Board of Regents

Education Committee Minutes, February 2008

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, Wisconsin
February 7, 2008

Regent Crain convened the meeting of the Education Committee at 12:40 p.m.  Regents Crain and Thomas were present; Regents Cuene, Davis and Spector participated by phone.

At the request of Committee Chair Regent Davis, Regent Crain agreed to chair the meeting since both the Chair and Vice Chair were unable to drive to Madison due to inclement weather.

  1. Process for Developing UW System Campus Academic Plans

Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin introduced the new process for developing campus academic plans.  She reminded the Committee of the changes to the academic program planning and approval process discussed at the November 2007 meeting.  That discussion included the proposal that UW institutions would come forward every five years and present campus academic plans to the Committee.  The plans would provide Regents with a more comprehensive understanding of each institution’s academic program planning and array, as well as a sense of how the array fits into the institution’s mission.  She noted that the Education Committee would still have the opportunity to hear presentations on individual programs and act on them apart from the presentation of campus academic plans. 

Associate Vice President Ron Singer then presented two documents to the Committee, developed in response to member requests at the November meeting:  a set of guiding principles for what the campus academic plans should look like; and a list of academic programs in the pipeline, both those recently approved by the Regents and those they would be encountering in the near future.  He reviewed recent changes to the process by which new programs are brought before the Board, including tightened timelines for program entitlement at the campus level and authorization at the Board level. 

The draft guiding principles, Dr. Singer continued, proposed several changes to the Board process.  He explained that what had been missing in bringing programs to the Board for approval, were the larger institutional contexts in which individual academic programs had been developed.  Under the new process being piloted that day, Committee members would be presented with a more holistic view contained in the campus academic plan.  Individual programs would still come to the Committee for its action via the consent agenda, with the opportunity for Committee members to remove programs from the consent agenda for additional discussion as needed.

Dr. Singer then reviewed the list of academic programs in the pipeline, including those programs approved in the last year, as well as those programs that had already received entitlement to plan.  Some of these programs, he observed, would come before the Committee this year, and some would take longer.  He reminded Committee members that in December, they had heard a presentation on the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, which they could anticipate coming up for action from one or more UW institutions in the next few months.  He suggested that, in the effort to keep the Education Committee informed and current, the Senior Vice President could provide the pipeline list at the beginning of each academic year and then discuss which programs the Committee would like to have presentations on, and which they would feel comfortable just approving as part of the Committee’s consent agenda.

Dr. Singer returned to the Draft Guiding Principles for Campus Academic Plans, noting that the draft attempted to incorporate the input given by Committee members and the Provosts.  Above all, he emphasized, the principles sought to ensure flexibility, in recognition of changing campus needs over time, and respect for institutional size, structure and identity.  In response to a request from Regent Crain, Dr. Singer responded that dates could easily be inserted into the pipeline document.  In response to a question from Regent Davis, he noted that some of the campus academic plans coming forward would be connected to an institution’s strategic planning but that it would depend on the planning process and timeline being followed.  The draft principles recommend coordination among the academic plan, the facilities master plan and the campus-wide strategic planning process.  The UW-Oshkosh plan the Committee would soon hear, he added, is very much connected to the campus’s strategic planning.

Senior Vice President Martin commented on the formal process in place for the presentation to the Board of campus master plans, which are largely concerned with facilities.  She reminded Committee members that both she and her predecessor have encouraged the Education Committee to be involved in those presentations because of the key role that academics play in master plans.  Based on her experience at UW-Parkside, she reiterated the need for a parallel planning process on the academic side and encouraged campus master plans to focus more on academic needs.  By formalizing the presentation of academic plans, as the Committee was doing with its new process, the intersections between the academic and the facilities planning would become more visible and more intentionally related to the institution’s strategic plan.  Regent Davis agreed that this was important and suggested that the guidelines make this as clear as possible.

