Board of Regents

November 2008 Minutes - University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents

 

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING

of the

BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN SYSTEM

Madison, Wisconsin

UW-Madison
Held in 1820 Van Hise Hall

Thursday, November 6, 2008

9:00 a.m.

- President Bradley presiding -

 

Approval of Minutes
REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD
Issues for Discussion at This Meeting
New Legislative Leaders
Economic Problems
President Reilly’s Leadership in National Higher Education
PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF ACADEMIC WORKFORCE RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION CHALLENGES
PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATE DEGREES IN THE UW SYSTEM
REPORT AND APPROVAL OF ACTION BY BUSINESS, FINANCE AND AUDIT COMMITTEE
UW-Oshkosh Pouring Rights Contract
Annual Public Forum on UW-System Trust Fund Investments.
Consent Agenda
UW-Oshkosh Pouring Rights Contract
PRESENTATION OF ANNUAL TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Professor Douglas Heil, UW-Oshkosh Department of Communication
Professor Nate Splett, Associate Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and Professor of Agricultural Economics, UW-River Falls
UW-Stout Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science
                                                  

 

PRESENT: Regents Jeffrey Bartell, Mark Bradley, Elizabeth Burmaster, Eileen Connolly-Keesler, Judith Crain, Mary Cuene, Danae Davis, John Drew, Michael Falbo, Kevin Opgenorth, Charles Pruitt, Brent Smith, Michael Spector, Colleene Thomas, José Vásquez, and David Walsh

UNABLE TO ATTEND: Regents Thomas Loftus and Betty Womack

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Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the October 2 and 3, 2008 meetings were approved as distributed, upon motion by Regent Vásquez, seconded by Regent Opgenorth.

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REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD
Issues for Discussion at This Meeting
Regent President Bradley began by noting that the focus at this meeting would be on two broad policy discussions, per the Board’s new format approved last year, of devoting two meetings a year to full discussion of difficult policy issues without the need to take immediate action. 

Issues for this meeting were:

  1. A discussion of academic workforce recruitment and retention challenges and how those challenges may change in the future; and
  2. The emergence of professional doctorate degrees in the UW System and what factors should be considered if and when such degrees come before the Board for approval.

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New Legislative Leaders
Noting that recent elections would result in there being a new Assembly Speaker and Chair of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee, Regent President Bradley reported that he and President Reilly would ask to meet with them periodically, as had been done with their predecessors, to discuss issues facing the state and what higher education could do to be part of the solution.  They also would continue to meet on the same basis with the Senate leadership.

Economic Problems
Noting that the economies of the nation and the state are in serious trouble, President Reilly emphasized the importance of making a strong commitment to doing everything possible to contribute vigorously to long-term economic recovery, working together with elected officials to find viable solutions and a brighter future.

In that regard, he pointed out that the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin is a powerful means of strengthening the state’s economic foundation.  While progress would no doubt be slower in this era of scarce resources, he said, it is important to remain focused on the needs of people who rely on the university even more in these challenging times.

As students and families watch their savings portfolios decrease and find it more difficult to borrow, the President said, it is important to continue to advocate strongly for public and private investment in need-based financial aid and to hold tuition as low as possible.  As displaced workers seek training for new careers, the university must remain committed to providing clear pathways to the degrees they need.  As the state seeks to attract new businesses and jobs, the university must continue to nurture scientific discoveries that advance technology, improve the human condition and translate into new business opportunities.

In addition, the university will continue to work in the area of cost containment, building on the UW’s longstanding reputation for low administrative costs and high educational quality.  The ongoing commitment, he stated, is to “squeeze every bit of value out of every dollar and return that value to our students, taxpayers, and other stakeholders.” 

Last month, he said in conclusion, the UW-Oshkosh Student Association used the occasion of Higher Education Day to obtain 600 signatures of their fellow students on a petition, urging policy makers, academic leaders, faculty and staff to work together to make higher education more affordable, accessible, accountable, and competitive.  He commended Chancellor Wells and the students on their civic engagement. 

President Reilly’s Leadership in National Higher Education
On behalf of the Board, Regent President Bradley commended President Reilly for his growing role in higher education leadership on the national level.  He recently was invited to join the Federal Relations Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers’ group (SHEEO).  The committee will be responsible for shaping SHEEO’s federal priorities/strategies and leading communication efforts with Congress and President-Elect Obama’s administration.

One of the committee’s goals will be to pursue implementation of recommendations outlined in an open letter that SHEEO sent to all presidential candidates last year.  Endorsed by all state higher education leaders and 45 former members of SHEEO, the letter urged candidates to “clearly commit their campaign and administration to reestablishing and sustaining a higher education system that is second to no other nation in its quality and productivity.”  The letter provided specific recommendations for federal policy and outlined state responsibilities that are essential for meeting those national priorities.

President Reilly also was one of a small number of major public university system leaders called together recently by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to address the financing system for public higher education and increases in tuition.  The conclusion was that the federal government needs to take a larger role in supporting public higher education, for reasons of domestic and international economic competitiveness and national security.  He will be working with presidents and chancellors across the country to make this case to the new administration in Washington.

In conclusion, Regent President Bradley thanked President Reilly for accepting these offers for increased leadership on the national level.  The UW System, he remarked, should play a large role on the national stage – a role that will be enhanced under President Reilly’s leadership. 

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PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF ACADEMIC WORKFORCE RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION CHALLENGES
In opening remarks, President Reilly observed that, of the many factors that affect academic workforce recruitment and retention, one of the most important issues is the impact of “graying of academia”.  In 2007-08, more than 2,400 faculty across the UW System (39%) were age 55 and older -- up from 27% twenty years ago. 

This development, he explained, is significant because it has the potential to impact how the UW succeeds in meeting the goals of the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin and other efforts to make important contributions to the state’s long-term competitiveness and quality of life.

Noting that the trend is national, rather than local, he said that, while the number of retirements is expected to continue to increase in coming years, many experts predict that the number of new academic professionals entering the workforce may not keep up, resulting in national “bidding war” to attract the best and brightest.

In that environment, he continued, there will be an intensifying need for competitive pay and benefit packages, including domestic partner benefits, to attract and retain quality faculty and staff.  While such challenges already were being faced, they were expected to become even more acute and the competition more fierce with the anticipated rise in retirements. 

The President noted that many other factors are involved in recruiting and retaining the best talent, including operating budgets to adequately fund teaching, research and outreach programs; capital funding – public and private – to build state-of-the-art laboratories and academic facilities; high quality student populations; and overall academic reputation of the institution as a whole.

There have been many accounts, he recalled, of faculty who had left UW campuses, with pay as a factor, and of open positions that could not be filled despite repeated search efforts because salaries were not competitive.  Regent Thomas, he added, spoke of losing several advisors during the course of her undergraduate studies at UW-Madison, due to departures of faculty to positions at other universities.  

