UW System Kevin P. Reilly will hold briefing at state capitol

The University of Wisconsin System met or partially met 19 of its 20 goals last year, according to the UW System’s annual accountability report, Achieving Excellence, announced UW System President Kevin P. Reilly today.

“We believe that this is valuable information for university leaders, students, lawmakers, and taxpayers alike,” said Reilly.

Achieving Excellence represents the UW System’s longtime commitment to broad-based accountability. First published in 1993, the publication took its current form in1999, presenting the UW System’s progress related to specific student and institutional outcomes, as well as efforts to promote positive learning environments.

“There is much good news to report,” said Associate Vice President Sharon Wilhelm.

Among the areas that saw improvement was the UW System graduation rate that has now achieved an average of 64.8 percent. That is nearly four percentage points higher than the current national average, and eight points higher than the UW System’s average from 10 years ago.

The report addressed progress in five main areas:

  • Access to the UW;
  • Learning competencies;
  • Preparing students for a dynamic world community;
  • Opportunities and student services that enhance learning environments; and
  • Efficient and effective stewardship of resources.

“Our whole effort is to say that this is not about the University, it’s about the future of the residents of Wisconsin,” said Reilly.

The report brought to light the UW System’s on-going challenges related to recruitment and retention of minorities and serving those who are low-income.

“It bears repeating, we ignore at our own peril the states’ changing demographics,” said Regent Danae Davis.

Wilhelm explained that the percentage of students receiving federal Pell Grants is 7 percent lower than the national average, something Davis described as “disturbing.”

UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow cited his own campus’s challenges with graduating a deeper cut of Wisconsin’s citizens.

“I shake all the hands at graduation and I can tell you that we need to do more,” said Gow.

Regent Judith Crain emphasized the urgency of achieving inclusive excellence.

“In order to accomplish what we need to accomplish, good intentions are not enough,” said Crain.

Other Regents expressed concern that low high-school graduation rates are affecting UW System goals.

“If we can’t get high school kids thinking about going to college, we are not going to succeed in this effort,” said Regent Jeff Bartell.

“Unless we penetrate that market area deeper, we will not achieve our goals,” added Regent Mike Falbo.

Reilly pointed to several initiatives that the UW System and institutions have begun to implement to address the challenges highlighted in the report. Reilly emphasized the Campus Climate Assessment project, which is currently being implemented at five UW institutions. He also pointed to the Equity Scorecard and KnowHow2Go campaign.

“By making meaningful strides in this area, we can increase the academic success of our students and help the state achieve its economic goals,” said Reilly.

“I am very optimistic that we will be there [inclusive excellence] based on the initiatives announced by President Reilly,” added Davis.

Board approves differential tuition for UW-Platteville

The Board approved a proposal by UW-Platteville officials and students to implement a 1.9 percent differential tuition—equal to $100 per year for full-time undergraduate students beginning in the fall semester of 2008-09.

Regent Thomas Loftus was the only regent to vote against the proposal.

This is a tuition increase that is for a purpose that is not for general instruction,” said Loftus.

Funds generated by the differential would be applied to four areas: student retention activities, mental health services, career services, and support for senior capstone projects through the University Engagement Center at UW-Platteville. Student Senate President Frank Moullet emphasized that these programs are critical for student success.

“We are always concerned with increasing tuition, but our success is dependent upon services offered,” said Moullet.

A number of Regents expressed concern over balancing accessibility and meeting student requests for differential tuition. But Freda Harris emphasized the role differential tuition can play at institutions.

“It can give the students the ability to see resources and tell us where they want them addressed,” said Harris.

“It concerns me that students are having to come to petition the board to maintain quality of the education that they are receiving,” added student Regent Colleene Thomas. “That is a real concern.”

Growth Agenda Action Steps build momentum

Associate Vice President Rebecca Martin updated the Board on the implementation progress of the Growth Agenda action steps first announced by President Reilly at the February meeting.

Among the progress, Martin announced that she and Reilly would soon appoint a task force to explore models and propose pilot projects for the Student Engagement Portfolio, an initiative formally known as the UW Dual Transcript. The task force would supplement the plans underway or in place at UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, and UW-Platteville.

A system-wide policy group will also be formed to work on the New Pathways Degrees.

Other News

In other news, Reilly announced to the Board that Wisconsin has been invited to participate in the next phase of the “Making Opportunity Affordable” grant program through the Lumina Foundation. The UW System is currently the lead entity for the statewide application process, working in partnership with the state’s technical colleges, private colleges, and the Department of Public Instruction.

The grant application process included a site visit by Foundation representatives who met with Gov. Jim Doyle’s staff to assess the climate surrounding higher education in Wisconsin.  The Foundation also interviewed Rep. Steve Nass and Sen. Kathleen Vinehout’s chief of staff. Nass and Vinehout chair the respective higher education committees of the state legislature.

“This opportunity would not have been possible without their support and involvement,” said Reilly.

If selected, Wisconsin would be one of five states to receive up to $2.1 million in grant funding.

After hearing reports from the Business, Finance and Audit Committee, the Physical Planning and Funding Committee, and the Education Committee, Regents adopted other resolutions including:

  • Approval of recommended amendments to the by-laws of the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation;
  • Approval of a number of policies that would apply to all informational technology projects costing $1 million or more and those considered vital to the functions of the university;
  • Approval of routine salary increases for chancellors at UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh, and a provost at UW-Oshkosh;
  • Approval of a new five-year bookstore operation at UW-Stout with Validis Resources;
  • Approval of a new seven-year contract for bookstore operations at UW-Parkside with Validis Resources;
  • Approval of the FY 2008-09 budget distribution adjustments;
  • Authority for  two new academic programs, the Bachelor of Science in Applied Math and Commuter Science at UW-Milwaukee and the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at UW-River Falls;
  • Approval of the annual requests made by UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee to the Trustees of the William F. Vilas Estate for support of scholarships, fellowships, professorships, and special programs on arts and humanities, social sciences, and music;
  • Authority to UW-Madison to construct the Chadbourne and Barnard Residence Halls renovation project;
  • Authority to UW-Milwaukee for phase I of the Golda Meir Library Remodeling project;
  • Authority to UW-Oshkosh to accept 1.95 acres of land to be transferred from the Department of Military Affairs;
  • Authority to UW-Parkside to transfer $1.6 of general fund supported borrowing from the communications arts project to the student union parking lot project in order to reconstruct a road as part of the union project;
  • Authority to UW-Whitewater to enter into a land use agreement that would allow the UW-Whitewater Foundation to construct the Perkins Stadium Turf replacement project and accept the completed facility as a gift-in-kind;
  • Authority to UW System to allocate Classroom Renovation/Instructional Technology Improvement funds totaling $3.8 million provided in the 2007-09 Capital Budget to each UW System institution; and
  • Authority to UW System Administration to construct six maintenance and repair projects through the all agency program at four different institutions.

The Regents then went into closed session


The UW System Board of Regents will hold its next meeting June 5 – 6, on the UW-Milwaukee campus.

Related: Read April 10 (day 1) news summary