Board of Regents

Education Committee Minutes, October 2006

University of Wisconsin-Platteville
October 5, 2006

Regent Davis convened the meeting of the Education Committee at 1:00 p.m.  Regents Davis, Crain, Cuene, Loftus, Semenas, and Spector were present.

Approval of the minutes of the August 17, 2006, meeting of the Education Committee

I.1.a.:  It was moved by Regent Spector, seconded by Regent Cuene, that the minutes of the August 17, 2006, meeting of the Education Committee be approved.

The resolution PASSED unanimously.

Education Committee Planning for Academic Year 2006-07

The Education Committee began with a discussion on planning for the academic year 2006-07.  Regent Davis proposed as the umbrella theme for the year “Student Preparation for the New Millennium.”  She suggested that the Committee adopt certain guiding questions as they considered a myriad of topics and actions throughout the year, including:  what should higher education in Wisconsin look like in the future?, and, how can the Education Committee/Board of Regents best serve the public interest in responding to the first question?  She proposed that, after hearing from Committee members, Chancellors and Provosts be given the opportunity to weigh in on the issues they felt were important for the Committee to consider.

Regent Loftus posed several questions that he hoped the Committee would address as it considered the future of higher education in Wisconsin and noted that many people should be involved in addressing that large question.  He also commented that he would like the Committee to review demographic projections of Wisconsin students, citing the need to look at numerical projections of future UW System’s students as critical to determining their educational needs.  He queried whether the UW System was already being outpaced in its ability to serve the state’s growing Hispanic population.  Regent Crain suggested that the Regents needed a better understanding of the admissions policies across the System.  

Regent Spector proposed that the Regents engage in strategic planning for higher education in Wisconsin, stating that the UW System, led by the Board, needs to advance a statewide conversation on what higher education in Wisconsin should look like in the early 21st century.  This conversation, he continued, could include all of Wisconsin’s educational sectors—public and private, PK through 16—as well as other stakeholders—the Legislature, the business community—in an examination of the major challenges and policy questions surrounding student preparation and success in a rapidly changing world, with a rapidly changing definition of who the System’s students are and will be.  The Education Committee, in concert with the full Board, should be the driving force behind such planning.

Senior Vice President Cora Marrett summarized the discussion by linking all of the lines of inquiry identified thus far to the umbrella theme of student preparation and success in and for the new millennium.  She noted that some of the proposed topics involved the presentation of sets of information and some of them involved the exploration of some really big questions.  She referred to student mobility or the “swirling” of students as they move in and out of different kinds of post-secondary institutions and observed that such mobility makes counting them difficult, let alone determining how best to meet their needs and appropriately prepare them for the knowledge economy within a global context.  Regent Semenas agreed that the UW System has to look at how Wisconsin is changing—in terms of its economy and workforce needs—and adapt to those changes.  He proposed that the Regents need to strengthen their emphasis on international education and study abroad.  Student preparation for life after college, through advising and career placement, must also be strengthened. 

Several Regent questions focused on how students were counted by institutions, especially given the mix of students served by distance education and online degree programs.  UW-Extension Chancellor David Wilson explained some of the different ways students are counted by Extension’s portal, which comprises the online programs at all UW institutions.  In response to a question from Regent Cuene, Senior Vice President Marrrett assured Committee members that degree and course counts for student enrollments could be ascertained but that the Committee seemed to be interested in the trends and developments that would help the UW System ascertain educational needs as well.

Regent Spector introduced the topic of charter schools and what he hoped would be included in the November charter school tutorial that was being planned.  He felt that Regents would benefit not only from how charter schools work in Wisconsin, but also discussion of why the Legislature gave the Board of Regents statutory authority to approve charter schools.  Other questions to be addressed should include:  are the Board-approved charter schools doing well?  What is the impact on urban education of charter schools?  How does the UW System contribute to the educational goals of charter schools?  He suggested that charter schools could be evaluated as experiments to help expand what works in K-12 education.  The Board could encourage additional research by UW-Milwaukee faculty in the effort to separate out the political dimensions of chartering schools and focus on what the impact is and could be. 

Regent Crain added that she would like the broader picture of charter schools in Wisconsin and their impact on public education.  She expressed her hope that the Board would receive information from the Department of Public Instruction on precisely that impact.  Regent Davis asked that the tutorial focus on the Board’s chartering authority in order to give all Regents a baseline understanding of their role, and that it include some outside expertise on the general impact of charter schools.  Regent Crain suggested the broad topic of K-12 interaction as one theme the Committee should consider for its critical role in preparing students.

