MILWAUKEE – A clear understanding of each other’s needs is key to successful partnerships between educators and the business community, Blake Moret, CEO of Rockwell Automation, told the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.

“We and our peer companies want to get involved but it takes more than just donations of hardware. We all know that. It’s the ongoing and vibrant interchange of ideas — and the supply of real-world problems with real customers who are looking to us together to meet those needs,” Moret said.

Moret led the presentation, “The University of Wisconsin System: Building Talent to Fuel Growth and Competitiveness,” before the full Board at its meeting Thursday in Milwaukee.

Businesses must also stay in touch with what students are being asked to do and constantly test that to be confident that the curriculum is driving the desired results. “That’s a key piece,” he said.

Moret stressed that employers – not just the employees — must be committed to lifelong learning, for the benefit of their business as well as their employees. “They may be the best in the world at what they do at 23, but without additional education and no additional opportunity to learn new technology, at 33, you’re not going to be quite as good. You’ve got to make that commitment,” he said.

UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone

Chancellor Mone

UWM is meeting state needs

Host Chancellor Chancellor Mark Mone told Regents that UW-Milwaukee and the UW System are actively responding to the needs of the state – and the reinvestments sought by the University can only improve that impact.

What’s at stake for the University, Mone said, are its capacity to innovate, time to degree, and number of graduates. Continued support also impacts the university’s ability to fill the talent pipeline, tackle societal issues, address lagging growth through research, and its capacity to meaningfully engage.

He identified several current threats to UWM’s general mission: declining enrollments, budget reductions, potential impact of the proposed federal FY2018 budget on research, perceptions about the value of a college degree, and the increasing costs of technology and the digital divide.

Mone said his top priorities now include compensation, the capital budget, and performance-based funding.

Regents updated on UW Flex

The UW Flexible Option (UW Flex) grew 42% in FY 2017, to a total of 1,300 students, said UW-Extension Provost and Vice Chancellor Aaron Brower, as part of an update to Regents on the program.

UW Flex, an innovative direct-assessment, competency-based approach that supports nontraditional adult students, currently includes five degrees and three certificates. All of the programs are partnerships between UW-Extension and UW campuses, with the one exception being the new Bachelor of Science in Business Administration offered through UW-Extension.

UW-Extension’s B.S. in Business Administration program, which Regents approved last year, currently has eight students enrolled. Since its initial offering in December 2016, nearly 2,300 students have expressed interest in the program.

The main enrollment challenge of the BSBA program to date is the still incomplete accreditation process, said UW-Extension Dean of Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning (CEOEL). UW-Extension is moving through the lengthy accreditation process as quickly as allowed by the Higher Learning Commission. UW-Extension will submit a candidacy application to the HLC by the end of summer, preparing the way for a site visit by accreditation reviewers in spring or summer 2018. Assuming a positive review, UW-Extension should move into candidacy status in 2019. Although candidacy status is not final accreditation, it is a significant step in the process because it opens the door to federal financial aid. Final accreditation is expected in 2021.

“Ultimately, it’s all about the students. Our focus is adult and non-traditional students. Our degrees really are aimed at that audience … and we’re really pleased with what we’re able to do for our students,” said Schejbal.

UW Flex is also completing a three-year, $1.2-million project funded by Lumina Foundation to chronicle the development of the first public competency-based program in the country.

Introductions and Farewells

Regent President Regina Millner welcomed three new members of the Board of Regents: Bob Atwell of Green Bay, Mike Jones of Milwaukee, and Ryan Ring, a student at UW-Eau Claire. See Regent biographies.

UW System President Ray Cross introduced Sean Nelson, the new Vice President for Finance, and recognized the service of three long-time colleagues who are departing: Greg Diemer, UW-Stevens Point Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs, retiring after 30 years at UWSP; Lane Earns, UW-Oshkosh Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, retiring after 30 years with the institution; and Greg Lampe, UW Colleges Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, retiring after 29 years in the UW System.

UW-Milwaukee Athletics

As part of its annual Division I NCAA report to the Board, UW-Milwaukee Athletic Director Amanda Braun told Regents that the Panthers had some significant athletic successes this past year, including the women’s basketball team tying the program record for victories. In addition, its student athletes have now posted 33 consecutive semesters with a 3.0 or higher GPA.

She also told Regents that fundraising has increased 257% over the past four years – including the program’s first-ever million-dollar gift last fall from Fred Sitzberger.

The Athletics program benefits the campus overall by boosting student enrollment, campus community and alumni engagement, brand loyalty and visibility, and fundraising and corporate support.

