OSHKOSH — To provide Northeastern Wisconsin with more of the bachelor’s degree-holding students it needs to succeed in the new economy, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh needs state funding over the next six years to add new faculty and provide more instructional space.

Chancellor Richard Wells of UW-Oshkosh speaks to the UW System Board of Regents

Chancellor Richard Wells of UW-Oshkosh speaks to the UW System Board of Regents

And just as important, Chancellor Richard H. Wells told the UW System Board of Regents on Thursday (April 12), it needs to continue expanding the innovative collaborations it has launched with other campuses in the region.

“Collaboration in Action: Building a Regional Model” was the theme for the two-day Regents meeting hosted at the UW-Oshkosh campus.

The UW-Oshkosh Growth Agenda, which is now before the Joint Finance Committee as part of the UW System budget, would add 1,400 students over six years in high-demand programs at the state’s third largest campus. It also calls for additional faculty members and facilities upgrades, including a new, $48-million academic building.

It also would expand collaborations to serve graduates of technical colleges and UW Colleges. Wells and UW-Oshkosh led formation of the 13-member Northeastern Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA) and New North, an 18-county consortium of business, civic, education and other leaders committed to job growth, economic vitality and a high quality of life for the region.

“To improve the education assets of Wisconsin … is not going to happen without a whole lot of work by all of us,” Wells said.

New North leaders will make a presentation to the Board of Regents on Friday.

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard, UW-Fox Valley Dean Jim Perry, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Jeffrey Rafn

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard, UW-Fox Valley Dean Jim Perry, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Jeffrey Rafn

A NEW ERA panel including UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard, UW-Fox Valley Dean Jim Perry, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Jeffrey Rafn talked about all that the collaboration has accomplished in its six-year history to, as Shepard said, “better meet the educational needs of this region” by making it easier for students to move between two- and four-year UW campuses and technical colleges.

And NEW ERA has done it without spending additional money.

Collaborations have focused on high-demand programs. NEW ERA has become a model for educational collaboration and regional development, panel members said.

Rafn asked Regents to consider ways to support the innovative effort, which has been supported up until now primarily through the offices of the member-campus CEOs.

“We’re doing a great job,” Rafn said. “You can use NEW ERA as a pilot to create new ways to foster innovation and creativity.”

— Frank Church, UW-Oshkosh Integrated Marketing and Communications

View a presentation on UW-Oshkosh pdf

Equity Scorecard helps UW study and solve achievement gaps

Following Regent interest in advancing diverse learning environments, several UW institutions have launched an innovative self-assessment project called the “Equity Scorecard.”

The Equity Scorecard helps campuses identify if and where achievement gaps exist for African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and Southeast Asian students, who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education. The scorecard helps campuses understand why such gaps may exist, and to find interventions and solutions to address and resolve any inequities.

Since 2005, six UW institutions have piloted the Equity Scorecard: UW-Colleges, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Whitewater.

Regent Danae D. Davis, chair of the Education Committee, said she is enthusiastic about the project’s potential.

“This a huge step forward in the UW System’s attempt to make meaningful change in how we address the achievement gap for students of color at our institutions,” Davis said. “It’s a major shift in how, not what, is addressed from a diversity perspective. We resist jumping to conclusions until we discover the how and why of things.”

The Equity Scorecard is designed to gather data that campuses can use to raise awareness of educational inequities, and to actively change any practices that are found to result in an achievement gap. Designed by Dr. Estela Bensimon of the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California, who attended the meeting in Oshkosh, the scorecard helps campuses assess their performance related to access, retention, excellence, and institutional receptivity for historically underrepresented students.

“These data repeat themselves across the country,” Bensimon said. “It is not simply an issue of our students — it is also an issue of our institutions and their practices.” She said that the problems the scorecard can uncover stem from classroom activities, personal interactions, and policies and practices, and that it is important that faculty engage in the process.

For example, equity is reflected when students of color are represented in academic achievements, like Dean’s Lists, or other honors and awards; on student government, and in all majors and academic disciplines at the same rates they are represented in the overall student population.

The scorecard emphasizes institutional responsibility for student success, said Vicki Washington, interim assistant vice president for academic diversity and development. This approach looks at achievement gaps as problems that result from deficiencies in institutional performance, rather than from students.“This process may look deceptive simple, however, it is extremely complex,” Washington said.

