University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents meeting
Day One News Summary

MADISON— — The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Thursday (April 1) heard and commented on a progress report on Plan 2008, the university’s blueprint, launched in 1998, to diversify its student population as well as its faculty and staff ranks.

Cora Marrett, UW System senior vice president for academic affairs, noted that the university is at the midpoint in the plan and reported on positive indicators that good progress is being made. They include:

  • There are more students of color (an increase of 1,948) enrolled now than there were when the study began in 1998. When compared to the overall Wisconsin population, it was noted, a smaller proportion of students are enrolling in the UW System.
  • Retention and graduation rates for minority students have increased.
  • The number of Wisconsin K-12 students involved in precollege programs connected to the UW System has grown by 8,000 students to 11,887 students in 2003.
  • The number of faculty and staff of color is increasing.
  • There have been increases in financial aid to minority and disadvantaged students during the last five years, which is critical to their participation in higher education.

However, numbers do not tell the whole story, Marrett said. Two campus presenters—UW-Madison Associate Vice Chancellor Bernice Durand and UW-Eau Claire Associate Vice Chancellor Kimberly Barrett—and Marrett all noted that campus climate is critical and that this issue must be elevated to a higher priority for faculty and departments.

Those factors and funding of these programs—which has become more difficult with recent steep cutbacks in university funding by the state—all play a critical role in the university’s ability to achieve the goals of Plan 2008, they said.

They noted that significant gaps, though lessening, remain in retention and graduation rates between minority and non-minority students and that assessment measures need more attention. Such assessment would allow the university to put resources behind programs and strategies that will yield the best results, they said.

Members of the board acknowledged that progress has been made but pressed for a more aggressive attack, especially on getting more Wisconsin Latino and African American students through the pipeline and successfully through college.

“We do not have the momentum we need in spirit and results,” said Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee. She noted, with concern, that there has been a decline in the enrollment of African American males and that 56 percent of the UW’s minority employees are in classified positions—not among the higher-paid faculty and academic staff, leading to a lack of role models for minority students.

In response to that particular concern, Durand noted that UW-Madison is now training the chairs of its faculty and administrator search-and-screen committees to ensure that more diverse pools of candidates are created and considered.

Regent Gerard Randall of Milwaukee echoed Davis’ concerns and noted that one major concern is the low high school graduation rates at Milwaukee public high schools, which are comprised of 70 percent of students of color and where just 40 percent of students graduate.

Yet, he noted, most MPS teachers are trained at UW campuses. He called for better coordination with the high schools in dealing with these problems and strengthening precollege opportunities and college aspirations among Milwaukee high school students.

Plan 2008 is a 10-year plan to achieve racial and ethnic diversity throughout the UW System and “to serve the needs of women, minority, disadvantaged, disabled, and non-traditional students and seek racial and ethnic diversification of the student body and the professional faculty and staff.”

Education Committee encourages action on diversity plan

At the same time that it accepted an annually required report on minority and disadvantaged students, the Education Committee continued the full board discussion on Plan 2008.

Tess Arenas, UW System assistant vice president for academic affairs and senior advisor to the president for academic diversity, presented the 2002-03 Minority and Disadvantaged Student Annual Report, in which she outlined the allocation of $35.2 million in funds spent on specific M&D programs.

Arenas said the expenditures outlined in the report fall in three major categories: precollege, recruitment and retention. She said, however, that these programs were not the extent of the university’s efforts to address diversity.

“No single number would capture expenditures on Plan 2008,” Arenas said. “As Plan 2008 becomes more embedded in the framework, it will be even harder.”

Education Committee chair Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee said the fundamental question is what resources would be needed to fully fund all initiatives related to Plan 2008. “It’s been clear that the policy has been to focus on retention,” he said.

“I want to know what campuses would spend money on if they had it,” added Student Regent Beth Richlen, who suggested the full board should continue its discussion of the topic as soon as possible.

