MADISON – As the country’s focus turns to economic recovery, Regent President Charles Pruitt told the Board of Regents Thursday that the time is right for the University of Wisconsin System to revisit the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, the university’s strategic plan to increase the number of college graduates, create more well-paying jobs, and strengthen local communities.
“People from around the state — business leaders, students, legislators, and taxpayers — have rallied around this vision,” Pruitt said. “As we look forward to an economic recovery, it’s a good time to revisit our Growth Agenda, to ensure that our strategies are aligned with the state’s current and future needs.”
He said the university and the Board must begin long-range planning efforts now, including the development of a 2011-13 biennial budget request. “Regents need to be part of that budget-making and goal-setting process from the beginning,” Pruitt said.
UW System President Kevin P. Reilly laid out the university’s core goals of producing both more graduates and more jobs, adding that achieving such goals is underpinned by the need for a competitive UW workforce.
“This is about the faculty and staff who will deliver on those goals,” Reilly said. He reported to the Board that he has appointed a new Competitive University Workforce Commission, to be chaired by Regent Vice-President Michael Spector and Kathy Seifert, retired Executive Vice President of Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
The commission, which will include university representatives but will also heavily draw on community and business leaders from outside the university, will examine issues related to salary, compensation, and other benefits received by UW faculty and staff relative to peers.
“To make a compelling case with the help of outside people, we need to take a finer-grained look to see where specifically we have salary gap problems and where are the areas we don’t,” Reilly said.
Noting the prominent role of figures from outside the university in assessing compensation-related issues for faculty and staff, Regent Michael Falbo said, “I think we’ll find a lot of them are dealing with many of the same issues we are.”
Reilly reiterated that the success of the university’s initiatives also depends upon support and flexibilities offered by the state.
“We are grateful for the GPR the State gives us … but we all know we could do a lot more with that money, we could put a lot more toward our core educational purposes, if we had greater flexibility,” Reilly said.
Reilly discussed a projected timeline for the integrated planning process, including an April presentation of new goals for the number of UW graduates. Looking further ahead, the 2010-11 annual operating budget is slated to come up for approval in June, and the Regents will approve the UW System 2011-13 Biennial Budget request in August.
“If we are successful with these new goals for creating more graduates and creating and sustaining more jobs … communities across the state will benefit from our success,” Reilly said.
Education Committee discusses academic program planning and array
Speaking to the Education Committee, Associate Vice President for Academic and Faculty Programs Stephen Kolison presented the annual report on academic program planning and a report on the UW System 2009 Program Realignment Initiative.
As the UW System works to increase the number of college graduates in Wisconsin, campuses must offer an appropriate array of degree programs to meet workforce needs. The annual report describes a process that UW institutions must complete to plan, implement, and review new academic programs.
“The reviews are important because they ensure quality,” Kolison said.
Discussion focused on ways in which UW institutions and administrators are working together to expedite the process.
Kolison explained the Program Realignment Initiative involved an assessment of the viability and productivity of all undergraduate programs in the UW System’s array, both in terms of enrollments and degree production, over the 10-year period from 1998-2008. The working group was charged in November 2008 in response to the budget climate.
Of the 280 different majors or themes of study, only 10%, or 27 individual majors, are offered by more than 50% of campuses.
One goal of the analysis was “to encourage coordination among the UW institutions so that provosts would talk amongst themselves to ensure we would continue the programs that would benefit students,” said Kolison.
A program suspension process was introduced to make it easier to reinstate a program if there is demand. Kolison said there was “need to look at campus mission, uniqueness of a program, and capacity of the system” before deciding whether to suspend or eliminate a program.
In response to Regent Judith Crain’s question about next steps, Kolison said, “By this time next year, we’ll have more information on the impact of this work and program suspensions.”
Regents examine evolving teacher education in the UW System
Regents heard a wide-ranging presentation on the ways in which the UW System is working to address challenges and make the most of opportunities in the ever-evolving arena of teacher education.
Each year, UW institutions prepare over 60% of Wisconsin’s educators through traditional and alternative offerings, often in collaboration with the state’s technical colleges. Although there is great variation among the System’s 13 teacher-preparation programs, there is consensus among the professionals who prepare Wisconsin’s educators that good teaching involves deep content knowledge and the ability to create meaningful learning experiences.
Presenters included Assistant State Superintendent Deborah Mahaffey from the Department of Public Instruction; Program Director Beth Giles from the Institute for Urban Education; Dean Katy Heyning of the UW-Whitewater College of Education; and the UW System’s Director of PK-16 Initiatives Francine Tompkins.
“We have moved from a traditional credit-based system to a performance-based system,” said Tompkins of the UW System’s teacher preparation programs.