At the UW Colleges, the team is working to understand the data, rather than trying to “explain it away,“ said Greg Lampe, associate vice chancellor for UW Colleges. Focusing on access, the UW Colleges developed a model to determine whether the freshman-sophomore campuses are enrolling white students and students of color from the same high schools at equitable rates. As a result, recruiters now have more-detailed information about the populations from which the UW Colleges draw students, Lampe said.

Lampe said the self-assessment has been a transformative experience that is already impacting team members and campus constituents.

Al Thompson, UW-La Crosse affirmative action and diversity team leader, said the campus found that proportionally fewer students of color were applying to UW-La Crosse than are represented around the state.

But when students of color do apply to UW-La Crosse, equity is achieved at even a higher rate than white students, he said. “We’re doing something right once they apply. We’re getting them in the door,” Thompson said.

The campus successfully retains students from all backgrounds to the second year, which Thompson attributed to campus programming to engage students on campus, but said White and Southeast Asian students have higher six-year graduation rates than other students of color. The campus has suggested that better advising and course placements could improve these measures.

UW-Oshkosh looked at the rates at which students received a D or an F in a course, or chose to withdraw from a particular class, said Margaret Michelina Manzi, assistant vice chancellor, curricular affairs and student academic achievement at UW-Oshkosh. She said the campus expected to find deficiencies limited to math and science coursework, but was disappointed to find that students in underrepresented racial and ethnic groups were at high or very high risk for receiving a D, an F, or withdrawing from nearly all general education courses.

Regent Tom Loftus of Sun Prairie asked if the campus had considered whether insufficient classroom instruction was responsible for the low performance in these classes. Manzi said academic personnel are investigating instruction methods, and are also moving quickly to improve advising, tutoring, counseling, and to develop a first-year experience initiative.

Eugene Fujimoto, assistant to the chancellor for equity and diversity at UW-Parkside, said the campus found that nearly 70 percent of students are taking academic skills classes in reading or math, with unsatisfactory success rates.

UW-Parkside has hired a new admissions counselor to help increase enrollment of African American males and all Latino/a students, and wants to invest resources to improve retention and graduation rates for underrepresented students of color, he said. The campus also intends to collaborate with high schools, refine new-student programs, and research new ways the campus could teach and support diverse students.

“The gaps are abnormal, and we want to recognize that there are things we can do about them if we have the will to do it,” Fujimoto said.

Rita Cheng, provost at UW-Milwaukee, said the Equity Scorecard is helping UWM support its Access to Success Initiative, which seeks to create an environment in which students can succeed. The Equity Scorecard is a tool that has engaged the campus in understanding what the data gathered means, and how it can be used to address inequities.

“We have affected change on the campus as we’ve implemented the scorecard, because we didn’t want to wait,” Cheng said.

UW-Milwaukee has the largest number of students of color in the UW System, Cheng said, with 55 percent of all African-American undergraduates, and 45 of all resident African-American graduate students.

She said many students arrive at UWM without proper academic preparation, and that many need additional math or English coursework.

Cheng said the campus has a first-year retention gap of 15 percent between students of color and majority students. The campus has stepped up efforts to recruit from high schools with high ethnic diversity, and provides individual follow-up with every applicant of color. Cheng also said the campus has increased scholarship opportunities, and is using a National Science Foundation grant to work with Milwaukee Area Technical College to reduce the number of students who may need remedial math instruction.

UW-Whitewater determined that grade point average is only one measure of a quality education, said Don Sorensen, chair and professor of Finance & Business Law, who is chairing the Equity Scorecard work at UW- Whitewater. Employers, he said, also want to know if students are leaders and good communicators.

The UW-Whitewater data show that far lower rates of students of color than white students earned university honors, noted by a cumulative grade point average of 3.4 at graduation, he said. But the campus also found that multicultural students participated at higher rates than white students in programs like undergraduate research, study-abroad programming, and resident advising. In addition, when measured compared with their representation in the overall student population, higher rates of students of color go on to UW graduate education within three years of graduating from UW-Whitewater, he said.

These Equity Scorecard pilots will give Regents information about whether the scorecard or similar projects could be successful at other UW System institutions.

