The UW System has partially met or exceeded 17 of 20 measures aimed at enhancing the university’s service to its students, regents learned Friday. UW System President Reilly presented to the board the 13th edition of “Achieving Excellence,” the UW System’s annual Accountability Report.

“This report, ‘Achieving Excellence,’ is not intended to be a fully comprehensive report on all possible measures of a university’s success,” Reilly said. “But it is one way for us to report back to the many people who have a stake in the well-being of this university.”

The report tracks several quantitative measures, and includes data from self-reports by students and alumni. “Achieving Excellence” also allows the university to internally assess its progress, according to Reilly, incorporating both systemwide assessments and individual reports for each of the 15 institutions.

“It’s a look at not just what we do, but how well we do it,” he said. “The institutional accountability reports give us a sense of different missions and goals that our campuses achieve within the UW System.”

The measures in these campus reports cover goals like serving nontraditional and transfer students, preparing students for professional careers, outreach to Wisconsin citizens, and providing opportunities for undergraduate research, service learning, and study across academic disciplines.

Over the next few weeks, UW System officials will share the report with provosts, admissions officers, public information officers, institutional researchers, and others throughout the university so they can reach a systemwide understanding of progress attained.  The UW System will also share the report externally, with its colleagues in K-12 and the Wisconsin Technical College System.

“In some respects, our success on many of the measures in the Accountability Report is tied to their fortunes as well,” Reilly noted.

The university will share a copy of the report with every Wisconsin Senator and Representative, with the Governor, with the UW System’s federal representatives in Washington and will make the report publicly available for viewing online.

Sharon Wilhelm from the UW System’s Office of Policy Analysis and Research presented this year’s findings to the Board.

“This accountability report is designed to provide a broad array of information regarding the UW System’s progress towards achieving excellence,” Wilhelm said. “As President Reilly indicated, it is not feasible to include every possible area of university activity in the scope of the report, but careful attention is given to addressing a wide diversity of stakeholder interests through a balanced approach.”

The Goals and Indicators section of the report emphasizes the UW System’s service to students, particularly undergraduates. Goals in this section deal with ensuring widespread access to the UW, increasing student persistence and degree completion, improving learning competencies, preparing students for a dynamic world community, providing opportunities and student services that enhance the learning environment and exercising efficient and effective stewardship of resources. Where possible, UW System performance on the goals was compared to national benchmarks

The third section of the report is a compendium of other specialized reports on various aspects of the UW System, reports that also measure excellence in the UW System beyond those reported in this report.

Wilhelm also took time to note some of the changes and additions to this year’s report, which include access for students from lower-income families, added in response to Regent discussion of last year’s report; access, retention and graduation rates for men and women, added in response to the May 2006 report of the Status of Women Working Group; and the UW System goal for study abroad, which has been modified to emphasize continual increases in graduates who have studied abroad, rather than a specific numerical target of 25 percent.

Among the points of pride in this year’s “Achieving Excellence” report: the UW System continues to provide access for 33 percent of Wisconsin high school graduates and the UW System’s six-year graduation rate increased to 64.2 percent, exceeding the long-term goal of 64 percent.

“While the systemwide target for retaining students to the second year was not achieved, it remains above the national average,” Wilhelm said.

In addition, Wilhelm reported that the average number of credits attempted on the path to a bachelor degree decreased to 134 credits, down from 145 in 1993-94 and that seniors continue to give the UW System high marks on fostering critical thinking, planned learning experiences outside the classroom, faculty mentoring, and activities that promote good citizenship.

Wilhelm did point to challenges identified in this year’s report, noting especially that the UW System has not yet achieved its diversity-related goals.

“A gap persists between the rate at which Wisconsin high school graduates of color enroll in the UW System, compared with white students.   Also, a gap persists between the retention and graduation rates of students of color, compared with white students,” she said, adding that enrollments in precollege programs declined slightly from last year.

Wilhelm reported that the numbers of students studying abroad continues to increase. However, UW seniors reported fewer experiences of other kinds, compared to other seniors in the U.S. These include interactions with students from different religious, political, or racial and ethnic backgrounds that would prepare them for a diverse world. Another challenge that must be addressed, Wilhelm said, is the trend of UW seniors continuing to rank the university lower than seniors nationally on the quality of academic advising.

“It is important to note that budget and enrollment pressures have forced UW institutions to make some difficult compromises,” she said. “For example, although the number of adult, non-traditional students being served increased slightly from last year, it remains lower than 10 years ago, while the UW System has preserved access for students right out of high school.”