A variety of campus-specific and inter-institutional programs are focusing on how to help students gain familiarity in urban school settings and how to increase the number and diversity of students who enter teacher preparation programs.
In other business, the Education Committee:
- Approved the B.S. in Environmental Health at UW-Oshkosh;
- Approved the B.S. in Cognitive Science at UW-Stout;
- Approved a UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health appointment to the Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Partnership Fund;
- Approved a charter contract for the Veritas High School, a Milwaukee school overseen by the organization Seeds of Health, Inc.;
- Discussed a set of proposed guidelines which would permit and guide the replication of successful UW-Milwaukee-authorized charter schools; and
- Heard a report of Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin, which included ways UW institutions structure degree programs so that students are able to complete them in four years.
State Auditor Jan Mueller gives UW System a clean bill of health
Associate Vice President for Financial Administration Glen Nelson presented the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee with the UW System’s annual financial report for Fiscal Year 2008-09.
According to the report, state support increased by $58.5 million (6.1%), tuition revenue increased by $49.8 million (5.6%), federal grants and contracts increased by $102.5 million (16.2%), state, local and private grants and contracts increased by $46.3 million (18.4%), and gifts decreased by $18.1 million (6.7%).
State appropriations comprise less than one-quarter of the total revenue (22.3%). Over a ten-year period, FY09 state support exceeded the previous high-point set in FY03 by $41.9 million. However, in inflation-adjusted dollars, FY09 state support was $100.8 million less than FY03 state support.
The financial report included a clean, or “unqualified,” opinion from State Auditor Jan Mueller and the Legislative Audit Bureau. Mueller was on hand to brief the regents on her agency’s review. Financial Audit Director Carolyn Stittleburg from the Bureau said it identified three areas for continued monitoring, to further strengthen accounting controls.
Committee recommends approval of Blugold Commitment
After hearing passionate arguments both in support and in opposition, the Committee unanimously recommended approval of an amended version of UW-Eau Claire’s expanded undergraduate differential tuition program known as the Blugold Commitment.
Following up on concerns expressed by Regents and student leaders, Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler proposed the amendment calling for UW-Eau Claire to provide a detailed plan for expenditures for approval by Regents in May.
The proposed Blugold Commitment will add $300 to the institution’s differential rate in each of the next four years, ultimately resulting in a $1,200 increase in undergraduate tuition rates.
The matter will come before the full Board for a vote on Friday.
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich told the Committee that the differential tuition proposal is a three-part commitment: a commitment of students to pay more tuition, a commitment of the university to achieve specific results; and a commitment on the part of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, alumni and donors to provide more need-based financial aid.
UW-Eau Claire alumna and former Regent Joanne Brandeis said she supports the Blugold Commitment because the reputation of the university has lifelong importance, not just on the day a student graduates. “I just don’t want to see that (quality) go away. I feel a real sense of urgency about this. Our economy is demanding the type of experiences that UW-Eau Claire is able to provide,” she said.
Speaking in opposition to the initiative, UW-Eau Claire student senator Collins Hawkins worried that the university was “waving a white flag” in its effort to secure adequate state funding for higher education. He described a feeling on campus that leaders are not listening to the people they’re supposed to be leading. “In tough economic times, they’re asking students to shoulder the burden of UW-Eau Claire’s expansion. In this time of contraction of the economy, while families and business are tightening their belts, they’re saying, ‘We’ve chosen this time to experiment with high-impact practices with your money,’” Hawkins said.
Regent Aaron Wingad, a UW-Eau Claire student, wondered what additional information or motivation prompted senators to vote for the Blugold Commitment, despite a majority opposition to the initiative in a student vote. Senator Amber Bretl, who pointed out she was initially against the Blugold Commitment but changed her mind, said that ultimately she didn’t want to gamble the future quality of the UW-Eau Claire experience on the chance that the State might step up its support of the university in the future.
Tom Loftus urged the Committee to consider closely the precedent of generating financial aid through increasing tuition.
In other Committee business, two institutions had their existing differential tuition initiatives up for their scheduled reviews.
The Committee approved the continuation of and annual adjustments to the existing UW-La Crosse Academic Excellence Initiative undergraduate differential tuition. Beginning in Fall 2010, the differential tuition rate will increase from $30.36 per semester to $60 per semester ($120 per year). The rate will increase by 10%, to $66 per semester ($132 per year), in 2011-2012 and will then be adjusted by six percent annually through Fall 2014.
UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow said the initiative is all about quality, and the students understand that. “Nobody wants to pay more but they’re willing to say, ‘we want to keep our campus as strong as possible moving forward.’”