Noting that these are issues with which chancellors must grapple on a daily basis, he cited an example at UW-Milwaukee involving Physics Professor Patrick Brady, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and a Cottrell Scholar, whose research interests include black holes, dynamics of gravitational collapse, and detection of gravitational waves.  Professor Brady was being recruited by Louisiana State University, which was offering both to double his salary from $80,000 to $160,000 and to provide significant research funding and new laboratory space.  

The current economic climate, President Reilly pointed out, would only serve to aggravate such recruitment and retention problems.  While no decisions had to be made at this meeting, a pay-plan proposal for 2009-11 would be presented at the December meeting.

Associate Vice President Al Crist began his remarks by referring to five factors that influence the ability to attract and retain a talented workforce:  Competitive pay and benefits; strong operating budgets; capacity to support capital requirements; strong academic reputations; and high-quality student populations.  Pointing out the connection between quality and competitiveness, he indicated that, without the first three factors, academic reputation would diminish and the ability to attract high-quality students would be impaired.

Recruitment and retention challenges include:  state economic conditions, the realities of which will require connecting priorities with available funding; implications of an aging workforce; and salary comparisons with peer universities that show Wisconsin to below the average and therefore at a competitive disadvantage.

As to the economic environment, Mr. Crist noted that:

  1. A position vacancy approval process is in effect for state government as a whole, as well as for the UW System and each of the campuses. 
  2. A $3.1 billion shortfall in revenue for the 2009-11 biennial budget request is growing and expected to become significantly higher. 
  3. There is significant national fiscal uncertainty, with half the states showing budget shortfalls even before the economic crisis in October.
  4. States throughout the country are reducing higher education budgets

Noting that Wisconsin is part of a national trend in terms of aging of the workforce, Mr. Crist said the percentage of UW faculty who are age 55 and older is 39%, with another 17.3% age 50-54.  Academic staff are in general somewhat younger, but reflect the same trend, with 28% age 55 and older, up from 15% ten years ago. 

Mr. Crist then summarized the following recruitment and retention challenges:

  1. National and regional competition for hiring faculty and staff.
  2. Loss of faculty/staff leadership.
  3. State funding constraints.
  4. Maintaining quality instructional and support programming in the face of reduced budgets and a transitioning workforce.

 

Along with those challenges, he identified the following opportunities:

  1. Availability of positions through increasing retirements over the next decade.
  2. Opportunity for strategic realignment of resources to meet future program requirements, such as expanded access and expanded support for a more diverse workforce.

 

As to the UW’s current standing in terms of faculty salaries, Mr. Crist explained that, as determined by a Governor’s Commission in 1984, a group of peer universities is used as a basis for salary comparisons. The Compensation Advisory Committee in May found that UW salaries would reach the peer median with adjustments of 7.78% in 2010 and 2011.  That figure was based on the UW currently being 10% behind the peer median and included some assumptions as to what would have to be done to catch up. 

Mr. Crist indicated that the situation was more complex with regard to academic staff salaries and that a peer-based model was being developed that should be available for next year’s request.  Challenges have included obtaining reliable matches for positions and verification of data, which is less available than for the faculty model.

Adding that classified staff also play a very important role in the university’s operations, Mr. Crist noted that salaries for those workers are developed through a different process that does not involve the Board.

Sources of funds for salary adjustments are state general purpose revenue (GPR) and tuition, with the traditional split being 69% GPR and 31% tuition.  There also is recruitment and retention funding, which can be used to make counter-offers and meet recruitment needs, and base reallocations that can be used to address market and equity issues.

As to allocation of funds, under Board directives, one-third is based on solid performance as determined through evaluations, one-third for merit and market adjustments, and one-third for equity and other considerations.  If the pay plan is two percent or lower, it is distributed across the board for solid performance. 

Turning to next steps, Mr. Crist indicated that state revenue projections would be due on November 20th.  On December 4th and 5th, the Board would act to approve a 2009-11 pay-plan request.  Later in the month, the President would forward the request to the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER), which in turn would present its biennial compensation plan to the Joint Committee on Employment Relations for approval. 

In discussion following the presentation, Mr. Crist responded to a question by Regent Bartell by indicating that the split of 69% GPR and 31% tuition to fund pay plans was historical in origin but that other splits also had been used from time to time.

Regent Spector noted that, given adverse market impacts on retirement funds, people may be inclined to continue working after reaching retirement age.  He asked if thought was being given to offering incentives to retire so that people with new perspectives could be brought in.

Mr. Crist replied that the state had offered such incentives in the past and that it is being looked at to some degree by other states. When it has been tried, especially by private universities, results have been mixed.

President Reilly indicated that additional information in that point would be obtained.

Regent Falbo inquired about the size of the pool of new workers that would be available to replace retiring employees. 

Replying that a seven to nine percent increase is expected in the pool of PhD graduates overall, Mr. Crist indicated that, whether that is sufficient to meet the need depends on the pipeline by discipline and the needs of individual institutions. 

Regent Falbo asked if more should be done to encourage people to go into high demand fields in order for the UW to grow more of its own future employees.  He asked if a similar situation applied to classified employees, to which Mr. Crist replied that markets for classified employees tend to be more local than for unclassified staff.  Most classified employees are union represented and bargain with the Office of State Employment Relations.  Market studies have been done in fields such as nursing, resulting for stronger pay plans for those workers.

Regent Cuene asked it there is a plan for helping academic staff to move into the faculty ranks. 

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells related that his institution helps nursing faculty fund their PhD programs and also works with academic staff on career development plans.  More could be done, he thought, in such areas as granting staff time off to further their education.  Referring to the seriousness of shortages, he said that talented faculty are needed to continue teaching rather than to retire, and that the university competes for new employees not just against other universities, but outside entities as well.  In the interest of advancing diversity, he added, it is important to attract faculty and staff from other places outside of the region and state.

UW-Extension and UW Colleges Chancellor David Wilson referred to the successful Leadership Academy, a two-year program established to grow leaders for those institutions. He noted that it is considered a model by other universities.

Regent Drew commented that the issue of collective bargaining rights for faculty and academic staff is pertinent to this discussion.  Although it is a matter for the Legislature to address, he asked that the Board make it clear that the Regents do not oppose the right to choose collective bargaining.

Noting that the Board has strongly supported competitive pay for faculty and staff, as well as domestic partner benefits over the years, Regent Davis asked what more the Regents could do to help in this regard.

In addition to articulating the Board’s position to the Governor and legislators, President Reilly suggested that Regents encourage third-party advocates to do so as well, in order to let the decision makers know that these matters are important to businesses and communities across the state. 

Although a smaller percentage of academic staff than faculty is in the 55 and older age group, Regent Vásquez inquired as to the numbers involved, since greater numbers of retiring academic staff could present a larger problem than it might appear, particularly with respect to teaching academic staff. 

Mr. Crist replied that there are about 6,000 faculty and 13,000 academic staff and limited employees, of which instructional academic staff represent a growing number.  Of 3,400 instructional academic staff, 1,100 are age 55 and older.  Limited employees are the oldest group, with 58% being age 55 and older.

