Reilly’s vision for UW’s future includes more college degrees, aid for students

Kevin P. Reilly

Kevin P. Reilly

MADISON-Having challenged the University of Wisconsin System and its Board of Regents last December to “think big” about how the UW System can assist and encourage students from lower and middle income families to fulfill the dream of a college education, President Kevin P. Reilly provided on Thursday a vision of a UW “growth agenda” for the university, and the state, for the 21stcentury.

“We must grow and nurture this wonderful asset we know as the University of Wisconsin System so that the state, its people, and the quality of life in the state are enhanced for the 21st century,” Reilly told the Board. “We are at a defining moment in the evolution of the UW, and I am confident that we can guarantee student access, and Wisconsin success, for generations to come.”

Presenting a growth agenda he described as equal parts inspiration, aspiration and vision, Reilly told the Regents that they were in the “reaching business” as they carried forward the message to all Wisconsin students and their families that “college is possible.”

“We need to do all that we can to put the University of Wisconsin within the reach of every state citizen,” he added.

Reilly rearticulated his vision for the University of Wisconsin System by again emphasizing that “the University of Wisconsin System should be the state’s premier developer of advanced human potential, of the jobs that employ that potential, and of the communities that sustain it.”

Mindful that  “vision without action will not change anything,” he spelled out how this vision could generate a growth agenda for Wisconsin.

“All of our directions point to growth, and growth will lead to progress for Wisconsin,” Reilly stated, noting that the UW System has as many ideas for growing its student populations, and the state and local economies, as it has institutions.

He highlighted efforts like UW-Platteville’s Tri-State engineering initiative that is attracting students from Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, and the Central Wisconsin Connection, which has UW-Marathon County, UW-Marshfield/Wood County and UW-Stevens Point working together to enable more students to get a four-year degree while matriculating at a two-year campus, as examples of “new approaches to doing business in an era of constrained state support.”

“We will move Wisconsin where it needs to go,” Reilly added, with the intention of significantly increasing the number of baccalaureate degree holders in Wisconsin, raising the per capita income, and building a thriving 21st century knowledge economy, and a high quality of 21stcentury life here.

“These goals require a reinvestment from the state,” Reilly concluded, “and we are anxious to join with our state government partners in an agenda that will provide a substantial return on that investment – a better economy, more tax revenues, increased volunteerism, less crime, clean air and water, high-paying jobs, and a quality of life second to none. And a public university system that remains the envy of this nation.”

Regent Brent Smith of La Crosse applauded Reilly for his growth agenda and for “thinking outside the box.”

“Enabling our individual institutions to be flexible and to mine their own market niche is exactly the way to go,” Smith said.

Regent Charles Pruitt of Shorewood also expressed his support for the president’s growth agenda.

‘We haven’t grown this system in eight years,” Pruitt opined. “We’re closing doors to more and more students because we don’t have the resources to educate them. We need to send a message to students and families around the state that they will have access to one of our fine campuses.”

Following President Reilly’s “Vision” presentation, the Regents launched into an extensive and enthusiastic discussion of how to implement a potential cornerstone for increasing access for financially disadvantaged students.

The discussion focused on how best to implement a proposal offered by Gov. Jim Doyle in his State of the State Address to provide tuition and fees funding for students from Wisconsin’s poorest families if they meet academic standards and other eligibility requirements. The “Wisconsin Covenant” program would target 7th and 8th graders in state schools.

Under potential eligibility components offered up for discussion on Thursday, middle school students who pledge in the fall of 2007 to meet the Covenant could begin to arrive on UW System campuses in 2012.

Sharon Wilhelm, interim associate vice president for the office of policy analysis and research, presented a demographic breakdown of the access rates for Wisconsin students broken into five income categories.

According to the data, during the past 10 years the percentage of students from families in the lowest 40 percent of state income totaled 31.9 percent of all students, representing a drop of 6.7 percent in the previous decade. However, during that same period the number of students in the wealthiest 40 percent increased by 5.4 percent, to represent 43.5 percent of all students. She noted, too, that retention rates and college dropout rates for the neediest students are respectively 8 percent and 20 percent worse than for college students from the wealthiest families.

