MADISON – In seeking to attract the best and brightest leaders, faculty and staff to the University of Wisconsin System, the state must understand that providing competitive compensation is in the interest of students and Wisconsin citizens, a national expert told the Board of Regents on Friday (Dec. 9).

Peter Magrath, president of the National Association of State Land Grant Universities and Colleges (NASULGC) advised the Board to use a business model to approach the university’s work for the state, including the levels of compensation it provides.

“I think we have to talk about higher education as a business, a special business. I’ll call it the brain business,” Magrath said. “Wisconsin deserves a system of universities that will remain highly competitive in this country’s market economy.”

Magrath (pronounced “McGraw”) urged the Board to consider a plan to bring academic salaries, especially those of university leaders, to competitive levels in the Midwest market. Such a plan might include phased increases to catch up to market levels, he suggested.

Magrath said the state needs talented university leaders to encourage students to become productive citizens, to contribute research and knowledge toward the pursuit of truth, and to work with the state to improve economic development. University leaders, then, should be compensated at levels that allow for the hiring of individuals who can be entrepreneurial, smart, and able to work with political, social and economic leaders in the state.

“Economic development is not the only thing universities do or should do, but it is absolutely critical,” Magrath said. Low compensation can impair the state’s competitive edge, he said, and Wisconsin has traditionally been recognized as a state that pays university leaders and faculty at below-market wages. This has become more prevalent in recent years, especially compared to Minnesota, he said. Wisconsin has been fortunate to have historically enjoyed public goodwill when it comes to support for education, he added.

Regent Judy Crain of Green Bay said she wondered why, if so many other colleges and universities are facing similar fiscal and market pressures, Wisconsin has fallen behind. Regent Mark Bradley of Wausau noted that it can cost approximately $100,000 to replace a chancellor who decides to leave the university, making the process expensive for the UW, both in actual costs, and in terms of disruption to operations.

“It’s hard when you’re already behind, not to stay behind,” Magrath said. “At some point, you can get an erosion of retaining the women and men you want both in faculty and at the executive levels.”

Magrath applauded the Regents’ recent move to ensure full Board approval of employment terms for chancellors and the university president, and seconded Crain’s suggestion that business and industry leaders, as well as students, might be helpful advocates for the university.

“They do get it, and they sure understand issues of competitiveness,” he said. “They can be great allies.”

“People go for the best. We do in sports; we do in business. People can be euchred away,” Magrath added. “Wisconsin is not the richest state, but it’s not the poorest. You can’t be average, perhaps, but you can sure get closer.”

“One System, One Library”

UW Digital Collections illustrate state’s historical past

Leaders from UW System libraries presented Regents information on how the UW Digital Collections are sharing the history of the state and the Wisconsin Idea with the world.

“The online archives give us a chance like we’ve never had before to focus on the Wisconsin Idea and to contribute to the educational resources of the state,” said Ken Frazier, UW-Madison’s chief librarian and co-director of the online archives. “The project has fulfilled our greatest expectations in becoming a statewide resource.”

The presentation highlighted some jewels of the digital archives, including emancipation documents from one of the state’s first black settlers, as well as a map showing Wisconsin’s cheese factories in 1910.

“The digital collections tell the story of Wisconsin, of its people,” said Pat Wilkinson, head librarian at UW-Oshkosh and co-director of the project. “Students, faculty, citizens of Wisconsin and the world at large now have access to our truly great public university system.”

The UW Digital Collections, which recently added the one-millionth archive to the vast collection of maps, photos, letters and audio clips, is a collaborative effort between UW Libraries and the UW System’s Office of Learning and Information Technology.

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly highlighted an effort by the UW Digital Collections to digitize Board of Regents minutes dating back to 1848. He commended UW System libraries for their contributions to the goal of openness and transparency in the distribution of information.

“The vast resource of knowledge provided by campus libraries and online archives is certainly part of the university’s commitment to sifting and winnowing for the truth,” Reilly said. “We want to make sure that any interested citizen can easily pursue these documents and learn about the university’s history.”

View a presentation on the UW Digital Collections pdf

Board appoints Wilson as new chancellor for UW Colleges, UW-Extension

David Wilson, vice president for university outreach and associate provost at Auburn University in Alabama, was appointed by the full Board of Regents on Friday as the first chancellor of both the statewide University of Wisconsin-Extension and the UW Colleges.

“David’s experience shows that he is a dedicated, talented and visionary leader,” Reilly said.  “He will ably guide UW-Extension and UW Colleges as they enter their next phases of services to students and the state.”

