MADISON – Students will experience larger class sizes, fewer programs and reduced services if the University of Wisconsin System is subject to further cuts in state support during the next budget biennium, according to a presentation by campus leaders during Thursday’s meeting of the UW System Board of Regents.

A panel of five UW leaders told the regents that campuses are still reeling from losses that resulted when the UW System was forced to cut $44 million from last year’s budget. At the request of the regents, the administrators spoke about what might happen if campuses are forced to make more cuts as the state works to solve its $2.8 billion dollar budget deficit.

In addition, applications for Fall 2003 admissions are up 24 percent compared to this time last year, and 42 percent of the incoming freshman class has already been admitted, said UW System President Katharine Lyall.

“All the easy and obvious things have been done,” Lyall said. “The next round of cuts will require significant choices affecting the scale and scope of our future services.”

The panel of speakers included UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Thomas F. George, UW-Extension Chancellor Kevin P. Reilly, UW-Oshkosh Provost Keith T. Miller, UW-Fox Valley Dean James W. Perry and UW-Madison College of Letters and Science Dean Phillip R. Certain. They told the board that future budget reductions could mean sweeping measures, such as eliminating entire majors or departments.

Certain said UW-Madison’s College of Letters and Science accounts for one-half of undergraduate enrollment at the university and is the second largest research unit after the Medical School. Already, the college allocates only 2 percent of its budget toward administration and has left 23 faculty positions vacant due to lack of funding, he said.

Further cuts would mean the college could lose competitive federal grants brought in by faculty and could no longer guarantee small class sizes or smooth registration.

“It isn’t really possible to make significant cuts to L&S without having a major impact on undergraduate education,” Certain said. “I need to stress that we are running out of cuts that can be made without significant long-term damage to the college.”

Perry said applications at UW-Fox Valley have risen 165 percent over last year, and applications are up 190 percent throughout the UW Colleges, the UW System’s freshman/sophomore campuses. To manage budget cuts, UW-Fox Valley has left tenure track positions vacant and cut back collaborative programs, including an engineering completion partnership with UW-Platteville that is part of the UW System’s Economic Stimulus Package.

Even as student demand grows, the next step may be to reduce the number of academic staff, hired to replace faculty, Perry said.

Cuts at UW-Oshkosh meant the campus was able to accept only 154 students from a pool of 250 qualified candidates into the nursing school this year, Miller said. The lack of resources forced the campus to deny admission to almost 100 students, even as nurses from India have been recruited to Wisconsin as the state suffers from a shortage of health-care workers.

“Access to our professional programs is our biggest problem,” Miller said. “Certainly, further budget cuts would exacerbate that problem.”

George reported that a lack of available seats in classes at UW-Stevens Point has resulted in a campus “black market,” in which students are willing to sell their slot in competitive classes. The campus has had to cut back on advising and information technology staff, and more losses could mean reduced summer courses, fewer majors and possibly closing a residence hall.

The slow economy has also affected the UW-SP Foundation, which has had to cut back on student scholarships. George said the university should not rely on private giving to make up for declining state support.

Reilly said UW-Extension could be among the hardest hit because of the “double-whammy” factor.

“We take cuts to the university’s budget and to the budgets of our many partners,” Reilly said.

For example, UW-Extension agents work on programs in all 72 Wisconsin counties, and the counties pay 40 percent of agents’ salaries, Reilly said. If the state is forced to cut shared revenues, it will likely mean less funding for those agents, leaving UW-Extension to pick up as much as an additional $4.7 million, he said.

Regent Fred Mohs said the public expects the UW System to provide an education to all qualified students, but the budget crisis may mean such a commitment isn’t possible.

“What we’re hearing today is that we have a cut in quality. The next step is enrollment cuts,” Mohs said. “We’re probably done as much as we ought to do in terms of quality.”

Some regents said campuses may be able to manage budget cuts and maintain quality in the long term by streamlining their offerings, rather than continuing to provide a full array of high-quality academic programs. Others said the UW System may have to examine what it would take to privatize professional programs.

But Regent Vice President Toby Marcovich said the UW System must honor its commitment to the state: “Our job is to run a public university for the benefit of the public,” he said.

President Lyall’s full remarks
Regent President Guy Gottschalk’s full remarks

UW System continues to make gains in measures of student success

The UW System continues to improve several key measures of student success, according to a report given to the regents Thursday.

Frank Goldberg, UW System associate vice president for policy analysis and research, told the regents that most UW campuses have reduced the number of credits students attempt during their undergraduate education, while at the same time, retention and graduation rates have increased.

Overall, the UW System has reduced the average credits-to-degree from 145 in 1994-95 to 136 in 2001-02. The Board of Regents in 1995 set a goal of reducing credits-to-degree from 145 to 140 by 2000-01. With improved efforts on each campus, the UW System met the goal in 1998.

