5 percent cut could mean enrollment reductions, layoff
A 5 percent reduction in state funding to the University of Wisconsin System would total nearly $50 million and could result in enrollment cuts of close to 8,000 students and layoffs of almost 1,000 faculty and staff.
Those are the results of the UW System’s budget reduction exercise required of all state agencies by the Wisconsin Department of Administration. The findings were presented to the UW System Board of Regents at its November meeting on Thursday.
While theoretical, the budget exercise highlights the difficult choices the university could face in the near future, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall told the regents.
“We did not reduce enrollments despite this year’s $44 million cut, but I believe we cannot do that again,” Lyall said. “Further cuts will result in either tuition increases or enrollment cuts, or a combination of both.”
The board on Thursday also reviewed a series of supplemental budget initiatives for which the UW System would seek approval if additional state funds become available in the next two years. The initiatives would address pressing state needs in teacher training, nursing education and economic development.
UW System, WTCS continue to enhance collaboration
The UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System are collaborating more than ever before to serve the citizens of the state, officials from both institutions said Thursday.
The collaborative efforts include several new initiatives, including the development of a transfer contract for students; creation of a new information brochure for state officials, educators and others about the transfer process; and the appointment of an ombudsperson at each institution to assist students who encounter problems with the transfer process.
UW System President Katharine C. Lyall and WTCS President Richard Carpenter announced the new initiatives at the regents meeting.
“Continued collaboration will benefit more Wisconsin residents and the entire state, as most UW and WTCS graduates stay and work in Wisconsin,” Lyall and Carpenter said.
The collaborative efforts are already paying off for UW and WTCS students, according to Lyall and Carpenter, who presented an overview of the WTC System at the regents meeting. This past academic year, 2,540 WTCS students transferred to the UW System, an all-time high, while 3,091 UW students transferred to WTCS institutions.
Regents hold annual trust funds forum
Attendees at an open forum held Thursday by the Business and Finance Committee praised UW System policies that encourage socially responsible investing of university trust funds, but encouraged the regents to be more active in ensuring that those policies are fulfilled.
Regent James Klauser opened the forum by explaining that through proxy voting in recent years, fund managers have attempted to levy the UW’s clout as a prominent investor to change from within corporate policies that do not fit with the UW’s mission.
Regent policy also directs fund managers to divest of companies that are found to violate the system’s environmental, anti-discrimination and socially responsible investing policies, he said.
UW-Madison graduate student John Peck asked the regents to consider devoting a percentage of trust-fund investments to Wisconsin-based companies that make significant, positive contributions to communities in the state.
Attendees at the forum criticized trust-fund holdings of several companies, including Caterpillar, Inc., which they said supplies the Israeli military with armored bulldozers to demolish Palestinian homes and crops; Philip Morris Co. and its subsidiary, Kraft Foods, which they said conducts business practices damaging to Wisconsin farmers and sells food products with illegal additives; and Lockheed-Martin, which they said manufactures land mines. Attendees also suggested that the regents form a student or citizen board to offer input on investments.
The regents hold an open forum each year to hear public comment on the UW System’s investments. Klauser reminded attendees that UW System trust funds are comprised of unsolicited gifts and bequests to specific UW institutions, and do not include any student monies, such as tuition or fees.
UW-Madison admissions briefing
The number of applications for admission to UW-Madison continues to dramatically increase, and as more students meet the school’s rigorous academic standards, admissions officers are more often weighing nontraditional factors when issuing letters of acceptance, according to a presentation given to the Board of Regents on Thursday.
Keith White, associate admissions director at UW-Madison, spoke to the board at the invitation of UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley. White told the regents that more than 21,000 students applied to UW-Madison in 2002, but the campus was only able to admit 5,500.
“Demand has increased,” White said. “Our ability to enroll a freshman class in keeping with that demand has not increased at the same rate.”
White said almost every student who applies to UW-Madison shows potential for academic success – the most basic criteria – but the academic caliber of potential students rises each year. For example, approximately 55 percent of this year’s new freshmen ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, White said.
White told the regents that standardized test scores and grade point averages are becoming increasingly less important to a successful application. Admissions officers now give more weight to course selection, high school learning environment and personal backgrounds, White said.
“We are not what’s called a ‘formula school.’ You have to look at various factors,” White said. “Backgrounds are a factor. Be they talents, be they heritage or background, they can be used in admission.”
White said 75 percent of applicants are notified about their acceptance status six weeks after their application is received. The remaining 25 percent of applications are postponed, giving admissions officers time to determine how much room is left in the year’s class before accepting more students, White said.
If UW-Madison is forced to make enrollment cuts, White said, the affected students would fall in the pool of postponed applications.
