MADISON – A University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents committee is recommending approval of new university personnel systems that will give the Board administrative authority for all UW System employees for the first time.

The Business, Finance and Audit Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to forward the recommendation for a full Board vote on Friday.

Development of the new personnel systems – one for UW-Madison employees and the other a separate system for all other UW System employees – was authorized and directed by Act 32 of the state’s 2011-13 biennial budget, as part of larger efforts to provide the University with greater operational flexibility.

The new personnel systems come before the Board after extensive input from faculty, academic staff, and classified staff at every UW institution.

“It’s hard to describe the amount of effort and the work that took place here,” said Al Crist, UW System’s Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Workforce Diversity. “I believe these policies will put us on the right track. I also want to stress this is beginning of a lot of work that needs to be done as we implement these policies at each of the institutions.”

The UW System has approximately 44,700 employees, including both unclassified and classified employees. Since the creation of the UW System, the Board of Regents has had authority and administrative responsibility for the unclassified personnel system under Chapter 36 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Unclassified personnel include faculty, academic staff, limited appointees, and graduate assistants, totaling about 32,000 employees.

The UW System’s more than 12,000 classified employees, meanwhile, were previously part of the state’s classified personnel system administered by the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER). Under the new personnel systems, classified staff – now to be known as University Staff – would move under the authority of the Board of Regents and will also gain, by Regent policy, a voice in the policies and procedures that affect their work lives.

The four resolutions to come before the full Board for approval on Friday will set forth the Board’s overarching authority for university personnel systems; first-time governance rights for University Staff; a code of ethics policies for the full workforce; and technical statutory changes needed to accomplish the legislative intent of the statute regarding UW System personnel policies.

“This has been an extraordinarily heavy lift and I would be remiss if I didn’t make the Regents aware of not just the work of the people sitting in front of you today but the work of literally hundreds of members of the university community (in getting this done),” said UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields, co-chair of the oversight committee that led the development of these new personnel systems.

UW-Madison Human Resources Director Robert Lavigna provided Regents with an overview of how UW-Madison arrived at its proposed personnel plan. He called the engagement with more than 10,000 members of the university community in developing the plan “an unprecedented effort.”

Following approval of the new personnel systems by the full Board, statutes will require approval by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) before the new systems can be implemented on July 1, 2013.

UW-Madison’s focus on strength through innovation and flexibility

David Ward

UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward


Innovation and flexibility are keys to ensuring public universities in the U.S. can continue to flourish, UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward told the Regents in a full-Board presentation.

Shifts in the historical revenue structure have forced universities to be innovative in not only how instruction is delivered, but also the administrative processes that support the educational mission. The
past virtues that were applied to higher education are not applicable to today’s environment, Ward said.

“Much of what goes on in higher education is coping … and that’s done primarily through innovation and flexibility,” he said.

Public universities need to develop a new strategy to remain competitive and advance a public vision, Ward said. “Leadership in higher education today is about sustaining the limited and variable resources we have rather than waiting around for resources to come,” he said.

Ward also called for greater public discussion as to what is the appropriate split between state subsidy and tuition in funding higher education. “We never had that debate,” he said, adding that consumers have difficulty planning without more clarity about what is expected from them.

Narrowing the funding gap must also be addressed internally by institutions, he said.

UW-Madison’s Educational Innovation project is aimed at enhancing learning and generating new revenue through curriculum redesign that better meet market needs and to best use the university’s facilities and capacities to serve students, Ward said. The initiative includes exploring alternative
instruction delivery methods, flexible degree offerings, expanded enrollment and increasing instructional capacity in high-demand areas, and streamlining policies to make processes more agile,
he said.

Another campus initiative, Administrative Excellence, is streamlining administration process, Ward said. Efforts include consolidating the campus’ information technology structure, streamlining grant processes and better management of classroom space and purchasing procedures.

Regents updated on UW Flexible Option progress

Aaron Brower

Aaron Brower, Interim Provost at UW-Extension, explains the UW Flex Option

Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for UW-Extension Aaron Brower provided Regents with a status report on the ongoing development of the first UW Flexible Option degree programs.