The Committee also approved the continuation of UW-Stout’s Access to Learning differential tuition and its Customized Instruction Program. The Access to Learning differential, first established in 1999, adds 5% to resident undergraduate and graduate tuition rates and currently amounts to $9.48 per credit for undergraduates and $15.26 per credit for graduate students. The funding supports a broad array of active learning programs that promote critical and creative thinking abilities. The Customized Instruction Program, first established in 1999, allows UW-Stout the flexibility to charge market rates for customized programs, certificates, and courses developed to meet market needs. These Customized instruction programs are typically offered in an alternative delivery format.
Committee discusses revised policy on differential tuition processes
The Business, Finance, and Audit Committee also discussed a revised overall differential tuition policy that would provide greater detail and structure than the existing policy established in 1999.
Senior Vice President for Administration and Fiscal Affairs Tom Anderes presented a proposed new policy that spells out more clearly the differential tuition approval process, timelines for review, and specific procedures for both institution-wide and program-specific differentials. It also includes suggested guidelines for campuses to use in developing differential tuition initiatives.
Noting the high level of detail in the proposed policy, the Committee suggested bringing the policy back for further discussion at the April meeting.
In other business, the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee:
- Discussed highlights of the Annual Trust Fund Report by Director Doug Hoerr; the complete report can be viewed online;
- Heard a report on Quarterly Gifts, Grants and Contracts (2nd) Quarter;
- Heard a report by UW System Office of Operations Review and Audit Director Julie Gordon on the proposed 2010 Review and Audit Plan. That plan includes the following major reviews: UW Higher Education Location Program (HELP); grading systems security; student assistance funds; FERPA implementation; and a follow-up review on policies affecting students with learning disabilities;
- Received an update from Tom Anderes on the current status of the UW System Human Resources System project;
- Heard a brief overview of the UW System Information Technology Strategic Plan, entitled the Common Systems Roadmap, from Associate Vice President for Learning and Information Technology Ed Meachen. A copy of the full plan can be found at http://cs.uwsa.edu/documents/CommonSystemsRoadmapV1_2.pdf. In addition to the overall UW System plan, each institution is required to develop a plan for its local systems and projects. Copies of those plans can be found here;
- Heard progress reports on the four major IT projects currently underway within the UW System (the Student Information System at UW-Eau Claire; the Identity and Access Management project; the Legacy Budget project; and the Oracle/PeopleSoft Human Resources System) and were told that all major projects are generally on target with respect to schedule, scope, and budget;
- Heard an overview of key schedules in the UW System Annual Budget (Redbook) document.
In his regular report, Associate Vice President David Miller reported to the Capital Planning and Budget Committee that the building commission approved about $46M for projects at its December and January meetings. The funding breakdown for those projects is $31M General Fund Supported Borrowing, $13M Program Revenue, and $2M Gift/Grant Funds.
Miller updated the committee on the status of project delivery legislation and the legislation to enumerate projects for UW-Whitewater and UW-Milwaukee. He also provided the committee with a preview of committee business in the coming months.
In other business, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee:
- Approved a request by UW Colleges for the temporary release of 28 acres from UW-Sheboygan’s lease back to Sheboygan County to assist in the completion of a Sheboygan County River Dredging Project;
- Approved a request by UW Colleges for authority to amend the ground lease agreement with the county at UW-Richland to include an additional 1.4 acre parcel of land and improvements;
- Approved a request by UW-Madison for authority to seek a Building Commission waiver to allow selection of a construction manager-at-risk, through an RFP process, for the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research project;
- Approved a request by UW-Madison to adjust the scope and budget of the Sterling Hall Renovation project to construct a Plasma Dynamo Facility and to seek a Building Commission waiver to allow single prime bidding for this increased project scope;
- Approved a request by UW-Oshkosh to construct a Residence Hall project for a total cost of $31,500,000 Program Revenue Supported Borrowing;
- Approved a request by UW-Whitewater for authority to increase the budget by $1,921,000 Program Revenue-Cash and construct the Fisher and Wellers Halls renovation project for a total cost of $10.5M;
- Approved a request by UW-Whitewater for authority to seek a Building Commission waiver to use the request for proposal process for a Hyland Hall Solar Photovoltaic System Project and approval to construct the project for a cost of $296,200 ($150,000 Grant Funds and $146,200 Institutional Funds);
- Approved seven maintenance, repair and renovation projects under the UW System All Agency request. The projects will occur on five campuses and total $4.4 million; and
- Moved into a brief closed session to consider facility naming requests from UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater.
The Board of Regents will resume its February 2010 meeting on Friday, February 5 in Van Hise Hall, at 9 a.m.