Teams at all six pilot institutions are completing reports on their findings related to access and retention, Washington said, and some have moved to examinations of excellence and institutional receptivity. These and other findings from the Equity Scorecard process are expected to be used at UW campuses in the long-term, and to inform the UW System’s future plans for diversity within the university, said Ron Singer, UW System associate vice president for academic affairs.

Singer also noted that several initiatives in the “Growth Agenda for Wisconsin” would help the campuses solve some of the kinds of inequities found through this process; in particular, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse and UW-Whitewater are seeking support to improve access, while UW-Whitewater, as well as UW-Parkside and UW-River Falls, are also seeking support to retain and graduate students.

In June, the Regents will hear an update about Plan 2008, the systemwide plan to achieve a diverse academic environment.

View a presentation on the Equity Scorecard Project pdf

Business, Finance and Audit Committee

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh presented its strategies for diversifying revenue sources to the Business, Finance and Audit Committee on Thursday. With 14 percent of its budget coming from federal funds and 28 percent from the state, the campus has to look for other ways to increase funding.

“In higher education administration, we often hear about excessive spending for university administrators,” said Tom Sonnleitner, vice chancellor of administrative services. “From my experience in dealing with many universities in the Midwest, I’ve found that the UW System is much leaner than many other places, and UW-Oshkosh is one of the leaner institutions in the system. We spend less than 6 percent of our budget on administration.”

The university must enhance its resources when looking to increase funds, he said, and cost recovery programs have created a net revenue-sharing model for UW-Oshkosh.

One is the Accelerated Nursing Program, which allows people with bachelor’s degrees in areas unrelated to nursing to take a fast-track to a nursing degree. As a predominantly online program, about half of its students come from out-of-state and train with out-of-state nurses.

Looking to 2007-2013, the university has drafted a plan to increase enrollment 12 percent and degrees conferred 10 percent. It also plans greater student retention rates (10 percent), students of color (75 percent), and older adult undergraduates (50 percent). Since nearly 30,000 alumni now live in the New North, these future enrollment increases are expected to add to the region’s prosperity.

From 2002 to 2006, a more aggressive fundraising strategy by the UW-Oshkosh Foundation has resulted in a 160 percent increase in total assets, from $7.4 to 19.2 million.

With regional needs growing, UW-Oshkosh has recognized the need for more college graduates, more access to university resources, and more programs that address future business needs. UW-Oshkosh’s fundraising campaign in part will support a new academic building to house the College of Business and departments of journalism, psychology, geography, and other social sciences.

UW-Oshkosh Foundation President Art Rathjen reviewed the current $24-million capital campaign, which will provide $8 million for the $48-million academic building, $12.5 million for the annual fund, $1.5 million toward research, and $2 million toward scholarships.

“The need for scholarships is paramount,” Rathjen said. “It’s not enough to get students to want to come to campus: how will they afford it once they are here?”

— Heidi Heidenreich Nowicki, UW-Oshkosh Integrated Marketing and Communications

View the UW-Oshkosh presentation pdf

Committee Business

Children and grandchildren of UW alumni could continue to attend selected UW campuses under a pilot program that offers discounts on regular nonresident tuition rates, if the full Board approves an action taken by the Business, Finance and Audit Committee on Thursday.

The committee voted to extend a pilot program known as “Return to Wisconsin,” which allows these descendants of UW alumni to receive a 25 percent discount on nonresident tuition. The program would be available for an additional three years at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Whitewater.

The program is one of three offerings designed to address a significant drop in nonresident enrollments. That drop occurred after UW System nonresident tuition was increased to levels that substantially higher than peer institutions. The loss of nonresident enrollment then resulted in $13 million of lost revenue for UW.

No Wisconsin students are displaced under these programs, and in each case, nonresident students pay higher tuition rates than Wisconsin students, said Regent Charles Pruitt of Shorewood.

Return to Wisconsin was designed to be a small program, said Lynn Paulson, associate vice president for budget and planning. In 2006-07, 49 students enrolled at UW campuses under this program, an increase from 36 in 2005-06, The majority of these students are now enrolled at UW-Whitewater, UW-La Crosse and UW-Stevens Point.

