WHITEWATER, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin System is expanding opportunities for adult learners. At today’s UW System Board of Regents meeting at UW-Whitewater, the Regents heard about the education options that are available to nontraditional adult learners across the UW System.

“Throughout Wisconsin and the nation, people of all ages are seeking a quality education that will help them thrive in the workplace and become more well-rounded individuals,” UW System President Ray Cross said. “The UW System is consistently working to expand access to nontraditional students, including adult learners.”

About 815,000 Wisconsin residents 25 and older have earned some college credit but do not have a degree, according to U.S. Census data. The UW System is focusing on strategies to attract and serve these students who are professionally oriented.

One way the System is expanding access to adult learners is by serving returning adults looking for opportunities in innovative online formats through the newly formed UW Extended Campus.

As part of the 2017 UW System restructure, President Cross created UW Extended Campus, a separate programming and administrative unit dedicated to strategically grow and coordinate online and adult/professional education on behalf of all UW System campuses.

UW Extended Campus (UWEX) builds on the work and resources of the former UW-Extension Division of Continuing Education, Outreach, and E-Learning (CEOEL). CEOEL had been focused for more than a decade on developing the resources to create educational opportunities and success for adult, professional, and other nontraditional students.

UWEX uses a collaborative online program model in cooperation with all UW System campuses. UWEX currently runs 24 such degree programs in both traditional semester-based formats and in the competency-based UW Flexible Option format. Most programs award bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but UWEX’s portfolio also includes the UW Flex AAS, the new collaborative associate degree, and a handful of certificate programs.

Marie Cini, President of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), provided Regents with an overview of changing national trends in higher education. One of the most significant changes, she said, is the need to shift from focusing on traditional-aged college students to a pool of students that increasingly includes adults over age 25.

Cini said the changes will require a paradigm shift in how higher education looks at a person’s life path and educational needs. There is increasing focus on lifelong learning, she said, including upskilling, reskilling, and new career paths later in life.

“We have to stop thinking about students coming to us in higher ed. We need to think more about us going to them,” Cini said.

All 13 UW System universities are partnering on at least one of the UWEX programs, with three universities partnering on 10 or more. UWEX’s goal is to double online enrollments by adding two new programs in response to market needs per year through 2025. Enrollment in UWEX-managed programs has already grown 54 percent over the past five years to more than 4,800 students.

Richard Carter of Pardeeville, a family man and veteran, told Regents he had resigned himself that getting a college degree was “not going to happen” until he came across the online Health Information Management program offered through UW-Parkside. He is currently about two-thirds of the way to earning his B.S. degree.  “I listen to classes during my kid’s karate class or on the drive to work,” Carter said. He thanked Extended Campus and UW-Parkside “for making it easy to get back into it.”

Board President’s Report

Regent President Andrew S. Petersen provided updates on several ongoing searches. UW-Stout announced last week that Katherine Frank, currently the Vice President of Academic Innovation and a professor of English at Central Washington University (Ellensburg, Wash.) will be the university’s 8th Chancellor and will assume the post on March 1. UW-Green Bay’s Chancellor search is currently in the process of identifying candidates. The search committee expects to name semi-finalists in January.

Petersen said the search for a successor to UW System President Ray Cross is also now underway. The presidential search and screen committee, chaired by Regent Vice President Michael Grebe, will be officially charged later today and will work with the Storbeck/Pimentel search firm to begin identifying potential candidates.

“As this process rolls out, it is vitally important that all interested parties have an opportunity to express their thoughts and to engage. To that end, we have already started hosting listening sessions to engage and gather input from faculty, staff, other university stakeholders, and all Wisconsin citizens who have interest in this search,” Petersen said. Input will also be collected on the UW System’s presidential search website.

Petersen also updated Regents on the ongoing All In Wisconsin tour, which held its eighth meeting with community and business members at UW-Whitewater yesterday. The tour will resume in early 2020 and visit four remaining UW System universities.

UW System President’s Report

In a legislative update, President Cross told Regents that Governor Tony Evers recently signed Act 36 legislation that will streamline the contracting process for faculty engaged in research projects with outside entities. “We expect this bipartisan bill will help accelerate the critical research UW System faculty do to improve lives and help all of our campuses increase their research potential,” Cross said.

Cross noted that he had joined Missy Hughes, the new Secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in Eau Claire last month to unveil a new collaborative online resource to help businesses establish internship programs. Cross said he has also initiated a process of more closely engaging with Wisconsin’s tribes. He recently met with the Forest County Potawatomi and Lac du Flambeau tribes and has additional meetings with the Oneida, Menominee, and Stockbridge-Munsee tribes in coming weeks.

