Day One News Summary
he University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents began its April 2002 meeting on Thursday (April 4) with an overview of the UW System budget, options regarding building the UW System’s resource base, the success of UW System libraries, and several other items. The following is a summary of Thursday’s Regents meeting.
The UW System Budget — An Overview
With the State Senate poised to vote on its version of the bill to balance Wisconsin’s budget, Regent President Jay Smith started Thursday’s meeting by presenting an overview of the UW System budget. His comments focused on answering questions about the UW System budget that have been asked in recent weeks. His presentation included several charts and graphs that helped explain the university’s extremely complex budget.
“During this process, we have all gotten the question: ‘Why is a $100 million cut so bad when you have a $3 billion budget?’ I want to spend a few minutes today answering that question,” Smith said. “One thing we’ve all learned this past month is how little our budget is understood, at many levels. In the past, we have not done very well at explaining our budget to the public.
“The March Regent action to pause the admissions process was really about living within our means,” he added. “What was on the table was a cut that represented one-eighth of our state operating budget. It’s clear that many people don’t grasp why that would be a problem, so let’s talk about that.”
Resources: Building Our Resource Base
Following Regent President Smith’s budget presentation, the Board of Regents gave its first reading to a proposal to build the UW System’s resource base through a number of different options. The 22 options have been discussed by the regents throughout this academic year. The options were also discussed in the Regents’ Business and Finance Committee meeting.
The board will vote on the options at its May meeting.
Quality: Issues Relating to the Future of Academic Libraries
Ken Frazier, director of the UW-Madison General Library System, presented to the board an update on the UW System Library System on behalf of the Council of UW Libraries.
Frazier explained that the UW Libraries in recent years have moved their collaboration to a new level of success and expertise, creating in essence one library for the entire UW System.
“The UW Libraries provide access to a truly great university library collection and to a global network of electronic information resources,” Frazier told the board.
Faced with limited budget growth, the UW Libraries have used self-assessment to improve services, leveraged their buying power through cooperation, aggressively cut high-cost journals, implemented high-speed delivery of journal articles and supported new models of publishing.
Several board members and UW System President Katharine Lyall praised Frazier and his fellow UW librarians for their excellent work despite the lack of state resources in the past decade. The UW Libraries only in the last few years have received additional state budget support, and only half of what the Board of Regents requested from the state, Lyall said.
“You have done an excellent job and delivered in a major way with the half that you have received, and it is my hope that we can provide the other half for you in the near future,” Lyall said.
Milwaukee Partnership Academy
Thursday’s luncheon featured UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Nancy Zimpher presenting to the board a new campus-community partnership to improve the education of children in Milwaukee through better teacher preparation.
The Milwaukee Partnership Academy is an Urban P-16 Council for Quality Teaching and Learning. Partnership collaborators include UWM, Milwaukee Public Schools, the Milwaukee School Board, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, the Private Industry Council of Milwaukee County, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and Ameritech.
“This is a broad initiative,” Zimpher said. “We want to assure that every child in Milwaukee Public Schools is performing at or above grade level in reading, writing and mathematics.”
Zimpher explained that the academy’s “five breakthrough strategies” are creating a balanced literacy framework, developing school learning teams, fostering professional development, monitoring and reporting student progress, and encouraging tutoring and family literacy.
UW System campuses have developed a variety of creative and effective orientation programs for educating students about the sensitive subjects of sexual assault and sexual harassment, the Regents’ Education Committee was told Thursday.
Mandated by both state law and regent policy, campuses are required to present information to incoming students on both subjects. Cora Marrett, UW System senior vice president for academic affairs, told committee members that orientation programs are expected to include both oral and written materials covering sexual assault and sexual harassment. This information should include descriptions of victims’ rights and suggestions for protective behaviors, she said.
Our campuses have addressed these issues “with imagination and decisiveness,” Marrett said. UW-River Falls established a campus safety week while UW-Platteville staged two plays on “a day in the life” and “safe dating.”
Moreover, many of these programs extend beyond orientation and into campus life, she said, indicating an ongoing commitment to these issues.
The committee unanimously recommended forwarding the report to the Legislature, as required by current law. Committee members also recommended examining the necessity for multiple reporting requirements within the context of upcoming biennial budget discussions.
In a separate report, Marrett discussed the 2001-2002 annual report on minority and disadvantaged students. The report reflects strong progress in some areas and leaves questions in others, she said.
On the positive side, more than 10,000 students participated in precollege programs throughout the UW System, and of those, at least 88 percent were students of color, Marrett said.
In Fall 2001 2,647 new targeted students of color (African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and Southeast Asian) enrolled in the UW System, up 7.7 percent from the previous fall, she said.
Retention rates for targeted students of color continued to be “more mixed,” Marrett said.
For example, between 1990 and 2000, second-year retention rates for targeted Hispanic, Indian and Southeast Asian students were up and rates decreased slightly for African American students.
Marrett said retention and the related topic of graduate rates warranted a separate discussion scheduled for the May Board of Regents meeting.
With respect to funding, Marrett reported that in the 2000-2001 academic year nearly $26 million was spent on programs for students of color and disadvantaged students. Approximately half of that funding was raised by the campuses from private sources, she said. The fundraising goes for scholarships, workshops and other creative efforts, Marrett said, and the success of the fundraising “symbolizes the determination across the System.”
Regent Fred Mohs asked if “we know that the money is spent as well as possible in terms of efficiency?” Are we putting the dollars where their impact will be maximized, he asked.