As the campuses work to achieve their goals, they are encouraged to make decisions that will, first and foremost, contribute to student success, Goldberg said.

“If we do the right thing, the numbers will go in the right direction,” he said.

Goldberg said the UW System’s efforts to increase student success have resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of skilled graduates for the Wisconsin workforce.

During the 2001-02 academic year, the university awarded 21,304 bachelor’s degrees, the highest amount ever in a single year. In 1996-97, the UW System awarded 19,625 bachelor’s degrees, and in 1976-77, 16,395 undergraduate degrees were awarded.

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Regents approve excess credits policy

Students who accumulate significantly more credits than needed to complete their degrees will pay double the cost of that additional instruction, according to a resolution the board passed Thursday.

The new policy is an attempt to control costs and provide access for more students. It requires resident undergraduates who accumulate more than 165 credits, or 30 credits more than required by their degree program, to pay a surcharge equal to 100 percent of the regular resident tuition for those credits.

Each campus is directed to implement a process to identify and counsel students who may be working toward excess credits. The resolution also allows UW campuses flexibility to evaluate each circumstance, so students with a legitimate reason for accumulating excess credits are not penalized.

Most UW degree programs require 120 credits, but one in five requires more than 120, mostly in education, allied health and engineering. Currently, there are 1,900 students in the UW System with more than 165 credits, said Frank Goldberg, associate vice president for policy analysis and research.

Regent Phyllis Krutsch said the policy will help campuses focus resources and allow students to plan their undergraduate education as a four-year experience.

“This is about how we balance our resources to serve students in a quality way,” Krutsch said.

Some regents cautioned, however, that the new policy may not yield significant cost savings.

The surcharge is scheduled to take effect in 2004. UW System President Katharine Lyall said systemwide implementation rules should be established before that time to ensure all students are fairly notified.

Regents authorize Camp Randall renovation plans

The Board of Regents gave its approval Thursday to an $83.7million renovation of Camp Randall Stadium at UW-Madison.

The university plans to renovate the football stadium to improve safety, accessibility, crowd flow and technology, according to Al Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities, planning and management.

“We’re trying to build a home-team environment,” Fish said.

Improvements include an upgraded sound and instant-replay system, as well as luxury suites, club seats and premium club seats, which Fish said were key revenue sources for the renovation.

The project will be paid for through a combination of revenue generated by the athletic department and gift funds. The state previously contributed $10 million toward the project for needed utility improvements. No more state funding is required for the project, said Regent Jay Smith.

The project now goes to the State Building Commission for approval on Dec. 18. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2003, with targeted completion by 2005.

New state legislative leaders greet regents

Two newly named state legislative leaders made a surprise appearance at Thursday’s meeting, pledging to work with the board during the difficult budget balancing process.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, who will take over as Senate minority leader in January, told the regents that Senate Democrats are committed to funding the UW System the best they can.

“What you produce for the state of Wisconsin is phenomenal,” Erpenbach said. “Whatever we can do to keep you going, please let us know.”

Erpenbach, who attended UW-Oshkosh, said he’d like the university to offer more night and weekend courses for potential nontraditional students like him, a 41-year-old father of two who did not complete his degree. He also urged the regents to continue working closely with the technical college system.

Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, also addressed the board, saying that while the state Legislature is heading into tough budget negotiations, he is optimistic state leaders will keep their pledge to work together.

“This is a partnership. You are such an important part of the growth of this state,” Kaufert told the regents, adding that UW-Fox Valley is located in his assembly district. “I’m going to do all that I can to work with you.”

Kaufert, whose daughter attends UW-Green Bay, said everything will be on the table during budget negotiations.

“I think that’s the only way we can attack this problem,” he said.

Also visiting the Regents Thursday was Aaron Olver from Gov.-elect Jim Doyle’s transition team. Olver, a Rhodes Scholar and graduate of UW-Madison and Oxford University, is working on education issues for the incoming governor.

Education Committee discusses new distance learning consortium

The development of the new Wisconsin Advanced Placement Distance Learning Consortium could not come at a better time, given the UW System’s need to re-evaluate access in a challenging budgetary environment, the board’s Education Committee was told Thursday.

UW System Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Cora Marrett said the new consortium, developed by the UW-Madison Center on Education and Work, aims to provide advanced placement courses to students in districts where few such courses currently exist.

The prevailing discrepancies are great, Marrett said. At UW-Madison, nearly three-fourths of the freshman class entered with AP credit. Yet, almost one quarter of Wisconsin’s public secondary schools do not offer a single advanced placement course.

The consortium seeks to rectify such discrepancies by creating, operating and maintaining a distance-learning clearinghouse on advanced placement for every Wisconsin high school.

