Day One News Summary

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Thursday (Dec. 9) endorsed several recommendations of a joint committee representing the state’s two public higher education systems, which studied ways to increase the number of Wisconsin citizens with bachelor’s degrees.

The Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion (COBE), which included representatives of both the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System, recommended several ways the systems can work together to enable more Wisconsin citizens to earn four-year college degrees. These efforts could improve Wisconsin’s economy by raising per capita incomes and attracting high-wage jobs to the state.

Regent and COBE co-chair Charles Pruitt said several years ago Wisconsin had the same number of residents with bachelor’s degrees as Minnesota, but today Wisconsin lags in that measure by 120,000 residents.

“That has a direct effect on Wisconsin’s economy,” Pruitt said. “Obviously, a critical part of this is to work the demand side through job creation.”

The boards of both systems this week approved of the joint committee’s cost-effective and collaborative strategies to expand the number of state citizens with bachelor’s degrees. Several of these initiatives could begin in the state’s 2005-07 budget biennium, with the help of $1.1 million in state support for pilot programs, as included in the UW System’s 2005-07 state budget request.

“As these programs advance, Wisconsin will benefit from a more competitive labor pool, increased public service, strong economic growth, and an overall improved quality of life,” WTCS Board President, Regent and COBE chair Brent Smith said in a statement.

One project ready to be piloted, if state support is granted, would create a Bachelor’s of Applied Science program at UW System campuses, allowing working adults to complement a specific associate’s degree with a general bachelor’s degree. UW-Green Bay Provost Sue Hammersmith outlined how such a degree program would help UW-Green Bay produce more graduates in Northeastern Wisconsin in cooperation with UW Colleges and technical college campuses.

“I see this as a Green Bay issue and a Green Bay opportunity that dovetails nicely with the statewide efforts,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting to have an opportunity to bring adult workers back to campus.”

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells also described an effort already underway to reach out to students who left his university in good academic standing and to encourage them to return to complete a bachelor’s degree.

The Oshkosh Graduation Project has already enrolled 27 such students, two of whom are scheduled to graduate within the next year, Wells said.

“These students would not have graduated if it weren’t for the project,” he said. “Seems to be a pretty good investment.”

UW System President Kevin Reilly said that as the UW and WTCS do their parts to create additional graduates, the state must also step up to create job opportunities for the highly trained workers.

“Without good, high-wage jobs to keep our graduates living and working here, we will not be able to hold on to the grads we’re producing,” Reilly said.

Reilly suggested that ways to create such jobs include investing in the UW System, which directly employs more than 31,000 people, supporting academic research and development, and creating an entrepreneurial climate in Wisconsin.

“The economic future of this state is linked to its public higher education institutions,” Reilly said. “We can produce college graduates, and more of them thanks to COBE, but we can also help to build the Wisconsin economy for the 21st century that will employ these and future graduates.”

The COBE-recommended strategies include:

• Developing UW System degree completion programs in Applied Science or General Studies for working adult students with an Associate Degree who want or need a general baccalaureate degree to advance their careers;
• Creating UW System baccalaureate degree completion programs for WTCS graduates in areas with high demand from students and the labor market;
• Offering UW System baccalaureate degree programs in specific majors to students at WTCS and UW College campuses who are unable to attend a four-year institution;
• Drafting career-focused, pre-major associate of science degree programs within WTCS liberal arts colleges that are aligned with specific UW System majors;
• Promoting collaborative degrees that allow a student to transfer 30 credits of technical college instruction to partially satisfy general education requirements upon transfer to a UW Colleges or UW System four-year campus;
• Reducing financial barriers for low-income students by seeking additional financial aid from the state;
• Identifying, encouraging, and providing incentives for students who have dropped out of either system to come back and complete their degrees;
• Developing statewide outreach strategies to inform students, parents, and employers about educational opportunities;
• Creating a system to offer college credit for relevant work, military service, or other educational experiences;
• Exploring systemwide and statewide approaches to online learning and other delivery alternatives to residential, on-campus degree programs; and
• Assessing, enhancing, and promoting pre-college programs to encourage underserved populations to aspire to and prepare for college.

