MADISON-The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Thursday (Feb. 9) unanimously approved a plan to consolidate the Madison-based administrative offices of two UW System institutions under the leadership of a single chancellor, a move that will strengthen university programs, while saving as much as $1.5 million per year.

The Board authorized the proposal, initiated by UW System President Kevin P. Reilly, to search for a single chancellor for the 13 freshman-sophomore UW Colleges campuses, and the statewide UW-Extension.

“We are in a time of change, and we are asking Colleges and Extension to go first,” Reilly said.

Following a comprehensive, independent study, Reilly included the proposal as part of a recent university report on administrative efficiency and effectiveness. He explained that similarities between the statewide outreach service and the freshman-sophomore campuses would allow the consolidation to strengthen their shared “access missions.”

Both offer educational services statewide and are geographically dispersed, both are gateways for public access to the university, both have administrations headquartered in Madison, and both have strong relationships with county governments, Reilly said.

Reilly, a former UW-Extension chancellor, stressed that his plan does not merge the institutions into one, but said that both UW-Extension and UW Colleges representatives have indicated interest in collaborations that would go beyond the scope of the proposal.

“Future collaborations could include strengthened distance learning support for the university’s goal to expand the number of baccalaureate degree holders in the state; new local economic development efforts; increased cultural activities with local communities, and expanded assistance for prospective UW Colleges students,” Reilly said. “More ideas will surface if this cross-institutional fertilization is allowed to take root.”

Reilly stressed that the consolidation proposal had the benefit of four months of study, as well as wide consultation, but also encouraged all to remain open-minded about other suggestions for university restructuring.

Interim UW-Extension Chancellor Marv Van Kekerix said those who work for the outreach service support Reilly’s plans for efficiency and effectiveness.

“On the balance, I think they see this as positive, and something that can add value to our learners and our clients,” Van Kekerix said.

Interim UW Colleges Chancellor Margaret Cleek added that the process has included careful consideration and open communication.

“Colleges has come to the conclusion that this is the right thing to do,” Cleek said. “While people are always wary of change, we did try to focus on how we can strengthen our two institutions.”

Regent Chuck Pruitt of Shorewood praised the interim chancellors and their colleagues for their work during study of the consolidation.

“Their willingness to look at this as an opportunity and embrace change is just another example of how we look at things around the system during tough times,” Pruitt said.

Regent Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids encouraged the system to roll any savings realized from the consolidation back to the core missions of UW-Extension and the UW Colleges. Regent Jose Olivieri added that the two institutions should be encouraged to be creative and to feel free to collaborate.

Regent Mark Bradley of Wausau gave the plan his strong support and commented that the plan showed “exactly why the Board hired President Reilly.”

In response to a question from Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler of Oshkosh, who said she has received more letters on this issue than any other, Reilly said he was confident a new chancellor could fulfill the expanded job responsibilities with the right restructuring.

“I’m satisfied that we’re dealing with the right people at the right time,” said Regent President Toby E. Marcovich of Superior.

Reilly said the recruitment process for a new chancellor would begin soon.

Reilly also reviewed for the Board his recent response to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and his additional plans for efficiency and effectiveness, including the appointment of UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Don Mash as UW System Executive Vice President.

Governor’s budget offers modest reinvestment for UW System, poses tough challenges, Board agrees

Governor Jim Doyle’s 2005-07 biennial budget proposal would begin to reinvest in the university system, but leaves substantial room to gain additional support for the university, the Board of Regents agreed Thursday.

In introducing the discussion, Reilly thanked the Board for its part in championing the needs of students.

“Both your budget request, and the Governor’s, have identified quality, student access, and Wisconsin success as top priorities,” Reilly said.

Freda Harris, associate vice president for budget and planning, outlined the Governor’s proposal for the Board. In summary, the two-year proposal requires the system to reallocate $65 million in administrative savings and reduce 200 additional administrative positions, while adding $49 million in new state tax support, and calling for $100 million to be raised through average tuition increases of approximately 5.9 percent in the first year, and 5.4 percent in the second year.

The budget also calls for $47 million of state tax support for financial aid through the UW-WHEG program. That funding would fill the gap left when university auxiliary funds were used to pay for aid last biennium, maintain the statutory link between tuition increases and aid levels, and add an additional $4 million for the university’s neediest students.

The executive budget proposal also provides $1 million for implementation of the recommendations on the Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion, $3 million for Alzheimer’s research, and pays for a plan to offer engineering degrees through a joint UW-Platteville/UW-Rock County program. Doyle also proposed providing domestic partner benefits for university employees.

The proposal does not provide a pay plan for university faculty and staff. A compensation plan will be taken up later in the year by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations, Harris said.

