Board of Regents

Education Committee Minutes, April 2008

Pyle Center, Room 313, University of Wisconsin-Extension
Madison, Wisconsin
April 10, 2008

Regent Davis convened the meeting of the Education Committee at 1:52 p.m.  Regents Davis, Crain, Cuene, Loftus, Spector, Thomas, and Womack were present.

1. Presentation:  “Maximizing Access to College Degrees for Adults Statewide:  Status of the UW Colleges and UW-Extension Adult Student Initiative”

Regent Davis welcomed those present to the Pyle Center and introduced David Schejbal, Dean of UW-Extension’s Division of Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning, and Lisa Seale, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the UW Colleges.  Dean Schejbal and Dr. Seale described the UW Colleges and UW-Extension Adult Student Initiative, a program designed to maximize access to college degrees for adults throughout Wisconsin so that they can start, continue or complete a degree anywhere in the state.  They provided the context and history for the Initiative, pointing to the changing educational needs of the knowledge economy and Wisconsin’s low ranking among states with baccalaureate degree-holders.  The Initiative received initial funding from a DIN request in 2006, and was launched in 2007.

Dean Schejbal and Dr. Seale detailed the distinct yet interrelated parts of the Initiative to:  1) create broad awareness among adult and non-traditional students about the value of a baccalaureate degree, and the programs and services available at UW System institutions to help adults earn bachelor’s degrees; 2) create an array of student support services for adult and underserved students so that they can gain access and succeed in UW institutions; and 3) create a variety of undergraduate programs in areas and formats that meet the needs of adult and non-traditional students focusing on 21st-century skills and competencies.  The Adult Student Initiative has partnered with several of the comprehensive institutions to deliver online formats for programs in Organizational Administration (at UW-Oshkosh); Criminal Justice (at UW-Platteville), and Information and Project Management (at UW-Parkside), among others.  The UWin Campaign was launched in 2004, designed to attract adult students to apply for baccalaureate degree programs.  And in 2007, the UW Colleges launched the Accelerated Hybrid Course Program, which combines online and face-to-face learning in an intensive format designed to help adult and non-traditional students successfully enroll and pursue degrees at UW College campuses. 

In the next few years, Dean Schejbal and Dr. Seale concluded, the Initiative will continue to devote resources to:  enhance advising and support services for adult students; strengthen the information technology infrastructure for better delivery of services and courses; and create new baccalaureate degrees for 21st-century competencies in areas like Green Business, STEM for Teachers, Global Leadership, and Healthcare.  Overall, the Initiative seeks to make non-traditional students have a seamless experience as they move through Bachelor degree programs, while negotiating the responsibilities of work, family, geographical restrictions, and other factors.

In response to a question from Regent Loftus, Dean Schejbal explained that UW-Extension’s role was to identify those adult students who want to complete degrees and to work with the campuses to place them.  In response to questions from Regent Cuene, Dean Schejbal described the partnerships between the Colleges and several of the comprehensive institutions whereby students can get associate degrees completely online or in hybrid format.  He added that a few discussions are taking place with Wisconsin Technical College institutions.

Regent Crain asked how the UW Colleges and -Extension define non-traditional students.  Dr. Seale responded that the usual age for such students is 22-24 or older but mostly the designation refers to any student who cannot pursue a degree in a traditional way.  Dean Schejbal described the initial RFP process to the comprehensives by which the online degree programs were determined, but noted that the Adult Student Initiative was now conducting some market research to determine which areas were most in demand.  In response to a question from Regent Cuene, Dean Schejbal observed that curriculum development was done predominantly by faculty already on campuses, and with courses that were mostly already in existence and thus easily converted to hybrid or online format.  He added that campuses do not necessarily want to do such course development alone, and that the Green Business degree, for example, would probably be collaborative.

Regent Davis asked a question about the nature of the UWin Campaign and the number of actual participants who apply after expressing interest.  Dean Schejbal responded that it was too early to ascertain results but the Campaign is one means of increasing awareness and visibility among people in Wisconsin.  It originated with students who “stopped out,” and were subsequently sent letters from President Reilly, but has been continually evolving.  Senior Vice President Martin reminded Committee members that they had approved several similar programs, for example the applied degree-completion programs at UW-Green Bay and Oshkosh.  The UW-Green Bay degree is intended for mostly returning adult students with Associate of Arts degrees from either the UW Colleges or WTCS.  She noted the potential for growth given the high numbers of Wisconsin adults who want and need baccalaureate degrees.  Dr. Seale added that expanded recruitment efforts are underway, as are assessment efforts to determine how well adults adapt to the hybrid format and what their most pressing needs are.  It has been interesting, she concluded, to learn who the UW System’s adult students really are. 