Regent Loftus proposed that the Committee undertake a rethinking of the way the UW System is administered.  The System should participate in the larger national debates on admissions and the role of test scores as predictors of student success.  The rest of the country, he noted, is arguing that traditional admissions policies produce graduates from wealthy families to the exclusion of lower-income students.

The Committee then moved on to discuss the numerous subjects that might be covered by the topic of diversity.  Regent Davis commented that the Committee should not try to cover everything but identify priority areas for the year.  In response to a question from Regent Semenas, Senior Vice President Marrett clarified that the idea of a sytemwide climate study was still being explored. 
UW-Green Bay Provost Sue Hammersmith emphasized that campus climate is different at each UW institution and that there were advantages and disadvantages of doing a systemwide survey.  She acknowledged the feeling, shared by many of her Provosts colleagues, that institutions were wary of being compared to one another, given the inherent differences in their missions, student populations and programming.

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells described the research on a systemwide climate study completed by the UW System’s Inclusivity Initiative for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning People.  He proposed that one option for a climate study would be to pilot it at several campuses, as was being done with the Equity Scorecard project.  The Inclusivity Initiative has identified Dr. Susan Rankin, a world-renowned expert with a survey instrument that allows for action in response to the results.  He indicated his belief that a climate study would help the UW System determine the future of Plan 2008.

Regent Davis reminded Committee members that if they want to be able to say they have accomplished something throughout the year, they would need to determine what they should focus on in regard to diversity.  She felt that, given the UW System’s investment in the Equity Scorecard, the Regents should follow through on the implementation of that mechanism, especially given its potential to provide real accountability.  She asked that the Committee work to identify its strategic goal for diversity.  Regent Loftus suggested that, in the process, the Committee define what is meant by diversity among its students.

Senior Vice President Marrett agreed with Regents Davis and Loftus on the need to identify specific outcomes or indicators of success for each of its priority areas.  UW-Milwaukee Provost Rita Cheng reiterated the need for the Regents to allow flexibility as it set goals and identified specific indicators of success given the different identities of each UW institution.  “One-size-fits-all” approaches, she concluded, do not always give appropriate consideration to each institution’s complexity and uniqueness.  Provost Hammersmith pointed to the need to think more broadly than Milwaukee when discussing diversity, noting Brown County’s growing diversity as an example.  Regent Semenas concurred, citing the Racine-Kenosha area as another example.

Chancellor Wells commended the Committee’s effort to be more strategic and find an overarching theme, but asked how everyone could work together to make the disparate topics under discussion cohere.  Regent Spector returned to the question of which topics under diversity the Committee should focus on.  Clearly, he observed, the Board needed to monitor remediation systemwide.  Should it also evaluate precollege programs, which is extremely difficult to do?  He expressed his hope that the Committee’s diversity goal would include consideration of the beneficial effects of diversity on majority as well as minority populations in Wisconsin, alluding to the Supreme Court’s decision on higher education’s “compelling interest” in diversity.  The university, he added, is a marketplace for the exchange of diverse ideas and people.  Regent Crain agreed on the importance of keeping diversity as a focus in all its complexity.

Regent Cuene requested information on transfer from three distinct perspectives:  1) transfer within the UW’s four-year institutions; 2) transfer from the Wisconsin Technical College System to the UW System; and 3) transfer from the UW Colleges to the UW four-year institutions.

The Committee agreed that in the course of the academic year, it would address the following topics:  Transfer issues; Charter Schools; Statewide Program Array; The UW System’s Interaction with K-12; International Education; Diversity in all its complexity (with particular focus on Accountability and the Equity Scorecard); and Accountability (as the UW System completes its seventh year of the Achieving Excellence Report).  The Committee agreed on the need in coming months to identify specific outcomes or indicators of success by which Regents will know that progress is being made in key areas and as a means of being strategic in its efforts to initiate further discussion of the policy issues and vision-setting required to lead post-secondary education in Wisconsin into the future.  As she thanked those present for their contributions to the discussion, Regent Davis encouraged Committee members to “think big, have an impact, and make sure that at the end of the day, we’ve moved the needle!”

