Day One News Summary

MENASHA — The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents began its May 2002 meeting on Thursday at UW-Fox Valley with a detailed discussion of the university’s improvements in credits-to-degree, time-to-degree and graduation rates.

Frank Goldberg, associate vice president of policy analysis and research, and Sharon Wilhelm, director of the Office of Policy Analysis and Research, highlighted their new report that discusses the UW System’s efforts to reduce the number of credits attempted by students to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

These efforts have decreased the time students take to finish their degrees and increased graduation rates, which has served to increase efficiency and quality in the UW System, Goldberg and Wilhelm said.

Several regents praised Goldberg and Wilhelm for their report and in particular discussed the importance of student advising in improving these measures. They said the report would be extremely useful as the board continues to examine how to strengthen student success and improve institutional efficiency.

“This report gets to the heart of the important matters we are dealing with and working on,” said Regent Phyllis Krutsch.

Goldberg stressed that policy options or targets the board may consider to further improve these measures must account for the many different types of students enrolled in Wisconsin’s public universities.

“There are 160,000 stories in the UW System,” he said.

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells used the metaphor of a garden to describe how the UW System must consider these issues in the years ahead.

“We need to think of students as perennials rather than annuals – they are becoming lifelong learners as opposed to just coming for a set period of time,” Wells said. “This is different than when we were in school but is the way we need to think now about higher education.”

Regent President Jay Smith stressed the importance of communicating to the public the efficiency and quality of the UW System.

“We as a board need to be articulate about these issues, certainly in this budget cycle and beyond,” he said.

News release
Background materials

Study of Adult Students

The highest priorities for adult students at University of Wisconsin campuses are getting the desired courses in the desired fields of study; having access to faculty; course scheduling that is convenient to their hectic schedules; preparation for getting a job; and good value for their money.

These are the results of an extensive survey of the UW System’s roughly 10,000 adult graduate students and 20,000 adult undergraduates. Another finding of the study was that these adult students (graduate students over the age of 30 and undergraduate students over the age of 25) live very busy lives.

Among graduate students, 60% are married, 37% have children and more than half have full or part-time jobs. Among adult undergraduates, 45% are married and 34% have children. The majority also hold part-time or full-time jobs.

This makes convenience a high priority for these students. The preferred course times for those employed full-time is summer, evenings after 6 p.m. and late afternoons (4-6 p.m.) Part-time workers prefer to take classes in the morning, summer and later afternoons.

UW campuses are increasingly adapting their offerings to suit these adult students, an important and growing clientele for the university. Dean Jim Perry of the UW-Fox Valley campus talked about an innovative new program being offered in collaboration with UW-Platteville that will enable workers in the Fox Valley to complete an engineering degree, taking classes at UW-FV taught by UW-P faculty. They expect to enroll 89 students when the program kicks off this fall. A similar program is under development at UW-Rock County. Both are being supported in part by local business and industry anxious to expand their supply of engineers.

UW College-County Partnerships

Several Regents heard a report about the partnership between UW Colleges and their local counties and cities.

Steve Wildeck, assistant chancellor of the UW Colleges, briefed the Regent Business & Finance and Physical Planning and Funding committees on these important partnerships. He noted that the UW Colleges have such relationships with 14 counties and three cities in which the 13 campuses are located.

Wildeck noted the impressive growth of UW’s freshman/sophomore campuses during the past five years with enrollment growth of 28% since 1976. During that same period, there has been a 51% increase in UW College facilities with 22 projects completed on 12 campuses.

As part of the partnership, the UW Colleges pledge to maintain and staff the facilities, which are built with county and/or city funds. At the same time, said Wildeck, even with increased facilities, energy consumption declined 8% thanks to measures to conserve – in fact, the UW Colleges today consume less energy than they did in 1976.

Outagamie County Executive Toby Paltzer appeared to add his support for these important partnerships.

“We are extremely proud of the UW-Fox Valley campus and its staff,” he said. He noted that even with the economic challenges faced by the counties and concerns about the fate of shared revenue, his county supervisors remains strong supporters of the UW-Fox Valley and its physical facility needs.

One goal for the Colleges going forward, noted Wildeck, is to more closely relate academic program needs and facility planning.

Education Committee

The feature presentation at the Regents’ Education Committee focused on student success in the UW Colleges, the 13 freshman/sophomore campuses of the UW System.

“Student Engagement and Success: The Wisconsin Idea in Practice,” discussed how the UW Colleges is meeting its goals, which include helping students make the transition to college; providing opportunities for extracurricular activities; promoting interdisciplinary learning; and teaching students to think globally.

The UW Colleges serve many non-traditional and part-time students, many of whom are working while going to college.

Examples of efforts underway to strengthen student success are freshman seminars, which teach students how to succeed in college; the TRIO program, which uses federal funds to provide advising, tutoring and other support services to low-income, first-generation and disabled students; learning communities, which combine multiple courses to emphasize the liberal arts; and study abroad and international student programs.

