Board of Regents

Education Committee - April 8, 2010



University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

April 8, 2010

Regent Crain convened the meeting of the Education Committee at 1:53 p.m.  Regents Crain, Bradley, Davis, Evers, and Vasquez were present.  Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin introduced three new Provosts to the Committee:  Terry Brown, former dean at UW-River Falls and newly installed as Provost at UW-Parkside; Beverly Kopper, previously at the University of Northern Iowa, who began her position as Provost at UW-Whitewater on April 1; and Johannes Britz, the Dean of Information Studies at UW-Milwaukee who will serve as Interim until a successor for outgoing Provost Rita Cheng is found.  Senior Vice President Martin also recognized Provost Cheng’s contributions to the UW System and UW-Milwaukee, adding that she would be greatly missed.

1.      Sexual Assault Prevention Initiatives at UW Campuses

Regent Crain welcomed Senior Vice President Martin to introduce the topic and the presenters for the presentation on “Sexual Assault Prevention Initiatives at UW Campuses.”  Regent Crain noted her experience working on this ingrained societal problem, and her passion for tackling it.  Dr. Martin explained to Committee members that the materials they had received for the meeting included the UW System 2009 Annual Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.  This mandated document, she said, summarized institutional efforts to educate students about the prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment.  The report was prepared in compliance with Wisconsin Statutes section 36.11(22), which directed the Board of Regents to annually submit the report to the Wisconsin legislature.  It did not require Regent action.  Wisconsin Statute 36.11(22) also required that each UW System institution annually report to the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance statistics on sexual assaults, and sexual assaults by acquaintances, that occurred on each campus during the previous year.  These statistics were included as Appendix 1 of the report.

Dr. Martin continued by noting that the annual report included some of the best practices and most notable efforts undertaken by UW institutions to inform students about sexual assault and to respond to victims.  As represented in the report, UW campuses were using a broad and innovative range of strategies to disseminate sexual assault prevention information and respond to incidents.  Dr. Martin commented that the UW System, Regents included, wished that sexual assaults were not occurring at all.  National data, however, indicated that they were happening at much higher rates than were ever reported to officials.  She cited a National Institute of Justice study that put the number at 30 rapes per 1000 students every school year.  The numbers in the UW System’s 2009 report indicate that underreporting is still a huge problem on UW campuses, as it is everywhere else.  She confirmed that all UW System institutions were well aware of the problem and continued to work on raising awareness about sexual assault in order to encourage victims to seek assistance.  In the past year, UW institutions had received reports of 50 sexual assaults occurring on campus property, and 121 occurring in off-campus areas where substantial numbers of students live or congregate.  The campus number was significantly lower than recent years, though the off-campus number was comparable. 

Dr. Martin referenced the recent media coverage the UW System had received regarding its work around sexual violence prevention.  It was difficult, indeed wrenching, she noted, to read the stories of student victims, who in addition to the trauma they had suffered, had also felt mistreated by the disciplinary system.  This still happened, she acknowledged, despite the prevention and support programs in place at each UW campus, targeted both at keeping such incidents from occurring and at providing victims with the support that they needed.  Several of these programs were highlighted in the narrative of the report, and one exemplary program from the prevention specialist at UW-Madison would be featured for the Committee.  The question was raised by the author of one of the recent articles as to whether UW System sexual assault statistics were accurate and readily available to the public.  Dr. Martin explained that there were several sets of data mandated by state and federal law data regarding campus sexual assaults, each with unique collection guidelines.  This resulted in numbers that were inconsistent and confusing to the public, and, in fact, impeded the System’s prevention efforts.  The System was taking steps to address this, as she would convey to the Committee at the end of the presentation.

Senior Vice President Martin then introduced three additional presenters:  Susan LaFlash, Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, April Goodwin, Budget and Policy Analyst at UWSA; and Carmen Hotvedt, Violence Prevention Specialist, in the University Health Services at UW-Madison.

