The University of Wisconsin System announces release of its 2020FWD: Moving Wisconsin and the World Forward strategic framework, which outlines initiatives to help keep college affordable for Wisconsin families and develop the workforce the state will need in the future.  It will reinvigorate the state’s economy and enhance the lives of the people of Wisconsin.

“We talked with nearly 5,000 citizens and business leaders across the state, and the proposed initiatives are in direct response to their feedback.  We are here to serve as a leader in meeting their needs,” said UW System President Ray Cross.  “We can build a strong future for Wisconsin by focusing on increasing access and success throughout the educational pipeline, teaching our students to be more innovative and globally prepared, building connections with businesses and communities, and optimizing our organizational efficiency.”

The 2020FWD strategic framework was developed with extensive public input through listening sessions, surveys, and stakeholder and expert groups.  It provides strategic direction for the UW System, enabling it to meet the most pressing needs of the state.

2020FWD Key Areas

Pipeline image

Educational Pipeline
  • Increases collaboration with PK-12 and other educational entities
  • Expands college-credit options for high school students and other ways to reduce time-to-graduation
  • Responds to the needs of working adult students through programs such as the UW Flexible Option
University Experience

University Experience

  • Enhances student access to exceptional faculty and staff who can provide high-impact practices, such as undergraduate research, service learning, and collaborative learning
  • Develops a premier curriculum for systemwide cultural fluency education
  • Encourages innovation through basic and applied research
Business & Community Mobilization

Business & Community Mobilization
  • Provides expertise and support for business and community growth and development
  • Expands collaborations with communities, local governments, and nonprofits around the state
  • Improves wellness and health of all Wisconsin citizens
Business & Community Mobilization

Operational Excellence
  • Continues improvement in both administrative excellence and academic processes to demonstrate accountability and efficiency, in and out of the classroom
  • Maximizes resources to reduce non-instructional costs, which will be redirected to academic programs
  • Focuses on producing more degree holders while maintaining and enhancing quality

The UW System is asking for $42.5 million in state general program revenue (GPR) in the 2017-19 biennial budget request to fund 2020FWD initiatives.  Like state agencies, the UW System typically needs cost-to-continue funding for items such as utilities and fringe benefits, which has averaged $88 million over the past six biennia.  The UW System will not be asking for cost-to-continue because utilities are expected to stay flat, and less staff means less fringe benefit costs.  The new 2020FWD initiatives can be funded with the cost-to-continue savings.

“Our biennial budget request to fund these initiatives is reasonable and will return strong dividends for Wisconsin and its citizens,” said President Cross. “An infusion of highly educated graduates into Wisconsin’s workforce is essential to our economy, and will improve overall quality of life in our communities.”

The UW System 2020FWD strategic framework and 2017-19 biennial budget request will be brought to the Board of Regents for a vote on August 18.

A short video by President Ray Cross explaining the 2020FWD strategic framework, 2017-19 biennial budget request, and other materials are available online at

Media Contact

University Relations UW System (608) 263-1700