A new joint UW/WTCS committee may be created to coordinate and oversee pilot programs, organize further study of several recommended strategies, and plan for the evaluation and implementation of other initiatives

UW System Assistant Vice President Larry Rubin also updated the board about progress related to broader transfer issues the board identified last year.

Working with a “wonderful collaborative spirit,” Rubin said, both systems have helped to improve the credit transfer experience, highlighting the Transfer Information System, an online tool for students and advisers.

Smith added that future plans call for expansion of transfer opportunities for occupational courses students take at technical colleges, which can assist in producing graduates in areas like nursing and child care.

Regent Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee noted that credit transfer is an issue that “needs constant fueling” by the board.

“In these kinds of efforts, complexity is our enemy,” he said, adding that communication among the faculties in both systems should be a high priority.

Rubin said the systems will always have credit transfer issues to solve, but “we have made good progress overall, and our students have been pretty successful.”

Read the news release

Students testify about initiative to create welcoming campus climate

Building on systemwide efforts to foster diversity on UW campuses, the UW System is also working to create welcoming and equitable environments for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) populations, the board learned Thursday.

The UW System Inclusivity Initiative on LGBTQ People ( seeks to meet the university’s goals for academic success for all by focusing attention on LGBTQ issues. The initiative’s advisory is chaired by Chancellor Richard Wells of UW-Oshkosh, and includes input from faculty, staff, administrators and students.

UW System Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Cora Marrett said the Inclusivity Initiative is meant to foster an environment of dignity and worth for all members of the university community.

“[Disturbing] reports occur with enough frequency that attention is required if respect for all is to be our hallmark,” Marrett said.

Several students from UW campuses testified about their experiences on campus that demonstrate a need for such an initiative.

UW-Oshkosh student and committee member Crystal Heckert said the UW System’s attention to such an initiative helps engage and retain students like her, who come from multiple backgrounds and are interested in how issues of LGBTQ populations, students of color, and women all intersect.

UW-Eau Claire student Jessica Janiuk, who said she is one of the few out transgendered students on the campus, explained the difference between gender expression and sexual orientation, and how the difference is not recognized in university policies.

Janiuk said restroom facilities and anti-discrimination policies are two examples of areas that create confusion by not providing equal opportunities.

“For me and other transgendered people, it is a matter of safety and comfort, and there need to be better options,” Janiuk said.

UW-Green Bay student Aaron Hulse commented on the lack of faculty and staff role models for LGBTQ students, which squelches campus diversity efforts and can contribute to poor academic performance. He also urged the board to continue to advocate for providing domestic partner benefits.

On behalf of United Council, Academic Affairs Director David Glisch-Sanchez thanked the System Administration, Chancellor Wells, and the faculty, staff and students for their time and energy toward the Inclusivity Initiative.

Dr. Christine Flynn Saulnier, chair of the Inclusivity Initiative Steering Committee, echoing the students’ comments, told the Board that LGBTQ students need to find supportive outlets on campus. Research has shown that these support outlets help LGBTQ students feel safer, achieve higher grade point averages, and increase the likelihood that they will remain in college, she said.

Flynn Saulnier also said that LGBTQ issues must also be infused in the university’s pedagogical practices, so that all students can learn and understand the issues that are unique to this community.

Regent Pruitt thanked the presenters for their work, especially for advocating for domestic partner benefits.

“Not only is providing those benefits the right thing to do, and good for competitiveness, it is incredibly important for creating a culture that is welcoming,” he said.

Regent Vice President David Walsh of Madison agreed and asked the committee to review other initiatives that could put the system further ahead on these issues.

Wells said the system’s awareness is already a step in the right direction.

“We seem to, collectively, as a system, have our heads out of the sand,” he said.

Business and Finance Committee

Attracting additional research dollars to spur Wisconsin’s economy was the focus of presentations made Thursday by UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos E. Santiago and UW-Madison Chancellor John D. Wiley.