Data compiled by the UW System suggests that financial stress is the greatest influence on reduced enrollments and higher dropout rates for needier students.

Wilhelm told Regents they will be challenged to devise the guidelines for accepting students into the program based on predictable economic criteria that students and their parents can easily understand. She also suggested they turn to extensive criteria in place for a similar program in Indiana that can provide help in establishing expectations for demonstrating socially appropriate behavior by middle-schoolers through community service.

Data on the numbers of students to be affected and the fiscal cost are still being solidified, according to Freda Harris, associate vice president for budget and planning. Estimates based on the numbers of 8th graders who in 2004 qualified for their federally subsidized school lunch program suggests 24,100 students could be eligible for that year alone. In response to Regents’ questions, Harris added that figure could be reduced by students who fail to live up to the Covenant’s requirements.

The projected cost would require an additional $7 million to be added to the UW System budget each year so that the appropriation would total $35 million by its first year of implementation.

Regent Elizabeth Burmaster of Madison, the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, offered that she thought the estimate of the potential pool may be low and would check into DPI data. “I think we will be surprised by how many of our students qualify for the federal programs, and it is growing fast.”

In response to a question by Regent Judith Crain of Green Bay, President Kevin Reilly explained that the Wisconsin Covenant program would “close the gap” in tuition and fees that would not be covered by Wisconsin Higher Education Grants and federal Pell Grants. Students who did not meet eligibility requirements for additional Covenant funding would still qualify for the two other financial assistance programs.

Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee praised the program and said she was confident it would succeed. Davis is the executive director of the PERL program in Milwaukee, which is similar to the Covenant program in asking middle- and high school girls to set high educational objectives that will qualify them to attend college.

“Our research shows that when girls are offered a commitment and they know what’s required of them and the outcome, they make the commitment. It can work, and it is working in Milwaukee.”

In a discussion between Regent President David Walsh of Madison and Regent Burmaster that was echoed by other Regents, they predicted that promoting the Covenant program to Wisconsin’s neediest families will require a substantial investment of energy and resources.

Burmaster added, however, that the Department of Public Instruction has significantly invested in making known to families such similar programs as Early Childhood and SAGE. “Things in our K-12 budget are pretty focused on what we need to do to close the gap. Our budget shares the same vision to ensure our young people are prepared to enter the pipeline by the time they are in the 7th and 8th grade.” She added, “It’s all a good investment” in Wisconsin’s youngsters.

Read President Reilly’s Remarks

View a presentation on the Wisconsin Covenant pdf

Business, Finance and Audit Committee

Lower nonresident tuition rates expected to provide more access for Wisconsin students

A new tuition rate for students who come from other states to attend a UW campus is expected to make it possible to educate even more students from Wisconsin.

The Business, Finance and Audit Committee approved on Thursday a plan to reduce nonresident tuition rates at UW-Milwaukee, the 11 UW comprehensive campuses, and the UW Colleges, effective in the 2006-07 academic year. The plan will not displace any Wisconsin students. Rather, the move is expected to attract more students from out of state, who pay more in tuition to subsidize costs for resident students, said Freda Harris, UW System assistant vice president for budget and planning.

“It’s a win-win situation for the UW System, for the state and students. Our students will gain from geographic diversity on campus. This is a strategy that is a way to increase access for students at no cost to the state,” Harris said.

The proposal will be considered by the full Board on Friday.

The new rate would place nonresident tuition at approximately three times the resident tuition rate. This amount will require out-of-state students to cover the full cost of their education, and to pay the equivalent of the average state support for a resident undergraduate student, Harris said. If it is implemented next fall, it would save undergraduate out-of-state students about $2,000 on their current average cost of about $14,300.

In the current academic year, out-of-state students at UW campuses are charged tuition around four times the rates that resident students pay, and that nonresident tuition rate is significantly higher than what similar students would pay at peer college and universities. The rapid increases in nonresident tuition rates in recent years are believed to be a primary reason for the loss of approximately 900 nonresident undergraduate students across the UW System since 2001-02, Harris said. This reduction in students and revenue has increased each year and now amounts to approximately $13 million in lost tuition revenue each year.