Ms. LaFlash began by reporting the incidence of sexual assault in the United States, with federal estimates of one in four women being raped in their lifetimes.  On Wisconsin campuses, one in 20 women report being raped to law enforcement.  She cited the high-risk populations on campuses, attributable in large part to the all-too-common abuse of alcohol.  Sexual assault was a lifelong injury and campus assaults could change a student’s life horribly and irrevocably.  Ms. LaFlash called the incidence of sexual assault an epidemic, observing that, as a society, we have strategies for dealing with epidemics—like H1N1—in which people act collectively to change behaviors and halt or stem the epidemic.  With sexual assault, she stated, reporting was not made easy for victims, nor were adequate structures in place to make victims feel that perpetrators were being appropriately punished.  Each of these were public health issues and needed to be addressed through strategic interventions, including by ensuring the reliability of the data around incidence, facilitating reporting, and working to change behavior.

Ms. LaFlash described some of the work being done by the UW System and institutions, in collaboration with other state and non-profit agencies, to develop a statewide sexual violence prevention plan.  Called Forward Wisconsin, the project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control, and was designed to change current environments that supported sexual violence.  The UW System was also working with the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault to develop a Guidance Document that would clarify roles and responsibilities for all those on campuses—faculty, staff, administrators, and students—in creating safe campus cultures.  Violence was a determinant of both health and academic success, its prevention vital to student success.  Ms. LaFlash concluded by calling sexual assault an issue of power and control for perpetrators, hence the need for systemic interventions and approaches to dealing with the crime. 

April Goodwin briefly described the reporting practices and prevention activities in place throughout the UW System, collected each year for the annual UW System Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.

Carmen Hotvedt next profiled the holistic approach to dealing with sexual violence on the UW-Madison campus, comprising better provision of victim services, better perpetrator accountability, and better prevention education.  She described prevention in very proactive terms, detailing the work she does to empower students, faculty, and staff to change the culture and intervene early, for example, at parties or when inappropriate jokes and comments are made.  Prevention, she noted, does not have to punitive and orientation programs with students were designed to emphasize more positive behaviors like correcting misconceptions held by students, and intervening as bystanders in situations that might be dangerous for their peers, well before violence can happen.  This was especially important when alcohol was involved, as it so often was.  She referred to the social contract that needed to be upheld by everyone on a college campus.  That contract included helping students understand the responsibilities they have in preventing sexual assault. 

Ms. Hotvedt also reported on a 2009 survey of UW-Madison students.  A total of 2,100 students responded to the survey, which probed their understanding of sexual assault, including questions on what constitutes consent and how alcohol might compromise consent.  She described specific actions being taken at UW-Madison, including media and social marketing campaigns, orientation programs, service learning courses, and training of law enforcement and judicial officers to hold perpetrators accountable.

Senior Vice President Martin returned to discuss some of the additional steps being taken to improve the reliability of the data on sexual assaults.  Clear and consistent data on sexual violence in UW campus communities, she said, was critical to students and their families, and essential to improving institutional climates.  She detailed several steps being taken to remedy the data situation:  the last several years of the annual UW System Sexual Assault report were now available on the UWSA website; the UW System was working with the Department of Health Services, WI Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Office of Justice Assistance on statewide data consistency issues; and the System was also forming a multi-disciplinary working group on data consistency among UW System institutions to determine what data should be represented where.  Further, she added, the UW System would continue to:  convene systemwide meetings for campus sexual assault contacts to network and discuss relevant issues; seek extramural funding to provide support/resources to campus practitioners; and organize annual professional development workshops for campus and community practitioners.

Regent Davis posed a question concerning the social norms around alcohol in Wisconsin, noting that the culture resisted any change and that even the state’s legislature did not want to tackle the issue.  Could the culture around sexual assault change without concurrent change in Wisconsin’s alcohol culture, she asked?  Ms. LaFlash expressed her partial agreement, adding that the problem of rape would not be solved by taking alcohol out of the mix.  Ms. Hotvedt commented on the complexity that gendered behavior added to drinking and sexual activity.  UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells reemphasized the point made by Regent Davis:  that alcohol sets up irresponsible and dangerous situations, in which predators can more easily take advantage of victims, and that these situations are sanctioned by Wisconsin culture through activities like pub crawls and the drinking that takes place before, during, and after football games.

