Photo of three student panelists who joined the conversation on behavioral health. (from left) Manasi Mohan, a molecular biology major at UW-Madison; Anjuli Holmes, a psychology major at UW-Parkside; and Sage Lefebvre, a philosophy major at UW-Stevens Point.

Three student panelists joined the conversation on behavioral health: (from left) Manasi Mohan, a molecular biology major at UW-Madison; Anjuli Holmes, a psychology major at UW-Parkside; and Sage Lefebvre, a philosophy major at UW-Stevens Point.

MADISON, Wis. – Reflecting national trends, the number of students in the University of Wisconsin System seeking help for behavioral health issues has increased dramatically over the last decade.

As detailed in a presentation to the Board of Regents Thursday, student visits to campus counseling centers across the UW System have increased by 55% since 2010, with depression and anxiety the most prevalent issues. The number of students who have considered suicide is also on the rise.

“It is our duty as educators to put our students in the best possible position to succeed,” UW System President Ray Cross said. “Research shows that behavioral health issues significantly affect the academic success and retention of our students.”

According to National College Health Assessment (NCHA) data, 23% of UW System students reported being diagnosed or treated for depression in 2015, and 27% reported being diagnosed or treated for anxiety.

While it is a positive sign that students are increasingly comfortable seeking services, the challenge is keeping pace with the need. Currently, behavioral health issues account for nearly one-third of student visits to UW System’s campus health services centers. Furthermore, because of limited access to psychiatric services, students are increasingly relying on campus health services for this support. Access to psychotropic medication assessment and management is also a struggle.

To meet demand, many campuses have increased the number of counselors available, but a panel of Senior Student Affairs Officers told Regents that it’s an ongoing challenge to keep up.

According to the 2017-18 UW System Counselling Impact Assessment Program, 22% of students thought about leaving school prior to counseling and 77% of those who considered leaving school said counseling helped them persist. In addition, 83% said their primary health issues improved due to counseling services

In addition to increased staffing, other suggested tactics to help students included increased training on how to recognize and treat behavioral health issues, and greater partnership with the K-12 system.

Restructuring initiative reaches key milestones

Vice President of Administration Rob Cramer and interim Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Karen Schmitt led a progress report on key areas of the UW System’s restructuring efforts.

“We are beginning to turn goals into milestones as we complete the work of restructuring and begin to build the new UW System – a system which will ensure access, maintain affordability, and increase opportunities for students,” Schmitt said.

The first achievement is a successful accreditation review from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of six regional entities that assess the quality of U.S. higher education institutions. After a rigorous six-month review, the HLC in March issued its final decision upholding initial approval of the restructuring and no further review or reporting is needed.

The second achievement is the approval of the UW System Guaranteed Admission Transfer policy. The policy continues the similar policy that had been in place with the former UW Colleges. The policy maintains that students at branch campuses who meet academic eligibility requirements are guaranteed admission to any four-year institution in the UW System.

Finally, several UW System institutions are also offering new and enhanced programs at the branch campuses.


UW System aims to expand high-impact practices

Carleen Vande Zande, Associate Vice President for Academic Programs and Educational Innovation, led a discussion of High-Impact Practices (HIPs). HIPs include things like internships, undergraduate research, service learning, capstone project, first-year college experience, and collaborative learning.

One of the goals of the UW System’s 2020FWD strategic framework is for all students to participate in at least two HIPs before graduation. Vande Zande noted that approximately 68% of seniors in the UW System have participated in two or more HIPs, according to the last National Survey of Student Engagement. The national average is 85%.

“We hope to increase these numbers over the next five years,” Vande Zande said, noting that one way to promote this growth is to be more intentional about the design, access, and quality of these high impact experiences.

UW System is currently participating in the National Association of System Heads (NASH) Taking Student Success to Scale grant.

Joan Littlefield Cook, Interim Associate Provost, and LaVar Charleston, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Diversity, Engagement and Success, both from UW-Whitewater, discussed how HIPs are integrated into the student success and retention strategies at their campus.