Since the program was first announced in June, Brower noted that several UW institutions and programs have stepped forward to be part of the first cohort of Flex programs, with support from UW-Extension and UW System Administration.  As announced at a recent press conference in Milwaukee, UW-Milwaukee will offer four degree programs and one certificate program, and UW Colleges will offer a number of liberal arts, general education courses in the flexible degree format.

Brower told Regents that the development of UW Flex requires planning that is academic, administrative, operational, budgetary, and keeps student learning and success at the center. Three advisory groups have been convened to bring in the appropriate expertise from across the UW System in each of these areas, he said.

At the same time, faculty and staff involved with the first cohort of programs are working on developing program competencies, and identifying the range of appropriate and rigorous assessments as well as the levels of mastery by which students will demonstrate their knowledge.

“We’re building this onto the pride and commitment that faculty have in their programs,” Brower said.

“There are as many different styles of learning as there are different styles of learners,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “This (UW Flex) is another pathway to get us where we need to be.”

UW-Platteville Strategic Goals Presentation


The UW-Platteville is the fastest-growing institution in the UW System, Chancellor Dennis Shields told the Regents. As part of an ongoing series of updates on UW institutions’ strategic goals, Shields reported that in response to enrollment that has increased by more than 45% over the last 13 years, the university has built new facilities – including partnering with the UW-Platteville Real Estate Foundation for two new residence halls in 2012 and 2013 – and increased its majors and minors offerings.

“This is driven by the nature, quality and strength of our academic programs, as well as our affordability,” Shields said. He noted that more than half of the bachelor’s degrees conferred by UW-Platteville are in the high-demand STEM fields.

Along with a Master Plan to cover more physical additions and renovations, UW-Platteville worked on its Strategic Plan using the input of more than 700 constituents, Provost Mattie Nimocks told Regents, Four strategic priorities were identified, she said. UW-Platteville seeks to provide an outstanding education; foster a community of achievement and respect; control its own destiny; and enrich the tri-state region.

Each priority had three or four major initiatives that will help the university generate additional revenue, increase compensation budgets, grow student participation in high impact practices, and raise retention and graduation rates.

Education Committee

Regents recommend revision of non-resident enrollment guidelines

The Regents approved changes to a section of the UW System Freshman Admissions Policy that currently states non-resident undergraduate enrollment must not exceed 25 percent at any UW institution. The original proposal was to increase the limitation to 30 percent but a compromise was reached when Regent Tim Higgins made a motion to increase it to 27.5 percent based on a three-year average.

“I firmly believe that a diverse student body benefits quite significantly in the learning process at the university,” said Regent Jeffrey Bartell, who seconded the motion. “It prepares students both for their role in the job market and economy as well as their role as citizens in their community and world.”

The proposed policy change is prompted by an unanticipated and increased number of non-resident freshmen choosing to enroll at UW-Madison in fall 2012, which contributed to a 25.8 percent non-resident enrollment. This is the first year since merger that UW-Madison has exceeded the limitation of 25 percent non-resident students.

“The cap – the barrier – in and of itself is a problem,” said UW-Maadison Vice Provost Paul M. DeLuca, Jr. “It is very difficult to work with precision in the enrollment admissions process. It’s an art form. It’s much better to have an averaging process.”

Interim Chancellor David Ward spoke of the urgency to increase the limit.

“Many admission decisions are occurring right now,” Ward said. “Lines in the sand are not particularly useful policy instruments. They tie your hands.”

As part of its enrollment management plan, UW-Madison will develop and implement a multi-year plan that will guarantee at least 3,500 enrollments per year for Wisconsin resident students in each fall new-freshman class. The policy revision also represents a modest attempt to generate additional revenue and easy policy restrictions to help strengthen the University’s commitment to educational access and quality.

Since the number of Wisconsin high school graduates is declining and will continue to decline over the next several years, the proposal to commit to enrolling 3,500 Wisconsin resident new freshmen by admitting 200 more Wisconsin residents represents an enrollment of a higher fraction of the high school class than in recent years, and a higher number than the average of the past several years.
All other sections of the policy remain unchanged. Minnesota reciprocity students are in a separate category and are not counted as residents or non-residents.

