MADISON – Rob Cramer, Vice President for Administration, updated the University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents on current and future implementation and planning for the UW Colleges and UW-Extension restructuring project at its meeting Thursday.

“The primary objectives of the restructuring are access, affordability, and opportunity,” Cramer said. “It is important to keep these things in mind because this is a large, complicated effort. At the end of this, our ability to achieve these objectives will be a key measure of success.”

Since the Board’s last meeting, a major milestone was the submission in mid-January of UW System’s restructuring application to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the university’s accrediting body. Following a comprehensive review process, the HLC is expected to vote on UW System’s plan in late June.

Restructuring implementation is currently focused on regionally identified issues as well as student and employee services, Cramer said.

Updates on the restructuring process are regularly provided on the UW System website.

UW-Madison targets expanding access

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank told Regents that “demand for what we do at UW-Madison is higher than it’s ever been.”

Blank said preliminary numbers indicate that undergraduate applications have increased by more than 20 percent this year, with increases in applications from Wisconsin (6 percent), Minnesota (17 percent), as well as non-residents (approximately 30 percent).

“This access to excellence is important to keep our best students in this state. We are committed to making it possible for every qualified Wisconsin student to attend,” Blank said.

Blank said UW-Madison is focused on attracting the best Wisconsin high school students. To recruit those students, the university has launched the PRIME program, which targets Wisconsin high school students with top grades and an ACT score of 30 or higher. The goal is to reach 800 students with high-touch recruiting to communicate why a top student would want to attend Madison.

“We’ve just started the program, but I think we’re on the right track,” said Blank. “The more of these excellent students we attract to UW-Madison and keep in Wisconsin for college, the easier it’s going to be for Wisconsin’s businesses to recruit those students into jobs.”

Furthering that commitment to Wisconsin students, Blank unveiled Bucky’s Tuition Promise, which provides free tuition to undergraduate students whose families earn $56,000 per year or less. The median income for Wisconsin families is roughly $56,000.

“We want to make sure that all students from Wisconsin who are admitted to UW-Madison can afford to come,” Blank said.

The university continues to work on expanding merit aid as well as need-based aid, with low and moderate-income families in Wisconsin the first priority. In December, donors John and Tashia Morgridge announced a gift of $10 million in matching money for need-based scholarships. When this match is completed, it will generate a $20 million endowment for need-based scholarships. The payout from the endowment will provide a substantial part of funding needed for Bucky’s Tuition Promise.

“Our partnership with the state is central to who we are as a public university and the state’s partnership with us is central to its economic future,” Blank said. “It’s exciting to think about all the things we can do together in the decades ahead.”

Education Committee

The Education Committee approved UW-Green Bay’s new Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. It will proceed to the full Board for a vote on Friday.

“This proposal is a key element in the transformation of Northeast Wisconsin,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller. He said the program helps to meet the significant market demand for engineers, and will enhance the region’s ability to attract and retain talent.

The approval of the Mechanical Engineering B.S. is subject to the availability of funds identified by UW-Green Bay as being committed to this degree program. It is expected the community will provide no less than $7.6 million in private funds to support the program, and that those funds have already been committed. The Chancellor has committed to using no additional or new GPR funding to support the creation and operation of the program for the first five years.

The Committee also approved UW-Green Bay’s proposal to create a new School of Engineering, and to change the name of the College of Science and Technology to the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

In other action, the Education Committee:

  • Approved UW-Eau Claire’s new Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Neuroscience within the Department of Psychology;
  • Approved UW-Parkside’s establishment of a Master of Arts in Applied Professional Studies (MAPS) through its College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies and the Center for Professional Studies;
  • Approved UW-River Falls’ Master of Science in Education (MSE) in Montessori Education; the program will be the first MSE in Montessori Education degree program in Wisconsin;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request for renewal of two charter school contracts. The Committee approved the contract with Woodlands School, Inc., to maintain a charter school in Milwaukee known as Woodlands School-State Street, for a period of three years, effective July 1, 2018 until June 30, 2021. The Committee also approved the charter school contract with Rocketship Education Wisconsin, Inc., to maintain two charter schools in Milwaukee known as Rocketship Southside Community Prep., and Rocketship North Side School, for a period of five years, from July 1, 2018 until June 30, 2023;
  • Heard a report from Jim Henderson, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, on a $2.3 million grant from the Great Lakes Foundation, awarded in support of the UW System Math Initiative;
  • Heard a presentation by UW-Madison Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf, “UW-Madison Educational Update;” and
  • Heard a presentation by Dr. Sheila Briggs, Assistant State Superintendent, “The Process for Approving Educator Preparation Programs Leading to Licensure.”

Business and Finance Committee

The Business and Finance Committee approved tuition changes for non-resident undergraduate and graduate programs at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Stout. The requested changes vary by institution and/or program, ranging from $157 (2.0%) for Minnesota Reciprocity students at UW-Stout to $539 (2.0%) for MBA students at UW-Milwaukee.

