MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents honored the second annual winners of its Regents Diversity Awards at its meeting on Friday. The award program was established to recognize and support efforts to foster access and success in university life for historically underrepresented populations.

Regent José Vásquez, who chaired the selection committee, noted that the award recipients may have different approaches to their diversity work, but their efforts share some common characteristics. “In their work, you will find a genuine respect for human differences, a deep attentiveness to the learning process, and a keen responsiveness to students and their educational needs,” he said.

McDowell And Vasquez

UW-Milwaukee’s Marion McDowell with Regent Vásquez

In introducing UW-Milwaukee’s Marion McDowell, winner in the individual category, Vásquez pointed out that she has been an advocate and educational champion for underrepresented students for more than 30 years. McDowell is the administrative program manager for UW-Milwaukee’s College of Health Sciences, where she has helped to recruit and retain a growing number of students from minority and disadvantaged groups to the health care field.

McDowell said the award “personifies not only the true meaning of my job but my life’s work.” She noted that program graduates are now employed all over the world in health- and non-healthcare professions. “This is the testimony that we must provide quality support services to underrepresented students… It is imperative that the UW System continues to articulate a compelling case for diversity and the importance of addressing issues that not only face our students but our faculty, staff, and the community as well,” McDowell said.

MAP Team

MAP Facilitation Team award winners with Regent Davis

The Multicultural Awareness Program (MAP) Facilitation Team, from UW-Extension and UW Colleges, received the Regents Diversity Award in the team category.  As Regent Danae Davis explained to the Board, the team has focused on transforming the two institutions by facilitating a deeper understanding of cultural issues on multiple levels. To date, more than 900 faculty and staff members from both institutions have voluntarily participated in the offered two-day workshops.

“The broad reach and scope of the program speaks to both the effectiveness of the MAP model and the institutions’ commitment to transformative change,” Davis said.

Demetrius Brown, a 4-H and Youth Development faculty member, accepted the award on behalf of the team. “It’s important for us to learn from our own cultural experiences and be open to share those experiences with others, and look at some of our privileges as well as our absence of privilege. This has been a great opportunity to learn from my colleagues as well as teach,” Brown said.

Susan Fey, a video design manager for Wisconsin Public Television, added, “Many people who have gone through this training have described it as life-changing. It’s evidence of your critical investment in making our institutions the best that they can be.”

Summer Business Institute

Summer Business Institute award winner with Regent Wingad

Regent Aaron Wingad presented the Diversity Award in the institutional category to the Summer Business Institute at UW-Whitewater. The week-long summer program is intended to improve retention of targeted students of color in business majors by familiarizing these students with the business faculty, business career prospects, and campus life.

“What is unique about this program really is the broad collaboration across campus that went into it,” Wingad said. After identifying equity gaps through the UW System’s Equity Scorecard data, faculty, advisors, staff, students, the business sector and community worked together to fashion a comprehensive program to strengthen students’ skills for academic success, build relationships with faculty, and address campus climate issues.

In accepting the award, Freda Briscoe, Director of the UW-Whitewater’s Minority Business Program, said the Summer Business Institute’s combination of exposure and foundational support has been transformational. “It is transforming the hearts and minds of administrators, faculty, and staff, and the way they perceive their roles in the success of students of color in the college,” she said. “This award is significant to the college because it indicates that our diversity and inclusive excellence initiatives are on the right track.”

See UW System’s Jan. 13 news release
See UW System Regent Awards website

Board approves Blugold Commitment

After considerable discussion, the Regents voted 14-2 to approve UW-Eau Claire’s expanded undergraduate differential tuition program known as the Blugold Commitment. The approval came with a requirement that the campus present a more detailed plan for the initiative’s expenditures in May.

The Blugold Commitment will add $300 to the institution’s undergraduate resident tuition in each of the next four years, ultimately resulting in a $1,200 annual increase. Additional revenues will help the campus improve its faculty-student ratio, improve graduation rates, and enrich other educational programs for students.

Regent Tom Loftus urged the Board to defer consideration of the Blugold Commitment to a later meeting to allow UW-Eau Claire the opportunity to build more student consensus around the initiative. Student Regent Kevin Opgenorth expressed a similar concern, saying the initiative might create a divisive environment on the campus.

Regent Vásquez countered, saying that extensive discussions of the topic have already taken place at UW-Eau Claire, indicating that the concerns of students, faculty and others were given due consideration. “I think we have to respect that…and that process has happened,” he said.

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich explained that delays in approving the Blugold Commitment would affect financial aid planning, and notices that must be sent to families in April, and could also delay implementation of the initiative.