In response to a question from Regent Spector, Senior Vice President Martin reminded the Committee of the original purpose behind the development of a new process for the presentation of academic programs.  Committee members had expressed even before last fall an interest in spending less time on particulars and more time on the overall picture of an institution’s program array, observing that too much time was being spent on individual programs without the context of the campus’s entire and integrated academic program array and mission.  Regent Spector expressed his appreciation for the macro approach being adopted but inquired whether it would be possible to ask campuses to address program duplication and comparisons to other UW institutions.  Regent Spector also wondered whether it would make sense to receive some of the campus academic plans in writing only, while still allowing opportunity for further discussion as needed.  Senior Vice President Martin suggested that the information contained in the plans probably warranted their inclusion on the Committee’s agendas.

In response to Regent Crain’s request for comments from the institutions, UW-Green Bay Provost Sue Hammersmith responded that both she and her Chancellor were very appreciative that the Board wanted to give its attention to the more comprehensive view of an institution’s program array.  Associate Vice President Singer asked Committee members if they were comfortable with the proposed process of placing new program proposals on the Committee consent agenda, adding that if there were questions, the programs would be removed from the consent agenda and the questions attended to.  Committee members expressed their approbation.

  1. UW-Oshkosh:  Presentation of Campus Academic Plan

Regent Crain then called on UW-Oshkosh Provost Lane Earns to present the Oshkosh Campus Academic plan.  Provost Earns described in detail UW-Oshkosh’s strategic planning process, initiated by Chancellor Wells in 2000, and including input from hundreds of constituents both internal and external to the University.  The strategic planning also occurred concurrently to the institution’s reaccreditation process by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which resulted in an unconditional ten-year reaccreditation in May 2007.  Provost Earns reviewed the HLC findings, which commended the institution’s strategic plan, and its preservation of quality academic programs and the morale of faculty and students, despite the significant financial reductions endured throughout recent budget cycles.  Provost Earns added that the HLC report observed that this was the first time accreditation team members had ever recommended that an institution increase its senior administrative leadership.

In response to several areas identified by HLC that warranted attention by UW-Oshkosh, the Chancellor and the Provost put together a campus-wide Liberal Education Reform Team in the summer of 2007.  Drawing on the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) Campaign as well as the HLC report, the Reform Team is charged with designing a liberal education plan that will spell out the essential aims, learning outcomes, and guiding principles for a twenty-first-century college education.  Particular attention will be paid to general education and campus-wide assessment, two areas of concern identified by HLC.

Provost Earns then described the campus academic plan and its evolution since its creation in 2006, given changing priorities at UW System and on campus in areas like accountability, the Growth Agenda, the Equity Scorecard Project, the System’s partnership with AAC&U on LEAP, and the UW System Climate Study.  As he reviewed Oshkosh’s strategic action initiatives, Provost Earns reiterated the need for flexibility to be built in to campus academic plans.  As priority areas shifted, the institution redirected its funding towards key academic initiatives, including the hiring of new faculty, to advance laboratory and clinical simulation programs in nursing, outreach and collaborative programs in Education and Human Services, the Family Business Center in the College of Business, and the campus-wide Center for Scholarly Teaching.  He added that, with the Growth Agenda funding approved in the State’s most recent biennial budget, other strategic areas could be addressed, including more student/faculty collaborative research and student scholarships.  UW-Oshkosh has also dramatically restructured its graduate studies and its outreach, adult access, and community engagement programs.

Provost Earns next reviewed program changes at Oshkosh since 2000.  In addition to several new majors and minors, degree programs have also been initiated, including the online Bachelor of Nursing Science, the collaborative Master of Social Work, and the Bachelor of Applied Studies in Leadership and Organizational Studies.  Provost Earns also enumerated several new programs that would come before the Committee in the near future, including the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in collaboration with UW-Eau Claire.  He described future directions for academic program planning, including the addition of programs in health care areas and sustainability, as well as some realignment of existing programs.  He also observed that a new academic building scheduled for completion in 2011 would help the institution with its program growth and development.

In response to a question from Regent Spector, Provost Earns described the concerns raised by the Higher Learning Commission regarding the UW-Oshkosh general education program.  The HLC felt that UW-Oshkosh was not making enough information available to students in course catalogues, nor was there a broad enough policy for what students across all colleges needed from general education.  The HLC also emphasized the need for a university policy on assessment.  The institution concurred with HLC and that provided much of the motivation for the formation of the Liberal Education Reform Team.  While the LERT project was introduced by the Chancellor and the Provost, it is headed by some of the campus’s most effective and respected faculty members.