3. Report on Remedial Education in the UW System:  Demographics, Remedial Completion, Retention and Graduation

Associate Vice President Sharon Wilhelm from the Office of Policy Analysis and Research presented an overview of the data from the UW System Report on Remedial Education.  She explained that the 2006 Report focused on data from fall 2002 through fall 2004, showing the first-to-second-year retention rates for the fall 2004 cohort, and the six-year graduation rates for the fall 1999 cohort.  Nationally, she noted, there is a growing number of high school students who enter college not prepared to do college-level coursework.  The UW System is not alone in requiring a certain proportion of its entering freshman class to do remedial work in math and English.  The UW data show that the percentage of UW students needing remediation is about half that of the national average for math, and two-thirds that for English.

In response to Regent questions, Associate Vice President Wilhelm remarked that each UW institution determines its own criteria for required remediation.  UW-Whitewater Chancellor Martha Saunders observed that it is difficult to look at systemwide numbers because each institution determines its remediation needs differently.  UW Colleges Provost Margaret Cleek reminded the Committee that the access mission of the UW Colleges results in higher numbers of students requiring remediation.  UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos Santiago added that local public schools impact the numbers as well by requiring more or less math of their students.  Regent Davis agreed that the K-12 system plays a huge role in student preparation.

Associate Vice President Wilhem reminded the Committee that all admitted students at UW institutions have the potential to succeed.  The data from the Remedial Report reveal, moreover, that students who complete their remedial requirements are more likely to succeed than students who do not complete their remedial requirement.  Moreover, students completing remediation have comparable retention rates to those students who require no remediation.  Over 1,000 students from each entering class who require remediation eventually graduate.  Remediation, she concluded, serves its purpose and allows students to succeed.

Those conclusions were reinforced by UW-Parkside Associate Provost Jerry Greenfield, who interpreted the data through the lens of UW-Parkside’s students.  UW-Parkside students are among the UW System’s most diverse:  21.2% are students of color; 20.8% are age 25 or older; 84% are commuters; and 43.8% of freshmen work 16 or more hours per week off-campus.  For those students needing remediation, the University has developed a number of models to promote their success, including targeted remediation based on students’ core deficiencies, structured learning assistance, and linked classes and learning communities that connect remedial work to general education content.    

UW-Parkside Provost Rebecca Martin noted that while it is true that K-12 preparation impacts remediation figures, there are also cultural, economic, and developmental differences that determine whether students need remediation before doing college-level work.  She added that if the UW System is really serious about implementing the proposed Wisconsin Covenant program, people will need to address this broader set of issues.  Regent Semenas followed up by asking whether the Wisconsin Covenant program would really help the group of students it was conceived to help, and whether requiring a B average was too high?  Regent Davis expressed her belief that it was important to set high expectations and give kids an incentive early.

4. Program Authorizations

   a. M.S. in Computer Science, UW-Platteville

The Committee then considered the M.S. in Computer Science at UW-Platteville.  UW-Platteville Provost Carol Sue Butts introduced Richard Schultz, Dean of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, who described the program’s background and the international partnerships at its core.  In a survey of southern Wisconsin industries, employers identified the demand for students with computer skills as well as the cultural understanding needed to negotiate the global economy.  Initially, the international component consisted of a pilot program between UW-Platteville and Darmstadt University in Germany.  In 2005, James Cook University in Australia joined the partnership.  The program’s international focus includes a required semester at one of the partner institutions as well as language and culture courses.  Students work on joint projects across institutions in multi-national teams.  The program is funded through reallocation but has been able to support the necessary travel through support from the UW-Platteville Foundation.

I.1.d.(1):  It was moved by Regent Cuene, seconded by Regent Semenas, that, upon recommendation of the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Chancellor be authorized to implement the M.S. in Computer Science, UW-Platteville.

The resolution PASSED unanimously.

b. Global M.B.A., UW-Oshkosh

The Committee then moved to consider the Global M.B.A. from UW-Oshkosh.  UW-Oshkosh Provost Lane Earns emphasized Oshkosh’s commitment to international education and then introduced Don Gudmundson, Professor of Management and M.B.A. Program Director.  Professor Gudmundson described the program’s vision to develop leaders through an innovative intercultural educational experience provided by an international alliance of accredited business schools.  UW-Oshkosh’s global partners included Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences in Germany and the T.A. Pai Management Institute in Manipal, India.  The program is designed to create a balance of students from each of the partner institutions.  Each cohort will have 15-20 students taking together a 30-credit, 18-month program that includes on-site learning experiences in India, Germany and the United States.  The cohorts will be highly interactive and inherently culturally diverse.  Courses will be taught in English by participating faculty from each of the partner institutions.  Each institution will develop their own pricing and collect revenues from their students of origin.  The program is designed to be self-supporting.

