MADISON – University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt told the Board of Regents that the joining of UW Colleges campuses with four-year UW institutions as of July 1 is “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help transform lives.”

“The new university we are creating together can be a force that helps further transform our rising region” by increasing the educational attainment rate and developing needed talent, said Leavitt. “There are people in the region who may feel like a bachelor’s or master’s degree or a doctorate are out of the rhythm of their lives—simply out of reach. Soon, it will be right next door,” Leavitt said.

Chancellors from seven receiving institutions (excluding UW-Madison) addressed the Board Thursday on how the restructuring project approved last November is taking shape in their respective regions.

“What we learned (in our outreach to new branch campus communities) is we share many common values, our dedication to affordability, our dedication to accessibility, our service to communities, our dedication to economic and workforce development,” said UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper.

As the new campus partnerships come together, “you may see them take different paths,” said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt. “That’s really good for the state of Wisconsin. It represents the uniqueness of each of the communities and the uniqueness of the universities.” Schmidt added that six principles guide their efforts: put students first, preserve and strengthen distinct missions, operate with transparency, proceed with focused speed, strengthen inclusive excellence, and create a foundation of financial stability.

“July 1 is coming fast and there will be hiccups … but we’re stronger together,” Schmidt said.

Cathy Sandeen, Chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, reiterated that a priority during the coming transition year will be ensuring seamless continuity of service for students at the branch campuses.

“This is not easy, but it’s a hill worth climbing,” said President Ray Cross.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank will update the Board on restructuring changes related to UW-Madison and UW-Extension at its June meeting. Vice Presidents Rob Cramer and Jim Henderson will update the Board on UW System Administration restructuring changes at that time as well.

As part of his regular update on the restructuring project, Vice President Cramer provided additional information regarding how the various functions currently supported by UW Colleges, as well as the personnel and budget authority, will transfer from UW Colleges to each of the receiving institutions.

Program change discussions belong at campus-level

President Cross reiterated to the Board that a recently announced proposal to update the array of majors offered at UW-Stevens Point is properly a campus-based conversation at this point.

“When any program or offering change is being contemplated in the UW System, we have defined processes in place, and those processes are being followed at UW-Stevens Point,” Cross said.

“This Board, by adopting and revising Board of Regent policies, entrusted our Chancellors with the discretionary authority to evaluate the academic programs on their campus and make proposals to change the program array based on their unique and direct knowledge of their campus community,” Cross said. “If a Chancellor exercises that discretionary authority, then he or she will do so by engaging in a discussion with shared governance groups on the campus level.”

Cross said UW System Administration and the Board “do not want to unintentionally influence any discussions and/or decisions.”

“For now, we will let the process unfold at the campus level,” Cross said.

Panelists addresses partnership opportunities

Photo of Ray Allen, Rebekah Kowalski, and Jerry Murphy

(from left) Ray Allen, Rebekah Kowalski, and Jerry Murphy

Three leaders in workforce and talent development addressed Regents on the areas of opportunity and alignment for higher education and business as part of a panel discussion.

Rebekah Kowalski, Vice President of Manpower Group, told Regents that at a time when roles and skills are rapidly and dramatically changing, the challenge will be to forecast both current and future demand – and how to align curricula and research to meet those needs. Big data and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), for example, are evolving in ways that are difficult to anticipate. “What is on the future roadmap for talent? We have to think about the future, not just plugging current gaps,” she said.

With record low unemployment rates in Wisconsin but also declining population, “We have to have a full-court press to retain talent,” said Ray Allen, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. “We need in-migration, but we also have to lay the foundation to grow our own, and we have to be able to place them in jobs in their own communities. If you have a job but not the talent, the job goes away. If you have talent but not the job, the talent goes away.”

The key to ensuring the necessary collaboration between diverse groups to solve workforce or talent development challenges is finding a common aspiration – or a common objective that is not just favorable but critical to the mission, said Jerry Murphy, Executive Director of The New North, Inc. “There has to be parallel paths to development, recruitment and retention,” he said.