In response to a question from Regent Crain about the impact peers can have through the work of campus student groups, Ms. Hotvedt detailed some of the campus activities, led by men and women, which worked to organize events to combat sexual violence.  Regent Vasquez expressed his surprise that reporting figures were so low, given that college was a time when both women and men were empowered to act.  Ms. Hotvedt responded that there were different ways in which victims sought help, and that it was not always through law enforcement or the office of the campus dean.  The social status of victims plummets following an assault and reaching out for help is extremely difficult.  UW-La Crosse Provost Kathleen Enz Finken stated that sexual assault was the ultimate disempowerment of a woman.  Regent Crain concurred, adding that societal attitudes and reactions to assault continue to make victims feel responsible.

Regent Vasquez observed that the media stories that had appeared in recent months had felt so incomplete, given the lack of closure and the difficulty in achieving justice that the victims expressed.  He asked whether there were any “success” stories for the women who did report, in terms of perpetrators who were ultimately held accountable by the justice system.  He also asked whether the Regents should receive information on how reported cases were resolved, not just on the numbers of assaults.  Senior Vice President Martin responded that it should be possible for UW System to fill in some of the blanks to which Regent Vasquez is referring.  Committee members agreed that they would like to keep attention focused on this issue, and one way of doing that would be to look also at aggregate System data concerning actions that follow reports of sexual assault.  Such information could include the results of reporting, how institutions respond, and what kinds of disciplinary action take place against perpetrators across the UW System.  Senior Vice President Martin assured the Committee that this could be done while maintaining confidentiality. 

Regent Crain expressed her appreciation for the sobering yet productive discussion, and thanked the presenters for the important work they were doing to address a huge campus and societal challenge.

2.      Committee Consent Agenda

Regent Davis moved adoption of the minutes of the February 4, 2009, meeting of the Education Committee, as well as the following resolutions as consent agenda items: 

Resolution One.One.b.(2), authorizing the implementation of the B.F.A. in Interior Architecture at UW-Stevens Point; and

Resolution One.One.b.(3), approving the annual request to the William F. Vilas Trust Estate for support of scholarships, fellowships, professorships, and special programs arts, humanities, social sciences, and music.

The motion was seconded by Regent Vasquez and carried on a unanimous voice vote.

3.      UW Colleges and UW-Extension Presentation:  “Expanding Access through Innovation and Collaboration”

Following approval of the Committee Consent Agenda, the Education Committee heard a presentation from the host institutions, UW Colleges and UW-Extension.  Christine Quinn, Provost at UW-Extension, began by noting that it had been four years since the two institutions had joined together.  She and Greg Lampe, Provost for the UW Colleges, described their shared institutional missions to expand access, foster innovation, and promote excellence.  They highlighted a number of programs that worked to ease access, expand the pipeline, and provide access to lifelong learning, including the Adult Student Initiative, UW Colleges Online, and the new University of Wisconsin eCampus.  Provost Quinn alluded to programs with long histories like 4H (which engage over 195,000 young people annually), and newer programs like GEMS (which engages girls in engineering, math, and science).  She noted that UW-Extension’s Division of Continuing Education, Outreach, and E-Learning handles 160,000 online applications for all UW System campuses every year.  Lifelong learning, she explained, happens all over UW-Extension through programs like Public Broadcasting, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, and Cooperative Extension.