The proposal is also in line with the university’s agenda for growth, as outlined by President Reilly in the morning session, Regents said.

The committee on Thursday also heard about a process that would enhance how the university manages the salary-setting process for university leaders, and, following established policy, voted to recommend to the full Board new salary ranges for university leaders.

To realize the “Vision” outlined earlier by President Reilly, Committee Chair Regent Charles Pruitt of Milwaukee said the salary disparity problem must be resolved. “The only way to achieve President Reilly’s objective is if every campus pushes the envelope. We can’t expect to achieve that if we don’t pay competitive salaries.” Pruitt noted that under-compensating chief executives doesn’t work for leading Wisconsin industries like S. C. Johnson and Miller Brewing, and it won’t work on UW System campuses.

Adopting the new policy will enable Regents “to compensate our executives individually, appropriately and competitively,” he added.

Thursday’s action did not set the salaries of university senior executives, but rather, the ranges in which those salaries must fall. The Board of Regents has not adjusted these ranges since November 2004.

The UW System competes in a national market for the faculty and university leaders, and UW chancellors’ salaries are, on average, between 8 percent and 17 percent blow peer medians, said Al Crist, UW System assistant vice president for human resources.

Even as such inequities exist, the university must continue to establish salary ranges for university leaders as part of the pay plan process, which applies to faculty, academic staff, and state employees. In addition, Crist said, a periodic review and assessment of individual chancellor compensation would allow for adjustments as needed, given competitive factors and salary inequities.

Citing the recent search for a chancellor at UW-Eau Claire, President Reilly shared with the committee the comments from two business community members who served on the panel. He noted that they thought the UW System should pay whatever the market demanded to get the best candidate.

Regent Peggy Rosenzweig of Wauwatosa, who chaired the Regents search committee for the Eau Claire chancellor position, endorsed those comments. “The community was passionate about the search. They felt strongly about the need for excellence in the chancellor,” said Rosenzweig.

The proposed policy, she said, “is setting the stage for a new process, and it is being watched by the public. And the public cares. I applaud the president for doing this.”

The committee also approved adjustments to campus funding levels for the 2006-07 annual budget. The allocations, if approved by the full Board, will return $20 million required in one-time asset management reductions, as well as additional utilities funding of $6.1 million; faculty retention funding of $1.6 million; and student technology funding of $1.6 million. In addition, the allocations would include the state-approved pay plan for unclassified and nonrepresented classified staff, which calls for a 2 percent increase on July 1, 2006, and an added 1 percent increase on April 1, 2007.

UW System Director of Financial Reporting Ginger Hintz presented highlights of the UW System Annual Financial Report, which covered FY 2004-05, the second year of the worst biennial budget in the history of the UW System. State tax support was reduced $250 million over the two-year period, Hintz reviewed, and low levels of state support meant tuition had to increase 18 percent in FY 2004, and 15 percent in FY 2005. Adjusted for inflation, state appropriations for the university are less than they were a decade ago, Hintz said. Just two years ago, state funding made up 30 percent of the UW’s total revenue, but at the end of the 2004-05 fiscal year, state support made up just 25 percent of total revenues.

Regents also heard from Treasury Manager and Assistant Trust Officer Douglas Hoerr, who presented highlights of the Annual Trust Funds Report. The UW System’s Trust Fund total assets under management were $369.1 million as of June 30, 2005, Hoerr said.

The Business, Finance and Audit Committee also approved resolutions to extend contracts with providers of dining services at UW-River Falls and UW-La Crosse; and heard the Report of the vice president for finance.

View a presentation on the 2005 annual financial report pdf

Education Committee

Teaching and learning improve through the Lesson Study Project, Regents learn

Faculty and teaching staff across the UW System are working together through an innovative project to improve teaching methods and student learning, the Board’s Education Committee learned on Thursday.

The committee heard from Bill Cerbin, professor of psychology at UW-La Crosse, about “The Lesson Study Project,” one of many evidence-based investigations into student learning. The project is an extension of the UW System’s nationally recognized work on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Cerbin reported, “Lesson Study is a teaching improvement process in which a small group of teachers jointly plan, observe, analyze, evaluate, revise, and improve actual classroom lessons called ‘research lessons.’ ” It is an “evidence-based inquiry that focuses on how students learn.”

