President, UW System Board of Regents
Good morning. At last month’s meeting, I think we all agreed that we wanted to have better communications with our legislators and the governor, and I am pleased to report that since that time, we have already made a lot of progress.
First, I want to thank the Governor for hosting us at the residence last evening and to thank those of you who participated in last night’s event. I think it symbolized our commitment to help “Grow Wisconsin.” It was impressive to look around the room and see business leaders, campus leaders and our faculty and staff members who are all working together in their local regions to enhance business development, grow jobs and restore Wisconsin’s economic vitality.
Yesterday, we participated in an historic event in the capital. The committees of both the Senate and Assembly that oversee higher education and the University of Wisconsin System came together to host a joint hearing on the state of the university. I want to thank Regent Gottschalk and Margaret Lewis, in particular, for helping to make this happen.
It was a good exchange of information. We had a chance to update them on the Charting study and to talk about the impact of the cuts we have taken over the past few years. President Lyall also shared some of her public policy concerns as we address the future. We have included in your packets this morning a summary of those remarks.
We had a good dialogue with legislators and while they expressed concerns on a range of issues from financial aid to brain gain, I came away feeling that they are strong supporters of our campuses and our students, and that much more ground unites us than divides us.
On April 27th, we held another event in the capitol that showcased the tremendous achievements of our undergraduates. Modeled after a similar event in the nation’s capitol, we hosted “Posters in the Rotunda: A Celebration of Undergraduate Research.” Again, there is a report in your packet that highlights the projects represented there. It really was an impressive showing as you can see from the photos in your folder. I’d ask each chancellor to convey our thanks to all of the students and faculty who went out of their way to participate in this event
I want to thank Regent Walsh and Vice President Marrett who spoke at the event, along with representatives from the Governor’s Office and the National Science Foundation. Thanks, too, to the chancellors, university officers and Regents Axtell, Richlen and Mohs who attended. I urge you to talk with them about the experience – it was just a great chance to meet our students and see the impressive work they are doing.
Speaking of students, I think you all know that this is UW Spirit Week and, in fact, today is UW Spirit Day! Throughout Wisconsin, our alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents and friends are wearing their school colors, logo wear or these badges to proclaim their connections to this great university system.
On Monday, Governor Doyle, accompanied by Bucky Badger, Ranger Bear and President Lyall, signed a proclamation officially declaring this UW Spirit Week that is on display here. So you can see that the President, Chancellors and UW System staff took your words to heart last month and have been working hard to improve our visibility downtown.
I also want to say a word about TABOR, a topic on which we passed a resolution at our meeting in March. We communicated our position to the entire legislature and to the Governor, following our last meeting. Many of our deans and chancellors have communicated with local legislators and written opinion pieces for local newspapers on the devastating impact such a constitutional amendment could have on state funding for higher education and the UW System.
As of this time, both houses are continuing to discuss appropriate ways to reduce state spending and a constitutional amendment is still a possibility so we need to continue to pay attention to these deliberations. I do believe our action on TABOR caused some people to think twice about using a constitutional amendment to solve our fiscal challenges.
I also want to note that Wednesday was State Employee Recognition Day and on behalf of the Regents, I would add our commendation to our university employees – who also are state employees – for their exemplary work and dedication under very difficult circumstances.
Finally, it is public service recognition week. This, I think, brings together very nicely the final topic I want to introduce this morning and that is the establishment of a program to acknowledge and thank those faculty and staff who are going above and beyond the line of duty to provide public service to citizens of the state.
With that, I would like to call on Regent Axtell to offer a resolution to the board. Regent Axtell.