Regent Vásquez suggested that incentives for academic staff might be somewhat different from those for faculty. 

Regent Walsh agreed that faculty and academic staff do not have the competitive salary levels they should, a message that the Board has delivered for years.  However, he commented that, because of today’s economic crisis, it is a very inopportune time to make such a request.  Stating the need to reframe the message, he suggested presenting more statistics, rather than anecdotes, on such matters as percentages and reasons for turnover.

Mr. Crist indicated that UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell would address turnover information in his presentation but that obtaining such information from other institutions has been a challenge.  While Wisconsin has an advantage in term of retirement, health insurance and sick leave benefits, he did not think that these made up for the gap in compensation.  In addition, the UW does not offer tuition assistance for employees and their families as do many other universities, such as Minnesota, which found tuition assistance to be cost neutral because of the improved retention with which it has been credited.

President Reilly pointed out that, for many younger workers, salaries are more important than retirement and other benefits. 

Regent Burmaster added that Wisconsin’s excellent K-12 school system is an asset because workers do not feel the need to pay to send their children to private schools. 

Regent Pruitt inquired as to how and by whom changes were initiated when the state deviated from the usual 69% GPR and 31% tuition split. 

Mr. Crist noted that last year the Board had asked for a pay plan increase funded with no tuition dollars but that the final result had been the traditional split.

Regent Spector remarked that, while Governor Doyle supports education, he would have difficulty providing what is needed in this economic milieu.  He suggested that creative thinking is needed to find alternatives to state funding, such as using incentives other than salary in recruitment and more use of philanthropy to create professorships.         

Speaking of a meeting of the Carnegie Corporation that he had attended, President Reilly said the conclusion was that the financing system for public higher education is broken and will not get the country to the point at which more than 50% of the population is college educated – a measure on which the United States currently ranks tenth.  The states have too many other claims on their funding, and tuition has reached a level at which students and families have become alarmed and are being deterred from higher education. 

The Carnegie group concluded that public higher education must be made a federal issue, rather than being left to state budgets.  In that regard it is important to make the case that higher education is crucial to achieving global competitiveness long term and to maintaining national security. 

Expressing agreement, Regent Vasquez emphasized the need for long-term dependable solutions to provide a stable academic setting, which might require a broader discussion than a state-by-state basis would allow.

Mr. Crist then introduced three panelists:  UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell would discuss a campus study on aging of the faculty and implications for recruitment and retention challenges.  Chris Sadler, Professor and Faculty Senate Chair, UW-Stevens Point, would discuss faculty recruitment and retention challenges and the impact on students and the Growth Agenda.  Donna Dahlvang, Academic Staff Chair, UW-Superior, would discuss the role academic staff play in access and success for students and the impact of recruitment and retention challenges on students.

Introducing his power-point presentation, titled “Recruiting and Retaining Faculty at UW-Madison with a Nationally Aging Professoriate”, Provost Farrell remarked that the institution’s primary focus is on the high quality of its faculty and staff.  In that regard, he made the following points.

  1. Great faculty deliver great undergraduate education.
  2. Great faculty attract great graduate students.
  3. Great faculty provide outstanding professional education for Wisconsin.
  4. Great faculty develop exceptional extramural funding.
  5. Great faculty help create economic development.
  6. Great faculty, staff and students generate international reach, impact, and recognition.

In a typical faculty lifecycle, he explained, assistant professors are hired in their early 30’s and about 3.3% of faculty per year could be expected to retire after a 30-35 year career.  At UW-Madison, assistant professors account for 80% of new faculty hires, with associate and full professors comprising the other 20%.  While about 3.3% of faculty retire each year, another 2% per year leave for other jobs or for other reasons.  There has been an upswing in the number of faculty age 55 and older who take other positions after retirement. 

In the decade from 1996 to 2006, the average age of faculty increased from 48.4 to 49.7, and the average age at retirement increased slightly from 63.6 to 64.4, while the average age at time of hire decreased from 33 to 31.  From 1979 to 2007, the faculty headcount varied from 2,400 to 2,100, with the current number being about 2,200.  Over time, the number has been decreasing.

The Provost indicated that challenges include maintaining an appropriate faculty headcount and attaining competitive salaries. In that regard, he explained that salary funds released by separations total about $11.1 million annually – a figure which is exceeded by the estimated $16.1 million annual investment in recruitment and retention, with $9.5 million going to salaries for new hires, $1.5 million for promotional and market adjustments, and at least $5.1 million for start-up packages. 

He stated that, if UW-Madison remains a preeminent international institution, high-quality faculty can continue to be successfully recruited because such faculty are attracted to the highest-quality institutions.  Challenges in that regard include the following:

  1. There is a need to be competitive in salary and start-up packages with research-intensive public and private university peers.
  2. Competitive starting salaries place pressure on early career faculty salaries as starting salaries climb faster than pay plans, thus disadvantaging existing faculty.
  3. If other institutions see substantially larger retirement rates than usual, their need to replace faculty may help to deplete the national pool.  While the number of PhD degrees is increasing by ten percent a year, numbers vary greatly from field to field, as does the percentage of recipients who go into academia.  For example, in Engineering, the rate is only ten percent, but is much higher in some other fields.

In conclusion, Provost Farrell identified some actions that would be helpful in meeting those challenges:

  1. Funding for recruitment and retention of high-demand faculty;
  2. A substantial merit pay plan;
  3. Graduate student funding adequate to attract great graduate students who will in turn help to attract great faculty;
  4. Domestic partner benefits and other low cost/no cost attractors for prospective faculty and their families, such as partner hires, community connections, etc.;
  5. Flexibility in hiring, career progression and retirement in order to permit options such as phased retirement, hiring alternatives, and different forms of career progression.

In discussion following the presentation, Regent Pruitt asked if demographics has an impact on the attractiveness of low cost options, such as domestic partnerships and tuition remissions for employees and their families.

Provost Farrell replied that flexibility is very helpful because it permits the offer to be focused on what is important to the particular candidate or employee, which varies according to individual circumstances.

Regent Pruitt noted that obstacles to such flexibility would include legislative restrictions, such as lack of domestic partner benefits and fiscal constraints.  Provost Farrell added that more flexibility in the personnel process would be helpful and that there also are obstacles internal to the university that are being addressed by strategic planning.   

Regent Connolly-Keesler inquired about any obstacles to utilizing partial retirements, to which Mr. Crist replied that one constraint is the rule that a 30-day break is needed before a retiree can return to work. 

Provost Farrell felt that it would be helpful to have the option of a half-time retirement, which could be in place for a number of years. 

Regent Bartell asked whether it is more desirable for the university to hire its own PhDs or to recruit from the outside.

Provost Farrell replied that UW-Madison has tended to recruit from the outside in order to enhance the diversity of ideas and bring in new thinking – a strategy that has been greatly successful. 

Chancellor Wells agreed that it is best not to have too many hires from any one institution.  In addition to new PhDs, sources include women and men coming to the university after doing other things.