Provost Lampe described the UW Colleges’ core values as providing hope and low-cost, high-quality educational opportunity to those in the state who have traditionally had less access to higher education.  The UW Colleges offered students the chance to “try on” college in supportive campus settings, in which student-faculty ratios averaged 24:1.  Enrollments had reached 13,807 students in fall 2009, almost 10% of whom were students of color and 33% of whom were non-traditional, adult students.  The UW Colleges worked to position students for success, whether for transfer to a four-year institution, or for work.  He also described the robust UW Colleges Online program, which currently served 2,000 students, 70% of whom were non-traditional.

Provost Quinn elaborated on the Adult Student Initiative, which, at present, served 623 students in 36 sections of accelerated courses.  The Adult Student Initiative helps returning adult students complete baccalaureate degrees through nine, online, degree-completion programs at six other UW institutions.  By fall 2010, all 13 UW Colleges campuses will be engaged in the Adult Student Initiative.  Provosts Quinn and Lampe also introduced the new University of Wisconsin eCampus, which, when operational, would provide a single entry portal for students seeking UW online degree and certificate programs.  They emphasized that all of these programs worked in support of the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, and, through their essential, collaborative natures, exemplified the Wisconsin Idea in action for the 21st century.

The Committee also heard from two faculty members, one from UW-Extension and one from the UW Colleges, who provided first-hand accounts of what it was like to serve as educators at these two institutions.  Professor Michael Jurmu, Associate Professor of Geography/Geology at UW-Fond du Lac, focused on the challenges faced by his students and the “magic” involved in being a part of educating them.  Mike Rankin, UW-Extension Professor and a Crops/Soils Agent in Fond du Lac County, described a typical day in his life as an Extension agent.

Regent Crain thanked Provosts Quinn and Lampe, and Professors Rankin and Jurmu, for their presentations, observing that the Committee had gained a remarkable sense of the passion and compassion demonstrated by the two institutions as they worked to fulfill their missions. 

4.      Electronic Textbooks and the Core Concepts Project at UW-Oshkosh

The Committee next heard a presentation from UW-Oshkosh student Alex Abendschein on the Core Concepts Project.  Mr. Abendschein explained that Core Concepts was a grant-funded project at UW-Oshkosh designed to produce electronic or e-textbooks in-house, and at great savings to students.  The “core concepts” component was the common content similar to textbooks in every discipline.  The project added professor-specific material to that common core, as appendices to the e-textbooks.  Through a simple rental technology, these in-house-authored, electronic textbooks could be made available to students at extremely low cost.  Mr. Abendschein shared the cost breakdowns of the Core Concepts e-textbooks, compared to traditional print textbooks.  Students saved on average between $95-100 on the e-textbooks.  In addition to the cost benefits, the model allowed for more professorial control over the course content and structure, which, he emphasized, was very important to faculty.  Calling the Core Concepts e-textbooks “the next generation of textbooks,” he detailed several other potential benefits to students, including increased student learning outcomes, and better integration of lower- and upper-division courses. 

Senior Vice President Martin reminded the Committee of the System’s and the Regents’ interest in exploring innovative ways to provide affordable textbooks to students.  The guidelines adopted by the Regents a year ago would be brought back to the Committee in June as a policy for its consideration.  This project, she noted, certainly constituted an innovative alternative.

Committee members joined Regent Crain in thanking Mr. Abendschein for his leadership in bringing this project to fruition at UW-Oshkosh, and for bringing it to the attention of the Board of Regents.

5.      UW-Eau Claire:  First Reading of Revised Mission

Brian Levin-Stankevich, Chancellor of UW-Eau Claire, presented his institution’s revised mission for a first reading before the Committee.  Chancellor Levin-Stankevich recounted to the Committee how the University’s accreditation self-study had revealed the mismatch of the current mission with UW-Eau Claire’s evolving perception of itself and its educational priorities as an institution moving forward into the 21st century.  As the University engaged in strategic planning, it undertook campuswide surveys, crafting, and editing of a new, proposed mission.  After additional discussion and review, the new mission passed through faculty and student governance with strong support.  The Education Committee expressed its support for the revised mission statement and its anticipation of a second reading later in the year, following the required public hearing.

