At its November meeting, the Board of Regents learned more about the UW System’s participation in a new national program designed to provide greater, more uniform accountability information across all public universities and colleges.
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Rebecca Martin told how, in 1993, the UW System became one of the first university system’s in the nation to publish an annual accountability report, which included all 26 UW campuses and the statewide UW-Extension network. Today, she said, the Regents will advance that cause by participating in a nationwide Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA).
Martin described how, through web-based “College Portraits,” the profiles will be organized into three areas: student and family information, student experiences and perceptions, and student learning outcomes.
“UW campuses will be among the first in the nation to fully adopt the new reporting tools,” said Martin. She added she is proud to be a part of a plan that provides “consistent, comparable, and transparent information to prospective students and their families, as well as legislators and other stakeholders.”
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Charter Schools show positive results in Wisconsin
The Regents also heard presentations on two charter school projects. Regent Danae Davis, chair of the Education Committee, introduced a presentation on charter school performance led by UW-Madison Professor John Witte. In her introduction, Davis summarized charter school laws in Wisconsin, and emphasized her overall desire to facilitate a discussion with “an open mind, and open ears,” asking the Regents for “…a rigorous discussion that is inviting of our differing perspectives.”
Dr. Witte, author of “The Performance of Charter Schools in Wisconsin,” outlined chartering studies in Wisconsin, concluding, “our findings are clearly positive.” In describing the various methods for chartering, he suggested that the local chartering option had been most successful, primarily because they are controlled locally, and have high local support.
Regents then heard from UW-Milwaukee Provost Rita Cheng on the UW-Milwaukee Charter School Program. Cheng outlined the scope of Milwaukee’s program, highlighting the cooperative approach of their chartering mission as well as the uniqueness of individual schools within the program. She emphasized their accountability system, put in place to monitor charter school results as well as to demand continuous improvement.
Cheng then introduced her colleague, UW-Milwaukee School of Education Dean Alfonso Thurman, to talk about the overall role the campus plays in educating Milwaukee’s children, and how charter schools play a role in those goals. Thurman said charter schools were one of many strategies in the Milwaukee community and said they “are just part of our everyday work…They are just as much a part of our mission to do the best for Milwaukee’s children.” He highlighted the partnerships among the business and philanthropic communities, and the united goals they share.
Update on the 2007-09 Biennial Budget
The Regents also heard a presentation about the recently completed 2007-09 State Budget, introduced by UW System President Kevin Reilly.
Reilly noted that the university’s success in advancing the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin plan was “not to enhance the university’s desires, but to enhance and advance the entire state’s economic and social needs.”
Reilly applauded the grassroots efforts of students, alumni, business and community leaders, faculty, staff, regents, and legislators themselves, who built support for the UW System’s budget. Reilly praised the Governor and legislators from both parties, and both houses, for listening to these voices.
Associate Vice President Freda Harris then offered a presentation comparing what the Regents originally requested in state support with that which was finally approved in the budget.
“This is the first time since 2001 that the UW System has seen an actual increase in funding for new initiatives that was larger than the base reductions or lapses required,” said Harris.
Harris outlined how closely the final budget reflected the UW System’s request, citing the legislature’s willingness to support the Growth Agenda, and to add new funding for faculty and staff.
She also highlighted how several initiatives were funded that were not part of the Board of Regents’ request, including Islet Transplantation, an initiative to expand medical practice in underserved areas, $2.5 million to match gifts and grants for lung cancer research and $400,000 each for the State Lab of Hygiene and the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.
She noted how the UW System is required to lapse $25 million over the next two years, but suggested “the ability to lapse over a two-year period provides much-needed flexibility for the System to protect students and instructional activities.”
Harris then discussed financial aid, noting the significant increase to $50 million in 2007-08 and $55 million in 2008-09 in funding for the Wisconsin Higher Education Grant (WHEG) program. She also noted that Veterans Remissions will be funded at the level proposed by the Governor, but that the total provided is less than the projected amount required for 2007-08. Both programs are part of the Higher Education Aids Board budget, but have a direct impact on the UW System.
Harris concluded, “This budget will provide a strong foundation upon which to grow the UW System and the economy of the state of Wisconsin.”
Regent Chuck Pruitt echoed Harris’s comments, and asked for special recognition “acknowledging the leadership of all our chancellors, of whom we couldn’t have been so successful without.”
Regent Danae Davis offered praise to the legislature and Regent President Bradley concluded the entire presentation by thanking Governor Jim Doyle, “who really went to bat for us, and made us his priority.”
Education Committee learns about better preparing students
In a separate session, the Education Committee discussed the UW System’s Advantage Wisconsin strategic framework, a composite of overarching strategies to maximize the UW System’s positive impact on the state.
The committee heard an update from one of the seven strategic framework’s think tanks. Don Christian, dean of Art and Sciences at UW-Eau Claire and chair of the Preparing Students Think Tank, spearheaded the discussion on how the UW System can “prepare students with integrative learning skills, multicultural competencies and practical knowledge needed to succeed in and contribute to society.”