The revenue generated through Return to Wisconsin provides funds to subsidize educational costs for Wisconsin students, and can help Wisconsin achieve a “brain gain” by bringing students from other states to Wisconsin for college, and potentially staying after graduation to live and work.

The committee also received enrollment information about the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP), which is coordinated by the Midwest Higher Education Compact (MHEC). It offers students from Midwestern states the opportunity to attend universities in the region on a space-available basis, at discounted nonresident tuition rates. The UW System is in the first year of participation in MSEP, and has enrolled 90 undergraduates and 12 graduate students under the program. Information about the number of Wisconsin students who enrolled at other colleges and universities through the program is expected to be available this summer.

The Tri-State Initiative at UW-Platteville was designed to draw students from UW-Platteville’s service area, which includes Iowa and Illinois. This fall, the program enrolled 498 students, all of whom pay resident tuition rates, plus a $4,000 premium. The program was designed to accommodate 2,000 students, and the additional revenue is helping to pay for academic facilities, said UW-Platteville Chancellor David Markee.

The committee also approved three selected differential tuition programs that would generate additional funds to provide critical student support services.

Such differentials, especially for high-cost programs, are increasingly common at U.S. colleges and universities, said Debbie Durcan, UW System vice president for finance.

There are approximately 15 differential tuition programs across the university system in which students pay a specified amount above base tuition rates. Not all suggestions for such programs rise to the Board level. President Reilly emphasized that only programs with strong demonstrated student support are forwarded to the Board for approval.

If approved by the full Board on Friday, all undergraduates at UW-Oshkosh would continue to pay an existing $55-per-semester differential tuition charge. The differential tuition amount supports the Oshkosh Personal Development Compact, which offers students assessments, advising, co-curricular opportunities, and wellness services. Petra Roter, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UW-Oshkosh, said the fee is annually reviewed by a committee of students appointed by the Oshkosh Student Association, and students have responsibility for oversight of the fee. The student association unanimously supported reauthorizing the fee, which provides approximately 185 student jobs on campus, Roter said. Any future increases in the fee would have to be approved by student governance, she said.

The committee also approved a new, campus-wide, $36-per-semester differential tuition for all undergraduate students at UW-River Falls. Chancellor Don Betz told the committee that the funding would support a program called “Campus Connections for Success,” which would include enhanced library services, a testing and tutoring center, and opportunities for research, scholarship and creative activities. The differential would be fixed for four years, after which it would be reviewed for reauthorization by a campus oversight committee of students, faculty, and staff. The rate would also be prorated for part-time students.

“The decision that student tax themselves for this kind of initiative is a difficult one,” said Joe Eggers, chair of the Student Senate. He said the proposals were approved through the student shared governance process.

Finally, undergraduates in the UW-Madison School of Business would be asked to pay a differential tuition for programs in the Bachelor’s of Business Administration (BBA) major and the Certificate in Business. If approved by the full Board, the differential tuition will support faculty hiring, advising, financial aid, admissions and recruitment, and additional course sections. The differential would be $500 per semester for those in the BBA major, and $150 per year for those in the certificate program.

Business School Dean Michael Knetter said the school has not received the support it needs in the form of state tax dollars, but understands that the state has experienced fiscal pressures in recent years.

“It takes something of a toll on the state,” Knetter said. “To help, we need to maintain the quality of our institutions.”

He said the school has stepped up efforts to raise private funds from alumni, and much of those funds support capital improvements. “They’ve become a big part of our success,” he said.

Twenty-five percent of the funds raised through the differential tuition would be used for financial aid, Knetter said. He said he expects that more alumni may be willing to donate funds for student scholarships, but that it is more difficult to ask alumni to donate funds to pay for personnel costs, because that responsibility has typically fallen to the state.

The differential tuition proposal was approved by representatives of Business School students. These students, parents, employers, and alumni support the proposal because they recognize the value of the education students receive from the school, said Eric Eickhoff, an undergraduate student and chair of the campus chapter of Future Business Leaders of America.

“We want to keep our professors. We don’t want to lose them to private universities or others that have already approved a differential,” Eickhoff said. “This will be pennies on the dollar of what it’s going to give us in the future.”