Regent Davis commended her alma mater for its positive HLC review but also observed that, in the future, she would hope to see more proactive visions presented in the campus academic plans presented to the Committee.  Provost Earns agreed that the presentation of the Oshkosh plan did look back at recent strategic planning efforts but that the actual plan, distributed to all the Regents, contained a strong vision that looked forward.

Senior Vice President Martin asked Provost Earns to identify particular strategic directions which new and planned academic programs would address.  Provost Earns cited health care as an example, describing courses that are or will be spread out in the College of Letters & Science in order to serve students who might not want a nursing degree but want a health-care emphasis.  The strategic direction on sustainability is another example, he said, one that grew out of collaboration between the College of Business and the Environmental Studies faculty, as well as out of facilities work on campus.  The new academic building referred to above will be built to national LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.

Observing that UW-Oshkosh’s role as guinea pig was helpful to all present, Senior Vice President Martin recommended that, in the future, campus academic plans presented to the Committee should focus more on the identification of institutional strategic directions, with elaboration provided as to how academic programming coming forward would build on those directions.  Provost Earns added that the Oshkosh academic plan is an always-evolving document, reviewed and adapted every year.  The Committee’s input would be helpful to its evolution.

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells referred Committee members to the alignment chart in the campus’s strategic plan given to them at the start of the meeting and pointed to its adaptability.  He described the intensive process that informed the creation of the academic plan, a 37-page “live” document that does in fact guide planning and align with the institution’s other strategic directions focused not only on student learning but also on community and regional needs.  He reiterated the need to integrate the academic plan with the facilities, information technology and business plans, all of which should serve to fulfill the institution’s mission, vision, and values.

Regent Crain asked her colleagues for their overall opinion as to whether the Committee’s evolving process for the review and approval of academic plans and programs was headed in the right direction, to which her Regent colleagues responded in the affirmative.  She expressed her appreciation to Provost Earns, especially for his willingness to present the first campus academic plan to the Committee before the Guiding Principles had even been discussed.

  1. Committee Business:  Approval of UW-Milwaukee Charter School

Regent Crain turned to Senior Vice President Martin, who reminded Committee members of the overview they had received on charter schools at the November 2007 meeting.  UW-Madison Professor John Witte had presented data on charter school performance, followed by a presentation on UW-Milwaukee’s role in chartering schools.  The November presentation had reassured the Regents that the charter schools they approved were providing quality education to Milwaukee public school children.

Dr. Robert Kattman, Director of the Office of Charter Schools at UW-Milwaukee, then described the Bruce Guadalupe School.  If approved by the Committee, the Guadalupe School would become UW-Milwaukee’s twelfth charter school.  The school had been chartered by the Milwaukee Public School District four years ago but was now seeking to become a UW-Milwaukee charter school, effective July 2009.  UW-Milwaukee welcomed the opportunity because it would help strengthen the University’s presence in the Hispanic community in Milwaukee.  The charter school alliance provided a unique opportunity to link with the United Community Center, resulting in a more holistic relationship between one of UW-Milwaukee’s charter schools and the community in which it is located.  Dr. Kattman introduced Ricardo Diaz, Executive Director of the United Community Center, and Dora Acosta, Dean of Students at the Guadalupe School.

In response to a request from Regent Davis, Mr. Diaz elaborated on the range of research and community partnerships between UW-Milwaukee and the Center, all of which seek to collaboratively address the challenges and issues particular to Milwaukee’s Latino population.  He mentioned the research-based work on Latino infants and elderly populations, housing services provided to first-time home-buyers among Latino families; art and theater collaborations.  He explained that the partnership allowed the opportunity to do research on specific health issues in the Latino community, for example, why diabetes is so high, as well as conduct two research grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on the elderly needs of Latinos and mental illness.

Mr. Diaz also expressed how helpful UW-Milwaukee was in bringing the strong message to Milwaukee’s Latino community that college is possible and essential, observing that the university provides a continuous reinforcement of the importance of education to the 350 families in the Latino community.  He added that the charter school affiliation with UW-Milwaukee was a natural progression for the United Community Council.

UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos Santiago commented on the exciting opportunity embodied in the Guadalupe School, to explore what value the university can add to the United Community Center, as well as what value the Center could bring to the University.  UW-Milwaukee, he noted, is already very much integrated into the Milwaukee Public School system through teacher education, internships, and other more traditional partnerships.  Because it is such a high performing school, the University will learn a lot from the Guadalupe School and its best practices can be used as a laboratory to share with the wider community.  UW-Milwaukee education faculty, he reported, do not care whether the school is public and chartered by the City of Milwaukee or by UW-Milwaukee; they care about understanding and sharing best practices.  The University is deeply cognizant that the success of the Milwaukee Public Schools has everything to do with Milwaukee’s ability to overcome some of its most difficult challenges.

Regent Crain observed that Chancellor Santiago had said much of what she wanted to say.  The Guadalupe School, she added, is obviously an exemplary school and to be congratulated.   One of her abiding concerns in approving charter schools is how the school impacts the wider community, and it is critical that UW-Milwaukee be a partner in helping the city and public school system improve and address their most challenging issues. 

I.1.c.:  It was moved by Regent Thomas, seconded by Regent Davis, that, upon recommendation of the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents approves the charter school contract with the United Community Center, Inc., to establish the Bruce Guadalupe Community School, effective July 1, 2009.

            The resolution PASSED unanimously.

Regent Crain thanked the presenters and welcomed the Guadalupe School to the UW System.

  1. Report of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

The Report of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs focused on how best to set strategic directions for diversity beyond the UW System’s completion of Plan 2008.  Senior Vice President Martin said that her Office would be reporting the final results of Plan 2008 next fall but that it was not too soon to be talking about what would come next.  She pointed to the consensus arrived from discussions with Regent Davis, President Reilly, and Interim Assistant Vice President for Academic Diversity and Development Vicki Washington that the UW System did not need another ten-year plan. 

Dr. Martin stated that, moving forward beyond 2008, the UW System is planning to develop a set of strategic directions that will move the System and its institutions closer to enhanced educational quality, equity and diversity.  Similar to the goals of Plan 2008, these strategic directions will continue to promote institutional change to foster access and excellence for historically under-represented populations.  In determining what these strategic directions should be, she will be seeking the broad input of the Board of Regents, the institutions (students, faculty and staff, Provosts and Chancellors), and other, external constituents (e.g., the President’s Council on Diversity).  The discussion today, she observed, is a part of that process.

Dr. Martin enumerated some of the directions in which the UW System is moving in its efforts to advance diversity and equity.  Some of the Plan 2008 metrics are now incorporated into Achieving Excellence, the System’s annual report on accountability.  By the end of the academic year, a total of 11 UW System institutions will be participating in the Equity Scorecard project.  There remains a continued focus on closing the achievement gap, as directed by the Board of Regents in 2005 (Regent Resolution 8970), and Chancellor evaluation includes assessment based on progress on diversity.  She also pointed to the newly established Regents Diversity Award Program, approved by the Board in December 2007.  She has directed the reallocation of internal monies from the Office of Academic Affairs to fund a new grant program focused on Closing the Achievement Gap.  Finally, she mentioned the UW System Strategic Framework to Advantage Wisconsin which includes, as the Board heard this morning, a commitment to diversity under the umbrella or rubric of Inclusive Excellence.

Senior Vice President Martin elaborated on the new grant program that sought to advance equity and diversity throughout the UW System with a focus on closing the achievement gap.  She was able to reallocate monies from other UW System grant programs to dedicate to this critical area, and the request for proposals was sent to UW institutions earlier in the week.  The goal of the grant program is to develop and support programs that are effective in promoting institutional change to foster access and excellence for historically under-represented populations.  She reported that, to begin with, a total of $300,000 would be available for academic year 2008-09 to fund projects working towards institutional transformation.  Particular attention would be given to models, programs, and strategies with demonstrated success in closing gaps in achievement in the areas of access, retention and graduation.  As a former Provost, she noted that many great ideas and projects cannot move forward for lack of funding and the new grant program would help to counter that.