For his Student Spotlight feature, Cross introduced UW-Whitewater undergraduate and student-athlete Adriana Green of Racine.

Green, who is majoring in psychology and in her third year playing for the Warhawk women’s basketball team, shared with Regents the challenges and lessons learned from balancing academics, athletics and multiple jobs.

It has been very difficult at times, she acknowledged, but “I realized I had to do it if I wanted to stay in school and continue doing what I love.”

When she sustained a significant knee injury last year that required her to miss many months on the basketball court, it was the support of coaches, teammates and her family that got her through.

From both her financial struggles and injury, she says she learned the value of hard work, perseverance and the importance of being willing to ask for help.

Green plans to become a sports psychologist.

In News Around the System, Regents heard that UW-Oshkosh alumnus Patrick Gaughan, Class of ’71, is taking lifelong learning seriously. After a 28-year career in public service with the city of Jacksonville, Florida, he returned to school to become a registered nurse and has since discovered a whole new world overseas as a medical missionary. His inspiring work with Smile Train in central Africa is changing lives, providing more than 500 cleft palate surgeries in the past five years.

In other business, the Board of Regents:

  • Approved a Resolution of Appreciation to UW-Whitewater for hosting the December 2019 Regents meeting;
  • Approved revisions to UW-Madison’s freshman admissions policy;
  • Approved an Administrative Code Scope Statement for Proposed Changes to Chapter UWS 18;
  • Approved UW-Oshkosh’s Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Science;
  • Approved three UW-Platteville degree programs – a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management; Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Conservation; and Master of Science in Information Systems Management.
  • Approved UW-Platteville’s request to restructure its existing Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree program;
  • Approved UW-Whitewater’s request to establish a Bachelor of Science program in Human Performance;
  • Approved UW-Whitewater’s request to establish a Master of Science in Communication;
  • Approved a proposal to rescind and recreate RPD 20-5, “Faculty Sabbatical Leave Program;”
  • Approved appointments of three committee members to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Partnership Program for a one-year term: Dr. Cedric A. Johnson, Dr. Megan A. Moreno, and Dr. Manish Shah;
  • Approved three systemwide travel-related agreements with Travel Incorporated, Shorts Travel Management, and Fox World Travel;
  • Approved a contractual agreement with F-1 & J-1 students Kings Colleges, LLC dba Kings Education, to provide recruitment of international to UW-Oshkosh;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s contractual Master Clinical Trial Agreement with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s fixed price contract with ColdQuanta, LLC;
  • Approved two Sponsored Research Agreements between UW-Madison and PPD Investigator Services, LLC on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline LLC for DREAMM4 and DREAMM5;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Master Service Agreement with Parexel International, LLC;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s Master Service Agreement with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.;
  • Approved the rescission and removal from Regent Policy Document (RPD) 11-1, “Non-Duplication Broadcast Protection Agreement;” RPD 11-2, “Broadcast Stations: Procedures for Handling Complaints;” RPD 11-3, “Access for Expression of Varying Viewpoints;” and RPD 11-4, “Radio Broadcast Stations: Position Statement.” The policies, adopted between 1973 and 1981, are now obsolete;
  • Approved the rescission and removal of Regent Policy Document 20-7, “Outside Activity Reporting.” Procedures for reporting outside activities are currently addressed in UW System Administration and institutional policies;
  • Approved UW-La Crosse’s request for authority to construct the $49-million Fieldhouse and Soccer Support Facility project;
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for approval to enter into a lease of space for the Office of Community Relations, UW South Madison Partnership;
  • Approved UW-Milwaukee’s request for approval to increase the budget of the Northwest Quadrant Renovation and Student Health Services Remodel project;
  • Approved UW-Parkside’s request for approval to construct the $6.7-million Campus Fire Alarm System Renovation project;
  • Approved UW-Platteville’s request for authority to construct the $55.2-million New Sesquicentennial Hall project;
  • Approved UW System’s request for approval to construct All Agency Maintenance and Repair projects at four campuses for a total cost of approximately $20 million. Projects include a $3-million facility maintenance and repair project at UW-La Crosse and $17 million of utility repair and renovation projects at UW-La Crosse, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, and UW-Whitewater; and
  • Approved UW-Madison’s request for approval to increase the budget of the UW-Managed Primate Center Backup Generator project by $700,000 Gift Funds.

The next University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents meeting will be February 6-7, 2020, hosted by UW-Madison.