Approximately 150 instructors from 17 UW institutions participate on 40 teams as part of the Lesson Study Project, Cerbin said.

The project hopes to improve the teaching of instructors who participate in the lesson study, thereby improving student learning.

The Education Committee on Thursday also approved an item that would make changes in the process that guides the approval of new UW campuses academic programs. The changes are intended to make the process more efficient, in line with other UW System Administration efforts, said Ron Singer, associate vice president of UW System Academic Affairs.

State statutes give the Regents responsibility to determine which educational programs the UW System will offer. The UW System engages in a collaborative planning process with UW institutions before a program is recommended to the Board, which makes final decisions about proposed programs.

“Current policy requires approval from the Board to begin planning a program, and several steps of review before and after an academic program is implemented,” Singer said. “In the past, Regents have wanted to authorize a new program following the initial reading of a proposal, but the Board policy has required the extended approval process.”

If approved by the full Board on Friday, the action would revise the joint review process to eliminate redundancy and reduce the number of readings required before the Board of Regents for a new academic program from two to one. Exceptions would be made if the Education Committee requests additional information about a proposed program.

The committee on Thursday also furthered discussion on the UW Growth Agenda, and the vision for the future presented earlier in the day by President Reilly. The committee members agreed that they welcomed the chance to learn more about the proposed Wisconsin Covenant. Regent Elizabeth Burmaster suggested looking to the model already in place in Indiana for further ideas and details.

In other business, the committee heard an initial review of a program proposal for a Master of Science in Agroecology at UW-Madison, and approved a resolution that would authorize the recruitment of a Provost and Vice Chancellor for UW-River Falls.

View a presentation on the Lesson Study Project

View a presentation on Agroecology pdf

Physical Planning and Funding

UW-Madison, UW-Platteville move forward on student residence hall, learning center projects

The Board’s Physical Planning and Funding committee on Thursday approved several major project requests and maintenance projects.

The committee recommended that UW-Madison be granted authority to purchase the Newell J. Smith Residence Hall, a new residence hall now under construction. The Board recently named the hall for Mr. Smith, who served as director of university housing on the campus for 28 years. The $47 million purchase would also include a parking ramp and a fleet-garage facility. Immediately purchasing the facility is the least costly option for the university, and the needed funding was approved in the 2005-07 Capital Budget as program-revenue borrowing, said David Miller, UW System assistant vice president for capital budget and planning.

The committee also approved an action that would allow construction of an addition to the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute and Clinics Building for the Health Emotions Research Institute on the UW-Madison campus, and allow the university to accept the addition as a gift upon completion. The Board must approve a land-use agreement with the Medical Foundation. The value of the construction gift is expected to be $7 million, Miller said.

Miller also reported that plans are ready for an addition and remodeling project at the Ullsvik Center at UW-Platteville, and the committee voted to approve the design and prepare the project for construction bidding. The center will include a combination of classrooms, and academic department and administrative offices, he said. A budget increase requested for Ullsvik is primarily due to inflation since the time the project was approved by the State Building Commission.

In addition, Miller reported that the Building Commission approved about $6.5 million for projects at its January meeting and the majority of that funding was General Fund Supported Borrowing. Miller also informed the committee that a Regent-approved request to seek a waiver for the use of a construction manager-at-risk for the UW-Madison Biochemistry project was not approved by the commission.  Miller stated that commission members expressed unease with approving a selection process rather than a hard bid process.  The construction manager process was sought because it would have provided a guaranteed maximum price.  The project will now proceed under the usual design-bid-build process.

The committee also approved resolutions to be considered by the full Board that would grant authority to:

  • Construct a campus electrical service project at UW-La Crosse;
  • Construct a renovation of the sixth and seventh floors of the Waisman Center at UW-Madison, as well as approve the design report and budget adjustment;
  • Plan the East Campus Utility Project at UW-Madison; and
  • Construct Facility Maintenance and Repair Projects within the UW System.


The Board of Regents will resume its February meeting at 9 a.m., Feb. 10, in Room 1820 of Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.

Related: Read Feb. 10 (day 2) news summary