Education Committee hears about race and ethnic diversity in the curriculum
Vote on History Ph.D. at UW-Milwaukee is deferred until Friday
The Regents’ Education Committee on Thursday heard from a team of students-from UW-Stevens Point, UW-Waukesha, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Madison – who emphasized the need for racial and ethnic diversity in the curriculum.
Speaking from their own experiences, the students reported both positive and negative classroom experiences and proposed several action steps to the board:
- Develop a system of surveying students about their experiences in terms of classroom climate and the need for materials and class discussion that incorporates racial and ethnic diversity into the curriculum;
- Develop working groups to talk about and facilitate action on classroom climate;
- Use models of “Intergroup Dialogue” (a University of Massachusetts program) and apply them to UW campuses;
- Report curriculum composition around the system to gather good models of practice and assess the diversity of curricular materials and instructional practices.
Committee members asked UW officials to look into these recommendations and to report back to the education committee.
In other Education Committee business, Tess Arenas, assistant vice president for academic affairs and senior advisor to the president for academic diversity; Frank Goldberg, associate vice president for policy analysis and research; and policy analyst Kelly Williams reported on a pilot assessment of UW precollege programs.
In the study conducted during the summer of 2002, 21 of 88 programs were assessed looking at academic and affective outcomes. Williams reported on several of the findings:
- Precollege student attitudes toward college, motivation in school and confidence in succeeding in college become more positive as they participate in precollege programs;
- Changes in some student academic skills are measurable over a two-week time period;
- The longest precollege program (seven weeks) produced the most significant improvement in student attitudes toward college.
The UW System will continue to assess precollege programs to improve them and make them more effective as a means of increasing the pool of college-prepared students of color and disadvantaged students, Arenas and Goldberg said.
The Education Committee also heard from Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Cora Marrett, who presented the rationale for the UW System’s decision to recommend that the regents not approve a new Ph.D. degree in history at UW-Milwaukee.
Citing the poor job market for history Ph.D.s, resource concerns given the constraints on the state budget and cuts to the UW, and the interdisciplinary Ph.D. option open to Milwaukee students who want to have an emphasis in history, Marrett said: “We probed deeply the proposed program. Based on that probe, we have no choice. We must advise against implementation of the program.”
UW-Milwaukee Faculty Committee Chair Marcia Parsons and History Department Chair Jeffery Merrick spoke to the regents on behalf of the proposal, citing student interest in the degree and pledging to use existing resources to offer it.
Parsons noted that the entire faculty supports the proposal. Merrick said the program was being proposed for nontraditional students who already have jobs (primarily teachers) and that it would be offered at times and using technology for their convenience.
The regents, after lengthy discussion on procedural questions and in recognition of strong support for both points of view, deferred the vote to the full board meeting on Friday morning.
In other business, the Education Committee approved:
- New bachelor’s of science in biochemistry at UW-Milwaukee and UW-La Crosse;
- A new master’s of science in biotechnology at UW-Madison;
- Revised mission statements for UW-Eau Claire and UW-Platteville.
Physical Planning gets update on several projects
Assistant Vice President for Capital Planning and Budget Nancy Ives reported to the Physical Planning and Funding Committee Thursday that the State Building Commission has approved about $6.5 million for various projects, including the UW Aquaculture Center in Ashland, which will be managed by UW-Superior.
In other news, the committee heard several campus facility planning updates:
- UW-Milwaukee is soliciting proposals to develop the Kenilworth building, which currently provides space to the school for the arts, physical planning and printing and duplicating services. UWM will report back to the board with an update after reviewing proposals.
- UW-Madison reported on the status of its medical facilities building development. The Health Sciences Learning Center is under construction. A variety of critical infrastructure is needed as building projects continue. Hospital surveys have shown that lack of adequate parking is the primary source of dissatisfaction among hospital employees and complicates recruiting and retaining staff.
- Mark Bugher, director of the University Research Park, discussed another initiative for UW-Madison, the Real Estate Development Corporation. The corporation, a subsidiary of the Research Park, is working with the university and private developers on joint development projects. The corporation could serve as a model and resource for other UW campuses.
In other action, the committee approved the following resolutions:
- Permitting UW-Waukesha to amend a land and facilities agreement allowing a cellular tower to be built and operated on campus land.
- Allowing the construction of a sprinkler system for the Towers Residence Hall at UW-Eau Claire at a cost of $1.97 million program revenue supported borrowing.
- Granting authority to UW-Madison to construct a new Crew House at an estimated cost of $8.35 million.
- Allowing for budget increases at UW-River Falls (new residence hall) and UW-Platteville (Living and Learning Center).
- Approving amending Regent Policy 96-4: Deputizing Police Officers so that names of newly deputized officers need no longer be reported to the Secretary of the Board of Regents.
The Board of Regents resumes its November meeting starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, in 1820 Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.