Chancellor Martin added that new PhDs need to move to other institutions after obtaining their degrees, rather than staying with their advisors, in order to prove themselves and become independently recognized scholars.

UW-Stevens Point Professor Chris Sadler began his remarks by pointing out that low starting salaries impair the ability to hire good faculty to replace those retiring or leaving for other campuses, which has a negative impact on students. 

He then provided examples of instances in which searches had failed for lack of qualified applicants, in which candidates turned down campus visits after hearing starting salaries, and in which applicants accepted other jobs that offered more money, similar benefits, and more research time. 

The UW’s low salaries and lack of solid raises compared to other states are well- known within academia, he said, adding that new PhD’s do not care as much about benefit packages, since they assume their first job will not be their last.  Instead, they focus on starting salaries, as well as the history of raises over the last 10 years.

In addition, he pointed out the UW System cannot compete in terms of salary for the small pool of minority faculty looking for jobs each year, which also has a negative impact on students. 

Recognizing that it is not easy to talk about salaries in these difficult economic times, Professor Sadler noted that faculty support the Growth Agenda and the UW System’s role as economic engine of the state.  However, he cautioned that, while the Growth Agenda is “building a bigger and stronger ship . . . without competitive faculty salaries, the fear is we will not be able to hire and retain a quality crew.”

In conclusion, he emphasized that UW faculty love their jobs and love working with students but that, without competitive salary increases, there is great fear that the UW System will be unable to hire the quality faculty needed to provide the good education students deserve.

In discussion following the presentation, Regent Cuene referred to an information sheet indicating that the UW Colleges have lost faculty and staff to higher salaries in the Technical Colleges.  In that regard, she indicated that Technical Colleges faculty have teaching loads of 20-25 hours per week, almost double UW teaching loads.

President Reilly noted that research expectations for UW faculty are higher.

UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow noted that faculty and staff who come to campus want to stay and settle into the community.  For those people, it is painful to see the minimal pay increases that they have received.  While no one wants to see taxes and tuition rise, he remarked, they do want to see compensation increase; and compensation comprises about 80% of the budget.  It therefore is appropriate to consider what might be an appropriate blend of resources to fund increases, recognizing that, like financial aid, this is a public policy issue that must be addressed. 

Referring to challenges faced by the UW Colleges and UW-Extension, Chancellor Wilson reported that there had been 12 failed searches in the Colleges over the past two years.  He pointed out that, in the 13 districts in which the UW Colleges are located, the average public school teacher makes more than those hired as faculty in the Colleges and that the situation is approaching a crisis level.  In UW-Extension, there had been 300 separations over the past 10 years, 60 of which occurred because of non-competitive salaries.  It has been especially hard, he noted, to recruit agricultural and economic development educators, because they can make more in private sector jobs.      

UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen observed that it is not necessary to lose a large number of faculty in order to cause problems.  Rather, loss of a few leaders in key programs can be very harmful.     

Regent Burmaster noted that starting salaries for Wisconsin teachers are below the national average and urged caution in making comparisons so as not to pit one group against another.

Danae Dahlvang, Chair of the UW-Superior Academic Staff, began her remarks by noting that there are research, instructional and non-instructional academic staff, with the majority being in the latter two categories.  Because instructional staff teach courses and often have other duties, such as advising, loss of these staff can mean class cancellations, higher teacher/student ratios and a shortage of advisors to help students make good choices. 

Non-instructional academic staff serve in such areas as financial aid, student life, residence life, student support services, admissions, campus safety, athletics, career centers, counseling and health services, and libraries.  Loss of these staff, she indicated, also means diminished services to students.  As an example, she cited her position as one of three staff in the financial aid office, serving 87% of UW-Superior’s students.  Loss of any one staff person, she pointed out, would make it more difficult for students, including first-generation college students and veterans, to persist and be successful – adversely affecting goals of the Growth Agenda.

Stating that academic staff are leaving at an alarming rate, she said that last year UW-Superior lost 17, only six of whom retired; and that it has been difficult to fill the jobs with well-qualified people

At UW-Green Bay, advisors are being recruited by the area Technical College which offers 10-17% higher salaries for performing essentially the same duties.  Student affairs directors have been offered positions out of state for 40-85% more in salary. 

At UW-La Crosse, three candidates interviewed for an advisor position in the Disability Resource Services Office.  All were working in K-12 education and would have had to take pay cuts of at least $20,000. 

In the UW Colleges, an instructional academic staff member reported losing three out of five staff in one office over the past three years – two to the Technical Colleges and one who left the state. 

At UW-Superior, there had been three failed searches in the past year, in addition to which the director of campus recreation and the transfer coordinator both left for jobs at other institutions that offered better pay.

In conclusion, Ms. Dahlvang said that, while academic staff understand the difficulties of the state’s economic crisis, it will not be possible to achieve the goals of the Growth Agenda without qualified, dedicated staff to support the students.

In discussion following the presentation, Regent Cuene observed that students expect excellent service and that they will leave if it is not offered.

UW-Parkside Interim Provost Lane Earns pointed out that one result of protecting teaching from the impact of budget cuts has been to cut back on non-instructional academic staff.  These employees, who also are very important to student success, are suffering from the stress of trying to do their jobs without adequate support.

Regent Walsh remarked that, because competition for academic staff is more local than competition for faculty, it needs to be approached in a different manner.

Regent Thomas suggested that there be a stronger focus on academic staff morale, which is suffering from all the budget cuts that have been made.  Indicating her intention to work with students on ways to show support, she emphasized the importance of making the campus an attractive workplace.  In that regard, she suggested focusing on ways to provide benefits that are less expensive than higher salaries, such as travel for professional development.

Regent Crain inquired about the gender ratio of academic staff, with the thought that there might be gender issues involved in the matter.  She also suggested categorizing the types of actions that can be taken to address the problem internally, legislatively, and by other means.

Regent Connolly-Keesler commented on the cost of searches, which can be two to three times the cost of the salary of the person being replaced. 

President Reilly added that failed searches not only are costly in monetary terms, but also adversely affect morale on campus.

In response to a question by Regent Vasquez as to what can be done to address the matter, President Reilly indicated that, in the short term, the Board would need to submit a pay plan recommendation in December, part of the obligation being to show comparisons with peers.  Noting, however, that compensation is broader than salaries, he said that more analysis is needed on how to find flexibilities, some of which may be internal and some of which would need to be requested from the state.  Because of lack of money for salaries, he observed, this might be an opportune time to seek such needed flexibilities.  In addition, he said that it will continue to be important to obtain third party support to advocate for the importance of quality faculty and staff to the state’s future.

In the longer term, he felt it will be important to approach the federal government for funding support.  In that regard, he noted that higher education is becoming more of a national issue, as evidenced by the heightened interest in accountability and regulation set forth in the new Higher Education Act.

Regent Bartell suggested looking at other public universities for best practices.