Presenters included Margaret Cleek, provost of the UW Colleges; Greg Lampe, associate vice chancellor of the UW Colleges; and faculty members Jane Oitzinger of UW-Marinette and Wava Haney of UW-Richland.

Cleek and the other presenters also discussed the challenges facing them in the future, including staffing, space and funding issues.

“We appreciate the board’s support … as we seek to balance access, quality and efficiency,” Cleek said.

UW System President Katharine Lyall said a unique strength of the UW Colleges is that academic departments are not limited to each campus but are statewide. Each academic discipline may only have one, two or three faculty members on each campus.

“The UW Colleges have turned what could be a weakness into a strength with a built-in cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary faculty right from the start,” she said.

Overall, the UW Colleges efforts are paying off, added its chancellor, William Messner.

“Eighty-one percent of UW Colleges students who transfer to four-year schools in the UW System go on to graduate,” he said.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Gave its initial reading to a revised mission statement for UW-Eau Claire, which clarifies the institution’s focus on the liberal arts and the fact that most students are traditional age and live on campus;
  • Gave its first reading to a new program authorization for a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at UW-Oshkosh. This would change the program from a minor to a major.
  • Approved a bachelor’s degree in athletic training at UW-Eau Claire;
  • Approved naming the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison.

Business and Finance Committee

The Regent Business and Finance committee reviewed recommendations on building the university’s resource base with Kathi Sell, associate vice president for budget & planning. The study will go to the full board for approval in June and includes 25 separate budget items and strategies to improve the university’s funding base including different investment strategies for trust funds, gaining the ability to invest tuition dollars now held by the state, enhancing private fund raising, considering alternative tuition models and moving toward more self-supporting tuition for adults and professional programs.

Maggie Brown, United Council representative, said she appreciated the students’ ability to have input into the planning process and acknowledged that “something needs to be done to balance affordability, access and quality.”

Committee member Roger Axtell expressed concern about the steep increases in nonresident tuition slated to go into effect and others on the drawing board with the budget repair bill, noting that the overall effect could be to drive away nonresident students and actually cause a decrease in revenue for next year.

David Markee, chancellor of UW-Platteville, noted his concern about the possible loss of out of state students – UW-P has about 300 students from Iowa and Illinois that will be affected by these increases (that could go above 20%).

“These students are not from wealthy families,” he noted, adding that these students actually pay 160% of the costs of their education, thereby subsidizing in-state students. Overall, about 5,500 resident undergraduate students are paid for annually with nonresident tuition dollars.

The Regent committee also got an update on the university’s trust funds from Doug Hoerr, treasury manager/assistant trust officer.

He noted that in 2001, the UW System saw a slight drop off in gifts and a slight loss (3.4%) in investment returns due to the sluggish economy. But he noted that these trends are very much in line with national data and trends.

The Regents approved a specific bequest of $800,000 to UW-Platteville from the estate of Norman and Winifred Nybroten Scholarship Fund to create a scholarship for students majoring in education in need of financial assistance. The Nybrotens both attended the university, then Platteville Teachers College.

The committee also received an update on the status of early retirement proposals that have been floated as part of the budget repair bill now under consideration by the legislature. Senior Vice President David Olien noted that the university has not taken a formal position because this is a complex issue that has both positives and negatives for the university and its staff members.

Physical Planning and Funding Committee

Nancy Ives, assistant vice president for capital planning and budget, reported to the committee that the State Building Commission approved about $11 million for various UW projects at its April meeting, including $4.7 million for various maintenance project and $5 million for classroom improvements deferred the previous month.

In other action, UW-Fox Valley Dean Jim Perry and UW-Fond du Lac Dean Judy Goldsmith highlighted the development of the campuses from their inception to today.

Highlights of UW-Fox Valley development include the $6 million science facility and the Barlow Planetarium, the largest and most technologically advanced planetarium in the state.

UW-Fond du Lac development highlights include its $13 million campuswide renovation project, the largest single project ever in the UW Colleges.

The committee approved the following resolutions:

Construction of a child care center at UW-River Falls. The resolution was revised to use a design/build or other simplified approach, instead of the original plan involving the UW-River Falls Foundation constructing the facility and selling it to the university. This change is supported by the state Department of Administration to construct the facility in a minimal amount of time.

Acceptance of a $60,000 gift-in-kind of a decorative masonry/metal grille work wall from the UW-La Crosse Foundation for the courtyard at the Clearly Alumni and Friends Center.

Construction of the UW-La Crosse Hutchison Hall Window Replacement project at a cost of $478,000.

Friday meeting

The Board of Regents continues its May meeting on Friday (May 10), starting at 9 a.m. at UW-Fond du Lac, 400 University Dr.