News Summary of Day 1
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents began its February 2002 meeting Thursday (Feb. 7) with discussions of the state’s budget situation, the 2001-02 accountability report and several other items. The following is a summary of Thursday’s Regents meeting.
Proposed budget cuts for the UW System will enable the university to implement only half of the planned Economic Stimulus Package, UW System President Katharine Lyall told the board.
A $51 million reduction in the UW budget proposed by Gov. Scott McCallum would mean the university could admit only 1,200 new students in high-demand fields, down from the original target of 2,600 additional students. As part of the $41 million Economic Stimulus Package, included in the 2001-03 state budget to help further strengthen Wisconsin’s economy, the UW System was planning on admitting these extra students in computer science, biotechnology, bioinformatics, genetics, microbiology and other areas to meet the growing demand by employers in these high-tech fields.
“The Governor’s proposal is very challenging, but it lets us continue to contribute more than just budget cuts to Wisconsin’s economic future,” Lyall said.
The president said the UW System and the Board of Regents would seek to implement the rest of the Economic Stimulus Package in the 2003-05 state budget.
Following the budget discussion, Lyall outlined the 2001-02 UW System accountability report, titled “Achieving Excellence.” The report shows that despite operating in an increasingly challenging funding environment, the UW System continues to provide an outstanding learning environment for its students, Lyall told the board.
This year’s report specifically highlights that the UW System met or exceeded its targets on 13 of 20 benchmarks in 2001. The results are mixed on four measures: graduation gap for students of color, study abroad participation, undergraduate research opportunities, and student use of the Internet for assignments. Three other measures – improving academic advising, increasing students’ understanding of racial/ethnic differences, and building maintenance – show room for improvement.
“We should not take the good performance of our institutions for granted – it reflects the hard work of thousands of faculty and staff, the leadership of our chancellors, and public support for our mission,” Lyall said. “The budget-cutting challenges facing us for next year will require maximum effort, if we are to maintain current performance levels and move forward.”
“Achieving Excellence” measures university performance compared to national standards in a number of areas, including but not limited to student access and retention, graduation rates, credits-to-degree, faculty workloads, research funding and satisfaction ratings of students and alumni.
UW-Extension in the 21st Century
Thursday’s development luncheon featured the following presentation: “UW-Extension in the 21st Century: New Partners, New Revenues, New Issues.”
Jay Smith, president of the Board of Regents, began the discussion by reminding board members of the strengths of UW-Extension, the UW System’s statewide institution. He noted that UW-Extension is at the forefront of improving Wisconsin federal relations; is working to increase the state’s quality of life, which will help attract more people to live in Wisconsin; and has the capability of delivering university resources at the local level.
UW-Extension Chancellor Kevin Reilly said his hope was that the presentation would begin to answer the following questions: “Where is UW-Extension going? Where is the university as a whole going?”
Marv Van Kekerix, UW-Extension provost and vice chancellor, outlined his institution’s budget situation and how it has changed over the years. He said that support from county partners and federal sources experienced moderate growth between 1988 and 2001. He also said that GPR (General Purpose Revenue) funding experienced more rapid growth than county and federal sources, but significantly less growth than program revenue (which includes fees for service, as well as competitively based grants and contracts).
Van Kekerix went on to highlight UW-Extension’s changing budget makeup: county and federal percentages remained about the same from 1988 to 2001; GPR funds decreased from 45 percent in 1988 to 34 percent in 2001; and program revenues increased from 38 percent in 1988 to 44 percent in 2001.
In particular, he mentioned the noteworthy trend of decreasing GPR and increasing program revenue as funding sources. As a specific example of increasing program revenue, he pointed out that gifts, grants and contracts (private and public sources) increased by one-third in the five-year period from 1997 to 2001.
Connie Foster, vice president for television operations with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, outlined UW-Extension’s partnership with her organization. She called this partnership extremely important and said it is making possible some of the best applied research in digital video and broadband technologies.
“Wisconsin is leading efforts to reforge links between universities and public broadcasting,” Foster said. “The University of Wisconsin is a public broadcasting leader.”
As such, according to Foster, the UW was selected as home to the relatively new National Center for Outreach. Located in Madison, the center is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and hosted by Wisconsin Public Television. Its mission is to promote community engagement through public television.
Darrell Bazzell, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, outlined for the board another important partnership involving his agency and UW-Extension.