President Reilly agreed, indicating that some of that work already had been done. While the UW’s health and retirement benefits are competitive, its salaries are not; and the package as a whole needs to be competitive enough to attract the quality faculty and staff who are needed.   He indicated that work with other universities in that regard would continue to obtain more information and identify best practices.

Chancellor Wells added that the recently completed campus climate study provided helpful information on what can be done to make the university a great place to work.  In addition, governance groups had been asked to identify what actions they felt would be helpful.  The Faculty Senate voted to increase salary increments for promotions in rank; full professors can apply for an additional adjustment after eight years; and equity adjustments are available as well.  Ways to make adjustments for academic staff were being considered, along with the matter of improved employment security.  In addition, the Chancellor noted that Wisconsin is the only state in which he has worked where the pay plan trails the budget.  A more unified budget, he remarked, would be helpful in determining amounts needed for reallocation.

Regent Opgenorth expressed the hope that students could help in ways that would not involve increased tuition.

President Reilly remarked that student voices are speaking more loudly and are being heard more clearly, which could translate to increased opportunity to make the case for federal funding.

The meeting recessed at 12:15 p.m. and reconvened at 12:45 p.m.

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PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATE DEGREES IN THE UW SYSTEM
In introductory remarks, President Reilly recalled that, in the last three years, the Board had authorized implementation of three professional practice doctorates in health-related fields – one at a doctoral institution and two others as collaborations between doctoral and comprehensive universities.  While there is no decision to be made at this meeting, several others proposed degrees of this type are expected to come forward in the near future.

These new degrees, created largely in response to market demand, have resulted from several factors:

  1. Changing professional licensing requirements;
  2. Added requirements for accreditation in specific fields; and
  3. Additional disciplinary and practice depth needed in some professions in response to emerging technologies and new knowledge in content areas.

While professional doctorates are gaining importance in the program array at both research and comprehensive institutions nationwide, there is, at the same time, a lack of consensus on definitions, purpose, quality, and rigor of many of these degrees.  Questions that need to be addressed include:

  1. The role of professional doctorates in the UW’s program array;
  2. Their value to students;
  3. The state’s need for additional degrees at this level;
  4. Issues to be addressed by institutions, such as mission alignment, quality, curricula, faculty, resources, access and affordability.

He then called on Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin to present additional information.

Dr. Martin began her remarks by noting that her purpose is to provide background and context related to practical issues, such as mission alignment, program array, opportunity for growth and cost effectiveness, as well as policy questions, with special reference to the comprehensive universities and the role they might play in awarding professional doctorate degrees.

The vast majority of the 134 doctoral programs in the UW System, she said, are in the PhD category – degrees that require a dissertation based on original research.  Doctor’s degrees in professional practice currently are offered at UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee and, in two cases, at UW comprehensive institutions in collaboration with a doctoral institution.  The Doctor of Education (EdD) blurs the distinction between the research doctorate and the professional practice degree in that it requires dissertation research but is more applied in nature than traditional PhDs.  There is growing workforce demand for the EdD, which has increasing relevance to leadership roles in public education.  However, it currently is undergoing a national re-evaluation in relation to the PhD in Education, and is not offered in the UW System at this time.

Characteristics of professional doctorates are that they:

  1. Require at least a bachelor’s degree for entry, often in a related field;
  2. Include study of applied or clinical research and/or advanced practice;
  3. Provide preparation in a body of knowledge needed for professional practice in a specific field;
  4. Provide preparation for professional licensure and accreditation.

 

Turning to the history of professional doctorates in the UW System, Dr. Martin indicated that the Board recently authorized three such degrees in health-related fields:  Two as collaborative degrees between two UW institutions – UW-Madison/UW-Stevens Point and UW-Milwaukee/UW-La Crosse; and one as a free-standing program at UW-Madison. 

With reference to a listing of UW System professional doctorates, Dr. Martin indicated that the Doctor of Medicine, the Juris Doctor, the Doctor of Veterinary Science, and the Doctor of Pharmacy – all offered by UW-Madison -- are well established nationally and within the UW System.

The Doctor of Audiology (UW-Madison/ UW-Stevens Point collaborative degree), the Doctor of Physical Therapy (UW-Milwaukee/UW-La Crosse collaborative degree and UW-Madison) and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (under development) reflect recent developments in health-related fields.  At this time, she pointed out, UW comprehensive universities are involved only in collaborative degrees.

Turning to the national context, Dr. Martin indicated that there had been changes in necessary competencies, requiring degree levels to be raised in many clinical fields and disciplinary re-assessment of degree requirements, primarily in applied health professions.  Selective authority has been granted for comprehensive institutions to develop professional doctorates in Physical Therapy, Audiology, Nursing Practice and Education at peer institutions nationally.

At peer institutions, a variety of approaches have been tried.  In the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, comprehensive institutions offer selected applied doctoral degrees, while in the University of Minnesota System, professional doctorates are offered primarily at the flagship institution.  The University of California System is charged by the state’s “Master Plan for Higher Education” as the only public institution responsible for awarding doctoral degrees.  However, a recent challenge by the California State University System to offer an EdD degree is pending in the Legislature.  Limited professional doctorates are now offered collaboratively between the two systems.

Senior Vice President Martin then called on UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich and UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells to offer perspectives from UW comprehensive universities.

Chancellor Levin-Stankevich began his remarks by noting that professional doctorates are classroom-based degrees that do not require the level of one-on-one mentoring that is required for traditional PhD degrees.  They are the kind of applied degrees that fit the mission of the comprehensive universities, by connecting theory and practice through applied learning.  The professionals that they would serve are those who cannot leave their jobs and move to a research university in order to obtain a PhD. 

As to demand, he pointed out that there is a great need for such degrees among working professionals in the areas of nursing and education and that there are no doctoral programs available in the I-94 corridor. Offering such degrees would be a way for comprehensive universities to grow their own faculty in those fields.

Referring to the missions of UW institutions that have been effect since 1972, the Chancellor noted that, although those missions indicated that the research universities should offer doctoral degrees, much has changed in the past 36 years. 

There is a significant role at UW-Eau Claire, he said, for selected graduate programs, some at the doctoral level.  Demographics have changed and there is an older student body, many of whom have bachelor’s degrees.  Currently, there is no way to serve professionals in that region of the state who want to obtain doctorates.

With regard to financial issues, Chancellor Levin-Stankevich explained that professional doctorate programs can generate revenues for the institution that can be used to fund programs at the undergraduate level.  Any program that would be brought forth would have been carefully vetted in terms of demand and business plan.

Such programs, he remarked, would enhance the reputation of the institution and help to position it well for the future.  Noting that the comprehensive universities compete with private institutions as well as other UW institutions, he cautioned that demand for professional doctorate degrees will be met by private institutions if not by the UW.  He thought that pricing should be based on the cost of delivery, rather than on a flat rate. 

In conclusion, he noted that 28 other states, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota, already allow comprehensive universities to offer professional doctorate degrees, mostly in Education, but also in Physical Therapy, Nursing Practice, and other fields.