Santiago outlined his plans to grow the Milwaukee campus’ contract research base from $25 million to $100 million by beefing up faculty, building new facilities and expanding doctoral offerings.

“Without a strong research institution in the economic heart of the state, Wisconsin will fall behind competing states,” he told members of the Business and Finance Committee. “UWM needs to raise its research mission and raise its research profile.”

To do that, Santiago hopes to do cluster hiring in yet-to-be-determined target areas that would bring 15 new faculty members to campus each year for four years.

And, he pointed to a need to refurbish facilities, such as the Water Institute and the outdated Engineering and Mathematical Sciences Building, to encourage more flexible, multi-disciplinary research. Because there is no physical space to expand on the current campus, Santiago said there is a “need to address a potential second footprint for campus.”

In addition, Santiago said he hopes to add two new Ph.D programs each year for the next 10 years, and hopes to have 32 doctoral offerings available by 2010. The very existence of doctoral programs on campus will lead to attracting top-notch faculty to UWM, he said.

Wiley, whose flagship campus attracts nearly $700 million in research, outlined difficulties in maintaining research excellence. The key, he said, is attracting and retaining the best people in an increasingly competitive environment.

“In maintaining excellence, the top 10 [methods] are all the same – the quality of the people,” he said. “You have to identify, hire and recruit the best people you can get – faculty, staff and students.”

“An A-quality faculty will attract A-quality faculty,” he added.

Faculty retention is one key to maintaining a thriving research base, and the campus has faced some challenges in this area, Wiley said.

As an example, Wiley pointed to UW-Madison’s psychology department, which has ranked first in the nation in federal research funding since 1995 and last year attracted $22.8 million – nearly the total for the entire UWM campus.

But six of its 31 faculty members have taken other jobs in the past two years, he said. Of the six, two left for spousal reasons, but the remaining four left for positions at other institutions with an average salary 50 percent higher than their current salaries.

Also important to maintaining excellence are quality staff members to administer programs and manage sometimes cumbersome state and federal policies and regulations, Wiley added.

In other business, the committee:

• Heard a report from UW System Vice President for Finance Debbie Durcan, who said the UW System currently estimates approximately a $40 Million shortfall in the utility budget for this fiscal year. This estimate is higher than previously projected due to recent price increases.

Durcan added that the system is still gathering information about the proposal to offer domestic partner benefits, exploring options and costing them out based on different levels of participation.

Durcan also updated the committee on the Legislative Audit Bureau’s cell phone audit, which is expected to wrap up in January; fleet audit, which is expected to be released in the spring; and, Materials Distribution Services/Surplus with a Purpose (MDS/SWAP) audit, which is expected to be completed in early summer.

• Approved the 2003-04 report on State Imposed Costs added to Resident Undergraduate Tuition;

• Approved the 2003-04 Continuing Appropriation Report for submission to the Legislature; and

• Made available the principal and income balances of the $1.7 million Ella M. Seitz bequest for spending for research space in the Interdisciplinary Research Center.

— Summary by Dennis Chaptman, UW-Madison Communications

 Education Committee

Credit transfer is an issue that will demand future attention from the board, but progress on the issue to date is impressive, the Education Committee noted Thursday.

The issues identified during the morning presentation on COBE illustrate that the complexity of credit transfer is not just between the UW and WTCS boards, Chair Jose Olivieri said.

“The more interaction there is between the faculties of the systems, the more progress we’re going to make on this,” he said.

Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee said she was pleased that many of COBE’s recommendations focus on adult workers and nontraditional students.

“I’d expect that we’d see results much faster, because the focus isn’t on all students,” she said, adding that the recommendations are likely to have bipartisan support in the state Legislature.

Regent Roger Axtell of Janesville suggested that future efforts identify cost estimates for new programs to allow those who are interested to see what the investments would pay for, and Marrett agreed that with a full explanation, the efforts may be able to attract additional funding.

Building on the morning presentation, the committee also asked for a resolution to revisit university anti-discrimination policies and to consider adding language to provide protections related to gender identity and expression.