The purpose of the Basin Approach and Basin Education Program, Bazzell said, is “to engage a greater number of Wisconsin citizens in issues relating to the preservation of natural resources.”
Specific goals of the Basin Education Program include building local capacity for leadership of national resource issues; integrating agencies, resources and programs; identifying common conservation goals; and providing land, water, and forestry resource education.
UW-Extension offered to assist with the DNR-initiated program by providing staff, resources and valuable connections with local farmers, business people, landowners, and others concerned with the use of natural resources.
The benefits of this multi-agency approach, Bazzell added, are that it helps leverage more dollars for education, agencies come together around common issues and goals, and it builds community support. The secretary emphasized that he looks forward to continuing to work with UW-Extension.
Chancellor Reilly capped off the presentation with a discussion of issues that arise with the increasing reliance on non-GPR funds.
“As we continue to draw more money from outside sources, will the public believe we’re impartial?” Reilly asked. “The right kinds of partnerships can bolster the university’s reputation for neutrality – The wrong kind can damage it.”
The chancellor went on to point out that the time involved seeking federal dollars can detract from UW-Extension’s basic mission, and that it also requires additional staff.
The public good can be compromised as well, Reilly said. Some important causes, such as land use planning and serving the disadvantaged, do not have sponsors that are ready sources of funding.
On the staffing side of the equation, Reilly noted that academic staff has risen from 511 to 821 from 1987-88 to 2000-01. The level of faculty has stayed about the same (413 to 415 in the same time period). The chancellor asked, “How important is the ability to hire tenure-track employees?”
“The preceding issues make getting and keeping GPR funding critically important,” Reilly said. He concluded with a reminder that UW-Extension’s services are in especially high demand during economically turbulent times.
United Council Student Priorities
After lunch, the United Council for UW Students, the UW System student government organization, presented its priorities for the 2003-05 state budget to the Board of Regents.
Members said that increased support and funding for student advising, libraries, Plan 2008 (the UW System’s diversity plan) and efforts to keep tuition increases in check are central to the educations of UW System students.
Several regents thanked the students for their comprehensive and well-produced presentations, and asked them to assist the board in identifying budget priorities in this difficult fiscal climate.
“Our upcoming general assembly in Oshkosh, along with continued regent discussion, will help guide us,” said Matt Fargen, president of United Council.
“We are interested in hearing more from you as we go along in the budget process,” said Regent Toby Marcovich.
Building Our Resource Base – State Compact
The board then turned its attention to its ongoing discussion of “Building Our Resource Base.” The regents have made this topic a priority as state support for the UW System continues to decline as a percentage of the overall university budget.
According to the executive summary of the report on this subject, state compacts with university systems typically have committed to increased state funding in a variety of ways:
- Specific annual or multi-year GPR dollar increase.
- Specific annual percentage increase in GPR.
- Link between GPR increases and rate of inflation, using the Consumer Price Index or another index.
- Benchmark increase in GPR support per student.
- Benchmark GPR increase for specific categories of spending.
Previous regent discussions under the “Building Our Resource Base” have focused on seeking increased federal dollars for Wisconsin and explored alternative tuition measures.
At the conclusion of the all-regents sessions, the board broke up into committees to continue its afternoon activities.
The Board of Regents Education Committee followed up on the Thursday morning full board presentation on accountability with a further discussion of measures of effectiveness with the UW System chancellors.
Bruce Shepard, UW-Green Bay chancellor, said statistical measures such as credits to degree, graduation rates and retention rates are important tools but they don’t tell the whole story.
“Program quality can’t just be measured by numbers,” he said. “Single numbers are smoke detectors but they don’t tell you where the smoke is coming from.”
He said his campus used the UW System accountability measures as a jumping-off point, and took the opportunity to ask further questions that would measure effectiveness of the campus such as the level of collaboration with the Green Bay region and engagement with the community.
He also noted that there is a third step once an accountability report is prepared and released and that is to make sure that the results feed back into continuous improvement on the campuses.
Charles Sorensen, UW-Stout chancellor, noted that his campus adopted the Baldridge Model to measure quality in 1999. The model, which involves six criteria for excellence, “changed Stout’s culture,” he said. The campus became more proactive and more holistic in its approach to budget planning and academic development.
“We found this approach much more helpful than accreditation,” said Sorensen. “It was a good fit for us because the UW System is so data driven.”
Sorensen and UW-Stout just won the nation’s first Malcolm Baldridge Award for Excellence in higher education.