The individual institutional accountability reports indicate how each UW institution performs on four common measures: 1) enrollment, 2) retention graduation rates, 3) student involvement, and 4) credits-to-degree. In addition, these reports reflect measures that are specific to particular institutions, and that are developed from institutional strategic planning processes of those specific campuses, she said.

Wilhelm added, “As in previous years, we see today that where we are not achieving the goals we have established, in large part, {those}are goals related to diverse experiences among our students. The Accountability Report shows that we are making incremental progress, but we know we aren’t where we want to be in terms of diversity, academic success, and inclusion for all UW students, faculty, and staff.”

President Reilly said university officials have used the “Achieving Access” report to map ways to address the challenges the university faces.

“We took the knowledge we gained from the Accountability Report, and launched the Equity Scorecard pilots as a strategic way to figure out why we’re missing these targets, and what specific steps we can take to solve the problems our campuses are finding,” he said.

Reilly also specifically noted the importance of achieving the diversity goals that the university had yet to meet.

“We cannot achieve the goals of the New North, we cannot achieve the goals of the New ERA, we cannot achieve the goals of the Growth Agenda unless we pay attention to the criteria related to diversity,” he said. “Unless that changes, we cannot get the number of college-degreed people in this state we will need to succeed in the 21st Century.”

Regents also heard from UW-Green Bay Provost Sue Hammersmith and UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell about initiatives those campuses have undertaken to encourage minority and disadvantaged students to think about the opportunities available to them in the UW System.

President Reilly then told the Board that in the coming months it would hear an update on Plan 2008, the systemwide initiative to increase diversity on campus. Part of that report will be a review of the specific steps the University has taken over the last several years, the outcomes of those steps, and some major advances UW campuses have made in more recent months.

“That presentation will be a chance for you to consider questions about the diversity goals we’ve set for this university, and to think about where we want to be in the next year, five years, and 10 years down the road,” he told the regents. “I personally like the approach used in the Equity Scorecard process. That is, systematically studying our institutions to find where problems exist, and then using what we’ve learned to implement responsive solutions, as appropriate for each campus.”

New North seeks to attract and develop talent, advance education in northeastern Wisconsin

Great strides have been taken to promote and enhance growth and quality of life in northeastern Wisconsin, according to a presentation by leaders of New North to the UW System Board of Regents Friday.

The goal of New North—an 18-county consortium of business, economic development, chambers of commerce, workforce development, civic, non-profit and education leaders — is to be globally competitive for advancing job growth while maintaining a high quality of life for northeastern Wisconsin’s citizens.

“This collage of investors is sort of a who’s who in Wisconsin,” said Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North. “There’s substantial public and private investment. There’s a real foundation to the organization and its work.”

Murphy, along with Bob DeKoch, president/chief operating officer of The Boldt Company; Kathi Seifert, chair of Pinnacle Perspectives LLC; and Larry Weyers, president and CEO of WPS Resources Corp., shared recent successes that have come out of the three-year-old organization’s collaboration.

More than half of New North’s efforts focus on attracting, retaining and developing talent, while emphasizing diversity and educational advancement. New North also aims to further businesses development by attracting and retaining more employees and to use common branding to change people’s attitudes about northeastern Wisconsin.

DeKoch said barriers New North has had to overcome include recognizing a need for collaboration and getting people to raise their hands to volunteer.

“We brought a lot of business competitors together to work for a common goal,” said Seifert, adding that a key to winning over new members was demonstrating how they all were more powerful if they worked together. “Now people really want to be a part of the collaboration.”

Aligning educational programs with needed area job skills is one of New North’s key strategies, according to the panel, and the fact that only 18 percent of northeastern Wisconsin employees have earned a post-secondary degree must be improved.

“I think there was a disconnect that was maybe one generation too long,” Murphy said. “It won’t take a lifetime to catch up with the national average, but it will take time”

“Bottom line, we need flexible and skilled labor in this region,” Seifert said.

Collaboration with small businesses is also necessary, DeKoch noted.

“This region was built on entrepreneurialism,” he said. “In any region, the engine for growth is the established companies. We recognize that.”

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells, a founding member of New North, said, “When you’re truly celebrating the success of your competitors, then we’ve reached the point where the region needs to be.”

Following the presentation, Regent President David Walsh and others praised New North’s effort to establish much-needed collaboration between business and higher education.

“I want to commend you on outstanding regional development,” said Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Supt. Elizabeth Burmaster. “It is a beautiful model that we would like to see every region of our state adopt.”

President Reilly congratulated Chancellor Richard Wells for the contributions the campus has made to its surrounding community.