Regent Roger Axtell of Janesville added that international students also add to diversity on campuses, but it was noted that international students and faculty are treated differently in federal counts. The committee agreed to hold a discussion about international populations at a future session.

Committee members also wondered why some students of color from higher-income levels may choose not to attend the UW System, and noted that a decrease in some service levels is also a concern.

“I think everyone can agree that this is an issue that needs a new sense of urgency,” said Regent Chuck Pruitt of Shorewood.

UW System Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Cora Marrett noted that Gov. Jim Doyle has also indicated an interest in knowing more about the costs to fund Plan 2008 initiatives, and has agreed to host a reception for faculty of color.

The committee also accepted the system’s 14th annual report summarizing the university’s efforts to educate students on sexual assault and sexual harassment. The report is required annually under Wisconsin Statutes.

Marrett reminded the committee that the information on reported incidents should be viewed with caution, as national and internal studies have shown that sexual assaults are drastically underreported.

“The chancellors, provosts and everybody else knows that it’s a more serious problem,” Marrett said.

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Donald Mash noted that many incidents of sexual assault are likely tied to student alcohol use, and Marrett noted that many of the educational efforts in place are designed to also reduce related problems.

Richlen encouraged campuses to put mechanisms in place that allow anonymous reporting, which could increase the number of assaults reported.

The committee also heard from UW Colleges Provost Margaret Cleek, who said the UW Colleges had been granted the maximum 10-year accreditation from the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

In other business, the committee will present the following items for consideration by the full board Friday:

  • a resolution to approve requests for $5.3 million in funding from the Vilas Trust in support of scholarships, fellowships, and programs in arts and humanities, social sciences and music;
  • a resolution to approve a UW-Milwaukee charter school contract;
  • a resolution to approve changes in faculty personnel policies at UW-Whitewater;
  • a resolution to approve UW System appointments to the Natural Areas Preservation Council; and
  • a resolution to approve expansion of the UW-Extension Board of Visitors.

Regent committees receive update on UW-Madison East Campus Plan

Committee members heard an overview of UW-Madison’s East Campus Plan during a joint session Thursday between the Business and Finance Committee and the Physical Planning and Funding Committee.

Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for UW-Madison’s Facilities, Planning and Management, reviewed target dates for the first several years of the multi-year project, which will create a pedestrian mall and humanities district on the east end of campus, build two new residence halls to replace Ogg Hall, and consolidate student and health services on what is now University Square.

Regent Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids, lauded it as an “incredibly visionary plan for UW-Madison” that will create “one home for the Humanities and a dynamic front door at the east end of campus.”

The plan will create a pedestrian mall from the Red Gym and Memorial Union along Murray Street to the Kohl Center. The entire project is expected to cost between $300 and 400 million, with some portions entirely funded by gifts.

The plan involves building two new residence halls on Dayton and Park Streets to replace Ogg Hall, which would be prohibitively expensive to renovate. Additional residence hall space would be included in the University Square building project, which is projected to include two floors of underground parking, two floors of privately owned retail space, student health services, and a variety of other student services. A proposal outlining the University Square building project is expected to be submitted to the Board of Regents in August.

The University Square project is expected to be financed jointly by the University Research Park and the current owners of the property, Executive Management, on an 80/20 cost ratio.

Regent Gerard Randall of Milwaukee urged caution in making this contract. Fish concurred, saying that the benefits of a sound legal arrangement will be a win-win for both sides: The campus will achieve high-density student services, which it would not otherwise be able to achieve, and the retail space will benefit from the proximity of university offices and residence hall space.

Business and Finance Committee

Charged by the Board of Regents to analyze various proposals for a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), and the impact that such a policy would have on the UW System, the Business and Finance Committee on Thursday heard from a special guest, Rep. Gregg Underheim.

