MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System needs to proactively do more to connect its graduates with career options and opportunities with Wisconsin businesses, UW System President Ray Cross told a committee at Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting.

All UW campuses are becoming more highly focused on helping students make important connections with partners outside of the classroom, Cross said, but those efforts need to be amplified. “We want to expand our efforts to help all juniors and seniors make these beneficial connections with Wisconsin businesses and not-for-profit organizations,” said Cross, speaking at the Research, Economic Development and Innovation Committee.

The concept – with a tentative working title of the Wisconsin Business Experience – would potentially enrich students’ academic and career-development experiences while also better channeling that talent and knowledge into meeting business and workforce needs in the state. This is particularly important given demographic projections that forecast a shrinking Wisconsin workforce, Cross said.

Cross acknowledged that UW campuses are already actively engaged in aligning their graduates with careers through programs such as the Northwest Wisconsin Engineering Consortium, a collaboration  between UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, and UW-Stout to bring more engineers to northwest Wisconsin.

“We need to offer even more introductions and experiences for students in all disciplines, from nursing to teaching to engineering to the humanities,” Cross said.

Regent Mark Tyler suggested that highlighting a strong correlation between career success and participating in internship programs could propel and encourage even more participation from students and companies.

In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Heard an update on current initiatives and programs from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s newly appointed CEO, Mark Hogan;
  • Heard an update on WiSys programs and initiatives from executive director Arjun Sanga; and
  • Received an update on the Regent Scholar Grant Program that offers three awards to faculty and campus programs that undertake innovative undergraduate research projects with the potential to lead to job creation and economic development.

Education Committee

The Education Committee approved a resolution reiterating the Board of Regents’ commitment to the principle of academic freedom and affirming its commitment to the principle of freedom of expression.

Committee chair Regent Gerald Whitburn, who shared some personal recollections from time on the UW-Madison and UW-Oshkosh campuses in the 1960s, said, “There is a ripple in the air today suggesting that it is a good and appropriate time to reiterate and reaffirm our strong commitment to both these principles and values.”

The resolution goes before the full Board on Friday.

In other business, the Education Committee:

  • Approved six new academic degree programs:  UW-Madison’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy; UW-River Falls’ B.S. in Neuroscience; and a Master of Science in Information Technology Management, a Master of Science in Athletic Training, a Master of Fine Arts in Dance, and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) in Biomedical Engineering, all at UW-Milwaukee;
  • Approved UW-Green Bay’s redesignation of the administrative and organizational structure of the university by creating three Colleges and one stand-alone School to enhance the recruitment of students and faculty, and to manage the academic program array more efficiently;
  • Approved UW-Stevens Point’s proposal for a new college that will create a new Dean position and make academic student services a one-stop shop. Units reporting to the Dean of the University College will include Undergraduate Research, the Library, Tutoring Services, and other units dedicated to student success;
  • Approved UW-Stevens Point’s select mission change, which was revised to better reflect the university’s new strategic plan and desire to better serve regional needs;
  • Approved UW-Extension’s proposed select mission change that will provide UW-Extension with degree-granting authority for professionally focused and cross-disciplinary, direct assessment, competency-based credit-bearing certificates; associate degrees; and baccalaureate degrees in the academic area of business and management;
  • Approved revisions to UW-Superior’s Faculty Personnel Rules approved by the Board in February 2015; and
  • Heard an update from David J. Ward, interim Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, on the status of the rulemaking process for UWS 4, 7, 11, and 17.

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee approved UW-Madison’s request to petition $5 million in funding from the Vilas Trust in support of its Music Performance Building project. The new music performance facility – which will be called the Hamel Music Center – will include a 662-seat concert hall, a 325-seat recital hall, a large rehearsal room, and state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW System’s request for three All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects totaling approximately $6 million that address facility maintenance and repair at UW-Madison and
  • Reviewed six resolutions concerning updating, revising and/or eliminating Regent Policy Documents that relate to capital planning and budgeting; and
  • Approved UW System’s Criteria for Evaluating Major Capital Projects. Planning for 2017-2019 Capital Budget has begun and the criteria used for prioritizing major building projects has been updated to reflect current systemwide initiatives, priorities, and goals of the Board of Regents.