“There are a number of things to like in this budget,” Reilly said. “But the need to fund some of this through reallocation of academic and student services hurts. My fear is that we’re gradually hollowing out our core.”

Regent President Toby Marcovich said the budget incorporates many administrative efficiencies related to purchasing and procurement that were originally proposed by the Board of Regents.

“We’ve improved our position with the Legislature,” Marcovich said. “This isn’t a one-time deal. We took our hit, and I think we took more than we deserved.”

Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee said the Governor’s budget reflects the substantial cuts the university was forced to take in previous biennia.

“We need to make sure that we get, at a minimum, what is proposed; keep our coalition together; and not find ourselves as pawns in a political fight,” she said.

Regent Guy Gottschalk noted that students were being asked to pay twice as much as the Governor proposed that the state contribute.

“If I’m a student, this is a horrible budget,” he said. “Once again, the university is asked to bear an inappropriate share of bailing out state government. I appreciate the positive things the Governor did, but I think he came up way short.”

Harris explained, in response to a concern from Regent Jesus Salas of Milwaukee, that while the Regents’ financial aid request was not fully-funded, it is still undecided how the UW-WHEG formula will affect students from low-income families.

Regent Peggy Rosenzweig of Wauwatosa reminded the Board that while the Governor’s proposal did not fully fund the Regents request, other agencies are hurting as well. She noted the extended applause from both sides of the aisle when Doyle mentioned the university during his address Tuesday evening, and encouraged the board to be patient advocates.

“It is a long way from today to the passage of that budget,” she said. “I wouldn’t despair.”

Regent Vice President David Walsh added that the budget is a message that the state of Wisconsin values public higher education.

“This budget sends a lot of positive messages – including to the students. It would have been very easy to put this on their backs, but we still have the second-lowest tuition in the Big Ten,” he said. “Our challenge is to go back and try to get a little more, but also to keep our house in order.”

Reilly said the university should continue to strongly advocate for a competitive pay plan, and to remind the state how investments in the university can create jobs, build the economy, and strengthen the state for “our children and grandchildren.”

“The Governor’s budget is a good place for us to start, but we have a lot of work ahead to make sure the final outcome is the best it can be for students and citizens,” Reilly said. “Our students will most benefit if there is strong, bipartisan support for our budget needs in the Joint Committee on Finance, which is where the Governor’s proposal goes next. We must make sure that we gain ground, not lose it.”

Read President Reilly’s statement on the budget

Regents respond to Plan 2008 goals

Extensive accountability measures were proposed the Board of Regents on Thursday to bring new urgency to achieving diversity in students, faculty and staff populations, while achieving a welcoming climate on campuses throughout the UW System.

The full Board heard presentations by UW System Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Cora Marrett, as well as David Glisch-Sanchez, Academic Affairs director for the United Council of UW Students, on the current state of Plan 2008: Educational Quality Through Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

The plan, which was adopted in 1998, is entering its second phase, which addresses closing the achievement gap between students of color and majority students.

Marrett noted that campuses were charged by the Regents with submitting plans by December that describe how they will reach seven distinct goals. She reported that discussion continues between System Administration and the campuses to finalize the plans by March.

Regent Jesus Salas congratulated the campuses on a process that is incorporating accountability models absent from past diversity activities. Citing System data, Salas noted that diversity remains a challenge because of insignificant gains in some minority groups during the last decade.

UW System President Kevin Reilly responded that he and UW institutions would respond to the challenge the Regents and students have issued.

“Make no mistake about it: Plan 2008 is core,” Reilly said. “It lies at the heart of what we are about as a system of public higher education institutions.”

Education Committee

The Regent discussion was followed by an extensive consideration of accountability and campus climate directives in the Regents Education Committee meeting.

Committee Chair Regent Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee, Roger Axtell of Janesville, Elizabeth Burmaster of Madison, Danae Davis of Milwaukee, and Beth Richlen of Madison voted to significantly strengthen and expand a series of recommendations that will be offered to the Board on Friday.

Davis led a roundtable discussion with UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells and Vicki Washington, director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Programs at UW-Extension. They outlined their success in devising campus climate studies and accountability measures that build in national models.

Regent Davis said the role for Regents was to ensure that the System president and chancellors are accountable for achieving success in diversity; that it extends into the entire campus community; and that campus activities emphasize outcomes, rather than participation in programs.

Following a lengthy and passionate discussion, the Regents adopted proposals suggested by the United Council of UW Students and also substantially strengthened the obligation of campuses and chancellors.

The resolution proposes that the UW System:

  • Develop a systemwide diversity accountability report card with measurable goals to track progress made by UWSA and the institutions in closing the achievement gap between UW students of color and white students;
  • Institute a systemwide Diversity award, recognizing excellence in diversity programming or achievement; and·
  • Phase II campus plans must describe campus accountability processes, including incentives and penalties, for success or failure to close the gap.