Regent Davis expressed the Committee’s appreciation to Dean Schejbal and Dr. Seale for the presentation and good discussion.

2. Report of the UW System Engineering Education Task Force

Regent Davis introduced Dev Venugopalan, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UW-Milwaukee, to present the Report of the UW System Engineering Education Task Force.  Dr. Venugopalan served as Chair of the Task Force, which was charged by Senior Vice President Martin with assessing the current and projected supply and demand of both engineering graduates and the various engineering disciplines in Wisconsin.  The Task Force was also charged with developing recommendations to ensure that the state’s education needs in engineering were being effectively and efficiently met.  Dr. Venugopalan informed the Committee that the Task Force included representation from each of the five UW campuses with engineering programs (including UW-Stevens Point which is seeking ABET accreditation for its paper science program).  He noted that, collectively, about 1400 engineers graduated per year from all of the state’s programs, and that enrollment and graduates in these programs have remained steady over the years.  Overall, he reported, there is no evidence of unmet demand for engineers in the state or in any particular region in the state.  While the demand for engineering education is being met, some future capacity-building might be necessary in certain emerging fields, like biomedical engineering, and in certain sub-disciplines with trends for growth.  He also described the low numbers of women and students of color in the UW System’s engineering programs as an area of concern, adding that the low numbers seem to correspond with equally low numbers of engineering faculty from these populations.

In presenting the Report’s key recommendations, Dr. Venugopalan emphasized the Task Force’s recommendation to periodically assess regional and statewide demand for engineering graduates, and to utilize existing resources to meet that demand as much as possible.  Unmet regional demand should be initially met through collaborative offsite delivery, as was already being done by UW-Platteville in its Fox Valley and Rock County programs.  New engineering programs would only be developed when the long-term sustainability of collaborative offsite programs had been demonstrated.  The Report also recommended developing strategies for accommodating part-time and place-bound students in existing programs, and for attracting and retaining more students in general, but women and students of color in particular.  The Report recommended that attention be paid to the K-12 pipeline to ensure appropriate pre-college preparation.  Above all, the UW System needed to safeguard quality and excellence in teaching and research in both existing and new engineering programs.

Regent Crain asked whether the lack of any evidence for unmet demand was related to the large percentage of engineers who left the state after their Wisconsin training.  Dr. Venugopalan responded that the explanation for why graduates left was not clear.  He cited two studies, one of which looked at how many students stayed in-state (2002) after graduation.  About 70% of Wisconsin-educated engineers stayed in the state their first year but within several years, the number declined dramatically.  No definite conclusions could be drawn about why they left.  Regent Crain observed that she was married to a mechanical engineer and the mother of an electrical engineer, and that she was surprised by the fact that there was not unmet demand.  She added that a lot of people have no idea what engineers do, can’t see the excitement of engineering, and are scared away by the math required for the profession, women in particular.  Senior Vice President Martin acknowledged that in her travels around the state, there seemed to be a need for more engineers, but that there is not a capacity problem in the UW System’s engineering programs.  She noted that, with a couple of exceptions, all of the engineering programs in Wisconsin are in the south of the state, especially the southeast.  The regional needs question is important and the System will be paying attention to this.

In response to a question from Regent Loftus, Dr. Venugopalan said that he was unsure as to how many UW engineering students were from out of state, but that approximately 5% were international students.  Regent Cuene mentioned the collaborative programs between UW-Stout and UW-Green Bay, and between UW-Stout and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.  She noted that there were no northern Wisconsin programs in engineering until these collaborative programs were developed and they seemed to be filling an important need for the region.  She also commended the good job by engineering faculty as evidenced by the great placement rates for UW engineering students.

Regent Loftus referred to UW Colleges and -Extension Chancellor David Wilson’s description earlier in the day of a new program that would offer an engineering degree from UW-Platteville to northern Colleges campuses by using a truck with a lab.  UW-Platteville Provost Carol Sue Butts elaborated on the mobile engineering lab with streaming video that would be available to students at UW-Marathon, UW-Marinette, and possibly UW-Sheboygan and -West Bend.