Education Committee

Deborah Kerr, Superintendent of the Brown Deer School District and co-chairperson of the UW System Task Force for Advancing Teacher Education and School Leadership, reported that there has been “strong public interest” in their efforts. The task force held the first of three public listening sessions earlier this week at UW-Milwaukee, where they gathered input and feedback on how to build greater support for the teaching profession.

“You could feel it in (the participants’) voices that everyone wants to do something to make education better in Wisconsin and to create a teaching profession that’s one of the best in the world,” Kerr said.

The task force is focused on working collaboratively with key stakeholders to develop financial incentive programs for students to improve affordability, reduce student loan debt, address teacher workforce shortages in Wisconsin, and to increase access, enrollment, and graduation from teacher education and administrative leadership programs.

The task force is expected to offer its recommendations to the Board of Regents in June.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Approved UW-Green Bay’s proposed change to its mission statement. The revised mission statement closely matches its programs and partnerships to a rapidly changing region; better serves regional goals for increasing the economic output of Northeast Wisconsin; and aligns the narrative between the Board of Regents and UW-Green Bay regarding the institution’s academic program portfolio, innovation risks, and regional obligations and opportunities;
  • Approved the collaborative, online Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology, with UW-Madison as the lead institution and academic partners UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh, UW- Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Whitewater. This program responds to the recognized growth of the biotechnology industry and the resulting increase in demand for highly qualified professionals in the field;
  • Approved the collaborative, online Master of Science in Information Technology Management, with UW-Oshkosh as lead campus and academic partners UW-La Crosse, UW- Parkside, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Superior. Similar to other need-based, collaborative online programs developed by UW Extended Campus, this degree program is designed to satisfy a workforce gap within the state and the region; and
  • Heard an update an update on the UW System Policy for approving Associate Degree Programs (SAP 102).

Business and Finance Committee

The Business and Finance Committee was updated on the UW Shared Services initiative. Regents also discussed the Conceptual Roadmap that identifies 56 service priorities for the next two years in the areas of Human Resources, Information Technology, and Business Services. Based on input from UW institutions, an initial array of 15 service priorities have been advanced to the detailed design and development stage.  In addition, at the request of several institutions, a limited set of services will be “soft-launched” while others are going through the more detailed analysis for implementation.

In other business, the Business and Finance Committee:

  • Approved an updated salary range for Executive Salary Range 9. This range applies only to the President of the UW System. The proposed range for the position is $489,334 to $734,000, with a midpoint of $611,667. The midpoint of the range was established at 95% of the 2017-18 peer median salary of $643,860;
  • Approved UW System Collective Bargaining Agreement with The Building and Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin. The UW System agreement seeks an increase of 2.13% in base wages effective January 6, 2019. Total cost for this agreement is expected to be $84,953, approximately $923 per full-time employee;
  • Approved UW-Madison Collective Bargaining Agreement with The Building and Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin. UW-Madison’s agreement also seeks an increase of 2.13% in base wages effective January 6, 2019. Total cost for this agreement is expected to be $375,209, approximately $1,776 per full-time employee. The higher per employee amount at UW-Madison is based on larger numbers of higher paid trades people at UW-Madison compared to other institutions;
  • Rescinded and removed two Regent Policy Documents related to University of Wisconsin Trust Funds (RPD 22-1 and RPD 22-3) and replaced them with a new policy related to institutional funds held by the UW System for charitable purposes;
  • Approved an agreement with A’viands, LLC to provide dining services at UW-Oshkosh. The contract would be for a five-year period effective July 11, 2019, with the option for two one-year extensions. Estimated net revenue to the vendor is approximately $5.2 million per year for dining services and $2.7 million per year for retail services. Estimated commissions to the institution over the life of the contract are approximately $3.15 million. In addition, the vendor is expected to invest $1 million in campus facilities;
  • Approved an agreement with Milwaukee Panther Sports Properties, a wholly-owned LLC of Learfield Communications, for athletics-related marketing and multi-media rights at UW-Milwaukee. The contract would be for a 10-year period effective July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2029. Minimum commissions to the institution over the life of the contract would be approximately $3 million. In addition, Learfield will also make capital subsidy payments totaling $100,000;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s five-year Master Services Agreement (MSA) with EyeKor, Inc. In consideration for providing the requested services, EyeKor, Inc. will pay the University an estimated total value potentially exceeding $6 million. Services under this agreement are anticipated to be conducted during the period from April 2019 through March 2024 and will be conducted in the department of ophthalmology under the direction of Dr. Barbara A. Blodi;
  • Heard an update on preplanning efforts related to future replacement of the Shared Financial (SFS) and Human Resource Systems (HRS). Since the Committee’s last briefing, activities had included development of a unified governance structure for the preplanning effort; Executive and Advisory Committees meeting to outline the vision to guide the project; and Requests for Proposals (RFP) are being prepared for key consulting support functions including quality assurance and independent verification and validation of the University’s activities; and
  • Heard a report from Vice President for Administration Rob Cramer on the UW System CORE (Commitment to Operational Reform and Excellence), one of four focal points of the 2020FWD Strategic Framework.