Senior Vice President Martin then turned the Committee’s attention to the document which they had received entitled Inclusive Excellence.  Referring again to the wide agreement that the goals of Plan 2008 still obtain, she reminded Committee members of the Plan’s seven goals.  The goals, she emphasized, remain relevant and continue to be critical to UW System efforts to serve the citizens of Wisconsin and the world in a 21st century global economy.  The UW System, she added, has no plans to walk away from them.

She returned to the umbrella term Inclusive Excellence, which had been used by President Reilly in the morning presentation on the Action Steps for the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.  The term, she explained, came from AAC&U, the UW System’s partner in the LEAP Campaign, whose record on advancing diversity is both accomplished and inspirational.  In borrowing the definitions of diversity and inclusion from AAC&U, the UW System intends to signal that the time has come to make more visible the importance of inclusive excellence to American higher education, citizenship and democracy, and to embed its principles in all of its endeavors. 

As Senior Vice President Martin reviewed the Inclusive Excellence handout, she emphasized the draft nature of document and indicated the numerous groups with which she has begun to discuss the document.  She reported that she had already received valuable input regarding how to emphasize more strongly the compelling nature of the work, and expressing concern that because the Inclusive Excellence definition of diversity was broader than it was in Plan 2008, the UW System might lose its clear focus on race and ethnicity.  She had also heard clearly the need to think about how UW System Administration could best support institutional work in this area and remain respectful of individual missions and student profiles.  She indicated that she would return to the Board in fall 2008 with a more concrete set of strategic directions.

In response to a question from Regent Crain, Senior Vice President Martin asked for Committee discussion of whether or not the steps she had outlined seemed to be heading in the right direction.  Discussion focused on how to ensure broad campus participation, above all from students, into the emerging strategic directions.  In response to a question from Regent Davis, Senior Vice President Martin expressed her hope that by fall 2008, the Inclusive Excellence document would include very specific strategic directions, but that she planned to check in at intervals with the Regents, the Provosts, and others.  She suggested that the August Board of Regents meeting might be a good place for the next conversation with the Committee.

Regent Spector observed that he would find it helpful if there was more definition given to the term “organizational learning.”  Interim Assistant Vice President Washington explained the term, pointing out that while there is a lot of data about student learning out there, it is not generally used to inform organizational structures, change policy, or improve practice, all of which would move higher education closer to the defined goals and objectives of Inclusive Excellence.  The Committee discussed several other clarifications in terminology.

In response to a question from Regent Thomas, Ms. Washington affirmed that the System had looked extensively at the ways in which other large universities and systems articulated their diversity goals, although there were very few system-level offices like the UW System Office of Academic Diversity and Development.  Senior Vice President Martin added that they had found the AAC&U definition so useful because AAC&U grounds its definitions and organizational models in research and evidence based on what is working in organizational development and higher education.  Ms. Washington added that, overall, the UW System is looking for ways to make the work of diversity more central to its institutions and more functional throughout all of its administrative units and departments.  Work is still needed to make diversity fundamental to academic and organizational excellence.

Regent Crain concluded the discussion by emphasizing the importance, as stated in the draft Inclusive Excellence document, of working with K-12 partners and providing professional development at all levels.  She thanked those present for the productive conversation, adding that Committee members would look forward to seeing another iteration of the document in the future.

  1. Consent Agenda

Regent Crain moved adoption of the minutes of the December 6, 2007, meeting of the Education Committee and the following resolutions as consent agenda items.  The move was seconded by Regent Cuene and carried on a unanimous voice vote.

Resolution I.1.c., approving the charter school contract with the United Community Center, Inc., to establish the Bruce Guadalupe Community School, effective July 1, 2009; and

Resolution I.1..e.(2), approving the reorganization of the UW-Extension and UW Colleges Boards of Visitors to form an expanded and combined Board of Visitors.         

Resolutions I. 1.c. and I.1.e.(2) were referred to the consent agenda of the full Board of Regents at its Friday, February 8, 2008, meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 2:06 p.m.