Regent Davis asked whether the Task Force had discussed any out-of-the-box strategies that would help draw in more women and people of color, among students and faculty.  Dr. Venugopalan responded that the Task Force had addressed the issue only generally but did conclude that people with more specific expertise should be consulted in developing strategies.  Senior Vice President Martin mentioned that “Project Lead the Way,” which the Committee would hear about at a later meeting, might contribute to that discussion.  Citing one of her own students at “Pearls for Teen Girls,” Regent Davis emphasized that the System needed to figure out a way to nurture and develop a true pipeline for middle school (and even younger) students, or they would be lost to STEM areas for good.  Dr. Venugopalan agreed that better precollege programming was needed for students in this area, pointing to the untapped pipeline in the city of Milwaukee.  He mentioned some work that UW-Platteville was doing in this area, and that attention needed to be paid also to the first two years of college, before the engineering major begins.  Regent Spector referred to his experience in the law:  his firm has had success with hiring adjuncts of color who served as role models.

The Committee expressed its appreciation to Associate Vice Chancellor Venugopalan for his chairing of the Task Force and his presentation of the Report.

3. UW-Stout:  Presentation of Campus Academic Plan

Regent Davis welcomed UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen and Provost Julie Furst-Bowe to the table to present UW-Stout’s Campus Academic Plan.  Provost Furst-Bowe described UW-Stout’s profile of students and programs, citing the polytechnic designation endorsed by the Board in 2007, and its status as the UW System’s first laptop campus.  She explained Stout’s broad-based strategic planning process, which included focusing on academic array, enrollment management, information technology, Plan 2008, and capital planning.  She identified the criteria by which new academic programs were developed (including alignment with Stout’s mission and polytechnic designation, employer demand, student interest), and the key areas targeted for growth (including meeting regional needs for expanded engineering programs, demand for teachers in STEM fields, and providing degree-completion opportunities for working adults).

Provost Furst-Bowe then reviewed the specific academic programs UW-Stout was planning to add to its program array in the coming years.  Entitlements to plan had been granted or were in development for a variety of Bachelor of Science degrees in areas like Plastics and Computer Engineering, Science and Technology Education, Applied Social Sciences, and Game Design and Development, among others.  Two master’s level degrees, in Art and Design and in Scientific and Technical Communication, had also been entitled.  She also reviewed proposed programs that were in the early stages of development, including an Associate Degree as a means of aiding student retention, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas such as property management, supply chain management, gerontology, occupational therapy, food packaging and entrepreneurship and innovation.  She described several campus-wide curricular initiatives focused on revisions to Stout’s General Education, ethnic studies, and assessment programs.  She also mentioned expansion to several degree-completion programs and partnerships with WCTS campuses, including the engineering programs referenced in the previous presentation.  Additional online courses and programs, in collaboration with UW-Extension and international universities, were also noted.  Finally, she explained the ways in which UW-Stout was financing these new initiatives and program development, including through funding by COBE (the Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion), other grant programs, the Growth Agenda, customized instruction, and resource reallocation.  Provost Furst-Bowe concluded by noting that much of the planned-for program development was based on surveys of students who left UW-Stout.  The most oft-cited reason for leaving was that Stout did not have the major that students wanted, hence the Institution’s effort to grow majors.

For the benefit of new Regent Betty Womack, Senior Vice President Martin reviewed the process for program approval.  In response to a question from Regent Loftus, Provost Furst-Bowe explained that many of the programs alluded to above were in the early stages of discussion, and that some of them were already concentrations which could easily be converted into majors.  Likewise, some of the undergraduate degrees might be well served by offering master’s degrees as well.  The expansion of teaching majors and minors in STEM areas were not yet in the System pipeline but were being looked at closely by the Institution.  She also acknowledged UW-Stout’s national leadership in the assessment of student learning and a grant received from FIPSE (the Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education) to expand Stout’s assessment work into its Voluntary System of Accountability reporting.