UW Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Cora Marrett reported to the committee on refinements in the UW System sabbatical policy for 2003-05. She reminded the Regents that universities are communities of scholars and their ultimate goal is the creation, acquisition and imparting of knowledge – teaching and learning.
She noted that sabbatical policies should reflect that core concern about scholarship.
“Scholarship can do more than address the needs of the individual,” she said. It can address the needs of the teaching community of which individual faculty are a part.
The UW System is urging the campuses to reflect the board’s commitment to promoting the scholarship of teaching and learning in granting these awards and give consideration to projects that promote interdisciplinary activities, collaboration, international education, and the application of technology to instruction and distance education.
“Sabbaticals should serve the institution’s mission,” said Marrett.
She noted that she would be striking the theme of a community of scholars throughout the spring, presenting to the committee academic programs that “interconnect on the campuses” and that involve different campuses “with a common thread.”
The committee also heard a progress report on the PK-16 Council, which was established a year ago to foster a more seamless K-12/higher education system in the state. During the past year, the council – which consists of the leaders of all segments of education in Wisconsin and is co-chaired by UW System President Katharine Lyall and Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elizabeth Burmaster – has looked in-depth at three critical areas of linkage among educational sectors: early childhood development, the senior year of high school and transition to post secondary options, and the professional development of educators.
During the next six months, the group intends to chart a specific course of action aimed at building collaboration and enhancing learning opportunities for the state’s citizens.
Business and Finance Committee
The Business and Finance Committee began its afternoon meeting with an update on the intergovernmental agreement between UW-Stevens Point and Mid-State Technical College. UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Thomas George noted that the agreement responds to the needs of the business community of central Wisconsin. Funding for the partnership comes from a variety of sources, George noted, including the federal government, Portage County, Mid-State Technical College and $350,000 from UW-Stevens Point.
Research at the UW System flagship campus was one of many items on the committee’s agenda as well. Martin Cadwallader, interim vice chancellor for research and interim dean of the Graduate School at UW-Madison, told the committee that UW-Madison ranked second nationally in research and development spending, at $554 million, during 2000-01. The university moved from third-highest to second this past year, overtaking the University of Michigan.
Cadwallader added that the university received $509 million in research awards, an increase of $64 million over 1999-2000.
Committee members discussed the need to increase legislative knowledge about the importance of university research to the state.
David Olien, UW System senior vice president for administration, presented the committee with the annual broadcast report. He noted that 14 non-commercial educational broadcast stations are located on UW campuses throughout Wisconsin. These stations are staffed by UW faculty, academic staff and students. The Board of Regents is accountable for compliance with the Federal Communications Commission, which the report assured.
UW System Vice President for Finance Deborah Durcan, in her report to the committee, highlighted that fact that the university system’s administrative costs are the lowest in the nation at 5 percent, compared to an average of 10 percent at other state university systems.
Durcan also reported that the American Council on Education’s biennial survey on “Attitudes Toward Public Higher Education” was released Wednesday. The survey results show that 77 percent of respondents believe college education is more important today than 10 years ago, compared to 73 percent in 2000.
Moreover, 77 percent of people surveyed expressed a great deal of concern that cuts in state funds for higher education could impair the quality of education in their state. Most Americans, Durcan pointed out, continue to grossly overestimate the cost of a college education by estimating three times the actual cost. A recent survey in Wisconsin showed a difference of four times the cost of tuition, Durcan added.
Physical Planning and Funding Committee
The Physical Planning and Funding Committee on Thursday approved the criteria for ranking major projects in the 2003-05 Capital Budget. The criteria reflect current systemwide initiatives and priorities related to maintenance and quality of the learning environment, and the new Wisconsin economy. The use of these criteria will result in a priority list that addresses the greatest needs, highest academic priorities and most cost-effective solutions to various facility problems.
In a related note, Assistant Vice President Nancy Ives reported that the State Building Commission approved about $91 million for various projects at its December and January meetings.
The committee also approved the following resolutions:
- authorizing construction of the UW-Milwaukee Klotsche Center project at a cost of $42.1 million. This project will provide an addition to and remodeling of the existing facility for physical education and physical therapy and will also construct an underground parking structure.
- authorizing a $276,000 increase to the UW-Madison Southeast Recreational Facility Addition project. The increase is necessary to allow the acceptance of bids related to air conditioning portions of the existing (SERF) building.
The Board of Regents continues its February meeting on Friday (Feb.8), starting at 9 a.m. in Room 1820 of Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.