MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today unanimously approved a new policy to develop strong, collaborative relationships with the sovereign American Indian tribes in Wisconsin.

“As the state’s public university, the UW System has an obligation to serve each American Indian Tribe in Wisconsin to its fullest capacity,” said Regent President Edmund Manydeeds III, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “Recognizing that each American Indian Tribe has its own unique needs, coordination and collaboration between the University and Tribal, state, and local governments is vitally important.”

“I believe this is a giant step forward – but it’s only the first step,” said UW System President Tommy Thompson. “I am humbled to be part of this … but I will not personally be satisfied until enrollment of Native American students is up.”

Over the past decade, about 2,000 Native American students have enrolled in the UW System, representing about 1.7% of Wisconsin resident student enrollment. Over the same period, UW System awarded 2,653 undergraduate degrees to Native American students.

Under the policy, the UW System will consult with tribes on numerous issues affecting Native people, including:

  • The recruitment, enrollment, and retention of American Indian students;
  • Research and other activity on land controlled by a tribe; and
  • Education programs intended for tribal students or employees.

The policy also calls for an annual meeting between the UW System President and tribal leaders along with chancellors or other university employees.

“We appreciate the initiative by university leaders to address the need to have regular discussions between tribal leaders and the university,” said Ron Corn, Chairman of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.

Samantha Skenandore, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and a UW-Madison graduate, urged Regents and others to address cultural needs on campus. “You’ll never see the numbers go up unless the Board of Regents and others know what students need on campus,” she said.

Jared Blanche, Education Director from Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, echoed that call, saying too often Native American students don’t feel welcome on campus. “We have to make education a thing that’s right for all of us,” Blanche said.

Brandon Yellowbird-Stevens, Vice-Chairman of Oneida Nation, added that it’s important to have an understanding of the baseline numbers for students, faculty, and staff. “That’s a good staging point to set goals,” he said.

“We have a duty to communicate going forward, especially regarding education,” said Regent Amy Bogost. “This is just the beginning.”

Regents recognize one of their own

Photo of Regent Emeritus Olivia WoodmanseeThe Board presented Regent Emerita Olivia Woodmansee with a resolution of appreciation, recognizing her dedicated service the past two years.

Regent Vice President Karen Walsh, who presented the resolution, said she still doesn’t know how Woodmansee found time to do all the things she did for the Board while also a full-time student. After her term ended, Woodmansee continued to work with UW System as a major coordinator of the Vax Up! “70 for 70” scholarship campaign.

Woodmansee called it “an incredible honor” to serve as the student representative on the Board, adding that being on campus allowed her “to see the actual implications of the policies we passed.”

Woodmansee, who will graduate from UW-La Crosse later this month, said she is also proud to be a graduate of the UW System. “I wish more people knew the power and impact of the UW System that I’ve seen over the last two years,” she said.

In other business, the Regents:

  • Approved extending the suspension of requirements that freshman applicants to UW universities must submit ACT/SAT scores as part of the admissions process through 2024-25;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request to establish a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Visual Communication within the Department of Art & Design in the Peck School of the Arts;
  • Approved UW Oshkosh’s request to establish a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Advertising;
  • Approved UW-Stevens Point’s request for a Bachelor of Science in Community Sustainability;
  • Approved UW-River Falls’ request to establish a Bachelor of Science in International Food Operations Management, a dual degree program with Aeres University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands;
  • Approved amendments to Regent Policy Document (RPD) 20-24, “Procedures Relating to Financial Emergency or Program Discontinuance Requiring Faculty Layoff and Termination” to bring UW System policy in alignment with recent changes adopted by the Higher Learning Commission;
  • Approved a program discontinuance and faculty layoff at UW-Platteville pursuant to RPD 20-24;
  • Approved proposed tuition increases for non-resident undergraduate and graduate school students for seven UW System institutions: UW-Madison, UW-Eau Claire, UW Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, and UW-Whitewater. The proposed increases, effective for the 2022-23 academic year, represent inflationary adjustments to maintain price competitiveness relative to peer institutions. These tuition increases do not affect resident undergraduate students;
  • Approved a service agreement with Huron Consulting Group to lead the implementation of UW System’s newly purchased Workday Human Capital Management and Finance Software package;
  • Approved UW System’s purchase of lease administration functionality offered by Oracle/PeopleSoft;
  • Approved a research agreement between UW-Madison and TerraPower, a nuclear innovation company;
  • Approved a master research agreement between UW-Madison and Opsis Therapeutics, a Madison-based company focused on therapies to treat blinding disorders of the retina;
  • Approved an agreement between UW-Madison and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), where the company will operate as a subawardee to UW-Madison’s $10 million award from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy;
  • Approved an amendment to UW-Madison’s contract with Learfield Communications;
  • Approved revisions to RPD 21-4, related to Identity Theft Detection, Prevention and Mitigation;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute the remainder of the design contract and construct the Engineering Hall Chemical and Biological Engineering Instructional and Research Lab Renovation project;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute the remainder of the design contract and construct the Computer, Data, and Information Sciences (CDIS) building project;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request to increase the budget of the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research Dock and NIH Research Lab Renovation project;
  • Approved UW-Stevens Point’s request for authority to accept the gift of a 0.26-acre parcel of land with a two-story commercial building that is located on the north edge of campus;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request to assign an air rights lease and acceptance of the surrender of an air rights lease and the reversion of air rights and improvements at the Fluno Center for Executive Education;
  • Approved UW-Green Bay’s request to transfer a 4.92-acre parcel of land located in Oconto County, the majority of which is classified as aquatic marsh, to the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources;
  • Approved a UW System request to construct a minor project at UW-Madison to replace a damaged brick steam tunnel and associated utility lines; and
  • Approved a UW System request to construct three All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects: a safety systems renovation project at UW-Green Bay’s Weidner Center; a utilities replacement project at UW-Madison’s Educational Sciences & Horticulture site; and an electrical substation overcurrent protection project at UW-Madison’s Radio Hall and the Bacteriology buildings.

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents will next meet on February 10-11, 2022, at UW-Madison.