Additional Regent questions focused on distance learning and resources for the planned-for growth.  Chancellor Sorensen responded that UW-Stout is very responsible in how it allocates resources and described in greater detail some of the new initiatives identified above and the various sources from which they would be funded.  In response to a question from Regent Loftus, Provost Furst-Bowe explained how customized instruction works at UW-Stout, noting that such programs are primarily master’s degrees and that students typically pay 150 % of resident tuition for such programs.  Pressed to expand on several individual programs and whether or not new monies would be needed in moving them forward, Chancellor Sorensen and Provost Furst-Bowe provided additional information.  Senior Vice President Martin reassured the Committee that her office worked closely with the campuses on budgets of new programs to make sure they are fund-able.  Chancellor Sorensen described the aggressive fund-raising conducted by the Institution.  In response to a question from Regent Thomas, Provost Furst-Bowe elaborated on how some of the proposed degrees would be especially helpful to working adults who needed degree-completion programs.  Chancellor Sorensen repeated that UW-Stout was seeking gradual and modest growth through on-campus customized instruction.  Regent Davis observed that while she saw collaboration taking place with WTCS institutions, she encouraged Stout to collaborate with UW Colleges campuses.  Provost Furst-Bowe responded that because of Stout’s polytechnic course offerings, WTCS institutions presented a good match for UW-Stout.  She and the Chancellor mentioned several collaborations with UW-Waukesha and -Barron County. 

Regent Spector expressed his appreciation for all the information provided but observed that the presentation raised for him the need for Regents and UW System Administration to pay particular attention to questions of program duplication and resources.  Provost Furst-Bowe commented that 16 of UW-Stout’s 30 academic programs are unduplicated in the UW System, an unparalleled number.  Senior Vice President Martin added that the impetus for the Engineering Report was UW-Stout’s plan to come forward with additional engineering programs and the realization among Provosts that the System needed to determine need and demand for engineering programs from a statewide perspective.  Chancellor Sorensen and Provost Furst-Bowe reiterated the ways in which Stout’s polytechnic designation served to guide program development and array.            

Regent Loftus expressed the need for the UW System to look at programs that will build base budgets and can be sustained in the next biennial budget, especially in light of the state’s challenging fiscal situation.  Chancellor Sorensen agreed that difficult budgetary decisions have been and would continue to be made, citing the difficult reallocation process needed to develop UW-Stout’s first engineering program.  Jerry Greenfield, Interim Provost at UW-Parkside, observed that UW institutions have been in such a “no-growth, resource-scarce” phase that campuses look to develop programs that will generate growth.  In response to a question from Regent Crain about next steps, Chancellor Sorenson emphasized the extent to which UW-Stout has stayed close to its mission in its strategic planning and requests for, and use of, Growth Agenda funding.

Regent Davis thanked Chancellor Sorensen and Provost Furst-Bowe, adding that the quality of the questions and conversation signaled the value of the presentations of campus academic plans to the Committee.  She expressed her appreciation to Regent Spector for suggesting this still-new process because of the more holistic and strategic framework it gave Regents in their consideration of new programs.  Committee members agreed that, as new individual academic programs came before the Committee for approval, campuses should place them within the context of their campus academic plans.

4. Report of the Senior Vice President

Senior Vice President Martin began her report by congratulating Regent Davis for her “Outstanding Woman of Color” award, and Committee members joined her in expressing their commendation.

a. UW-Milwaukee:  Termination and Release of the Milwaukee Science Education Consortium, Inc., from Charter Agreement

Regent Spector recused himself from the charter school termination discussion because his former law firm is mentioned in the letter requesting termination.  Senior Vice President Martin reminded the Committee that in February it had approved a contract for the Guadalupe School, which was seeking to terminate its charter with the Milwaukee Public School System in order to affiliate with UW-Milwaukee.  This month, she was reporting on the Milwaukee Academy of Science, which was seeking the termination of its contract with UW-Milwaukee in order to affiliate with the City of Milwaukee.  In consultation with UW System General Counsel Pat Brady, it was determined that the Board did not need to act on such a termination and that Chancellor Santiago was authorized to terminate the contract.  The charter school was seeking to be released from the fifth and final year of its contract with UW-Milwaukee. 

In response to questions from Regent Loftus, UW-Milwaukee Provost Rita Cheng described the evaluation process for charter schools and emphasized that there was mutual agreement by UW-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Academy of Science to terminate the contract.  Regent Crain expressed her discomfort in terms of the potential impact on students and their learning as the charter changed hands.  Provost Cheng noted that Bob Kattman, the Director of the UW-Milwaukee Office of Charter Schools, was in contact with the city regarding the charter exchange.  In response to a question from Regent Davis, she added that DPI was also involved and reviewed all the performance data for the school.