She also told Regents that UWM’s Athletics Department had eliminated its annual structural operating deficit for the first time in FY 2015, two years ahead of its goal, and has now reported a surplus in its operating budget in FY 2016 and 2017. The Department plans to make annual contributions from the operating budget to reduce its cumulative deficit.

Business and Finance Committee

The Business and Finance Committee approved application of the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016 within the UW System. The Improvement Act extends the benefits of the original Veterans Choice Act to allow transfer of benefits from active duty military service members as well as discharged veterans. Both Acts require that eligible non-resident U.S. veterans and other eligible benefit recipients be charged the same tuition as Wisconsin residents for pursuing the same course or program effective July 1, 2017.

In other action, the Business and Finance Committee:

  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s Comprehensive Sponsored Research Agreement with Johnson Controls Battery Group, Inc. The University currently has three existing and two pending Work Statements generating $447,878 and $590,129 respectively for a total of $1,068,007;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s three-year Sponsored Research Agreement with Dow Chemical Company to further the development of polyolefin based polymers at Dow. The institution is expected to receive $1,047,249 for efforts under the agreement;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Master Clinical Trial Agreement with CSL Behring LLC, a firm that develops protein-based therapies for a variety of medical conditions. The institution could potentially receive in excess of $1 million over the life of the agreement;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Master Clinical Trial Agreement with Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc., a firm that specializes in investigating drugs that show promise in the treatment of certain cancers. The institution could potentially receive in excess of $1 million over the life of the agreement;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Master Clinical Trial Agreement with Astellas Pharma Global Development, Inc., a pharmaceutical company that develops therapeutic medicines for use in cardiology, immunology, infectious disease, neuroscience, oncology and urology. The University could potentially receive in excess of $1 million over the life of the agreement;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Sponsored Research Agreement with GlaxoSmithKline LLC for the completion of an NIH-sponsored clinical trial related to new treatments for asthma in urban children. The institution is expected to receive $3,935,116 for efforts under the agreement;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Service Agreement with Fast-Track Drugs and Biologics, LLC to provide services in support of a Department of Defense-funded clinical trial testing a new malaria vaccine. The institution is expected to receive $1,743,706 for efforts under the agreement;
  • Heard a report on quarterly gifts, grants and contracts for the third quarter of FY2017. Total awards for the period were approximately $1.039 billion, a decrease of $81.3 million compared to the prior year. Federal awards decreased $96.5 million while non-federal awards increased by $15.2 million;
  • Heard a financial management report for the third quarter of FY2017. The cash-based management report shows that, as of March 31, actual expenditures were approximately 75.5% of the Regent-approved budget, while revenues were at 85.1% of the budgeted level;
  • Heard a report of the Subcommittee on Investments led by subcommittee Chair Regent Bryan Steil;
  • Heard a report from Vice President for Administration Rob Cramer, including an update on information security efforts within the UW System; and
  • Heard a presentation by Robin Van Harpen, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Affairs, on UWM’s response to fiscal challenge.

Education Committee

James Henderson, Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs, provided an update on the strategies being used by to improve student success in math courses, particularly for incoming freshman.  For example, the UW System is partnering with K-12 schools to increase the use of the free Early Math Placement Tool (EMPT) in high schools statewide.  The EMPT is a tool that can be used by teachers and students to gauge readiness for college-level math courses.

Typically, juniors take the free, 45-minute practice test, which identifies areas that could use improvement while the student is still in high school – better preparing him or her for college. Data indicates that high school juniors who participated in EMPT are placed in college remedial math half as often as non-participating students. They were also 20% more likely to be placed into college calculus than non-participants.  The Early Mathematics Placement Tool Program is a partnership of the UW System, Wisconsin Technical College System, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and Wisconsin high schools.

UW System has three key goals for student success in math courses: Reducing the number of incoming freshmen needing a remedial math course; expanding the first-year completion rate for students who need remedial math courses; and expanding student success in first-year credit-bearing math courses.

UW-Milwaukee Professor Kyle Swanson and UW Colleges Professor Shubhangi Stalder provided perspectives from their institutions.