6.      UW-Milwaukee Charter Schools

a.       Contract Extension for YMCA Young Leaders Academy

The Education Committee next undertook action on two UW-Milwaukee charter schools.  Regent Crain welcomed Dr. Robert Kattman, Director of the UW-Milwaukee Office of Charter Schools, to describe the YMCA Young Leaders Academy and request the Committee’s approval of an extension to its charter school contract.  Dr. Kattman informed the Committee that the Young Leaders Academy was one of UW-Milwaukee’s highest performing charter schools and, hence, a full five-year renewal was being requested.

Dr. Kattman introduced several people affiliated with the school, including Robert Heger, the President of its Board, Principal Ronn Johnson, and Michael Soika from the Milwaukee YMCA.  Regent Davis thanked them for coming to the meeting, and having to wait so long to see action on their school.  At her invitation to address the Committee, Mr. Soika said that it was a privilege to work with the Young Leaders Academy, calling the school the most effective program in his 30 years of working with the YMCA.  Mr. Johnson stated that he was “the proudest principal in America” because the school was doing what so many people said could not be done with central city schools and populations. 

In response to a question from Regent Vasquez, Dr. Kattman replied that while he and the school administrators had discussed the potential replication of the school, no plans were being made at that time.  In response to a question from Regent Davis, Dr. Kattman explained some of the data on the school’s testing results.  He observed that, as the students grades kept getting better, so did their test scores.  He added that the Young Leaders Academy was a neighborhood school, although anyone could apply.  The students were leaving the school in great shape and college-bound.

I.1.f.(1):  It was moved by Regent Davis, seconded by Regent Vasquez, 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 extension of the charter school contract with the YMCA Youth Leadership Academy, Inc., to maintain the charter school known as the Young Leaders Academy.

The resolution PASSED unanimously.

b.      Contract Approval for the Urban Day School

The Education Committee was also asked to approve a new charter school to be overseen by UW-Milwaukee, the Urban Day School.  Dr. Kattman informed the Committee that the Urban Day School had been a private, voucher school that was looking to raise the academic achievement levels of its students.  It had, therefore, sought out UW-Milwaukee to become its charter authority, and help it put in place new leadership and a more rigorous learning environment.  The school included both a head-start program and an in-house family advocacy program.  The school had two campuses, both serving neighborhood populations, and Dr. Kattman concluded that he felt it would be a good addition to the Office of Charter School’s array. 

John Plantenburg, President of Urban Day, Inc., addressed the Committee.  He commented that the school leadership had visited several chartering authorities in the city of Milwaukee and had chosen UW-Milwaukee because of the framework, oversight, and guidance that would be offered in support of the school’s development.  The school was especially eager to instill the kind of data-driven performance measures used by the Office of Charter Schools to evaluate and improve students’ academic progress.  The school had hired a new principal to provide better leadership, and the Urban Day School was honored to become a part of UW-Milwaukee’s charter schools.  The discussion ended with a question from Regent Davis, and the response from Dr. Kattman clarifying how all UW-Milwaukee charter schools constituted independent LEAs or Local Education Agencies.

I.1.f.(2).:  It was moved by Regent Vasquez, seconded by Regent Bradley, 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 Urban Day School, Inc., to establish a charter school known as Urban Day School.

The resolution PASSED unanimously.

7.      Report of the Senior Vice President

Senior Vice President Martin’s Report provided a preview of the Committee’s June meeting, adding that, as the last Committee meeting of the academic year, the agenda would be very full, including presentation of a status report on Inclusive Excellence, and action on a new textbook policy for the UW System, the Vilas proffer, the annual Tenure and Promotion Report, and a number of new academic programs. 

8.      Full Board Consent Agenda

Resolutions I.1.b.(2), I.1.b.(3), I.1.f.(1), and I.1.f.(2) were referred to the consent agenda of the full Board of Regents at its Friday, April 9, 2010, meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 4:42 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Rebecca Karoff

Secretary, Education Committee