Differential tuition has been used at Big Ten institutions for several years, said Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for administration. The UW-Madison differential would be effective for Fall 2007, and would be reviewed by campus administration and students after five years.

The committee also approved salary adjustments for three senior academic leaders to address market and equity factors.

The adjustments include: UW Colleges and UW-Extension Chancellor David Wilson, an increase of $12,500 for a total annual salary of $192,500; UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich, an increase of $6,500 for a total annual salary of $186,500; and UW-Whitewater Provost Richard Telfer, an increase of $8,500 for a total annual salary of $147,820.

President Reilly told the committee that Chancellor Wilson has made remarkable progress in integrating administrative functions and establishing a shared vision for the two institutions under his leadership. Chancellor Levin-Stankevich, he said, is respected by area business and community leaders for engaging in strategic planning efforts and for advancing UW-Eau Claire’s contributions toward economic development. And Provost Telfer, he said, is known for encouraging cross-campus collaborations, and played a key role in securing the recent 10-year reaccreditation for UW-Whitewater.

In other business, the committee:

  • Heard from UW System Treasury Manager Doug Hoerr, who told the committee that returns on UW Trust Funds exceed those of peers – universities managing funds in the $100 million to $500 million range — in the one, three, five and 10 year periods ending June 30, 2006. He also reported that UW System’s spending rate is 4 percent, somewhat more conservative than the peer average of 4.7 percent;
  • Approved proxy voting positions for UW Trust Funds. Regent policy stipulates that the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee must review significant, non-routine issues to develop a voting position. Non-routine issues include items like acquisitions and mergers, or “social responsibility” issues dealing with discrimination, the environment, or substantial social injury. The committee adopted a position in favor of resolutions that typically asks firms to report on their corporate political contributions;
  • Formally accepted seven gifts on behalf of UW institutions, each valued at more than $50,000;
  • Approved a contract between the UW-Madison Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and Learfield Communications. The contract provides for marketing and multimedia services related to UW-Madison athletics programming. Notable changes from a current agreement with Learfield include extending the contract term an additional 10 years to the year 2019; and increasing annual rights fees for the last two years of the current contract totaling $2.04 million; and
  • Approved a records management policy for the University of Wisconsin System. If approved by the full Board, the policy would ensure the university can continue to transact public business, ensure public accountability, and preserve the history of the UW System. The policy establishes standards to ensure proper management of electronic public records, including creating, receiving, managing and archiving public records. The University of California System and the University of Texas System have adopted similar policies.
  • Approved a new structure and format for Regent Policy Documents. If approved by the full Board, the updated format would categorize policies by topic and assign a new number to each policy in a way that will make the policies easier to locate and search, consistent with the university’s commitment to transparency. The current format numbers policies according to the year in which the policy was adopted.
  • Heard from Vice President Durcan that a state audit on information technology is expected to be released next week. The Board also learned that a committee continues to work on follow-up to a state audit on personnel policies and practices.

UW-Oshkosh students engage with community through academics

Deans and students from the four UW-Oshkosh colleges told the Education Committee on Thursday how collaborations have improved the education of students and provided needed expertise and resources to regional businesses and communities.

UW-Oshkosh students students Jeremiah Slinde, Brandon Strand, and Amanda Cone speak to the Education Committee

UW-Oshkosh students students Jeremiah Slinde, Brandon Strand, and Amanda Cone speak to the Education Committee

Panel members also learned that there has been a 10 percent increase in students 25 and older attending UW-Oshkosh since 2002, and the campus is further expanding adult education opportunities throughout northeastern Wisconsin through collaborations.

“You are being truly responsive to the needs of this region,” said Education Committee chair Danae Davis.

The campus has increased programs and services for working adults through collaborations with four UW Colleges, four technical colleges, and employers such as Mercury Marine and Miles Kimball.

A new Bachelors of Applied Studies degree program approved by the committee will help reduce a huge shortage of bachelor degree-educated residents in Wisconsin, and especially the Fox Valley.

The College of Business, through joint programs with universities across the world and businesses across the state, has taken education out of the classroom and into the “real world” in a meaningful way, said associate Dean Don Gudmundson.