FIPSE, the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, has provided a grant of almost $600,000 to fund this initiative. The UW System serves as a funding partner.

Academic and Student Services to suspend program planning through February

The Office of Academic and Student Services has implemented a 3-month moratorium on all new academic planning until February 2003, which will allow time for the UW System to deliberate on how to move forward most responsibly in a period of likely downsizing, the Regents’ Education Committee learned Thursday.

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Singer emphasized that failing to maintain an array of academic programs that meets the needs of students and the state will exacerbate the state’s financial woes.

Some regents questioned the need for a full-fledged moratorium and wondered how many specific programs might be impacted by such an action.

Cora Marrett, senior vice president of academic affairs, responded that the suspension is meant to allow time for reflection and reassessment of program planning and array in a time of great budget uncertainty. She said very few programs will be affected.

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard expressed his philosophical concern that a moratorium adds an extra bureaucratic layer that further stifles innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism “at a time when we need them most, given our budget troubles.”

In other business, the committee:

  • approved a new master’s in health care informatics at UW-Milwaukee;
  • approved the reorganization of a School of Education at UW-Stout.

Business and Finance Committee reviews non-resident tuition impacts

It is too early to tell whether increases in nonresident tuition have led to a reduction in nonresident enrollment, the Business and Finance Committee of the board learned Thursday.

The net number of nonresident students is down at all campuses, said Frank Goldberg, associate vice president for policy analysis and research. If this trend continues, he added, it would significantly impact the amount of the subsidy provided through nonresident tuition.

In other business, the committee unanimously approved the following items:

  • A resolution to allow UW-Oshkosh to charge undergraduate students differential tuition to fund the Oshkosh Personal Development Compact, a personal support network for students. The differential tuition would begin in Fall 2003.
  • A resolution to approve the 2003-05 General Compensation Plan and Guidelines. The plan provides campuses guidance regarding how salary increases should be determined for employees, although specific pay raises have not yet been recommended for the next two years.
  • A resolution approving an extended contract with Chartwells to provide dining services at UW-River Falls.

Physical Planning and Funding Committee gets Oshkosh update

The Regents’ Physical Planning and Funding Committee Thursday heard a campus development plan update from UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells.

He explained that, as the third largest headcount university in the state, UW-Oshkosh’s top priority is land acquisition. Wells emphasized the importance of collaboration with the City of Oshkosh, other UW institutions, local businesses, the UW-Oshkosh Foundation and alumni in achieving UW-Oshkosh’s strategic planning goals.

Other campus planning goals include remodeling of the Student Support, Development and Referral Center and construction of the Recreation and Wellness Center.

In other committee business, Assistant Vice President for Capital Planning and Budget Nancy Ives reported to the committee that the State Building Commission approved about $11 million for various university projects at its November meeting.

In other action, the committee approved the following resolutions:

  • Providing a temporary construction easement to UW-Fox Valley for the construction of an engineering lab that will be used for the collaborative engineering program with UW-Platteville.
  • Granting UW-Madison authority to name a portion of Camp Randall Stadium “Kellner Hall.”
  • Approving $2,497,400 program revenue-cash for the Memorial Union Lakefront Cafeteria renovation, scheduled to be completed by November 2003.
  • Approving $380,000 of Medical School gift funds to be used for the fourth floor generic research lab renovation in the Medical Science Center at UW-Madison.
  • Approving $646,800 institutional funds for the second floor renovation of the Biotron building on the UW-Madison campus.
  • Authorizing UW-Oshkosh to accept a gift of two parcels of land known as the Allen Marsh Preserve from the UW-Oshkosh Foundation.
  • Allowing UW-Oshkosh to grant an easement for a driveway adjacent to campus property.
  • Approving $554,700 to remodel the Allen Center at UW-Stevens Point.
  • Authorizing a budget increase of about $1.4 million for the Chamberlin Hall renovation project at UW-Madison.

Joint Physical Planning and Funding/Business and Finance committee meeting

The Physical Planning and Funding and Business and Finance committees met together Thursday to discuss financial management of auxiliary operations and facilities management.

Associate Vice President of Finance Doug Hendrix reviewed auxiliary operations, covering topics of management expectations, pricing, loans and transfers, cash and reserve management, and oversight. Representatives from four campuses provided examples of financial management issues at their respective campuses.

Tom Bittner, UW System planning and systems specialist, gave a presentation on facilities management. Bittner explained that future physical development planning of major projects will focus on replacing and renovating older facilities that no longer meet programmatic needs and have a high maintenance cost. To address future maintenance issues, campuses will work with the UW System to develop expenditure plans and fee structures for upcoming projects, balancing the use of cash funding and state bonding.

Friday Board Meeting

The Board of Regents will resume its December meeting on Friday (Dec. 6) at 9 a.m. in 1820 Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.