“The Inclusivity Initiative reminds me about the interconnectedness of everything this committee does,” said Student Regent Beth Richlen.

Marrett also reminded the committee that it will be asked to address campus reports on Phase II of Plan 2008 at its next meeting. The reports, due next week, are likely to include initiative based on the work of a conference on best practices held in October, she said.

Several provosts reported about the different ways their campuses have approached the Phase II reports, many noting added measures of accountability.

The committee clarified its role in the Plan 2008 process, noting that it will review the campus plans and perhaps recommend action by the full board. Members also addressed the possibility of soliciting additional student comment during the final report preparations.

In other business, the committee:

• Heard a presentation on accreditation requirements for Allied Health professions;
• Accepted a report on 2005-06 sabbaticals. ““There’s an increasing recognition of the connection with priorities of the Board of Regents — teaching, learning, technology — and the sabbaticals that have been granted,” Olivieri noted.
• Heard a first reading to authorize a B.A./B.S. in International Studies at UW-River Falls;
• Authorized creating three programs, a B.A. in Actuarial Science at UW-Milwaukee, a B.S. in Special education at UW-Stout, and a Master of Public Health at UW-Madison.

Physical Planning and Funding

The Physical Planning and Funding committee opened Thursday’s meeting with a report from UW System Assistant Vice President for Capital Planning David Miller.

Miller updated committee members about capital projects from the Regents’ 2005-07 biennial budget that have been forwarded to the State Building Commission. The commission approved $177 million worth of projects, with $141 million coming from gift and grant funding sources, he said. Only the University Ridge Golf Course and the UW-River Falls Dairy Science Center project were held back for further review.

Miller told the committee about Governor Doyle’s announcement to build an Institute of Discovery on the UW-Madison campus. This ten year, multi-phase plan incorporates many of the initiatives under the current BioStar project, and will further stem cell and interdisciplinary biosciences research on the near-west portion of campus.

The committee discussed a recommendation from the Department of Administration to resubmit the committee’s proposal for upgrades to the kitchen and dining areas at the UW-Stevens Point DeBot Center. Miller noted that DOA officials had asked the committee to change the method of funding for the project from institutional Program-Revenue Cash to state bonding authority.

Speaking against the recommendation from DOA, UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Linda Bunnell said that using state bonding to pay for the project would in effect “make students pay for it twice.”

UW-Oshkosh Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Tom Sonnleitner likened the recommendation to paying for a small purchase with a credit card and then having to pay a large amount of interest over time.

The committee moved to table the motion to approve authority to increase the budget for the DeBot upgrade project until the February committee meeting, to give members adequate time to seek clarification from DOA officials on their bonding recommendation. As part of this discussion, the committee also tabled a resolution to approve Program Revenue Maintenance and Repair Project until the next committee meeting.

In other business, the committee passed resolutions to:

  • Approve authority to modify the Marshfield Farm Land Agreement. The plan allows UW-Madison to restructure its land agreement with the City of Marshfield, removing a 50 ft wide by 300 ft long strip of land from the University’s leased holdings for use by the city for the development of a rail corridor. UW-Madison, would in exchange, obtain an additional four acres of land near the UW-Madison Marshfield Agricultural Research Station Headquarters.
  • Approve authority to increase the budget of the Microbial Science Project at UW-Madison.
  • Approve authority to increase the budget of the Central Campus Utility Improvements Project at UW-Madison.
  • Approve authority to execute an easement to the Town of Richfield, Washington County for right-of-way purposes.
  • Approve authority to increase the budget of the Lapham North Wing Remodeling Project at UW-Milwaukee
  • Approve a design report to construct a Dairy Center at UW-River Falls. This center would allow the dairy herd at the university to increase from 90 to 200 head of cattle.
  • Approve 2005-07 Capital Budget Revision and Additions, including removing the university owned resident hall component of the University Square development project at UW-Madison.

— Summary by Bryan Gadow, UW System


The Board of Regents will resume its December meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, in Room 1820 Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.