MADISON — “Building the New Wisconsin Economy” is the theme for the University of Wisconsin (UW) System’s 2001-03 biennial operating budget proposal, to be presented this Friday for consideration by the Board of Regents.

The proposal commits the statewide UW System to a larger role in Wisconsin’s economic development, in part by increasing the supply of graduates in such “new economy” industries as biotechnology and information technology.

The proposal also funds the second phase of the Madison Initiative, the first phase of the “Milwaukee Idea” program, an enhanced learning environment at UW-Green Bay, and measures aimed at improving the number and quality of K-12 school teachers in Wisconsin.

“The university — our students, our faculty and our graduates — is an investment in Wisconsin’s future,” said UW System President Katharine Lyall. “In return for that investment, we offer the state solutions to its most pressing problems. Right now, there’s concern about the state’s workforce: can our companies hire the people they need and do those people have the skills required to succeed in the new economy?

“This budget proposal addresses both questions in a strong and positive way,” said Lyall, “with a series of initiatives, each of which is tied to very specific outcomes.”

Wisconsin’s economic strengths have traditionally been manufacturing and agriculture, noted Lyall. “Realistically, looking a decade ahead, that’s not where the greatest job growth and economic expansion are most likely to occur. Our neighboring states are investing in higher education, betting that information technology, electronic commerce and biotechnology will supplement the farms and factories of today. The UW System wants to help lead that economic transition. This budget proposal gives us the tools to do that.”

Overall, the proposal calls for an average annual increase of 3.7% in GPR/fees in each year of the biennium for new initiatives and “cost-to-continue” items. By comparison, the Board of Regents requested an average annual increase of 3.4% in GPR/fees per year for 1999-01. The new request includes an average annual investment of $48 million in state funding (GPR) and $12 million in student fees.

Lyall noted that the budget also calls on the UW System to generate nearly $285 million of its own “program revenue” funding. “Of that amount, $92 million is in the form of projected additional gifts and grants,” she said, “while $52 million comes from auxiliary services, such as our residence halls, student centers and food services.”

The proposal to be adopted by the regents would support an increase of 8,300 full-time-equivalent (FTE) resident, undergraduate students Systemwide by 2006-07, including double-digit increases at UW-Milwaukee, UW-River Falls and UW-Platteville.

Overall, average annual tuition in the UW System would increase 3.2% per year under this proposal, which does not include the cost of compensation increases. A separate compensation request will be submitted in November.

Also on Friday, the Board of Regents will consider a GPR-supported capital budget borrowing request of $222.9 million for a mix of projects throughout the UW System. As in recent years, the request is heavily weighted toward facilities renovation and renewal (70%) rather than new construction (30%). The capital budget is also supported by $143 million in non-state funds, accounting for 40% of the total request. Once approved by the Board of Regents, the capital budget request will next be reviewed by the state Building Commission for enumeration in the biennial budget bill.

“Both the operating and the capital budget proposals rely on more than just the state for funding,” noted Lyall. “The governor’s BioStar capital program in support of biotechnology, as well as the Madison Initiative and Milwaukee Idea, will challenge the UW System to enlist the backing of companies, foundations, alumni and communities if we are to be successful. I think we can meet that challenge, primarily because positive outlines are tied so closely to each of our initiatives. We will also partner more than ever before with the Wisconsin Technical College System.”

The total new GPR/fee request for the biennial operating budget is $179.9 million. Following Board of Regents action, the proposal will go to the Department of Administration for consideration as part of the Governor’s budget, which is generally submitted to the legislature in February. Normally, the state’s biennial budget is approved and signed prior to the start of the new biennium on July 1, 2001.

“Thanks to Governor Thompson and legislative leaders, the last state budget was the best in a decade for the UW System,” said Lyall. “That trend needs to continue. We’ve made a strong case this time that the UW System can help build the `New Wisconsin Economy.’ To do that, we will need resources — money and staff — to match the eagerness of our institutions to be of service to the students whose future is also the future of our state.”

Highlights of the UW System
Biennial Budget Proposal for 2001-03

Business and Workforce Development ($34.8 million GPR)

Program in this category initiative will help Wisconsin improve its economic potential through workforce development and direct assistance to businesses. Initiatives in this category, and the institutions that would spearhead the effort, include the following:

  • For Wisconsin employers, expand the supply of students in high-demand fields by 1,430 people (UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater);
  • Extend educational services to Wisconsin’s adult student population (UW-Colleges, UW-Oshkosh);
  • Foster emerging industries and support business development through more than a dozen new business partnerships (UW-Madison master’s degree in biotechnology, UW-Superior program in Transportation Logistics Management, UW-Extension Small Business Development Center, business assistance centers at Chippewa Valley industrial parks, UW System aquaculture program);
  • Develop a diverse workplace (Systemwide implementation of Plan 2008 and expansion of related programs);
  • Build a technologically literate workforce (UW System).

Examples of programs in this category include the offering of engineering coursework in the Fox River Valley by UW-Platteville and the expansion of selected undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science, information systems and business at the other campuses.