New Regent introduced

Newly appointed Regent Jason Plante was introduced to the Board. Plante, of Eau Claire, is vice president and one of five partners at Market & Johnson, one of Wisconsin’s largest general contractors, and an active member of the community. Plante succeeds Regent Margaret Farrow who stepped down late last year. He is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire with a degree in marketing.

The Board also recognized Regent Gerald Whitburn of Wausau, who has been appointed to a second term.

Education Committee

The Education Committee approved a collaborative online Master of Science program in Healthcare Administration to be supported by UW-Extension. The program benefits from the combined academic resources of five UW institutions – UW-La Crosse, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW Stevens Point, and UW-Stout. It is designed for healthcare professionals seeking to advance to management positions in a variety of healthcare settings. Graduates of the program will primarily serve in middle- to upper-management positions within for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including hospitals, community health clinics, medical practices, long-term care facilities, managed care organizations, and health services organizations. The full Board will vote on the program Friday.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request for approval to establish a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Translation and Interpreting Studies; the program will build upon, and replace, an existing concentration offered under the M.A. in Language, Literature and Translation;
  • Approved UW-Oshkosh’s request for a degree completion program, which will allow students with a Software Developer Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree from a Wisconsin technical college to complete a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Software Technology;
  • Approved UW-Whitewater’s request for three new degree programs: a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Early Child Care and Education, a degree-completion program designed for nontraditional students currently working in early childhood settings; a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program in Film Studies, expanding upon the courses already offered within a successful interdisciplinary minor; and a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Finance focused on financial analysis, and delivered fully online to complement the M.B.A. currently offered by the College of Business and Economics;
  • Approved new Policies and Procedures Relating to Faculty Layoff or Termination previously approved by the UW-Parkside Faculty Senate and submitted by Chancellor Deborah Ford;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s and UW-Milwaukee’s requests to the trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust Estate for $11 million to $13.5 million for fiscal year 2018-2019 to support student scholarships, student fellowships, academic programs, Vilas Research Professorships, and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorships at both UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Music, Arts and Humanities; in addition, the Vilas Trustees have added $2 million to the Special Building Fund this year, as part of the $5 million Vilas pledge in support of the UW-Madison School of Music;
  • Heard a presentation by Dr. Mary Ann Rankin, Provost, University of Maryland-College Park, entitled: “An Overview of 20+ Years of UTeach and Its Impact;” Dr. Michael Marder, Executive Director of UTeach and a professor of physics at University of Texas at Austin, also presented; and
  • Heard an update from Jim Henderson, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, on the UW System Math Pathways Initiative, which has been awarded a $2.3 million grant from the Great Lakes Foundation.

Business and Finance Committee

Vice President for Finance Sean Nelson provided Regents with an overview of changes resulting from the transfer of UW Trust Funds investment management activity from an internal UW System operation to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB). That move was authorized by the Board in November 2017.

Nelson told the Committee that the transition allows leverage of SWIB’s economies of scale with a $117 billion partner and its existing relationships within the investment community. He said SWIB’s proven track record and core business function in investment fund management also enhances the fiduciary oversight by the Board. The UWSA Trust Fund Office will continue to be responsible for the general administration, accounting, and record-keeping of the trust fund assets.

Nelson said projected cost savings in management and administrative fees are expected to top $1.8 million annually.

The Business and Finance Committee approved a new UW Trust Funds Investment Policy Statement which reflects changes to the structure, management, and oversight responsibilities resulting from the shift of investment management responsibilities to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

In other business, the Business and Finance Committee:

  • Received a report on the investment performance of UW Trust Funds as of the close of calendar year 2017. Total UW Trust Fund assets increased from $559.2 million to $573.1 million over the course of the year for a total increase of $13.9 million;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for an exception to Board policy that requires non-endowed gifts in excess of $1 million to become Board-designated endowments. UW-Madison seeks to allow expenditure of the full amount of the bequest from the Estate of Barbara A. Tooman, currently estimated to be approximately $2.3 million, to support of a major building addition to the School of Veterinary Medicine; this $115-million project requires $40 million to be raised through gift funds; the Tooman bequest would be added to the nearly $20 million raised for the project so far; and
  • Heard an update from Vice President for Administration Rob Cramer on the UW System Travel and Procurement program; Vice President for Finance Sean Nelson also offered updates on the status of securing an external audit partner, as well as the Legislative Audit Bureau’s recent UW Foundation Audit Report.