At a Board of Regents Executive Committee meeting on Dec. 1, 2015, design reports and granted authority were approved to construct the following projects: UW-Madison Babcock Hall Dairy Plant Renovation and Center for Dairy Research Addition, the UW-Madison Police and Security Facility Addition, the UW-Oshkosh Intramural Recreation Field Complex, and two All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects addressing a turf replacement at UW-Oshkosh and a volleyball locker room remodeling at UW-Madison.

Audit Committee

Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz provided an overview of The Three Lines of Defense Model, which clarifies the roles and duties within the organization to further enhance the understanding of risk management. Stortz has shared the Model with the Chief Business Officers, Controllers, Chancellors, and the President’s Cabinet.

In other business, the Audit Committee:

  • Heard a high-level overview of recently issued reports and a progress report on the Fiscal 2016 Audit Plan; and
  • Received an update on current initiatives in the Office of Internal Audit.

Business and Finance Committee

The Committee approved The Pointer Partnership – a new differential tuition – at UW-Stevens Point. The Pointer Partnership had received strong support in a student referendum held on campus last month, with 62 percent of students voting in favor of the differential tuition plan. The referendum had a large turnout of 3,308 students, or 36% of eligible students.

The differential would be phased in for upperclassmen, ultimately resulting in an increased cost of $200 per semester for all undergraduate students. The program will be presented to the Board for review after five years.

The Pointer Partnership will advance to the full Board for consideration on Friday.

In other business, the Business and Finance Committee:

  • Reaffirmed adoption of the Investment Policy Statement for the UW System Trust Funds;
  • Approved changes to Regent Policy documents governing the voting of proxy proposals associated with UW System Trust Funds investments. UW System Trust Funds staff has recommended adoption of an approach similar to that used by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB);
  • Approved changes to Regent Policy related to contract approval, signature authority and reporting. Changes proposed include: Increasing the threshold requiring Board approval from $500,000 to $1 million; requiring formal Board approval for Athletics employment contracts with a value of more than $500,000; requiring UW System Office of General Counsel review of all contracts with a value between $500,000 and $1 million;
  • Approved an alumni tuition pilot program at UW-Eau Claire that would provide alumni with a 25% discount on undergraduate resident tuition rates at the institution for five years after graduation. The new rate would apply to both resident and non-resident undergraduate alumni who commit to graduating within four years and then successfully meet that commitment;
  • Approved removal of two Regent Policy Documents which are obsolete given that their stated purposes were met long ago and their content out of date. The Committee also approved changes to the Policy for Large or Vital Information Projects;
  • Approved a clinical trial agreement between UW-Madison and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. The agreement involves an evaluation of the safety and efficacy of specified treatments addressing lymphoblastic leukemia;
  • Approved a Master Services Agreement between UW-Madison and IDx, LLC. Under the three-year agreement, the University will provide services related to training and certification of image recording;
  • Approved a collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Regents and The Building and Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin;
  • Received a report on additional compensation received by UW System faculty and staff outside the state-approved pay plan. A total of about 24% of all staff received base adjustments (including those for promotions, title changes, and changes in duties) during fiscal year 2015. UW chancellors reallocated approximately $34.4 million in FY2015 to fund these base adjustments. UW chancellors also reallocated one-time resources of approximately $22.9 million in FY2015 to fund one-time, lump sum payments. These lump sum payments are non-base building compensation for additional work of a one-time, non-recurring nature; and
  • Heard a summary of gift, grant, and contract awards for the period July 1, 2015, through September 30, 2015.

All actions recommended by Committees will come before the full Board for approval on Friday.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will resume its meeting
on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, at Gordon Commons in Madison.