Regent John Drew said he wasn’t in favor of the initial 30% cap increase that had been proposed but supported the 27.5% compromise.

“I think we need to keep in mind that 75% number is not a true number when you add in Minnesota,” Drew said. “We’re really at 63%.”

UW-Madison is alone among Big 10 institutions in having a policy that formally limits non-resident enrollment.

Dual enrollment

Education Committee members were briefed on dual enrollment issues, focusing on current and emerging UW System efforts to increase student access to higher education and reduce the time it takes to earn a baccalaureate degree via dual enrollment.

Through enrolling in college-level courses either at a college campus taught by college faculty (the Youth Options program), or concurrently at their high school and taught by university-approved high school faculty members with master’s degrees, students earn both concurrent high school and college credits that are fully transcripted and transferable.

John Koker, Dean of the College of Letters and Science at UW-Oshkosh, spoke about how they’ve steadily seen increases in the numbers of students participating in dual enrollment.

“What we need are more faculty members to act as liaisons to our high school teachers,” Koker said.

Dual enrollment practices that preserve the integrity of the college curriculum and quality of education present an economical way to help people, communities, and the economy grow. Future collaborations between the Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin, institutions of higher education, and employers will help to improve Wisconsin’s workforce development and better address the demand for well-prepared graduates.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Heard a presentation by Robert Golden, Dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, on the Wisconsin Partnership Program’s Annual Report. Golden told Regents that the program invested over $5.7 million in Wisconsin’s health and well-being in 2011. Collaborations among faculty members are investigating new methods for the early identification of Alzheimer’s disease, and better screening and interventions of tobacco and alcohol use as well as depression. Additional highlights include improving African-American birth outcomes through the Lifecourse Initiative for Health Families (LIHF), and continued support for the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute and the Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship;
  • Approved the appointment of Professor Kenneth Taylor to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Partnership program for a four-year term through October 3, 2016, effective immediately; and
  • Reviewed the Biennial Sabbatical Guidelines.

Research, Economic Development & Innovation Committee

Regents are briefed on University’s economic development plan

Michael Morgan, Senior Vice President for Administration & Fiscal Affairs, highlighted the collaborative partnership that UW System has established with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to align UW System economic development initiatives with WEDC strategic focus areas of business and industry support, entrepreneurial growth, and international business development.

Reed Hall, interim head of the WEDC, told Regents that partnerships with the UW System play a key part in meeting their priorities. “There’s such a vast talent in the university system. I think the hundreds of thousands of jobs that Wisconsin businesses represent can use the assistance of the university.”

Lee Swindall, WEDC’s Vice President for Business & Industry Development, told Regents a major priority is to identify and collect in one place the resources available at the University. “There are vast untapped potentials we are unable to draw upon because we don’t know about them,” he said. “When that is done, we will have a statewide view about key competitive capabilities that can be enhanced.” The keys to success, he added, are speed of access, nimbleness, responsiveness, and producing outcomes quickly.

David Brukardt, Associate Vice President for Economic Development, provided the Committee with an overview of the Office of Economic Development’s action plan of strategic initiatives designed to strengthen relationships between the university and Wisconsin businesses.

Brukardt noted that state legislators have characterized economic development very specifically in the legislation authorizing the WEDC, spelling out that economic development has as its primary purpose the encouragement and growth of business, including creation and retention of jobs. Brukardt added that, as UW-Stout Chancellor Chuck Sorenson has put it, while the university’s primary goal is not to create jobs, it can be a key link in accelerating that process.

“That is what this plan is all about: Linking the resources of the university to business, more effectively, more easily, and more often,” Brukardt said.

In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Heard an overview of UW-Madison’s economic development initiatives by Provost Paul DeLuca. “We bring a lot of diverse horsepower to the discovery process,” DeLuca said. He noted that while UW-Madison does very well at the discovery process and reasonably well at licensing, greater attention must be focused on moving from discovery to the marketplace.