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

UW-River Falls’ request for approval to increase the budget of the Rodli Hall Renovation Project by $800,000 Existing General Fund Supported Borrowing was approved by the Capital Planning and Budget Committee. This project, which renovates the 63,473 GSF of Rodli Hall to accommodate a Student Success Center, was enumerated in the 2013-15 Capital Budget. Bids for this project were opened in July of 2018 and exceeded the original construction estimate. Since its enumeration in 2013, the focus on student success has become even more crucial to provide support for increased retention and graduation of students. The university needs to recast its selection of equipment to best provide the necessary supportive environment.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW-Parkside’s request to execute a 50-year land use agreement between the Board of Regents and Kenosha County to allow the construction of a multi-use recreational trail system and riverbank restoration project on the UW-Parkside campus;
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct eight All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects at an estimated cost of $18.7 million. These projects include athletic facility renovations, roof replacements, and a fire alarm system upgrade at UW-Madison, a soccer field renovation at UW-Stout, and roofing replacement and lighting renovation for the Weidner Center at UW-Green Bay;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute the remainder of the design contract and construct the UW-managed Educational Sciences, Wisconsin Center for Education Research Renovation, Phase I Project. This $2.3 million gift-funded project renovates the fifth floor of the Educational Sciences building and its plumbing, electrical, and technology systems to create the collaborative open work environment needed for the more than 60-member Wisconsin Center for Education Research team;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute the remainder of the design contract and construct the UW-managed Medical Science Center, Chemistry Learning Center Remodel Project. During construction of the Chemistry Building Renovation and Expansion project, the center will need to be relocated to continue providing services for students. This $1.3 million gift-funded project remodels 5,900 GSF on the fourth floor of the Medical Science Center to accommodate the Chemistry Learning Center and allow it to meet current demands, while also allowing room for future growth; and
  • Heard an update by Associate Vice President Alex Roe regarding the State Building Commission’s action on the UW System 2019-21 Capital Budget request.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee discussed the recent admissions scandal that has been making national headlines. Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz told Regents there is no reason to believe anything of that nature has occurred at any UW System institution. The Audit Committee invited UW-Madison’s admissions staff to address the controls that are in place to prevent such activity at a future meeting.

In other business, the Audit Committee received:

  • Updates on fiscal 2019 audit plan progress, the status of audits at different institutions, and management response to audit reports;
  • A report by Assistant Vice President of Administration Ruth Anderson on enterprise risk management; and
  • Updates on Risk, Compliance and Internal Audit collaboration.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 9 a.m., April 6, 2019, at Van Hise Hall, Madison.

See the April 5, 2019, day 2 news summary