Regent John Drew expressed support for they plan and urged quicker action, saying that full consensus was unlikely. “Delaying (this decision) only keeps the pain going,” he said.

Regent Vice-President Michael Spector noted that the Board has heard very good presentations on all sides. “I think we should decide now what’s best for the school and the state, and give predictability to parents and students.”

In registering support of the initiative, Regent Aaron Wingad, a UW-Eau Claire student, said, “This issue strikes home with me. If this passes, it will affect the bill I get as a student and augment my student debt …In the end, I feel that the student body’s elected leaders went through an extensive process that ultimately took into consideration the opinion of the student body and made a tough, close decision to approve the Blugold Commitment.”

Wingad added that the amended provision required the university to provide more detail on how new revenues would be spent, allowing students to better understand how their tuition dollars will be used.

Regents salute UW-Whitewater football champs

Whitewater football

UW-Whitewater Division III champs

Regents opened Friday’s meeting by welcoming seniors from the Division III national champion UW-Whitewater Warhawks football team. In December, UW-Whitewater claimed its second national title in three years with a 38-28 victory over Mount Union College.

Regent President Chuck Pruitt said the team offers a reminder of the special place Division III holds. “These guys didn’t go to UW-Whitewater with guaranteed full rides and entourages of sports agents following their every move. They are, in the best sense of the word, student athletes,” Pruitt said.

Head coach Lance Leipold told Regents that involvement with Whitewater football has presented rewards greater than a 15-0 season. “What we like to do on a Saturday, of course, is come out on the winning end of the scoreboard, but I know our true mission is still developing these young men as students and future leaders. I think we’re doing that at UW-Whitewater,” he said.

Team co-captain Paul Wick, who graduated in December, thanked the Regents “on behalf of the UW-Whitewater football team and students across the state for the way you help to support us and give us these opportunities every day to succeed academically and athletically.”


In other business, the Board of Regents:

  • Approved the B.S. in Environmental Health at UW-Oshkosh;
  • Approved the B.S. in Cognitive Science at UW-Stout;
  • Approved a UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health appointment to the Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Partnership Fund;
  • Approved a charter contract for the Veritas High School, a Milwaukee school overseen by the organization Seeds of Health, Inc.;
  • Approved the continuation of and annual adjustments to the existing UW-La Crosse Academic Excellence Initiative undergraduate differential tuition. Beginning in Fall 2010, the differential tuition rate will increase from $30.36 per semester to $60 per semester ($120 per year).  The rate will increase by 10%, to $66 per semester ($132 per year), in 2011-2012 and will then be adjusted by six percent annually through Fall 2014;
  • Approved the continuation of UW-Stout’s Access to Learning differential tuition and its Customized Instruction Program. The Access to Learning differential, first established in 1999, adds 5% to resident undergraduate and graduate tuition rates and currently amounts to $9.48 per credit for undergraduates and $15.26 per credit for graduate students. The funding supports a broad array of active learning programs that promote critical and creative thinking abilities. The Customized Instruction Program, first established in 1999, allows UW-Stout the flexibility to charge market rates for customized programs, certificates, and courses developed to meet market needs;
  • Approved a request by UW Colleges for the temporary release of 28 acres from UW-Sheboygan’s lease back to Sheboygan County to assist in the completion of a Sheboygan County River Dredging Project;
  • Approved a request by UW Colleges for authority to amend the ground lease agreement with the county at UW-Richland to include an additional 1.4 acre parcel of land and improvements;
  • Approved a request by UW-Madison for authority to seek a Building Commission waiver to allow selection of a construction manager-at-risk, through an RFP process, for the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research project;
  • Approved a request by UW-Madison to adjust the scope and budget of the Sterling Hall Renovation project to construct a Plasma Dynamo Facility and to seek a Building Commission waiver to allow single prime bidding for this increased project scope;
  • Approved a request by UW-Oshkosh to construct a Residence Hall project for a total cost of $31,500,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing;
  • Approved a request by UW-Whitewater for authority to increase the budget by $1,921,000 Program Revenue-Cash and construct the Fisher and Wellers Halls renovation project for a total cost of $10.5M;
  • Approved a request by UW-Whitewater for authority to seek a Building Commission waiver to use the request for proposal process for a Hyland Hall Solar
  • Photovoltaic System Project and approval to construct the project for a cost of $296,200 ($150,000 Grant Funds and $146,200 Institutional Funds); and
  • Approved seven maintenance, repair and renovation projects under the UW System All Agency request.  The projects will occur on five campuses and total $4.4 million.

The Board then went into closed session.

Photo Credit: Jim Gill

The UW System Board of Regents will hold its next meeting April 8-9, at UW-Fond du Lac