed on four common measures: enrollment, retention and graduation, student involvement, and credits-to-degree.
The report indicates that the UW System met or exceeded 12 of 20 goals, and had mixed success on four other measures, meaning part of the goal was achieved, but not the goal in its entirety. The system did not achieve four remaining goals.
Successes included providing immediate access for 32 percent of Wisconsin high school graduates, increasing participation in multicultural and disadvantaged pre-college programs, and served a growing number of students online. The system also exceeded its systemwide six-year graduation rate target of 61.5 percent, Reilly said.
UW-Parkside Chancellor Jack Keating reviewed 2004-05 measures for his campus, which he said met enrollment goals, made good progress on retention and graduation rates compared to peer universities, and continued its leadership in rates of student service-learning and research collaboration with faculty.
Keating also profiled several graduates who said they benefited from UW-Parkside’s commitment to excellence, including Yolanda Jackson-Lewis, a high-school principal; Cheryl Buckley, a former returning adult student; and Mike Harris, a successful Racine entrepreneur.
“We’re here for these kinds of students,” Keating said.
Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee asked if campuses took action when targets were missed, or if campus leaders were rewarded for good progress.
“In business, we’re measured against them, and they are in our annual evaluation,” Davis said.
Reilly said the goals in the report were largely “stretch” goals, intended to help the campuses strive for improvement, but were part of ongoing evaluations.
Regent Brent Smith of La Crosse wondered about the drop off in service to nontraditional students.
Reilly noted that scarce resources are most often directed to serving traditional students, which make up the system’s largest student population. Therefore, as resources dwindle, service to nontraditional students is likely to suffer. He said he was hopeful that the proposals put forward by the Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion could help reverse the trend.
UW-Stout Chancellor Chuck Sorensen noted that for-profit colleges serve more nontraditional students, and UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley noted that a lack of subsidies may have priced some non-traditional students out of the market. UW-Whitewater Chancellor Jack Miller added that because campuses are over-enrolled and underfunded, there is little incentive to increase access to those students, and UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard noted that enrollments are closing earlier than ever, while nontraditional students are often the last to apply.
Regent Mark Bradley of Wausau said that Wisconsin has a low percentage of citizens with college degrees, despite the efforts of the university to provide broad access, retain students, and keep graduates in the state to live and work.
Reilly said it is part of the university’s mission to help the state develop the kinds of high-paying, knowledge-economy jobs that can attract college graduates to Wisconsin.
Regent Roger Axtell of Janesville said the Accountability Report, while it still meets its original purpose as a way to prove that the university is accountable to the state, has not resulted in increased management flexibility for the UW System.
“Let’s keep our eyes on the target, even if it’s continually moving way from us,” Axtell said. “I worry that the people who should be listening are not reading this.”
Reilly suggested that the Regents deliver the report to Legislators as part of Capitol visits on April 7.
Regents review Governor’s Capital Budget recommendations
Gov. Jim Doyle’s recently released 2005-07 capital budget recommendations represented substantial “good news” for the University of Wisconsin System, Regents learned on Thursday.
David Miller, assistant vice president for capital planning and budget, told the full Board that the recommendation demonstrates that public higher education project funding is a clear priority for the state.
“Considering tight fiscal times and budget resources, it’s a very good budget for the university,” Miller said.
For the biennium that begins July 1, the UW System will see a healthy state investment in new construction, as well as maintenance on its 26 campuses. The budget provides funding for 29 major projects, with recommended state-supported borrowing of $155 million. That represents two-thirds of the Regents’ requested funding of $231 in new construction, and 84 percent of expenditures for all major state construction projects over the next two years, Miller said.
Further, the Governor also supported the Regents’ request to spend $276 million on major projects that campuses will achieve through gifts, grants, and program revenue.
Miller outlined several projects in which the state will significantly invest, including the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and University Square developments at UW-Madison; the new College of Business and Economics building at UW-Whitewater, and science labs at UW-Stout.
Another $110 million in general program revenue borrowing will be used for maintenance, based on the Governor’s recommendation. Miller told the Board that although it only meets half of UW’s request, the recommendation represents a positive step in helping the campuses to meet their deferred maintenance and remodeling needs.
Physical Planning and Funding Committee
A recently released proposed priority listing of UW System projects for the 2007-09 biennial budget recommended by the Department of Administration frustrated Regents and Chancellors attending the Physical Planning and Funding Committee on Thursday.
During an earlier meeting of the full board, the Regents heard from David Miller, assistant vice president for capital planning and budget, that the Governor’s proposed 2005-07 capital budget recommendations represented good news for the UW System. At the afternoon meeting, Miller presented Regents and Chancellors with information about budget and funding shifts in 2005-07 that, while presenting some difficulties, could be accommodated.
But they expressed their unanimous displeasure with the Department’s proposal for 2007-09, which was presented on Wednesday to the Higher Education Subcommittee of the State Building Commission. The proposal is not part of the capital budget, but rather a DOA recommendation for planning the 2007-09 capital budget.
Regents said they accepted that state funding is not unlimited, but were vocal in questioning DOA’s list of projects to be funded, which either re-prioritized or substituted others not included as part of the Regent priority list.
In a wide-ranging discussion on major project policies both for the UW System and for the Department of Administration, Committee Chair Jesus Salas of Milwaukee summed up the Regents position.
“We must impress on the executive offices how concerned we are with them usurping the process that we have established,” Salas said.