In response to questions from Regent Loftus, Senior Vice President Martin described situations in which the Board would be involved in a charter school termination.  The Board did act to renew charter school contracts.  If a charter school was seeking renewal at the end of its contract and the Board felt that there too many questions or problems with its performance and operation, the Board could elect to either terminate, not renew, or renew on a more limited basis.  In the case of the Milwaukee Academy of Science, both parties mutually agreed that they would not fulfill the contract, and hence the General Counsel’s determination that Board action was not needed.  Provost Cheng responded that the termination came about at the request of the Milwaukee Academy of Science, adding that UW-Milwaukee has a more rigorous assessment and performance requirement and the school chose to align itself with the City as more in keeping with its mission.  Senior Vice President Martin added that the move does not undermine the financial stability of the Office of Charter Schools.  In response to a question from Regent Cuene, Provost Cheng responded that UW-Milwaukee currently has 11 charter schools under its authority and that the addition of the Guadalupe School in 2009 would bring the total to 12.

b. Annual Report on Minority and Disadvantaged Student Programs

c. Annual Report on Orientation Programs and Information Provided to Students on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

Senior Vice President Martin informed Committee members that they would soon be receiving two reports submitted annually by UW System to the Governor and the Legislature.  In the past, the Board had received these two reports as part of its meeting agenda materials.  In the ongoing effort to focus Regent time on issues requiring more substantive discussion, the two reports would, from now on, be mailed out to Regents separately.  The first of these reports is the 2006-07 Minority and Disadvantaged Student Report, which is primarily a financial report summarizing the UW System’s precollege initiative and activities, expenditures for multicultural and  economically disadvantaged student programs, and student financial assistance data.  The Report does not offer any in-depth information on these programs but fulfills a statutory requirement.  Senior Vice President Martin emphasized that she and her staff would be happy to answer any questions from the Regents following receipt of the Report, including at the June meeting as needed.  The same held true, she continued, for the second statutorily required report, the Annual Report on Orientation Programs and Information Provided to Students on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.  This second Report included institutional summaries of activities conducted throughout the state to disseminate information and prevent the incidence of sexual assault and harassment. 

In response to a question from Regent Davis, Senior Vice President Martin assured Committee members that, in the future, her office could either send out the two reports prior to the April meeting, or afterwards, as was being done this time.  The Committee should let her know which would be more useful.  In response to questions from Regent Crain, Senior Vice President Martin replied that the Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment Report included data on the incidence of sexual assaults at UW campuses, and, to the extent possible, on the efficacy of programs to prevent incidence.  She added that, in the past, the Committee had heard presentations on the topic and could be made again as appropriate and per the expressed interest of the Regents.

d. UW College Update

Senior Vice President Martin concluded her report with an update on the process by which the UW Colleges was developing a preliminary proposal for an entitlement to plan a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Arts & Sciences.  This idea was discussed at the Regents’ policy meeting in March.  The Regents had received a letter following that meeting from President Reilly describing the process for moving the degree proposal forward.  Additional steps would be added to the usual process, allowing for continued input into the degree proposal’s development by both the Colleges and the other UW institutions.  She concluded that a lot of work still remained and that the review process would be intense but fair.  She promised to keep the Regents and Chancellors informed as the planning moved forward. 

5. Consent Agenda

Regent Davis moved adoption of the minutes of the February 7, 2008, meeting of the Education Committee and the following resolutions as consent agenda items.  The move was seconded by Regent Spector and carried on a unanimous voice vote.

Resolution I.1.e.(2), authorizing implementation of the B.S. in Applied Math & Computer Science at UW-Milwaukee;

Resolution I.1.e.(3), authorizing implementation of the M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at UW-River Falls; and

Resolution I.1.e.(4), approving the UW System’s annual request to the Vilas Trust.         

Resolutions I. 1.e.(2), I.1.e.(3), and I.1.e.(4) were referred to the consent agenda of the full Board of Regents at its Friday, April 11, 2008, meeting.  Regent Spector observed that the minutes were very well written and were very useful to Regents.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00 p.m.