Wilson has been in his current position at Auburn University since 1995. He previously served as assistant provost and associate provost at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Wilson earned his B.S. and Ed.M. at the Tuskegee Institute, and his Ed.D. and another Ed.M at Harvard University.

“Appointing Dr. Wilson to serve as chancellor for both UW-Extension and UW Colleges is part of our commitment to achieve administrative efficiencies and savings, as well as to strengthen the abilities of the two institutions to serve students and clients in local communities and across the state,” Reilly said.

The UW Colleges are the 13 freshman-sophomore campuses of the University of Wisconsin System. Founded in 1891, UW-Extension has faculty and staff on all 26 University of Wisconsin campuses, in 72 county offices and at two tribal nations. The new operating structure will enable faculty and staff from both institutions to collaborate in new ways to address local economic development, and to facilitate expanded access for Wisconsin residents to obtain baccalaureate degrees. A committee of staff from both institutions has been exploring ways to more-fully integrate the statewide work of UW Colleges and UW-Extension.

The Board approved Wilson’s salary as chancellor at $178,000, with a six-month notification period as part of his contract. His expected start date will be May 1, 2006.

The Board also approved the appointment of Diane Pillard to serve as dean at UW-Rock County. Her salary will be $92,000, and she will begin Jan.1, 2006. She, too, will have a six-month notification period as part of her contract.

Board to continue seeking solutions for improved financial aid, tuition policy

Regent President David Walsh on Friday reiterated the Board’s commitment to improving financial aid and tuition policies toward improving access for students, especially for those from lower-income families.

“Access and financial aid are at the core of our mission,” he said.

On Thursday, the Board heard information that may inform a creative, long-term financial aid and tuition plan to increase access to a UW education. At that meeting, President Reilly had urged Regents to “think big” about ways to structure tuition and financial aid.

Walsh said he was dismayed that Rep. Rob Kreibich had issued a press release criticizing the universities past actions on such policy. He urged those interested in the university’s direction on these matters to directly communicate with Regents and encouraged the Board to lead a discussion that can result in positive, productive policies on financial aid and tuition.

Regent Tom Loftus of Sun Prairie noted that Board discussions about enrollment, expected in February, will be key to implementing these future policies.

UW-Madison thanked for hosting December meeting

Regents on Friday approved a resolution thanking Chancellor John Wiley and his colleagues at UW-Madison for their work in officially hosting the Board’s December meeting. As part of hosting the meeting, the campus gave presentations on a 10-year campus master plan, encouraging academic excellence, improving efficiency in research administration, as well as the day’s session on digital library collections, noted Regent Brent Smith of La Crosse.

The Board also honored Dr. H. Rupert Theobald, former chief of the Legislative Reference Bureau, for nearly four decades of service to state citizens and the Legislature. Theobold passed away on Nov. 9. Regent Thomas Loftus of Sun Prairie noted that Theobold left a “legacy of public work that epitomizes the Wisconsin Idea.”

In other business, the Board passed resolutions to:

  • Approve a three-year contract extension (with the option of an additional year) for UW-Whitewater’s food contract with Chartwells through 2010;
  • Rename the UW-La Crosse Stadium the “Roger Harring Stadium” in recognition of Harring’s distinguished career as one of the most successful football coaches in the history of NCAA Division III football. Harring served for 31 years as head football coach at UW-La Crosse;
  • Grant authority to construct a potato storage facility at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station under the terms of a land-use agreement and to accept the completed facility as a gift-in-kind;
  • Grant authority to amend an existing lease to increase the amount of space leased for the UW-Milwaukee Public Radio station, WUWM, at the Grand Avenue Mall;
  • Grant authority to increase the project budget for the UW-Platteville Dairy Center Improvement Project, due to recent price increases in fuel and building materials;
  • Grant authority to construct the Connor University Center Addition and Remodeling project, and to increase that project budget to provide for utility upgrades;
  • Grant authority to construct a maintenance and repair project to replace fire alarm systems in two residence halls on the UW-La Crosse campus;
  • Adopt ranking criteria for GPR Major Projects as the basis for prioritizing and categorizing state-supported major projects for inclusion in future UW System capital budget requests; and
  • Request that authority be granted for the Department of Administration to execute a lease for space to be used by UW-Stevens Point to temporarily locate university center functions during the renovation of the Lee Sherman Dreyfus University Center.

The Board of Regents voted to cancel its January meeting and will hold its next meeting on February 9-10, 2006, in Madison.

Related: Read Dec 8 (day 1) news summary