The Wisconsin Family Business Forum assists dozens of family businesses and is expanding. The Center for Community Partnerships, which also is expanding services, partners with 40 of large and small businesses, communities and school districts each year to deliver solutions. A Global MBA program—with universities in Darmstadt, Germany, and Manipal, India—prepares students for the international business arena, while hundreds of business student interns work for businesses and organizations throughout the Fox Valley.

The College of Education and Human Services’ many collaborative offerings include a program to prepare needed science and math teachers launched in conjunction with five area UW Colleges. And through its Living Healthy Community Clinic (LHCC), the College of Nursing has the support of major local hospitals and clinics to provide health care for the uninsured.

“We’ve got a national nursing shortage, but we’re turning away record numbers of students who want to get into the program because we don’t have enough clinical sites,” said Dean Rosemary Smith. Partnerships such as the LHCC help provide those sites.

In the College of Letters and Science, collaborations include an exercise program for senior citizens, a upcoming Science Olympiad for Wisconsin middle school students, an annual art day for hundreds of high school artists and a speech festival for elementary students. There are also working collaborations with a Wyoming tribal college and College of Menominee National.

A collaborative graduate program in social work launched with UW Green Bay in 2002 has graduated 30 students every year and gone a long way to meet the child welfare service needs of the region. To meet the needs of working adults, the program will begin a part-time option this fall, Regents learned.

In other business, the Education Committee heard from Ron Singer, UW System associate vice president for academic affairs, about the university’s annual report on Minority and Disadvantaged Student Programs.

Singer briefly outlined the approximately $45.8 million the university spent on such programs during the 2005-06 academic year, noting that only a small portion of these funds came from the UW System institution’s budgets.

“I think what’s particularly significant about that is that the majority of that funding is provided through private funding,” he said.

Singer also noted that, in Wisconsin, students of color have a higher need, as well as a higher unmet need, for financial aid.

Following Singer’s report, the Education Committee accepted the report, which will be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature.

Singer also updated the committee on how the university is taking steps to include socioeconomic status (SES) factors in its holistic admissions policy. The university will include SES as a factor that students and counselors may want to address in application statements, adding that the university will also study the demographics of the high schools from which applicants graduated.

“In this way and with this information, we feel that there’s a good basis on which admissions personnel in evaluating applicants can assess SES as a criterion for admissions,” Singer said.

The Education Committee also authorized the following and forwarded them onto the consent agenda for the full board:

  • Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry at UW-Stevens Point;
  • Bachelor of Arts degree in First Nations Studies at UW-Green Bay;
  • Bachelor of Applied Studies in Leadership and Organizational Studies at UW-Oshkosh; and
  • Requests to Trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust Estate for support of scholarships, fellowships, professorships and special programs in arts and humanities, social sciences and music.

— Frank Church, UW-Oshkosh Integrated Marketing and Communications, and Eric Reinert, UW System, contributed to this report.

Projects in capital budget would enhance student experiences, Regents learn

The 2007-09 capital budget for the UW System would make significant headway in improving instructional and student life facilities, UW System President Kevin P. Reilly said Thursday.

The State Building Commission approved a 2007-09 capital budget in a March. The budget is now under consideration by the full Legislature

Reilly noted that unlike campus buildings in previous decades, today, facilities are designed to be flexible, and to accommodate the changing needs of students and faculty. Reilly also noted that students have been actively involved in planning the academic and student life projects proposed for the upcoming biennium.

David Miller, UW System, assistant vice president for capital planning, outlined student survey data which showed that 74 percent of those surveyed said facilities relating to their major were “very” or “extremely” important to choosing a college.

“The academic facilities are critical to where students end up going and, of course, students with a greater ability to choose to exercise that choice,” he said, adding that 30 percent of those surveyed rejected a college because of inadequate facilities.

“Quality matters in the selection of a university and the educational experience,” Reilly added.

The Joint Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on capital projects on April 18. UW institutions will be able to offer those at the hearing background and long-range planning about these projects, Miller said.

“This capital budget is sound and significantly needed,” he said.

Miller also outlined a potential new planning model for university capital projects, wherein the funding would be stretched over a greater number of biennia to create funding structures that more closely match the projects’ schedules, rather than beginning one and then delaying others for planning purposes.

“We have significantly fallen behind in past capital projects in just keeping up with construction inflation,” he said.