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to increase the budget of the Meat Science and Muscle Biology Laboratory project by $3.7 million ($1.5 million Existing General Fund Supported Borrowing and $2.2 million Cash) for a revised total cost of $49.5 million. This project constructs a new building for the Meat Science program to house a meat laboratory, a lecture/demonstration suite, a biosafety laboratory suite, teaching/research laboratories, and demolishes the Seed Facility.

Project construction began in January of 2017, and excavation of the site revealed an unexpected volume of cinders from a century-old coal-fired plant that had been used extensively as fill. This unsuitable soil was removed and new structural soil was installed in a process that resulted in higher transportation costs and tipping fees than anticipated.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to increase the budget of the Chemistry Building Addition and Renovation project by $29.3 million ($5.3 million Program Revenue-Cash and $24 million Gift Funds) for a revised total cost of $123 million. The previous approval did not have funds to finish floors four, seven, and eight of the tower, nor to complete the renovation of the Daniels building’s teaching lab floors. This approval will provide those funds;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to increase the budget of the Babcock Hall Dairy Plant and Center for Dairy Research Addition project by $12.5 million ($6.25 million Existing-General Fund Supported Borrowing and $6.25 million cash) for a revised total cost of $46.9 million. The high standard for specialized construction of the dairy research laboratory space, and the current bidding climate led to the cost increase reflected in the bids;
  • Approved UW-Superior’s request for authority to pay a municipal assessment to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the City of Superior for street and utility improvements on US Highway 2/Belknap Street;
  • Approved UW System’s request, on behalf of UW-River Falls, for authority to increase the project budget of the UW-River Falls Dairy Plant Remodel project by $1 million Existing General Fund Supported Borrowing to accept bids for a revised estimated total cost of $1.9 million;
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct 10 All Agency Maintenance and Repair Projects at an estimated total cost of $31 million. The projects include utility repair and renovations at UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, and UW-Platteville and a programmatic renovation at UW-River Falls as well as heating plant fuel reliability upgrades at UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-Stout, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Superior; and
  • Heard a report from Associate Vice President Alex Roe about recent State Building Commission approvals.

Research, Economic Development and Innovation Committee

Photo of David J. Ward

David J. Ward

David J. Ward, president of NorthStar Analytics, told Regents that a new report on the economic impact of the UW System on the state is nearing completion. That report – the first update on systemwide economic impact since 2002 – is expected to show the UW System’s economic impact tops $23 billion annually. Ward noted that the report will also show that 90% of the University’s impact benefits the private sector, “and that’s where the jobs are.”

In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Approved the appointment of Dr. Amy Kind to fill an unexpired term on the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Partnership Program effective immediately through October 31, 2018;
  • Heard a presentation on the innovative “Posse Scholars” multicultural initiative to recognize extraordinary high school scholars and support their academic journeys. UW-Madison’s program is the largest Posse unit in the country. It has a graduation rate of over 90 percent, awarded more than 500 merit-leadership scholarships, and currently has 277 alumni since the program’s inception in 2002; and
  • WiSys Board Chair David Ward and WiSys President Arjun Sanga provided an update on the foundation’s programs and progress over the past year.

Audit Committee

Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz and audit directors provided a high-level overview of recently issued reports related to bank account creation, management, and oversight, Clery audit follow-up, federal TRIO programs, P-Card continuous auditing, and the University of Wisconsin trust fund.

In other business, the Audit Committee:

  • Received a report from Lori Stortz on the Fiscal 2018 Audit Plan progress as well as internal audit activities; and
  • Heard a report from Director Steve Mentel on the progress management has made toward resolving comments and implementing recommendations included in audit reports.

The Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 9 a.m. on April 6, 2018, in Madison.