Chancellor Wells began his remarks by referring to his experience as Provost at Indiana State University – an institution much like UW-Oshkosh – which offered nine doctoral programs, half of them PhD’s and half professional doctorates.  While he was there, a PhD in Technology Management was added, with UW-Stout as a partner.

Noting that research-based PhD’s are dependent on strength in masters programs in related disciplines, he thought it not advisable to launch such degrees at comprehensive universities.  Professional doctorates, however, are not as dependent on sister disciplines.  While research is needed for these degrees, he added, it is applied research; and comprehensive universities can handle that kind of doctoral preparation because they have strength in those fields. 

He remarked that collaboration in such degrees has advantages in terms of more faculty strength and more convenience to students who tend to be older and busy with their professional careers.

Senor Vice President Martin then identified policy questions related to the issue of offering professional doctorate degrees, the first being:  What is the appropriate role of the UW System’s comprehensive institutions in providing professional doctorate education?  A sub-question then would be:  Is the offering of professional doctorates within the mission of the comprehensive institutions? 

Referring to the core mission statements, developed at the time of merger, she noted that the mission of the doctoral cluster (UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee) is to offer degree programs at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral levels and to offer programs leading to professional degrees at the baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate levels.

The mission of the university cluster institutions is to offer associate and baccalaureate degrees and selected graduate programs within the context of their approved mission statements.

A second sub-question, she continued is:  Should UW comprehensive institutions be authorized to offer professional doctorates, either individually or in collaboration with another comprehensive institution?

In that regard, she noted that, while comprehensive universities had been authorized to offer professional doctorates in partnership with UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, they have not been authorized to offer them individually or in partnership with each other.  Currently, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Oshkosh are planning to propose a doctorate in Nursing.

Important questions to consider, Dr. Martin said, include:

  1. How would the offering of professional doctorates impact the role of master’s degrees and other forms of graduate education in our institutions?
  2. Will the addition of professional doctorates change the focus on undergraduate education and institutional culture at the comprehensives?
  3. To what extent is mission congruence an issue for comprehensive institutions?

In conclusion, she identified the following policy areas for further consideration:

  1. Resource implications;
  2. Access, including the right set of degrees for state needs in the right places;
  3. Pricing and revenue opportunities, including whether such programs could be revenue producers;
  4. Quality in terms of programs, curricula, faculty and facilities;
  5. Overall institutional capacity;
  6. Alignment with Growth Agenda goals.  In that regard, she noted that it could be argued that comprehensive universities should focus on producing undergraduate degrees.  On the other hand, it could be argued that offering of professional doctorates by the comprehensive universities would meet identified state needs and move the economy forward.

In response to a question by Regent President Bradley following the presentation, Senior Vice President Martin said that, when comprehensive chancellors and provosts have inquired about offering professional doctorates, the answer has been that doctoral programs are to be offered by doctoral cluster institutions.  In the past several years, accreditation pressures in allied health fields led to authorization for comprehensive institutions, in partnership with doctoral institutions, to offer doctorates in Physical Therapy and Audiology.  For such programs to be offered by comprehensive universities singly or in partnership with each other would require a change in long-standing practice.

Regent President Bradley inquired about the thinking of the doctoral institutions about such a change, to which UW-Milwaukee Provost Rita Cheng replied that professional doctorates, for which expertise already exists at the comprehensive universities, is different from offering degrees at the doctoral level in new areas.  In that regard, she noted that the comprehensive universities need to offer programs to provide students with entry into professions.  The important difference, she felt, is for those universities to continue to be relevant in programs, in which they already are engaged, rather than moving into new areas and creating competition.

UW-Madison Provost Pat Farrell agreed on the basis that expertise to offer those degrees already exists on the comprehensive campuses, the Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree being a good example.  Not being able to offer such degrees, he noted, would make them unable to provide programs for which there is substantial student demand.  He did not foresee any problem of competition with UW-Madison’s DNP degree, believing that, instead, there would be opportunities for collaboration.  He would be more concerned if comprehensive universities were to move into new areas in offering doctoral degrees, for which expertise was not already present.  

Expressing appreciation for this discussion, Regent Davis indicated that it provides needed context for upcoming proposals.  With this background, the Board can provide guidelines for the types of programs it would support. 

Regent Vásquez felt there were two questions to be addressed, the first being to what extent the comprehensive universities would be able to remain competitive and draw in a broad range of students.  A larger question, he said, concerns how to ensure against proliferation of professional doctorate programs so that limited resources are used wisely and unnecessary competition is avoided.  In that regard, he cautioned that System Administration would need to monitor such programs carefully.

Regent Smith asked Chancellors to comment on the effect of such programs on undergraduate education and on quality, access and affordability.

In reply, Chancellor Wells indicated that proposals for professional doctorates would not be brought forward if undergraduate education would be harmed.  Indicating that a DNP Degree would be helpful in filling nursing positions, he noted that the fields of education and nursing are strengths at UW-Oshkosh and UW-Eau Claire.  The effort would be to keep the doctoral program as close as possible to revenue-neutral, although there would be some costs.  Indicating that the program would enhance the quality experience on campus, he felt it also would help make the case for increased nursing faculty compensation.

Chancellor Levin-Stankevich indicated that he would consider a revenue-neutral program if it would meet community demand and provide a stream of good students.  His preference, however, would be for a program that would be revenue-positive; and he would not advance a program that would be revenue-negative.  In that regard, demand would be studied and programs offered when financially feasible.   Noting that the UW System has a process in which all institutions comment on each other’s proposals, he said that any concerns would be resolved before a program would be brought to the Board.      

With regard to the matter of quality, Regent Crain asked if it is an issue of resources to provide quality or some other factor, such as diminishing the quality of doctoral degrees by proliferation. 

In reply, Senior Vice President Martin indicated that quality has to do in part with resources, faculty and curriculum, making the degree worthy of the UW name.  As there are larger numbers of doctoral degrees, challenges in this area become greater.

President Reilly added that, while not perfectly defined, quality in research PhD degrees differs from quality in applied doctoral degrees.

Regent Falbo asked if there are any concerns about offering such degrees, if it is assumed that there is adequate demand that the degree offerings are done correctly and the programs are financially feasible.

Noting that all institutions want more prestige and that doctoral degrees are one way to achieve it, President Reilly said one question is whether there might be a negative impact from faculty wanting to teach smaller courses in narrower subject areas, drawing them away from teaching undergraduates. 

Indicating that prestige would be a wrong reason for offering such a program, Chancellor Wells said that, in the case of the DNP, there is an issue of licensure, with the practice of nursing increasingly requiring that credential.  At Indiana State, he worried more about resources required for the research PhD’s than about the professional doctorates. 

Noting that UW-La Crosse offers the Doctor of Physical Therapy jointly with UW-Milwaukee, Chancellor Gow said that prestige is not the motivator for the program but that the institution has enhanced visibility because the program is done well.  Citing the strong demand for such degrees in allied health fields, he said that these demands should be met if possible.  UW-La Crosse, he added, has no desire to become a research university but will remain a great comprehensive university where teaching comes first.

