Madison — The yardstick by which the University of Wisconsin System measures its progress toward achieving excellence will change if the Board of Regents Friday (06/09/00) accepts the recommendations of a task force charged with creating new accountability measures for the UW System.
In 1993, an Accountability Task Force recommended 18 performance indicators that formed the basis for the system’s first accountability report. The original 18 indicators have been used for the past six years, and now UW System President Katharine C. Lyall wants the Regents to update the measurements to reflect the current environment.
Nationally, accountability reports for higher education typically measure student enrollment, retention, graduation and stewardship of resources. Lyall said the UW System needs to go beyond traditional measures in order to address the best interests of Wisconsin citizens.
“The public must be assured that its UW System campuses are preparing students to function effectively in a knowledge society and a dynamic world community,” said President Lyall. “I believe these new indicators will reveal how well we measure up and meet the goals of the UW System in the 21st century.”
The Accountability Review Task Force, chaired by UW Superior Chancellor Julius Erlenbach, included 22 faculty, administrators, staff and students from each of the UW institutions. The new accountability report, entitled Achieving Excellence, focuses on three main themes:
Access for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, disability or age. It emphasizes providing services for adult, part-time and place bound students. It also measures the UW System’s progress in retaining students to completion of their degrees.
Performance in preparing students to function in a knowledge society and global economy. The indicators go beyond tracking instructional quality to measuring how well campuses are providing supportive learning environments that enable students to function effectively in a diverse world. “Such an environment is greatly enhanced by providing high quality student services,” the report states.
Achieving excellence in the stewardship of facilities to provide high quality services. This theme focuses on efficiency. The measures include the use of system-wide resources, with particular emphasis on the use of technology. The goal is to demonstrate that maximum value has been derived from the state’s investment in higher education.
“These new indicators, which emphasize the learning environment, are unique, innovative and go beyond what is traditionally included in other states’ accountability reports,” said Chancellor Erlanbach, chair of the task force. He said the indicators are based on scholarly research in the areas of student retention, and emphasize the importance of creating environments that support and engage students.
If the Board of Regents, meeting in Milwaukee, accepts the recommendations of the Accountability Review Task Force and authorizes implementation of the new accountability indicators, the Achieving Excellence report will be produced on a yearly basis. The basic structure will remain constant for the next six years.
Sharyn Wisniewski, UW System