It is important to note that no changes to any resident tuition rates, undergraduate or graduate, were included in these requests.

In other business, the Committee:

  • Approved a set of five contractual agreements under which the UW System Office of Capital Planning and Budget may engage selected vendors for on-call services in architecture, engineering and planning as well as on-call site and civil engineering professional services. The use of these contracts is expected to allow the Office to move more expeditiously on self-managed, gift-funded projects;
  • Heard a summary of the UW System’s 2017 Annual Financial Report, which includes an unmodified or “clean” audit opinion from the Legislative Audit Bureau along with all standard higher education financial statements;
  • Heard a summary of gift, grant, and contract awards for the period July 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017 will be presented. Total awards for the period were approximately $813.1 million, an increase of $44.8 million compared to the prior year. Federal awards increased $31.6 million while non-federal awards increased by $13.2 million;
  • Heard a summary report comparing budgeted to actual revenues and expenditures through the second quarter of the fiscal year. This mid-year, cash-based management report shows that, as of December 31, 2017, actual expenditures were approximately 46.7% of the Regent-approved budget, while revenues were at 50.9% of the budgeted level;
  • Heard an overview of UW System Strategic Plans for major IT projects and received a report on the status of nine large IT projects underway in the UW System;
  • Heard a presentation by Laurent Heller, UW-Madison’s Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, on UW-Madison’s benchmarking efforts, fiscal challenges, and plans to enhance revenue growth at the institution; and
  • Heard an update from Vice President for Administration Rob Cramer on the status of information security initiatives across the UW System. The Committee also received an update from Vice President for Finance Sean Nelson on the movement of Trust Funds investment activity to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

Research, Economic Development and Innovation Committee

Four leaders from minority chambers of commerce addressed Regents in the REDI Committee as part of a panel on growing entrepreneurial opportunity in Wisconsin’s diverse communities.

David Kircher, a board member with the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, said their mission is to help prepare underserved populations “go from the dream to the practical reality of what it takes to be a business operator.”

“There are certain challenges that occur in diverse communities that don’t always occur in other communities,” said Regent Eve Hall, chair of the REDI Committee.

Common challenges faced by minority entrepreneurs include access to capital and unfamiliar business practices.

Other panelists included Craig Anderson, president and executive director of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin; Camille Carter, executive president of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce; and Jessica Cavazos, president and CEO of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County.

Anderson and Cavazos are members of the UW System’s Diversity Council, formed last year as an advisory body to President Cross on critical issues of diversity and inclusion affecting educational achievement, workforce development, and the future of Wisconsin’s economy. The Council includes business and community leaders from across the state.

In other business, the REDI Committee:

  • Heard a presentation by UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper about the National College Fed Challenge, an academic competition in which student teams analyze economic and financial conditions and determine how they may impact monetary policy. UW-Whitewater is the first Wisconsin university to advance to the national event, held at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors offices in Washington, D.C.; and
  • Heard a presentation by Karl Scholz, Dean of the College of Letters and Science, about SuccessWorks. With a focus on preparing students for success in the 21st century economy, students participating in SuccessWorks will explore career possibilities and internships; connect with UW alumni; and build vital networks of professors, teaching assistants, alumni and peers.

Capital Planning and Budget Committee

The Capital Planning and Budget Committee approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute the remainder of the Design Contract and construct the UW-Madison Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) Office Building 2nd and 4th Floor Improvements Project. The project is entirely gift-funded.

In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:

  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for authority to execute the remainder of the Design Contract and construct the UW-Madison Nielsen Tennis Stadium–Additional Tennis Court Project. This project is entirely gift-funded and will construct two additional courts adjacent to the six existing outdoor courts;
  • Heard a report by UW Colleges Vice Chancellor Steve Wildeck on City and County Financial Support for the UW Colleges;
  • Heard an update on the proposed construction of a 55,000 square-foot Brown County Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Innovation Center at UW-Green Bay;
  • Heard a presentation by UW-Madison about the challenges of deferred maintenance and how it relates to campus facilities; and
  • Heard a report from Associate Vice President Alex Roe on recent State Building Commission approvals and an update on Gift/Grant project meetings.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee:

  • Approved a new Regent policy on ethics and conflict of interest;
  • Heard a progress report on the Fiscal 2018 Audit Plan from Chief Audit Executive Lori Stortz;
  • Heard an overview of recently issued reports related to bank account creation, management and oversight, UW-Madison division of university housing, federal TRIO programs, human resource system separation of duties, internal control and compliance structure and governance, NCAA Division I agreed upon procedures, payroll continuous auditing and UW-Madison research capital equipment; and
  • Heard an overview by Director Steve Mentel on the progress management has made toward resolving comments and implementing recommendations included in audit reports.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will resume its meeting at 9 a.m., Feb. 9, 2018, at Union South, UW-Madison