Regent members and chancellors offered input and their perspective on the think tank’s task. Discussion centered on diversifying the student education, prioritizing strategic faculty development, and creating a pace of change that will be flexible for future challenges.
Education Committee Chair Danae Davis urged the think tank to consider future students in its deliberations.
“Are we putting some thought [into] who is that student 15 years from now, as a way of assessing our readiness for educating those students?” Davis asked.
Regent Mary Cuene reflected on the goals of the Preparing Students Think Tank as one of the most important priorities of the UW System. “These are core abilities interfaced all through students’ body of study. This will have huge implications for all of the university,” she said.
UW-Platteville accreditation co-chairs Machelle Schroeder and Shane Drefcinski presented a brief summary of the Higher Learning Commission’s (HCL) re-accreditation visit to the campus, which provides UW System institutions with independent assessments of their academic quality and institutional health. After HLC’s evaluation, Platteville received the highest level of accreditation, a full ten-year re-accreditation for 2016- 2027. Notably, the re-accreditation visit highlighted UW-Platteville’s unique statewide collaborative engineering programs, and gave plans to serve 800 to 1,000 students in Wisconsin in the near future.
In other business, the committee authorized the president of the UW System to recruit for a new chancellor of UW-Whitewater.
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Business, Finance, and Audit Committee discusses leveraging resources and operational excellence
The Board’s Business, Finance and Audit Committee heard an update on the Advantage Wisconsin strategic planning process from representatives of two think tank teams, one addressing resources and the other operational excellence.
Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for administration at UW-Madison and chair of the Operational Excellence Think Tank, summarized the team’s discussion, which included leveraging excellence already present within the UW System, identifying challenges and opportunities, and thinking about what is most doable to increase operational effectiveness.
Regent Peggy Rosenzweig commented that a desired outcome of the process is “a better understanding of how we can make just the best System ever, which is a benefit for the university and the state.”
Freda Harris, associate vice president of budget and planning, reported on the Resources Think Tank, which is charged with recommending ways to balance, diversify, and grow university resources and facilities while developing human talent. Harris said team members talked about identifying available funding sources, implementing best practices, and creating a culture of innovation combined with a better understanding of customer needs.
Regent Brent Smith offered reinforcement, saying, “I would encourage campuses to innovate. That’s a goal of ours.”
Harris also gave committee members an update on the 2007-09 operating budget. Harris said, “This is one of the best budgets we’ve had in a long time. Funding is there that we need for the Growth Agenda initiatives. It’s a very forward-looking budget.” Harris told the committee that certain issues will still need to be addressed, such as the funding lapse and veterans’ tuition remission. She said the biggest problem for the capital budget is the significant reduction in all-agency funds, which will necessitate re-prioritizing campus building projects.
Sharon Wilhelm, interim associate vice president of policy analysis and research, gave the committee a preliminary report of Fall 2007 enrollments. She said that non-resident enrollments have increased by a headcount of 1,200 and resident enrollments have increased by a headcount of 1,800. She concluded, “The non-resident tuition policy passed by the Board two years ago is achieving its desired goal of attracting more non-resident students and supporting additional resident students,” said Wilhelm. She said more details will be available at December’s Board meeting.
In other business, the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee:
- approved a resolution to accept bequests over $50,000;
- reviewed a report of quarterly gifts, grants, and contracts;
- reviewed a quarterly and actual budget comparison;
- received an update on the progress of the Tuition and Financial Aid Working Group; and
- heard an update on the biennial pay plan process.
The committee adjourned to attend a mid-afternoon public forum held by the UW System each year to gather input and feedback regarding the management of its trust fund holdings.
Physical Planning and Funding Committee
At the Physical Planning and Funding Committee, Assistant Vice President David Miller reported to committee members that the Building Commission approved about $10 million for projects at its October meeting.
In other business, the committee:
- approved a design report and gave authority to construct a parking ramp expansion project at UW-Madison;
- approved a design report for a biochemistry project at UW-Madison and gave authority to construct a research tower, a project which also includes renovating three historic buildings on campus;
- approved expanding the campus boundary and purchasing land for parking at UW-Stevens Point;
- approved UW-Stevens Point’s request to accept a gift of land to benefit the Schmeeckle Reserve Nature Conservancy;
- approved a design report and project adjustment for a library renovation project at UW-Superior; and
- approved adjusting the scope of a student center project at UW-Superior.
Each of the resolutions will be brought to the full Board for approval at its next meeting tomorrow. A resolution to give authority to construct all agency maintenance and repair projects was deferred. The committee met in closed session with no report.
The Board of Regents will resume its November 2007 meeting on Friday, November 9, at 9 a.m. in Van Hise Hall.
Related: Read Nov. 9 (day 2) news summary