UW-Stevens Point Provost Mark Nook noted that his university offers a Doctor of Audiology jointly with UW-Madison and that the degree is working well for students and raises the level of the program for undergraduates as well.  If such doctorates were offered only by UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, he pointed out, many potential students would be unable to have access to the programs.  Because comprehensive universities have the expertise to offer degrees like doctorates of Education and Nursing Practice, he felt they should provide them in order to meet the needs of the people of Wisconsin.

Regent Connolly-Keesler stated her support for moving toward offering of professional doctorates by comprehensive universities.

Noting that the area is market-driven, Regent Vasquez thought it unlikely that there would be proliferation of too many such degrees.  He hoped that there would be collaborations when needed, but not for artificial reasons or collaborations for their own sake.

Regent Davis asked if, in the future, an institution might be viewed unfavorably if it did not offer professional doctorates.  With regard to guidelines, she suggested that the type used for liberal arts transfer programs at the Technical Colleges might be appropriate.

President Reilly thought there would be a greater risk in not offering professional doctorates.  Noting that the comprehensive universities should be encouraged to define their niches, he added that there are many ways to define excellence and that it should not depend on whether or not doctoral degrees are offered.

Provost Nook cautioned that prestige from doctoral programs does not necessarily extend to the rest of the campus. 

UW-Green Bay Interim Chancellor David J. Ward commented that, from a regional perspective, inability of UW-Oshkosh to go forward with its DNP program would diminish the region as a whole.  He did not feel that UW-Green Bay would be disadvantaged by not having a doctoral program of its own.

Regent Cuene remarked that an important advantage of professional doctorates offered by comprehensive universities would be accessibility for people around the state, without having to travel to Madison or Milwaukee.  Other benefits would be the ability of the programs to produce revenue, enrich the campus environment, and help to attract and retain faculty.  By producing more graduates in applied health fields, the programs would advance the goals of the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.

Regent Falbo felt less optimistic about the likelihood of positive revenue generation by the programs.

In response to a question by Regent Opgenorth about revenue production by other programs, Chancellor Wells related the on-line nursing program has made money that is used to support other nursing programs.  With regard to research, he commented that this is an area that should be better supported at the comprehensive universities in order to meet the needs of the state.

Provost Nook added that there is some revenue generation by the UW-Stevens Point/UW-Madison Audiology Doctorate through the audiology clinic.

Regent Bartell identified some factors to be considered in evaluating professional doctorate proposals as expertise on campus, revenue neutrality or generation, and demand for the degree.  He asked what elements of collaboration would be desirable.

Senior Vice President Martin indicated that a benefit of collaboration is the ability to draw on the expertise of faculty on other campuses.  The purpose would be not to require collaboration for its own sake, but to provide real benefits to the program and students.

President Reilly added that, if two institutions offer a program together, there is the benefit of a wider range of faculty expertise.

Chancellor Levin-Stankevich indicated that collaborations also involve questions by accrediting agencies in terms of which institution is responsible for granting the degrees. 

Provost Cheng observed that faculty collaboration promotes curricular review in order to stay current in the profession.  The programs also should help to alleviate shortage of faculty in the allied health professions.

Provost Nook added that meeting the needs of schools and other partners also is important.

President Reilly thanked all involved for the stimulating and thoughtful discussion, which met the intent of the meeting; and Regent President Bradley observed that such a wide-ranging dialogue probably would not have taken place had there been need to take action on a specific proposal.

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REPORT AND APPROVAL OF ACTION BY BUSINESS, FINANCE AND AUDIT COMMITTEE
Regent Smith, chair, presented the committee’s report.

UW-Oshkosh Pouring Rights Contract
The Committee approved a new five-year contract with Pepsi Cola to provide soft drink and vending services to UW-Oshkosh, including a two-year renewal option.  There was a great deal of student involvement in the decision, with a committee of four students and three staff reviewing the contract proposals.  Seventy-five percent of the revenues are to be dedicated to student services and twenty-five percent to support academic initiatives that address student interests.  A separate committee with student representation approves funding requests.

Annual Public Forum on UW-System Trust Fund Investments
The annual public forum was held to provide an opportunity for students, faculty and members of the public to express opinions or concerns regarding endowed university investments.  For the second consecutive year, no individuals requested to speak at the forum.  However, a question was received regarding the impact of the current economic downturn on UW Trust Funds. While the Trust Fund balance is down 17% for the year, there is no present risk to meeting current funding commitments.

Consent Agenda
Adoption of the following resolution as a consent agenda item was moved by Regent Smith, seconded by Regent Falbo and carried on a unanimous voice vote.

UW-Oshkosh Pouring Rights Contract

Resolution 9559: That, upon recommendation of the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents approves a five-year contract, with an option to renew for two additional years, with Pepsi Cola General Bottlers, Inc. to provide exclusive soft drink pouring and vending services to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh effective November 10, 2008.

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PRESENTATION OF ANNUAL TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Regent Davis, chair of the Committee that chose the award winners, welcomed this year’s recipients, their families and colleagues, noting that these were the 16th annual Regent Teaching Excellence Awards.  She expressed appreciation to other members of the committee – Regent Bartell, Regent Drew, Regent Vasquez, Regent Thomas, and Regent Womack – and thanked them for their effort and teamwork.

In reviewing the nominations of outstanding teachers, the committee looked for nominees who are deeply committed to understanding and learning in their students and sought evidence that these individual indeed changed lives. 

Professor Douglas Heil, UW-Oshkosh Department of Communication
Introducing presentation of the award to Professor Heil, Regent Bartell noted that there are many faculty and staff throughout the UW System for whom teaching is not just a job – but a mission.  These awards are designed to honor some of the very best of those teachers. 

Professor Heil has taught at UW-Oshkosh for 20 years in the area of radio, television and film. He has written extensively, including a much-heralded book titled Prime-Time Authorship in the area of creative screen writing.  The recipient of more than a dozen grants, he has written and produced three award-winning short films and a theatrical musical that includes several award-winning songs.  He has received the UW-Oshkosh Distinguished Teaching Award and a number of other recognitions.

Noting that Professor Heil’s nomination included a great many of his impressive professional accomplishments and tributes to his scholarship, Regent Bartell said that what the committee found even more impressive was his very strong commitment to his students.  He has received rave reviews and very high evaluation scores from those he taught and mentored.  He has supervised many independent studies and worked extensively with individual students in order to help them improve. 

Among the letters of support for his nomination were glowing tributes from former students, some of whom have become professional screen writers and others in the entertainment field, all praising his energy, passion, knowledge and ability to inspire.  One said, “It’s hard to talk about Doug without sounding like a giddy fan.” 

While inspiring his students to their best efforts in the highly competitive fields of film production and screen writing, Professor Heil also believes in preparing them for alternative career paths by providing the kind of realistic mentoring that is so important to young people.  He spends a great deal of time providing detailed critiques of students’ writing, in order to help them improve, remembering his own frustration as a student who wanted so much to know what he could have done better. 