Tess Arenas, UW System assistant vice president for academic affairs and senior advisor to the president for multicultural affairs, said her office will increasingly focus on program assessment and program outcomes to better answer that question.
Arenas also observed that the funding is used in two general categories: for scholarships to attract and retain students of color and disadvantaged students, and for programs that create supportive, nurturing environments and encourage social integration of students.
Regent President Smith asked Marrett what the board could do to help. It is most helpful, Marrett replied, for the board to make clear that “we understand that one size does not fit all” with respect to improving minority recruitment and retention.
UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells observed that, with respect to retaining students, “we do not have enough of the right kinds of intervention and support strategies for all students – this is a massive need.”
Marrett noted that during the upcoming biennial budget discussions the board will be presented with a plan titled “Undergraduate Imperative.” Included will be advising and other strategies intended to enhance success for all students, she said.
Education committee members endorsed the resolution accepting the report and authorizing its submission to the Legislature.
In other action, committee members:
- Approved and sent to the full board requests to the Trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust estate for programs at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee;
- Recommended authorizing the re-titling of programs as B.A./B.S. in Theatre Arts at both UW-Oshkosh and UW-River Falls;
- Discussed but did not act on a UW-Milwaukee doctoral program plan, and
- Heard a presentation on a B.S. in Athletic Training at UW-Eau Claire.
Business and Finance Committee
The Business and Finance Committee reviewed the options presented to the full board related to building the university’s resource base. The 22 options presented range from more control over revenues and investment options for those funds to possible changes in tuition policy to measures that might yield more gift revenue. In May, the committee and the full board will vote to implement, eliminate, defer or study further the individual items under consideration.
Diane Moen, vice chancellor for administration at UW-Stout, was a key player in the campus becoming the first higher education institution in the nation to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. She shared with the committee the ways in which business practices had been improved during the course of the last three years since the campus adopted the Baldridge criteria, which involves a team approach and rich customer and employee feedback in the management of the institution.
Moen mentioned two elements that have been important to revamping UW-Stout’s business practices. The first has been a variety of ways in which the campus has sought and received feedback from important stakeholders – students, faculty, staff, alumni, employers and community members. Two areas, in particular, that have benefited from community input have been parking and the North Campus Master Plan.
Students are another important constituency from which continuous feedback is sought and used in business operations. One example is in the student facilities and food service area. Moen noted that student feedback has helped determine what music is available in the student center and even the preferred breakfast cereal in the residence halls: Fruit Loops, Life, and Lucky Charms.
Moen also said the operation of business functions at UW-Stout has become much more data driven and more oriented toward longer range planning. One area she highlighted was the campus’ debt service per student, which is much lower than the average for other UW campuses. She said they are watching that number carefully to keep it low so that they can accommodate the anticipated need for new residence halls.
(from All Regents session earlier in the day)
The final committee presentation was from Byron Knight, director of broadcast and media innovations for UW-Extension.
Knight gave the committee a glimpse into the future when the world of broadcast and the Internet merge. As Wisconsin Public Television joins other public broadcasting stations in moving toward digital transmission, these stations will have the capacity to broadcast much more information including what Knight called, “packets of data.”
Wisconsin, a leader in this area, is experimenting with the ways in which such data would be identified by the user, packaged and sent to users from farmers to teachers to business people. He gave as an example an UW-Extension agent preparing for a presentation on tomatoes. With this new technology, the agent could search the database for available information and then identify materials for the presentation – video clips, a brochure, and even courses that someone could take if they wanted more information.
This packet of data, once identified, could then be broadcast to the agent’s computer overnight and be available for use the next day with this new technology. Knight also mentioned the importance of this kind of resource and transmission capacity for public school teachers and other professionals.
Physical Planning and Funding Committee
Assistant Vice President for Capital Planning and Budget Nancy Ives reported that the State Building Commission approved about $10 million for various projects at its February meeting. Of that amount, about $4.5 million represents various maintenance and repair projects. Some of the classroom technology improvement projects submitted last month were deferred, so UW System staff took DFD staff on a tour to better understand the cost of upgrading those classrooms. The deferred projects will be re-submitted for April approval.
In a continuing discussion of “bricks and mortar” issues related to the future of academic libraries, Jim Albers, director of facilities planning, discussed three challenges facing planning:
- The arrival of electronic media greatly complicates facility planning (libraries are no longer “book warehouses”);
- Storage for printed materials is still needed, despite the increase of electronic and digital mediums;
- Most UW System libraries are at or exceeding capacity.
To ease space demands, more study spaces are being converted to stack areas; non-library functions are being relocated; and materials are being shared. Also, librarians are exploring more efficient shelving and retrieval systems, which, in the long-term, may cost less than building space. The help of consultants may be required before some facility recommendations can move forward, Albers said.
In other action, the committee approved the following resolutions:
- Authorizing UW-Madison to repair three of the four elevators in Memorial Union, estimated at a total project cost of $493,000, using program revenue. Installed in 1928 and 1938, the elevators have not been refurbished since they were installed, other than routine maintenance, and they are heavily used.
- Authorizing UW-Stevens Point to accept a gift of land and buildings at Treehaven Field Station near Tomahawk. The additional space will help meet the housing needs of UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources faculty and staff during the 12-week student field training programs required for completion of a degree. Non-summer use of the cabins for other activities will generate revenue for their maintenance and upkeep.
The Board of Regents continues its April meeting on Friday (April 5), starting at 9 a.m. in Room 1820 of Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.