MADISON – University of Wisconsin System President Kevin P. Reilly told the Board of Regents on Friday that efforts are ongoing to make the case for a reevaluation of UW’s disproportionate share of the state budget lapse.

Reilly reminded the Board that this proposed lapse for UW amounts to a loss of $65.6 million over two years, on top of $250 million in cuts already imposed on the UW System in the biennial budget. Although the UW is only 7% of the GPR budget, the State’s Department of Administration has called for the UW System to shoulder a 38% share of additional cuts.

He reported that the University is “working hard to shine a spotlight on this important public policy discussion,” including a presentation before the Senate’s Higher Education Committee, regular communications with the Department of Administration, and newspaper editorials. He also cited the support for UW’s position from several prominent members of the business community.

Several chancellors addressed the impacts of these cuts on their campuses.

UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mike Lovell told Regents that morale among faculty and staff is already poor, and lapses make things harder. He added there is real concern about the loss of faculty and staff to competitive offers from other universities, as well as the trickle-down effect on the students who may be locked out of core courses due to thinning faculty ranks.  Further, Lovell noted the cuts potentially jeopardize UWM’s ability to “fulfill our end of the bargain” with companies investing in the university’s research activities.  “I really think we should all be concerned,” he said.

UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford added that budget cuts and uncertainty in funding “impacts our ability to be strategic and entrepreneurial.” She said funding shortfalls will undercut initiatives on her campus to enhance the educational experience and administrative efficiencies. “Decisions we make today not only impact the quality of the students’ experience and delivery of our mission right now, but have longer-term impacts,” she said.

Brian Levin-Stankevich, Chancellor at UW-Eau Claire, told Regents that until recently, faculty retention at his university wasn’t particularly hard-hit by budget cuts.  “This is a whole different ball game,” he said. He noted that current budget woes, on top of several years with no salary increases, have led to significant losses of faculty, “particularly among those who have just gained tenure and [are] really at the top of their game.”

“This is really disconcerting because it’s having an impact on the core culture of our institution, which is our stock-in-trade,” Levin-Stankevich said.

Reilly said the UW recognizes the difficult challenges facing elected officials in making their judgments about priorities, especially in a rough economy. But, he added, “the disproportionality of the lapse on top of the previous cut is something we do need to speak up about.”

Regent Falbo reports on Legislative Task Force

Regent Michael Falbo, who serves as chair of the Legislative Task Force on UW Restructuring and Operational Flexibilities, provided the Board with a brief overview of the task force’s first meeting on Dec. 7.

Falbo said the task force, which includes legislators, higher education officials, community and business representatives, is focused on “the need to develop a new contract between the state and UW and taxpayers with a focus on providing and ensuring opportunity for future generations.”

“Things cannot continue as is, and changes need to be made,” Falbo said. “The task force needs to be able to explain why changes should be made and their importance.”

He said guest speaker Aims McGinnis, of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), urged members to understand not just the challenges facing higher education in Wisconsin, but to also consider the state’s culture, expectations of the state government’s role, and the strong tradition of treating UW System as a state agency.  McGinnis also stressed the need for recognizing the distinct and different capabilities and missions of each institution.

Falbo reported that the task force will also examine the proper role of a higher education governing board, and its part in defining the university’s mission. Discussions would also include coming to a better understanding of the state’s role in higher education.

“It was a very good first discussion and presentation, and got us all thinking quite a bit outside the box,” Falbo said.

The next meeting of the task force will be on Jan. 11, 2012.

UW-Madison police chief says campuses are quicker and better trained in crisis response

In the wake of the shooting of a Virginia Tech campus police officer on Thursday, UW-Madison Police Chief Sue Riseling addressed the Regents to discuss how campus police departments have improved their crisis prevention and response strategies.

Riseling said that the quality and speed of campus police response have dramatically improved since the previous mass shooting at Virginia Tech, on April 26, 2007, a tragedy which precipitated revamping of security procedures at universities nationwide.

Drawing on the lessons of Virginia Tech in 2007, Riseling said campuses have recognized the imperative for early detection of violent tendencies. The challenge, she noted, is that many campus counseling centers continue to struggle for sufficient funding.  Riseling told Regents that campus police officers are now trained in rapid deployment tactics, to engage a suspect as quickly as possible. She reported that all UW campuses now have crisis plans.

In recent years, campuses’ ability to communicate about crisis situations has dramatically improved, Riseling reported. On the UW-Madison campus, she said, emergency messages could be sent out to more than 77,000 people in 10 minutes or less. Before 2005, that would have taken two hours.

“Where we focus the majority of resources now is on prevention — early warning, identifying students, faculty, staff, or visitors who have some type of issue that may lead to violence,” Riseling said. “If we can identify a situation early and get assistance, that can thwart problems.”

UW System successfully addresses voter ID issue for students

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly reported to Regents that, to date, 10 of its institutions have submitted versions of new student ID cards that comply with the State’s new Voter ID law to the Government Accountability Board (GAB) and had them approved. All of the remaining colleges and universities expect to have their versions of new ID cards approved by the GAB shortly.

“The bottom line is, this Board, this System administration, the Chancellors, and other institutional leaders have worked hard, fast, and smart to ensure our students will comply with new Voter ID Law and therefore be able to participate in upcoming elections,” Reilly said.

In other business, the Regents:

  • Heard a brief status report from Regent Vice-President Brent Smith, chair of an ad hoc committee charged with reviewing different university board structures from around the county. The committee, which next meets on Dec. 20, will ultimately provide a series of recommendations to Regent President Mike Spector;
  • Approved an agreement between UW-Milwaukee and CERNET Education Development Co., to recruit Chinese students to UWM’s Intensive English Program;
  • Approved UW-Parkside’s request to establish three new colleges: the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Health Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies;
  • Approved three new academic programs: the B.A./B.S. in Environmental Science at UW-Whitewater; the B.A./B.S. in Computer Science at UW-Whitewater; and the Collaborative Online B.S. in Health Information Management and Technology at UW-Green Bay, UW-Parkside, and UW-Stevens Point, with administrative and financial support from UW-Extension;
  • Approved the extension of a Data Research Analysis Agreement between UW-Madison and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., through December 2014;
  • Approved changes to the way certain asset categories are defined, some minor revisions to the Investment Policy Statement, and generally reaffirmed its adoption of the Investment Policy Statement for the University of Wisconsin System Trust Funds;
  • Approved UW-Eau Claire’s request for authority to modify its campus boundary;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to construct the $10M Carson Gulley Renovation Project, replacing all plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems in the existing building, which was constructed in 1926;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to construct the $2.9M gift-funded Kohl Center South End Club and Audio/Video Relocation Project;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to demolish and remove five storefront buildings on University Avenue using Building Trust Funds, in anticipation of the construction of the new Music Performance Facility, as indicated in the 2005 Campus Master Plan;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to construct the $52-million Memorial Union Theater Wing Renovation-Phase I Project;
  • Approved UW-River Falls’ request for authority to request the release of building trust funds to continue planning the Health and Human Performance/Recreation Building Project;
  • Approved UW-Superior’s request for authority to enter into land lease agreements and to acquire real property for the long-term operation of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve;
  • Approved a request by UW System for eight All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects on six campuses totaling about $10.6M;
  • Approved UW System’s request for approval of the UW System Criteria for Ranking General Fund Major Projects; and
  • Approved a resolution of appreciation for UW-Madison for hosting the December 2011 Board of Regents meeting.


The UW System Board of Regents will hold its next meeting February 9-10, 2012, at Van Hise Hall, in Madison

Related: Read December 8 (day 1) news summary