In conclusion, Regent Bartell referred to Provost Lane Earns’ letter of nomination in which he called Professor Heil “a tremendously energetic teacher with vision and charisma.”

Expressing has gratitude for having been chosen to receive the award, Professor Heil recalled that he did not set out to be a teacher.  Instead, he tried several other kinds of jobs before going to graduate school.  Becoming a TA, he said, was a life-changing moment.  Until then, he did not understand how rewarding teaching could be.

With regard to educational convictions, Professor Heil said that his first is that, in providing feedback to students, it is important to strike a balance between encouragement and challenge, giving the student something in which to take pride while pushing him/her to do even better.  While preparing students to become filmmakers and scriptwriters, his second conviction is to cultivate writing and public speaking skills that will enhance any other career path that they might choose.  This, he explained, requires helping students learn to craft words and cobble them together in a more compelling way, as well as to use punctuation effectively.

In closing, he thanked his family for their patience and love and thanked his colleagues Kay Neal, Tony Palmeri, Joe Gemin, Grace Lim, the Distinguished Teaching Award Committee at UW-Oshkosh, Chancellor Wells, Provost Earns and Letters and Science Dean John Koker for their support and encouragement.

Professor Nate Splett, Associate Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and Professor of Agricultural Economics, UW-River Falls
In introductory remarks, Regent Thomas welcomed Professor Splett’s family members, supporters, and colleagues who were attending the meeting to “celebrate Dr. Splett’s significant contribution to higher education in Wisconsin and his tireless attention to student success.”

Dr. Splett received has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from UW-River Falls and his PhD from the University of Illinois.  During his career as an educator with UW-Extension and as a professor at UW-River Falls he has mentored many young people and received many teaching awards from the university and professional organizations.

In his letter of nomination, a former student, Michael Brenner, said of Professor Splett:  “It seemed like, without trying, Nate was able to keep the attention of all students at all times.  When time had expired for the day, everyone was left yearning for more; somehow the minutes seemed to tick by faster in his classes than in others.”

Regent Thomas noted that the committee was especially impressed with the way in which Dr. Splett articulated his philosophy of teaching:  “My credo is ‘Students, Teaching, Purpose’ -- always for the students, always I teach to the best of my ability, always so that our graduates might fulfill their greater purpose…My challenge to students is to meet their greater purpose as the caretakers and shapers of our humanity, environment, and ideals.  This is my passion and I remain humble in living it.”

In conclusion, Regent Thomas indicated that Professor Splett also is renowned for his mentoring, as indicated in the following words of former Chancellor Don Betz:  “Dr. Splett brings a wealth of personal experience to the classroom and strives to balance theory with real world applications.  Students past and present appreciate the emphasis he places on teaching them to think critically and to apply themselves to the best of their abilities, engaging them both in and out of the classroom.  His guidance and assistance does not end with their time at UWRF but extends beyond into their lives and occupations after college.  Many consider him a true mentor and invaluable resource.”

Referring to a book titled The Witness of Combines by Kent Meyers, Professor Splett indicated that it was about the author’s dad, who was not only a farmer with tasks to do at specific times, but a thinker and worrier, who thought about the effects of what he did on the future.

Similarly, he respected and admired each student beginning to write his or her own story as a thinker and a worrier about the future world.  As shapers of future humanity and ideals, he was privileged to be their teacher and felt the responsibility to teach them as best he could.

The Regents Teaching Excellence Award, he said, is evidence of the Board’s commitment and dedication as the “thinkers, reflectors, wonderers, and worriers of our UW System.”  He expressed appreciation for the special skills and talents they brought to fulfilling the university’s mission to help students learn.  In particular, for keeping teaching excellence as a central focus of the UW System.

Reflecting on the importance of teaching, he remarked that the mission of faculty is to teach to the best of their ability. It is what students expect, he said, adding that he sees faculty across Wisconsin fulfilling this mission and that it is “a privilege to be a teacher among them.”

UW-Stout Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science
Introducing the award presentation, Regent Davis noted that the department enthusiastically and strongly promotes the philosophy of “hands on, minds on” learning and the effective use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.

The faculty effectively improved learning in lower level mathematics courses, thus aiding in retention of first-year students.  In 2004, the department piloted a Math Teaching and Learning Center, after which failure and withdrawal rates dropped by an average of 55% in beginning algebra.  The department then received a $450,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to study the impact on student retention and to expand the format other courses and schools throughout the state.

Since the fall of 2005, department faculty have collaborated with industry to provide “live” projects for students with actual software engineering experience.  Participating companies have included Lockheed-Martin and Thomson-West.

The faculty of the department have proven that they inspire the spirit of innovation in students, teaching not only skills but how to apply them beyond the classroom.  As a result, students are employed by some of the leading national companies in their fields. 

In letters supporting the department’s nomination, students wrote about what it has meant to them to be taught by these professors:  “This department is so great at teaching that internships just fall into our laps.  I have had many offers for actuarial scholarships and for IT positions as well.  The Math department has such great connections with its previous students who are out in the workforce and others who have not had the chance to attend Stout, because the faculty teaches the students so well.  We have our choice of jobs.” 

An alumnus of the department wrote:  “I had the pleasure of having instructors who were not only up to date on the material, via their interest in the field and attendance at professional learning events, but who also wanted to be better teachers … There are several research opportunities available to students.  I participated in a project to further the body of mathematics knows as Lie Algebras.  This gave me the ability to apply the material first hand as well as further my knowledge of the fields taught to me.”

In conclusion, Regent Davis said that the department’s professors have sought to present new ways of teaching science and mathematics through formal lesson studies and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.  The committee was most impressed with the way these scholar teachers seek new avenues to motivate students and help them succeed.

Accepting the award on behalf of the department, Professor Chris Bendel, chair, thanked the Board for bestowing this honor upon the department’s faculty. 

With three disciplines, he noted that the department serves a wide variety of students – from students with poor math skills to advanced math and computer science students – with almost every undergraduate at Stout taking at least one course in the department.  The faculty, he said, are very dedicated to the students and have a passion for improving and enhancing student learning.

Faculty have done scholarly research on teaching and learning; and several have been Wisconsin Teaching Fellows.  Undergraduate research, independent study and partnerships with industry all have been created by faculty to enhance the educational experience. 

He recognized Dr. Eileen Zito, his predecessor as chair, who laid much of the foundation for the award; Dr. Diane Christie, Program Director of the Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Program; Dr. Jeanne Foley, Director of the Math Teaching and Learning Center; Dr. Petre Ghenciu; and current Wisconsin Teaching Fellow Dr. Laura Schmidt.

He also expressed appreciation to Chancellor Sorensen, Provost Julie Furst-Bowe, and Dean John Murphy for their support and to the clerical staff, student tutors and lab assistants who also are passionate about helping students. 

The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.    

Submitted by: Judith A. Temby, Secretary