Business, Finance, and Audit Committee Committee

Chancellor salary range updates approved

Regents approved new salary ranges for the Chancellor positions at UW-Madison and UW-Eau Claire. With Chancellor searches currently underway at both institutions, the new salary ranges better reflect the current national market in order to attract the level of talent those two institutions should have in their candidate pools. The ranges were last updated in 2008. This updating of salary ranges will not result in anyone receiving a salary increase at this time.

Going forward, Regent Jerry Whitburn suggested it might be better governance to adjust all the chancellor salary ranges at once and then review them regularly, rather than making adjustments one by one. He also recommended considering the development of a policy regarding foundation participation.

While voicing his support for the current salary range adjustments, Regent Chuck Pruitt said the single-most important decision that Regents engage in is hiring campus leadership. “As campuses have greater and greater flexibility and management responsibility, the critical nature of us being competitive on salary issues becomes even more important,” he said.

UW System Criminal Background Check Policy: The Committee approved changes to Board of Regent policy with respect to when and on whom criminal background checks must be performed. The resolution also directs each institution to implement an amended policy by March 2013.  Among the most significant changes is the required completion of a background check on all employees in a position of trust with respect to children. This now includes existing employees, along with new hires, and requires that new checks be performed every four years. Changes also require self-disclosure of certain criminal offenses that occur while employed with the UW System. The changes include a broad definition of “positions of trust” that includes responsibilities involving access to vulnerable populations, access to secure property, a fiduciary/financial duty, or an individual serving in certain executive positions which are defined as all “limited” positions.  The revised policy also requires a national, not just a state, background check.

In other business, the Business, Finance and Audit Committee:

  • Heard a report from Senior Vice President Morgan, including updates on the 2013-15 biennial budget process, the UW System network services, and implementation of audit recommendations related to reporting crimes against children;
  • Approved revised UW-Madison Center for Advanced Studies in Business guidelines relating to the operation of the Fluno Center for Executive Education;
  • Heard a Report of Quarterly Gifts, Grants, and Contracts for the 1st Quarter;
  • Approved the consolidation and elimination of a series of Regent Policy Documents concerning the investment and administration of UW System Trust Funds;
  • Reaffirmed its adoption of the Investment Policy Statement for the UW System Trust Funds;
  • Received a general overview of activity included in the UW Travel Program currently under development; and
  • Heard a quarterly update report from Operations Review and Audit Director Elizabeth Dionne on recently completed and on-going projects, along with information regarding current and/or pending activities of the Legislative Audit Bureau which may impact the UW System.

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

Associate Vice President’s Report: Associate Vice President David Miller reported on October Building Commission actions.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to adjust the project budget and construct the $3.5-million gift-funded All Season Softball Practice Facility project;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to petition for annexation of 388 acres comprising the entire Spooner Agricultural Research Station into the city of Spooner, Wisconsin;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request for authority to purchase a property, located at 3435 North Lake Drive, Milwaukee, from the UW-Milwaukee Real Estate Foundation, Inc. for $645,000. This property will become the official chancellor’s residence;
  • Approved UW-Oshkosh’s request for authority to construct the Lincoln Hall Renovation project and increase the budget by $424,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing for a total cost of $4,900,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing. This project will renovate the existing Lincoln Hall into space for the functions of the Division of Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement, the Children’s Learning and Care Center, and parking;
  • Approved UW-Superior’s request for authority to increase the budget of the Ross and Hawkes Halls Renovation project by $1,079,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing and restore the window replacement portion to the project;
  • Approved UW System’s recommendation for four All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects on three campuses totaling about $4 million. These requests include energy conservation projects and window and roof replacements;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to sell approximately 2.93 acres of land and buildings located at 6101 Mineral Point Road in Madison, Wisconsin, site of the former Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Building, to University Research Park, LLC; and
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to modify the 2013-15 Capital Budget recommendation with UW-Milwaukee’s request for enumeration of $65,300,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing to exercise the buyout option of the leasehold interest in the property at 1915 E. Kenilworth Place, Milwaukee, from the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee in September 2013.

Photo credit: Bryce Richter, UW-Madison


The UW System Board of Regents will resume its December 2012 meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, December 7, 2012
in Union South on the UW-Madison campus


Related: December 7 (day 2) news summary