MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will reschedule its cancelled July 8-9 meeting to July 19, and will consider tuition rates for the fall 1999 semester at that time.

Regent President San W. Orr, Jr., said the later date pushes the tuition-setting discussion “back as far as we can go,” while still waiting for news from the Legislature on UW System budget initiatives that will impact the final tuition rate.

The meeting will be held in Room 1820 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive, Madison, starting at 12:15 p.m.

“The Regents wanted to afford the Legislature the longest possible time to reach resolution on the budget,” Orr said. “Unfortunately, the clock is ticking and we need to get tuition information to students and families so they can plan for the fall semester.”

Traditionally, the UW sets tuition rates in early July so that tuition bills for the fall semester can be mailed before the end of the month. Two years ago when passage of the 1997-99 state budget was delayed, the Regents set tuition prior to approval of a final UW System budget. As a result of final budget action, the tuition rate for the second year of the biennium was adjusted downward.

Because it is uncertain when a legislative conference committee will act on the UW System budget, “the Regents have no choice but to set tuition for the fall semester based on a best-guess estimate of what actual costs will be once the state budget is finalized,” explained UW System President Katharine Lyall.

“The University is balancing its commitment to maintain quality and keep undergraduate tuition affordable for Wisconsin families,” Lyall said, adding that she is hopeful the legislature will agree to support the UW System’s top goals for the 1999-2001 biennium, which include:

  • Flexibility to offer new courses. “We’re absolutely committed to serving a growing number of non-traditional students, working professionals and returning adult students through flexible new course offerings, distance education and weekend and interim classes,” Lyall said. “But we need the flexibility to spend revenues as earned, just as businesses and other premiere universities.”
  • Support for the Madison Initiative. This public-private partnership matches new state support with privately raised dollars, in order to maintain the quality of Wisconsin’s premiere research university. “This initiative will keep UW-Madison on the leading edge of research and instruction well into the 21st century,” Lyall said. “We simply cannot afford to lose this innovative opportunity to maintain the quality of UW-Madison at a time when other national research universities are moving aggressively forward.”
  • Competitive pay plan. Systemwide, nearly 25 percent of the faculty will retire by 2005, echoing a national trend. “This is a huge ‘quality’ issue for every UW institution,” Lyall said. “Recruitment and retention of capable faculty will never be more challenging than during the next few years, and a competitive pay plan is essential to our success.”
  • Student financial aid. Lyall urged a compromise between the Assembly and Senate that would tie increases in state-supported financial aid to increases in tuition. “Providing assistance to students who need it most is a UW System and Wisconsin tradition that must be maintained,” Lyall said.

“I am grateful for the interest expressed by leaders in both houses of the Legislature to maintain a high-quality UW System for Wisconsin’s future,” Lyall said. “Their agreement and support for these four key goals will go a very long way in keeping the UW System an affordable, increasingly accessible and quality institution for a growing number of Wisconsin citizens.”


Sharyn Wisniewski
(608) 262-6448