In other action, the Education Committee:

  • Approved UW-Madison’s Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biomedical Data Science, responding to market demand for data science researchers who can design, execute, and analyze biomedical data for clinical, epidemiologic, health services, genetic, and laboratory studies. New faculty and staff appointments will not be required to implement this degree, because existing employees will support the instructional, student, and administrative services required for this program;
  • Approved a request to the trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust Estate for $6,876,878 for fiscal year 2017-2018. These funds support student scholarships, student fellowships, academic programs, Vilas Research Professorships, and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorships at both UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Music;
  • Approved institutional tenure designations made at the 15 UW institutions. System-wide, Chancellors newly hired, tenured, and promoted 524 faculty members. Regent action is the final step in the process by which faculty receive tenure;
  • Heard a report from Vice-President for Academic and Student Affairs Jim Henderson, including an update on the forthcoming process for reviewing policies related to evaluating low-performing programs and maintaining high-quality academic programs through efficient and effective use of available resources in support of institutional missions and workforce and societal needs;
  • Heard a presentation by UW-Milwaukee Provost Johannes Britz on the institution[‘s priorities, actions, and successes in closing the achievement gap; and
  • Heard a presentation led by UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen and Carolyn Brady, UW-River Falls Director of International Partnership and Outreach Programs, on their April 2017 outreach and recruiting trip to Northeast China. UW-Madison Professor Pamela Ruegg described UW-Madison’s outreach initiatives and three-year contract with the Nestle Dairy Farming Institute in Heilongjiang, China, to develop a standardized curriculum to train Chinese dairy farmers in modern, science-based farming practices, and also help to meet massive Chinese market demand for high-protein dairy products.

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee approved UW-Eau Claire’s request for authority to construct the $35 million New Residence Hall project to provide housing for 432 students in a six-level facility to address the university’s long-standing housing shortage.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW Colleges’ request for authority to permanently release 2.65 acres from the UW-Fond du Lac lease back to Fond du Lac County to assist in the development of student housing;
  • Approved UW-La Crosse’s request for authority to construct a comprehensive $24.6 million renovation project in historic Wittich Hall to create a new technology-rich home for the College of Business Administration, including the Small Business Development Center;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for approval to pay a City of Madison Municipal Assessment of $631,325 for street and utility improvements on County Highway M and County Road PD. The project benefits the university by providing an upgraded site and safer pedestrian and bicycle traffic facilities;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute a temporary land use agreement with the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association for construction of a one-story storage building at the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education facility and to accept the completed facility as a gift-in-kind;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request for authority to increase the budget and construct the $8.2 million Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship and Welcome Center project;
  • Approved UW-Stout’s request for authority to increase the budget and construct the $21.7 million North Hall Renovation and Addition project;
  • Approved UW-Stout’s request for authority to increase the budget and construct the $7.6 million Price Commons First Floor Renovation Project to improve 21,000 square feet of the first floor of Price Commons;
  • Approved UW System’s request to increase the budget, execute the remainder of the design contract, and construct the $21 million UW-Madison Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR) West Wedge Addition Project;
  • Approved UW System’s request for authority to construct three maintenance and repair projects at three institutions for approximately $1.4 million. These projects involve facility maintenance, utility repairs, and programmatic remodeling;
  • Heard a report by UW-Milwaukee Vice Chancellor Robin Van Harpen on the university’s capital building program;
  • Heard a semi-annual status report on UW System leasing;
  • Heard an update on an update on the qualifying projects that have been initiated by UW System institutions;
  • Heard a report from UW Colleges Vice Chancellor Steve Wildeck that cities and counties supplied approximately $6.9 million of support to UW Colleges in 2016; and
  • Heard a report from Associate Vice President Alex Roe on recent State Building Commission actions.

Audit Committee

Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz presented and the Audit Committee approved a proposed 2018 audit plan that includes new audits related to transactions with foundations; the University of Wisconsin Trust Fund; bank account creation, management and oversight; contract management; purchasing; business operations in auxiliaries or student services; and NCAA athletics Division I audits.

The new audits are in addition to those in progress on issues such as IT system security; tuition and enrollment management; Clery audit follow-ups; and others. Continuous auditing is performed related to payroll, purchasing cards, and travel and expense reimbursement.

In other business, the Audit Committee:

  • Heard a progress report by Stortz on the 2017 audit plan;
  • Received a high-level overview of recently issued reports related to purchasing cards, code of ethics, emergency preparedness, facilities and residence life.

Research, Economic Development & Innovation Committee

 Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still presented a progress report on WTC initiatives in the areas of entrepreneurism, technology transfer, and university-industry research initiatives with a focus on their positive impact on the state’s economic growth and workforce development.

Still noted that the number of early-stage funding deals in Wisconsin has almost doubled since 2011, and infrastructure in the state is being developed to support that. “We are building a foundation throughout Wisconsin that is going to pay off in the long run,” he said.

In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Heard a report from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO Mark Hogan, including an FY2017 update and highlights of key outcomes of state-led business and community development efforts and university collaborations; and
  • Heard a report by UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone on the institution’s heightened focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, and business collaboration.


The UW System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 9, at UW-Milwaukee