Miller cautioned the Legislature against removing portions of funding from the current biennial capital budget, as doing so would only compound funding shortages in future budgets. One figure showed that a cumulative cut of $60 million in this capital budget would lead to an eventual aggregate loss of $216 million in the 2013-15 biennium.

“Our message to the Legislature is that it is a modest, responsible, actually conservative capital budget and we want to emphasize that so the Legislature realizes that the [state] building commission has been responsible with this capital budget and doesn’t feel the need to reduce it,” he said.

Miller highlighted the tremendous positive economic impact these capital projects would have for Wisconsin, especially in creating high-paying jobs.

“This is a very large industry that provides good-paying jobs for citizens of Wisconsin,” he said, detailing the abundant job creation in construction labor alone that would stem from these projects.

View a presentation on the Capital Budget pdf

UW-Oshkosh focuses on green-friendly growth

UW-Oshkosh is striving to meet the present and future needs of the campus and community while remaining environmentally responsible, the Physical Planning and Funding Committee learned Thursday.

With a total enrollment of more than 12,400, UW-Oshkosh faces a 214,000-square-foot space shortage for student and academic support services, a 500-space parking deficit, aged residence halls, and limited student athletic and recreational opportunities.

UW-Oshkosh Facilities Management Director Steven Arndt and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Petra Roter detailed the university’s “green” facilities master plan, which includes the constructions of a new academic building, residence hall, softball stadium and 448-stall parking ramp (nicknamed “Little Lambeau”); the development of campus transportation and exterior improvements; and the renovation of existing facilities.

“The students are particularly excited about the closing off of Algoma Boulevard,” said Roter, adding that replacing the busy street with a new pedestrian mall will remove a real hazard from the campus.

All of the university’s planned construction and enhancement adheres to the university’s environmentally friendly mission statement, which has made it the leading energy conservation and resource campus in the state.

“Our pride and joy recently is the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. It is purely student-funded. The beauty of this is that it’s a student initiative and student-designed, a great partnership between the students and the campus,” Roter said. The center will feature a cyber health café, exercise equipment, golf simulators, canoe rentals and more.

As UW-Oshkosh prepares to construct a $34-million residence hall, Regent Michael Falbo of Franklin asked the university how it would contend with so many living facilities.

“You are blessed—or cursed, depending on how you look at it—with an abundance of residence halls,” he said.

Roter replied that some of the old halls, which were built in the 1950s and 1960s, would eventually be demolished. “It would cost us less to tear down and rebuild than to renovate some of these residence halls,” she said, adding that more housing is needed for the anticipated increase in enrollment over the next six years. Also, giving the students what they want—specifically suite/apartment-styled living arrangements—would result in more students choosing to live on campus.

Falbo thanked students, including Regent Thomas Shields and J.J. Heber, president of United Students in Residence Halls at UW-Oshkosh, for taking the time to look out for the needs of future students.

The combined budget for the campus construction and renovation projects is $128 million over the next four years, with an overall economic impact predicted at $367 million.

The committee also approved the following items:

  • Two utility structures will be constructed for the East Campus Utility project at UW-Madison. Although funding for the project is pending, David Miller, UW System assistant vice president for capital budget and planning, made it clear that the money would be directed from residual program money. “We’re not borrowing money, we’re borrowing authority,” he said.
  • At UW-Milwaukee, a parcel of land will be sold to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, while a petition will be made to the City of Milwaukee to vacate a nearby public alley.
  • A parcel of land will be purchased for parking at UW-Platteville, in spite of the fact that the cost ($150,000) is more than the average of two appraisals plus cost, which is standard policy. The committee recommended waiving the policy to gain the space for 80 to 90 parking stalls.
  • UW-River Falls will accept a gift-in-kind of a parcel of land (0.4 acres) for the Mann Valley Farm.
  • All agency maintenance and repair projects for UW System were approved.
  • The request to authorize the acceptance of a gift-in-kind of a parcel of land for the Kegonsa Research Campus was held over until Friday because of the issue of an underground gas tank that was removed in 1989. Regent Falbo asked for documentation explaining why Phase II testing was not done on the property.

– David Williams, UW-Oshkosh Integrated Marketing and Communications

View a presentation from UW-Oshkosh pdf


Photos: Dylan Stolley

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