“As we’ve seen and heard over the past two days, UW-Oshkosh, and its partners in Northeastern Wisconsin, are going above and beyond to advocate for the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, and to directly respond to the economic and educational needs of this community,” he said.

Regent Danae Davis, a UW-Oshkosh alumna, also presented her alma mater with a resolution of appreciation for hosting this month’s meeting.

“It was terrific to come back home,” she said.

View New North presentation pdf

Regents approve differential tuition programs at three UW campuses

Students who would be affected by differential tuition programs at three UW System campuses were integrally involved in the crafting of these programs, UW System officials told regents.

After lengthy discussion, the Board of Regents renewed a $55-per-semester differential tuition for all undergraduate students at UW-Oshkosh, and approved a new $36-per-semester differential for UW-River Falls undergraduates. At UW-Madison, undergraduates in the Bachelor’s of Business Administration major will have a $500-per-semester differential and students pursuing a certificate in business will pay an additional $150 per year, compared with undergraduates in other majors.

Freda Harris, UW System associate vice president for budget and planning, said the university followed Board of Regent policy to involve in the discussion of these differential tuition programs those students who would be affected by them, and that student support for these three initiatives was abundant.

“We do not bring any initiative to you that has not received some kind of student vote or student response,” she said.

Regent Elizabeth Burmaster said she initially had reservations about the UW-Madison School of Business differential tuition program because of what she called “sticker shock,” and expressed concern that students from lower and middle-income backgrounds would be dissuaded from pursuing a business program because of the increased costs.

President Reilly addressed these concerns, noting that 25 percent of the revenue from the differential tuition program would go for financial aid and scholarships targeted directly at these students.

Harris also noted that most other Big Ten institutions have a differential tuition program for business students, and that UW-Madison’s tuition rates for business students would still remain below the median of peer schools.

All three programs were eventually approved by the Board, with Regents Christopher Semenas and Thomas Shields dissenting on the UW-Madison measure over concerns regarding a lack of student input.

In addition, Regent Charles Pruitt discussed the Return to Wisconsin program, the Tri-State Initiative at UW-Platteville and the Midwest Student Exchange Program, all aimed at attracting students from out of state to UW System institutions, noting that no Wisconsin residents are ever displaced by these programs and excess revenues over costs are used to support Wisconsin residents. A resolution approving this evaluation passed the full board.

In other business, the full board:

  • Authorized a B.S. in Biochemistry at UW-Stevens Point
  • Authorized a B.A. in First Nations Studies at UW-Green Bay
  • Authorized a Bachelor of Applied Studies in Leadership and Organizational Studies at UW-Oshkosh
  • Approved Requests to Trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust Estate for support of scholarships, fellowships, professorships and special programs in arts and humanities, social sciences and music
  • Approved an annual report on minority and disadvantaged student programs to be forwarded to the Governor and Legislature
  • Approved salary adjustments for the Chancellors at UW Colleges/UW-Extension and UW-Eau Claire and a provost at UW-Whitewater
  • Approved two Trust Fund-related resolutions
  • Approved a UW-Madison Division of Intercollegiate Athletics Contract with Learfield Communications
  • Approved the UW System Public Records Management Policy
  • Approved a new format for the Regent Policy Documents
  • Authorized the construction of two utility structures for the East Campus Facility at UW-Madison
  • Authorized UW-Madison to accept a gift-in-kind of a parcel of land for the Kegonsa Research Campus
  • Approved five land use items at UW-Milwaukee
  • Authorized UW-Platteville to purchase land for parking purposes
  • Authorized UW-River Falls to accept a land gift for its Mann Valley Farm
  • Authorized the UW System to construct all agency maintenance and repair projects

Reilly directs financial aid review; reports support for “Growth Agenda for Wisconsin”

The UW System has begun a review of lending practices following national attention to the student-loan industry, President Kevin P. Reilly told the Board of Regents on Friday.

Reilly said he has directed financial aid officers, auditors, and legal counsel throughout the UW System to participate in an internal review of the university’s relationships with lenders.

Financial aid officers will report back to the President’s office about their policies and practices related to lending institutions. They will also send suggestions about how the UW might follow a proposed College Loan Code of Conduct statement that has been drafted by the New York Attorney General, who has been investigating conflicts of interest between financial aid officials and private loan companies in other states.

President Reilly said he expects to receive these reports in May, and will report to this Board in June about their findings.

UW System representatives are set to have met with all members of the Wisconsin State Legislature’s higher education committees and the chief budget committee by the end of the month, President Reilly reported to the Board of Regents on Friday.