The Committee also forwarded several resolutions for action at Friday’s meeting, including:

  • A revision to include gender identity or expression in the UW System policy documents on nondiscrimination;
  • Proposals to approve two UW-Milwaukee charter school contracts;
  • Authorization to implement a B.A./B.S. in International Studies at UW-River Falls;
  • Approval of a revised UW-Whitewater mission statement; and
  • Approval of amendments to the UW-Stout Faculty Personnel Policies.
  • Authorization to recruit a chancellor at UW-Eau Claire

Business and Finance Committee

The Business and Finance Committee opened its Thursday meeting with a discussion of the Annual Financial Report, presented by Assistant Vice President for Financial Administration Doug Hendrix.

Hendrix reported on revenue trends from state appropriations, tuition and fees, and from all other sources.  When adjusted for inflation, state support has been relatively flat over most of the 10-year period, he said, while revenue from other sources has steadily increased. Hendrix said 26.6 percent comes from state appropriations, 19.3 percent from tuition, 24.3 percent from grants and contracts, and 29.8 percent from other sources.

Following up on the morning presentation on efficiency and effectiveness measures, Regent Mark Bradley inquired about the progress on decreasing the gap between the method used in the Legislative Audit Bureau audit to calculate administrative expenditures and the method utilized by peer higher education institutions.

Vice President for Finance Debbie Durcan asked if it was useful to provide a separate annual report that utilizes the Legislative Audit Bureau definitions for administrative expenditures for the specific purposes of the Legislature.

Hendrix told the committee that he is continuing to meet with representatives from the Legislative Audit Bureau to determine the best options for reporting the information required by the Joint Audit Committee.

The Committee noted that it will be important to agree upon a definition of administration with LAB and DOA, in light of the required reduction of the equivalent of 200 full-time positions in the 2005-07 biennial budget.

Ron Yates, director of the Office of Operations Review and Audit, updated the committee about current projects and audits, including, National Collegiate Athletics Association Division I annual reports for the UW-Madison, UW-Green Bay, and UW-Milwaukee campuses; a Materials Distribution Services/Surplus with a Purpose (MDS/SWAP) audit; and a review of proper procedures to remove sensitive bio-data or information protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) from surplus computers prior to disposal.

In addition, Yates briefed the committee on a number of other projects the Legislative Audit Bureau is currently working on, including a statewide audit and review of economic development practices.

In other business, the committee:

  • Heard the quarterly report on gifts, grants and contract holdings of the UW System;
  • Discussed the Utilities Report to the Joint Finance Committee;
  • Reviewed the Annual Trust Funds Report, provided by Treasury Manager and Assistant Trust Officer Doug Hoerr; and
  • Discussed the option of pursuing investment opportunities in timberland properties.

Physical Planning and Funding

UW System Assistant Vice President David Miller reported to the committee that each year the Governor, as chair of the State Building commission, presents awards in building design and construction and leadership in service.

Miller reported that the most recent Excellence in Architectural Design award was presented to Kee Architects, Madison, in recognition of the recently constructed Pioneer Student Center at UW-Platteville – a facility that effectively encourages the convergence of academics and social interaction, promoting learning beyond the classroom.

Miller also noted that Jerry Walters, engineering specialist at UW-Stevens Point, received the Excellence in Service award for his positive attitude and proactive approach in working with the Division of State Facilities field staff in the administration and management of construction projects on the UW-Stevens Point campus.

In reporting on actions of the State Building Commission since December, Miller noted that, due to a significant increase in cost, the Commission has requested that UW System develop a request to construct the UW-River Falls Dairy Science Teaching Center project.

“This is a project that was approved by the Regents quite some time ago,” said Regent Jesus Salas of Milwaukee. “Delays that have resulted from a cumbersome process are a significant part of the problem with cost increases in this facility.”

The project was first enumerated in the 1999-2001 capital budget, he noted.

The Committee forwarded several resolutions for action at Friday’s meeting, including:

  • an increase in budget for the DeBot Center Kitchen and Dining upgrade project at UW-Stevens Point;
  • the design report for renovations at UW-Extension’s Lowell Hall;
  • the release of a small parcel of land leased from the county by UW-Fond du Lac;
  • authority for the UW-Madison Graduate School – Wisconsin National Primate Research Center to lease space at the University Research Park, primarily for AIDS research;
  • approval to enter into a land use agreement and to lease space as it relates to the construction of a 380-bed, suite-style residence hall at UW-Platteville; and
  • Systemwide maintenance and repair projects totaling just over $4 million.


The Board of Regents will reconvene its February meeting on Friday, Feb. 11, at 9 a.m. in Room 1820 Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.

Related: Read Feb. 11 (day 2) news summary