MADISON – The Board of Regents began its September meeting on Thursday (Sept. 4) with continued work in directing a study of the future of the University of Wisconsin System.

The study, titled Charting A New Course for the UW System, is guided by five separate working groups, all of which have a unique focus and include representation by regents and a wide variety of stakeholders in the UW System.

The full board is expected to receive a summary of the day’s working group discussions at its meeting on Friday.

Education Committee prepares for new year’s agenda

Welcoming new members and new opportunities, the Regents’ Education Committee on Thursday set the stage to update its focus on quality and success in the new academic year.

Committee Chair Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee opened with a call for increased cooperation with the state Legislature and welcomed Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), who listened in on the session. He added that the committee has new opportunities in what has become a “special year” for the Board of Regents, due to the Charting a New Course study.

Olivieri introduced Cora Marrett, UW System vice president for academic affairs, who outlined the purview of the Education Committee. The committee’s agenda over the year is likely to look similar to those of recent years, but the committee must take into account the university’s fiscal situation as well as the regent study when taking action on academic items, she said.

“The environment of higher education is not static,” Marrett said. “Ours is a season of hope and a winter of discontent.”

Marrett suggested that the new committee reaffirm last year’s themes of student success and program quality into a larger theme that takes into account today’s “world of transition.” An umbrella focus of “success for all,” Marrett said, would ensure quality for every member of the UW community, regardless of interest, background or locale.

The committee agreed to revisit the idea of a common theme for future actions in successive meetings.

Several members of the Education Committee serve as working group chairs for the Charting a New Course study, and Olivieri invited each to summarize the morning discussion and how it relates to the Education committee’s mission.

The committee also heard a presentation pdf on the first reading of a proposed new program authorization for a master’s of science degree in physician assistant studies at UW-La Crosse.

Approval of the request would allow the campus to transition from an existing bachelor’s-level program to a graduate-level program, in keeping with the academic rigors of the program and national trends in the field, according to Karen Palmer McLean, associate dean of Allied Health at UW-La Crosse.

The master’s degree would help UW-La Crosse recruit the most talented students and would better serve those who enroll. For example, 95 percent of the program’s current and past students entered UW-L’s bachelor’s physician assistant program after already earning at least one bachelor’s degree.

Financial support for the master’s level program would come from reallocations from the bachelor’s level program, which is slated for elimination after the last cohort graduates in fall, McLean said.

The program would include staff, facilities and program support from Gundersen Lutheran and Franciscan Skemp Mayo Health System, which like UW-L, are members of the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium.

Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee asked for clarification on the diversity of the students in the current program, which McLean said tends to mirror UW-La Crosse as a whole.

The program is slated for a second reading at the October meeting.

In other business:

  • The committee approved a resolution to accept the 2002 Report on Undergraduate Drop Rates, as mandated by board policy and state statute. Only one institution, UW Colleges, exceeded the 5 percent benchmark for drop rates—a measure of completed credits as a proportion of enrolled credits. UW Colleges Provost Margaret Cleek said the background of UW Colleges students—who typically come from the lower half of their high-school classes—makes it unlikely that the drop rates will ever significantly decrease. She explained to the committee that UW Colleges campuses are making strides toward improved retention, in part through an enhanced first-year experience program pdf .
  • The committee also approved a resolution to appoint Dr. Susan Goelzer to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Oversight and Advisory Committee. Goelzer would fill a vacancy on the board left by Dr. Patricia Kokotailo, who resigned earlier this year.

UW attracts high level of outside support, Business and Finance Committee learns

The UW System continues to attract high levels of support from gifts, grants and contracts, the Regents’ Business and Finance Committee learned Thursday.

The UW System received $992 million in federal and non-federal support in 2002-03, a $71.8 million increase over the previous year. Deborah Durcan, UW System vice president for finance, explained that revenue from federal sources increased by $11 million, while revenue from non-federal sources increased by $60 million.

Revenue from gifts, grants and contracts is restricted for specified uses and cannot be used to replace reductions in state funding.

“We have experienced a very successful year again in attracting outside funding,” Durcan said.

The committee on Thursday also heard a final report on the limited-term employee conversion pilot program at UW-Madison. The program converted 51full-time LTE to permanent classified status. Darrell Bazzell, UW-Madison vice chancellor for administration, told the committee that the pilot program has helped produce a more stable workforce for the university.

In other action, the committee:

  • Accepted four bequests exceeding $50,000;
  • Approved the auxiliary reserves report;
  • Approved faculty and staff salary adjustments to recognize competitive factors, as allowed by state law;
  • Approved adjustments in segregated fees at UW-Barron County and UW-Richland;
  • Tabled a contract with Coca-Cola for UW-Madison athletics. The committee said it wanted more information regarding similar exclusive-rights contracts at other Big Ten institutions and wondered whether the proposed 10-year deal was too long.

Physical Planning and Funding Committee approves UW building projects

Nancy Ives, UW System assistant vice president for capital planning and budget, reported to members of the Physical Planning and Funding Committee Thursday that the State Building Commission approved approximately $215 million for various UW projects at their June and July meetings.

In other business, committee members approved the following resolutions:

  • $277,400 to construct a parking lot on UW-Eau Claire’s upper campus;
  • $417,000 for a lighting project at UW-Eau Claire’s Bollinger Fields;
  • $46 million to construct a mechanical engineering renovation and addition project at UW-Madison;
  • Authority to negotiate with Prism Development for the redevelopment of the Kenilworth Facility at UW-Milwaukee;
  • Authority to construct a baseball grandstand and support building at UW-Oshkosh through a land use agreement; and
  • Authority to construct the second phase of the Upham Hall renovation and addition at UW-Whitewater.

Regent Gerard Randall of Milwaukee observed that these UW System building projects will be strong economic drivers in local communities, contributing to job development and growth of small businesses.


The Board of Regents will continue its September meeting beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 5, in room 1820 of Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.