An alum of UW-La Crosse and 17-year veteran of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Underheim noted that recent public opinion polls show widespread public support for a measure that would cap state tax increases at a rate equal to that of overall economic growth in the state. Underheim noted that this public support remains strong even when people are confronted with the possibility of drastic cuts to basic state services.

Underheim, who represents the 54th Assembly District, acknowledged that the regents have seen at least one other proposal for TABOR legislation—a version he calls “far too severe.” Underheim said he is now working with Legislative Fiscal Bureau staff to write legislation that would introduce an alternative bill that would also offer a cap on tax growth, but use personal income as the benchmark, rather than changes to the consumer price index (CPI), which is designed to measure inflation.

Underheim explained that, in times of high economic growth and low inflation, capping state taxes based on the CPI would be unnecessarily restrictive. Still, his proposal in its current form would cap almost all revenues to state agencies and the university, including tuition. Several regents expressed concern that limiting that flexibility would hamper the university’s ability to address other funding shortfalls.

Speaking candidly, Regent Guy Gottschalk said he had serious reservations about the TABOR proposal. “It’s deceptive. It is not a bill of rights,” he said. “It’s a constitutional amendment to avoid legislative responsibility.”

Referring again to broad public support for such a measure, Underheim said, “I have not been a strong proponent of these proposals, but I’m a realist.”

In other business, the committee passed a revised resolution regarding a pay plan parity proposal, and a member of the UW-Madison academic staff urged the regents to more aggressively support full health insurance benefits for domestic partners. The pay plan item will be presented as a separate item for consideration on Friday by the full board.

The committee also heard an update from Martin Cadwallader, dean of the UW-Madison Graduate School, who offered a brief presentation on the campus’ success at attracting outside, non-state support for research.

He reported “near exponential” growth in federal research funding in recent years, due to the increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Although other non-federal extramural research funding is growing at a slower rate, gifts and grants from business and industry are becoming an increasingly significant source of support, and now account for 22 percent of the non-federal external research dollars at UW-Madison.

The committee also passed a resolution to accept trust fund bequests. Due to time constraints, a tuition policy revision resolution was deferred until a future meeting.

Four major campus building projects move forward

Jim Albers, acting director of Capital Planning and Budget, reported to members of the Physical Planning and Funding Committee that the Legislature passed Senate Bill 474, which moves forward four campus building projects affecting UW-Madison (Business School addition and Ogg Hall replacement), UW-Oshkosh (Taylor Hall), and UW-River Falls (improvements to facilities used by the Kansas City Chiefs).

Albers also reported that the State Building Commission approved $15 million for various UW projects at its March meeting. Of that money, $12 million is designated for repair and maintenance projects. The Department of Administration expects that estimates for capital budget funding limits for the 2005-07 biennium will be available in early May, Albers said.

Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for UW-Madison’s Facilities Planning and Management, amplified the presentation he gave during the joint committee meeting with an explanation of the status of university housing as of Fall 2003.

Data indicates that the campus turns away approximately 700 students each year because it cannot meet student demand for first-year housing. As a result, the East Campus Plan includes an additional 700 beds as part of the University Square building project. Living on campus reduces student housing costs by approximately 50 percent, compared to the private sector, Fish noted.

Regent Gerard Randall noted his approval of this measure, saying it will help keep costs down for students.

In other business, the committee approved the following actions for consideration by the full board Friday:

  • Purchase of equipment for three Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) stations to comply with High Definition Radio standards approved by the Federal Communications Commission.The stations are among eight licensed by the UW Board of Regents and affiliated with WPR, which is overseen by UW-Extension. The equipment will be installed at WHA-AM Madison, KUWS-FM Superior and WLSU-FM La Crosse. The committee also approved a request to substitute grant funding for institutional funds should more grant funding become available.
  • Lease sites at the UW-Madison Marshfield Agricultural Research Station in Marshfield, Wisconsin, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a joint research project between the campus and federal government.

The Board of Regents will continue its April meeting beginning at 9 a.m. in Room 1820 in Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.