Regent Semenas expressed his strong support for both the Platteville and the Oshkosh programs, observing that they would help the UW System be strategic in providing international opportunities to its students.  He hoped they would be replicated by other schools and institutions.  Regent Davis asked whether students in the Oshkosh program experienced any visa problems.  Professor Gudmundson responded that visa delays were originally a problem for the Indian students but that the problem was now under control.

I.1.d.(2):  It was moved by Regent Crain, seconded by Regent Semenas, that, upon recommendation of the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Chancellor be authorized to implement the Global M.B.A., UW-Oshkosh.

The resolution PASSED unanimously.

5. Background on Wisconsin Technical College System Collegiate Transfer

The Committee briefly discussed of the Wisconsin Technical College System Collegiate Transfer Expansion, but agreed to defer a more comprehensive discussion until November.  Regent Davis reminded Committee members that Wisconsin Statutes require that any expansion of collegiate transfer programs be approved by both the WTCS Board and the UW System Board.  At its September meeting, the WTCS Board approved a new liberal arts transfer degree for the Chippewa Valley Technical District.  In November, the Education Committee would review criteria and guidelines that would be used by the institutions and the Board of Regents in determining approval of new collegiate transfer programs from the WTCS.  In December, the Committee would then be asked to vote on the Chippewa Valley program.  Regent Cuene informed her fellow Committee members that the WTCS Board was very excited about the new degree offering from the Chippewa Valley Technical District.

6. Institutional Report on General Education:  UW-Milwaukee

The Committee then heard the Institutional Report on General Education at UW-Milwaukee, accompanied by a brief summary of UW-Milwaukee’s North Central Association (NCA) accreditation.  Regent Davis informed new Committee members that UW institutions are required to report on the results of their NCA accreditation reviews, as well as on their General Education programs to the Education Committee.  UW-Milwaukee was visited by NCA in 2005 and subsequently received a ten-year re-accreditation but with a request for two progress reports to be delivered in 2008. 

UW-Milwaukee Provost Rita Cheng described the institutional self-study process which led to the NCA review and which, while incredibly labor-intensive, was important both to an institution’s self-assessment and strategic planning.  She noted that the two areas identified by NCA requiring follow-up reports were no surprise to the campus.  First, the campus was asked to describe progress on the assessment of student learning outcomes.  The second required report was to address enrollment management and the diversification of the student body.  These are both areas on which
UW-Milwaukee is working, as the Committee heard in June in the presentation by Provost Cheng on the institution’s “Access to Success” programs.  These programs aim to increase first-year retention for all freshmen, especially for freshmen of color.  They also seek to close the achievement gap in retention and graduation rates between students of color and their white peers.  In other words, the “Access to Success” programs address both the NCA-identified deficits in assessment of student learning and in the campus’s success with students of color.  UW-Milwaukee has hired a nationally renowned consultant on assessment, Dr. Barbara Walvoord, and is working very intentionally across the institution to make progress as needed. 

Provost Cheng explained further that these efforts are related, to the institution’s General Education program offerings.  Calling General Education the foundation for lifelong learning that institutions worked to instill in all their students, Provost Cheng noted that the efficacy of General Education was determined by evidence that students were indeed mastering the learning outcomes of the program.  UW-Milwaukee, she observed, is already strong in how it assesses particular competency areas—like math, English composition and foreign languages.  It is working to improve assessment in the General Education courses covering its distribution requirements in arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and cultural diversity.  These areas tend to be more difficult to assess, but the campus has a number of initiatives in place to meet its assessment goals.

In response to a question by Regent Davis, Provost Cheng answered that the required progress reports would be drafted sometime in 2007 and would be shared.  Committee members thanked Provost Cheng for her presentation.

7. Report of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

The Committee agreed to defer the host campus presentation on “Distance Learning: 
UW-Platteville’s Niche” to the next meeting so that all in attendance could attend UW-Platteville’s Farm Gala.


Resolutions I.1.d.(1) and I.1.d.(2) were referred as consent agenda items to the full session of the Board of Regents at its Friday, October 6, 2006, meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 3:27 p.m.