Reilly said he has personally met with a number of elected officials and leadership, and that Regent President David Walsh of Madison, Regent Vice President Mark Bradley of Wausau, and campus chancellors have also been active under the Capitol dome.

In addition, President Reilly said he will testify before the Joint Audit Committee as a follow-up to the state review of economic development programs, and will provide some information about UW System’s role in helping to develop a “one-stop shopping” website for statewide economic development programs. UW representatives will also be at the hearing to explain why the university’s scheduled projects are important for its campuses, and to discuss student affordability.

Finally, President Reilly said he continues to receive support for the UW System’s Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, including a recent endorsement from the UW-Eau Claire University Senate, and supportive editorials in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Superior Daily Telegram.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he pointed out, praised the potential of UW-Milwaukee’s plans to grow the number of advanced degrees in Wisconsin, and to boost regional economic development.

“The editorial was clear in encouraging the Legislature to find ways to fund this important agenda,” Reilly said.

The Superior Daily Telegram, he said, also encouraged lawmakers to “support UW initiatives that will ‘propel Wisconsin to be the best it can be.'”

Students are joining UW System leaders in advocating for a a high-quality university, Reilly said. Students are also sharing information with legislators and interested others through a new organization called the “UW System Alliance.”

The group was formed by student governments from six campuses — UW-Green Bay, Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, UW-Superior, and UW-Whitewater. These campuses are not part of the United Council of UW Students. The group intends to communicate directly with other UW campuses, with representatives of UW System, and with legislators. The Alliance members also said they welcome the participation of campuses that are also members of United Council.

Reilly also reported that:

  • UW-River Falls launched the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development, a think-tank that will address a range of issues related to economic, environmental and social sustainability, on both local and global scales. The Institute will be a central contact for local government and non-profit organizations in Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties that are managing booming growth from the Twin Cities. It will also engage students and faculty in service-learning projects to help communities to identify problems and implement solutions. The Institute will guide UW-River Falls as it looks to use alternative energy sources and become an energy-neutral campus.
  • The Learning Resources Network, an international association in lifelong learning, has recognized the Synergy Initiative for West Central Wisconsin with an award for excellence in Community Service. The Synergy Initiative brings together representatives of business and industry, education, and government for collaborations that promote sustainable economic growth. Partners in Synergy include UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, and UW-Barron County.
  • Maurice Graff, a long-time faculty member and leader at UW-La Crosse, passed away last month at the age of 99. Dr. Graff joined UW-La Crosse in 1941. He was a professor in economics and political science. Between 1941 and his retirement in 1972, Dr. Graff also served as student personnel director, admissions director, summer session director, and dean and academic affairs vice president. The campus has, for 30 years, honored Dr. Graff through the Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award. His legacy is also remembered at UW-La Crosse in the form of Graff Main Hall, the oldest building at UW-La Crosse.
  • The UW System’s annual “Posters in the Rotunda” and “Spirit Day” events will be held next Wednesday (April 18) in Madison. More than 100 UW students from almost every campus will showcase the value of undergraduate research with poster presentations in the State Capitol building. The events also serve as a chance for interested parties to learn more about the importance of supporting undergraduate research opportunities, and the university in general.

Finally, President Reilly offered an advance farewell to Chancellor Martha Saunders, who will be leaving UW-Whitewater next month to become president of the University of Southern Mississippi.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime professional and personal opportunity for Chancellor Saunders, and Wisconsin’s loss is definitely Mississippi’s gain,” he said. “Southern Miss is Chancellor Saunders’ alma mater, and I know she is thrilled at the opportunity to return to her hometown.”

In closed session, the full board appointed Richard J. Telfer as interim chancellor of UW-Whitewater, effective May 21, 2007. The interim appointment will extend through June 30, 2008. Telfer has been provost and vice chancellor at the campus since 2002, having served the institution in a number of other capacities since 1985. He has worked closely with Chancellor Saunders to coordinate strategic planning and other major initiatives.

Once Telfer assumes the new interim role, his annual salary rate will be $180,000.

Also in closed session, the full board:

  • Appointed Sandra R. Smith dean of UW-Marathon County, effective July 1, 2007, at an annual salary of $96,000
  • Appointed Thomas C. Pleger dean of UW-Baraboo/Sauk County, effective April 16, 2007, at an annual salary of $95,000
  • Appointed Alan Hardersen dean of UW-Sheboygan, effective April 16, at an annual salary of $95,000
  • Considered an employment contract amendment for a UW-Madison coach


The Board of Regents will hold its next full Board meeting on May 10 and 11, 2007, on the UW-Madison campus.

Related: Read Apr 12 (day 1) news summary