Under questioning from the Regents, Miller noted that the Department of Administration provides the UW System with extensive guidelines on the planning process for major projects, but does not include ranking criteria for determining the order of construction.
Regents Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids and Brent Smith of La Crosse were joined by Regent President Toby Marcovich of Superior in their concern.
Gottschalk noted that projects are subjected to rigid vetting on their campuses, through System Administration, and then by the Board of Regents as it prioritizes its funding request and sends it to DOA for submission to the Building Commission.
Chancellor Richard Wells of UW-Oshkosh noted that in the 2005-07 budget DOA has recommended passing over a high priority project for that campus. Chancellor Virgil Nylander of River Falls reported that one project, first suggested for planning in the 2003 budget, is not included on the DOA build-list for any of the next three biennia.
“I think this is unprecedented. Why have a planning process?” Gottschalk asked of the Department of Administration recommendations.
Gottschalk suggested that the Regents refrain from immediate formal action to express their frustration to allow President Marcovich time to contact DOA to find out the basis for its re-prioritizing.
“I believe that we should engage in diplomacy before we declare war,” Marcovich cautioned.
In other action, the Committee approved forwarding to the full Board the authorization of four construction projects totaling $71.7 million (all funds). They include:
- UW-Green Bay Phoenix Sports Center expansion and remodeling;
- UW-Madison Dayton Street residence hall, Ogg Hall demolition, and Camp Randall press box remodeling project expansion; and
- UW-Platteville residence hall site utility extension maintenance and repair project.
Business and Finance Committee
The Business and Finance Committee opened Thursday’s meeting with a joint session with the Physical Planning and Funding Committee, at which Assistant Vice President David Miller briefed committee members on energy efficiency pilot programs at UW-Madison, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Oshkosh, and the UW Colleges.
The projects include installation of motion-sensor lighting systems in campus buildings, replacement of plumbing fixtures to save water, and upgrades of campus energy management systems.
The committee then heard a presentation by Associate Vice President Freda Harris on the Annual Budget Decision Rules, as part of the state biennial budget process.
Vice President Harris noted that these rules were the product of collaborations with campus chief budget officers and Chancellors, and the rules would affect budget allocations for 2005-06, the first year of funding in the 2005-07 biennium.
After discussion, the committee moved to adopt the rules and forward them to the full board for review.
UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell spoke on the resolution to adopt a new sponsorship agreement with adidas Promotional Retails Operations, Inc.; which provides shoes, equipment, and apparel to the UW-Madison intercollegiate athletic teams.
Bazzell noted that the proposed agreement continues to provide economic benefits to UW-Madison and its Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Committee Chair Mark Bradley of Wausau questioned whether the contract, as proposed, provided UW-Madison and the Board of Regents with recourse to terminate the agreement if it is discovered that human-rights or labor-law violations are discovered in adidas’ manufacturing facilities.
Casey Nagy, chief of staff to the Chancellor, highlighted that under the contract, adidas agreed to abide by the Collegiate Licensing Company Labor Codes of Conduct, with which the UW-Madison is affiliated, and if such a breach occurs, the university and the board may terminate the agreement with adidas.
UW-Madison student Liana Dalton, a member of the university’s Labor Licensing Committee, spoke against the proposed contract in its present terms.
Dalton told the committee that the Regents had the opportunity, in negotiating this contract, to require adidas to provide full public disclosure of wages for all adidas employees. She argued that public disclosure of workers’ wages allowed the university to monitor the manufacturers to ensure labor violations were not occurring
“A code of conduct is a good idea, but there needs to be an enforcement mechanism to ensure it is actually working,” Dalton said. “We owe it to the workers who produce UW clothing.”
The committee approved the resolution as presented.
In other business, the committee:
- Heard a presentation from Evan Greger, of Grantham, Mayo, Van Ottorloo & Co. LLC, about socially responsible aspects of timber investing;
- Discussed the Annual Trust Funds Proxy Season report;
- Reviewed the Annual Endowment Benchmarking report; and
- Heard a brief presentation on real asset classes, relating to commodities and real estate.
The Education Committee of the Board of Regents was unanimous in its decision Thursday to forward two resolutions for consideration by the full Board at its Friday meeting.
The Board will be asked to authorize implementation of a Master of Arts degree in Women’s Studies/Gender Studies at UW-Madison. The program will emphasize global and multicultural issues and will require proficiency in a second language.
The Board will also be asked to authorize a Doctor of Audiology degree through a consortium including UW-Madison and UW-Stevens Point.
Committee Chair Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee noted that the proposed degree will require a year of coursework beyond the master’s degree, and brings the year of clinical practicum under the oversight of the university.
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Cora Marrett reported on ongoing work on Plan 2008: Educational Quality through Racial and Ethnic Diversity as it related to the February discussion by the Education Committee.
She noted continuing discussion of a systemwide climate survey, “diversity scorecard,” and a methodology for incorporating results into the UW System’s “Achieving Excellence” accountability report.
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Singer led a discussion and answered questions about UW System Allied Health Professional degree programs and changes in accreditation requirements.
Arlen Leholm, dean and director of cooperative extension with UW-Extension, presented on methods used by cooperative extension to engage community partners in program planning and development.
The UW System Board of Regents will continue its March meeting on Friday (March 11), at 9 a.m. in Room 1820 Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.
Related: Read Mar. 11 (day 2) news summary