“Wisconsin businesses are telling us they need help in all these areas,” said Lyall. “As a result, our institutions have made workforce development the heart of this budget request.”

Investing in Teacher Preparation and the Education Pipeline ($5.2 million GPR)

Another issue of statewide concern is the preparation of K-12 teachers and the preparation of future college students. “This is an area where the UW System can have an immediate and positive impact on communities throughout Wisconsin,” said Lyall. The budget proposal calls for mentoring of new teachers and greater support for their continuing education during the first three years in the field. Other provisions encourage more women and minority high schoolers to prepare for careers in science, technology and engineering. It would also be easier for more Wisconsin Technical College System students to complete a degree program in the UW System, and UW Extension will expand its programs for youth and families, enabling communities statewide to more fully utilize their existing workforce.

Maintaining Quality Higher Education ($30.8 million GPR)

A third budget category represents about one fourth of the total request for new initiatives and covers a variety of initiatives aimed at maintaining the quality of education in the UW System. Highlights include major investments in:

  • Preventive maintenance of facilities;
  • Continued support for library acquisitions;
  • Continue to provide more and better academic advising to students; and
  • Maintaining information technology services and the statewide “backbone.”

“In this category, we will also provide enhanced foreign language instruction collaboratively, via distance education, at campuses that cannot justify it by themselves,” said Lyall. “We will also increase the amount of aid available to students who want to spend a semester or a year enrolled in another country. Students who have such an opportunity invariably view it as the high point of their program, and it prepares them to compete in a global economy.”

Madison Initiative — Phase II ($18.2 million GPR)

Also featured prominently in the budget is the culmination of the Madison Initiative. Phase I was a focal point of the 1999-00 budget. Phase II builds on the success of that effort at UW-Madison by:

  • Broadening student learning: enhancing the freshman year and the overall undergraduate experience for students;
  • Strengthening Wisconsin’s economy: fostering technology transfer, increasing professional education, and expanding international opportunities for students;
  • Continuing strategic hiring: recruiting new faculty in targeted areas, building on new interdisciplinary strengths and making up for past budget cuts; and
  • Maintaining affordability: increasing need-based financial aid and creating additional undergraduate research fellowships.

As with the first phase of the Madison Initiative, the second phase matches state dollars with tuition dollars and funds contributed privately by the UW Foundation and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). “This partnership of the state, our students and the foundations is extraordinary,” said Lyall, “but necessary if Wisconsin is to maintain this great campus and its outstanding students. It’s an investment we must sustain, because the success of UW-Madison translates into jobs and growth in every corner of the state.”

Milwaukee Idea — Phase I ($24 million GPR)

UW-Milwaukee seeks to become one of the nation’s premier public, urban research universities. The Milwaukee Idea will help it accomplish that goal, by matching state dollars with tuition, reallocations and private contributions to support programs in education, health and the environment, and economic development. The university will partner in this with the UW Colleges, the Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee Area Technical College.

For example, the proposal supports a substantial FTE enrollment increase — most of them adult and returning students. This requires the hiring of an additional 330 faculty and staff. One outcome will be the doubling (from 300 to 600 per year) of the number of UW-Milwaukee graduates prepared to teach in urban school districts. Another outcome will be a substantial increase in the number of students attending pre-college programs. Typically, more than 90% of pre-college participants go on to attend college.

“Wisconsin is blessed with two public doctoral universities,” said Lyall. “The Milwaukee Idea aims at creating a stronger bond between UW-Milwaukee and the city of which it is a part. The outcome will be stronger K-12 schools, an invigorated business and cultural climate, and a closer affiliation between the state and its largest city.”

UW-Green Bay Learning Experience ($3.7 million GPR)

The final major budget category is for a three-year initiative designed to position UW-Green Bay as a distinctive institution in the UW System, one that focuses on interdisciplinary education and intensive interaction between students and faculty. Outcomes will include better first-year retention rates for students and a higher six-year graduation rate. Currently, both are low by UW System standards.

“What makes this a good investment,” said Lyall, ” is that improved retention and graduation rates will reduce state spending at UW-Green Bay by about $3,000 per graduate once the plan is fully implemented. It’s in our best interests to make curricular and staffing changes that enhance the learning experience for students. It’s doubly beneficial when those changes pay off so dramatically in terms of savings.”

Capital Budget Request

The capital request features 10 projects carried over from the prior biennium, nine new projects requiring GPR funding, and seven major projects funded entirely with gifts and grants and/or program revenue. All 13 of the four-year campuses are slated for one or more projects during 2001-03.

In addition to the Regents’ own requests, two related requests have been made by Governor Thompson:

  • BioStar is a 10-year, $317 million program (funded by a match of GPR and non-GPR funds) that is designed to replace and supplement biotechnology -related facilities at UW-Madison. The program is similar to previous Thompson proposals — WISTAR and HealthStar — both of which significantly bolstered UW System capacity in the fields of medical and scientific research and health care.
  • The Agriculture Initiative is a four-year, $34.5 million program designed to provide appropriate agriculture education and/or research facilities at UW-Platteville and UW-Madison.


Kevin Boatright, UW System
(608) 263-2227