Board of Regents

Education Committee Minutes - April 2011

MINUTES

EDUCATION COMMITTEE, BOARD OF REGENTS

University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Platteville, Wisconsin
April 7, 2011

Regent Crain convened the meeting of the Education Committee at 1:15 p.m.  Regents Crain, Davis, Evers, and Vásquez were present; Regent Spector joined the meeting in progress.  Regent Crain welcomed the Provosts to the table.

1.      Committee Consent Agenda

Regent Crain presented the minutes of the December 9, and the February 10, 2011, meetings of the Education Committee, as well as the following resolutions as consent agenda items: 

Resolution I.1.a.(2), 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;

Resolution I.1.a.(3), authorizing implementation of the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences at UW-Madison;

Resolution I.1.a.(4), authorizing implementation of the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies at UW-Madison;

Resolution I.1.a.(5), authorizing the implementation of the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Microsystems and Nanotechnology Engineering at UW-Platteville;

Resolution I.1.a.(6), authorizing the implementation of the Bachelor of Science in Health, Wellness and Fitness at UW-Stout;

Resolution I.1.a.(7), authorizing the implementation of the Master of Public Health at UW-Milwaukee;

Resolution I.1.a.(8), approving the revisions to the Faculty Personnel Rules at UW-Eau Claire; and

Resolution I.1.a.(9), approving the revisions to the Faculty Personnel Rules at UW-Madison.

Committee members asked a number of questions about the proposed academic programs, ranging in topics from anticipated enrollments to efforts made to diversify the faculty, each of which was answered by campus representatives.  Regent Crain expressed her appreciation to the institutions for all the work that went into developing these new programs and bringing them to the Board of Regents.  She said that they would be excellent additions to the UW System’s program array.

Prior to taking action, the Committee engaged in discussion of the UW-Madison faculty personnel rule revisions, which included a new section on academic freedom that had been added a year previously by the Faculty Senate.  Regent Crain noted that the rule amendments were only coincidentally on the Committee’s agenda, and not because of the recent attention that had been given to the topic of academic freedom through the open records request for UW-Madison Professor William Cronon’s email.  Provost Paul DeLuca described the proposed rule revisions, clarifying that the new section on academic freedom was added in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court case and served to codify the campus position

  Regent Crain invited Professor Cronon to address the Committee, explaining that he—also coincidentally—was present to answer questions from the Committee on the proposed undergraduate major in Environmental Studies, a program that he had developed.  In brief remarks, Professor Cronon characterized academic freedom as a foundational principle of American higher education, with a particularly significant history in Wisconsin through the case of Professor Ely, which set the standard nationally.  He also spoke of his particular situation, which exemplified the need to balance two competing public goods, that of open government—as demonstrated by Wisconsin Public Records Law and the Freedom of Information Act—and that of academic freedom.  He described the serious tension between these two public goods, each of which held its own special place in the American public sphere.  He informed Committee members that, upon deep study of state law, he had concluded that there was nothing in there to safeguard academic freedom.  He suggested that the UW System—the institutions, UW System Administration, the Regents—think carefully about this fact because his situation did indeed produce a chilling effect on him and other academics in terms of their freedom to pursue unfettered scholarly inquiry, in the classroom and beyond.  He also worried about the impact on students when their professors felt constrained by limitations imposed on academic freedom.  He told the Committee that, prior to coming to UW-Madison, he had taught for ten years at Yale University, and private universities did not have to contend with threats to academic freedom as did public institutions.

In response to a question from Regent Crain, Provost DeLuca confirmed that prior to the proposed amendments, there had been nothing in the UW-Madison Faculty Personnel Rules covering the topic of academic freedom.  In response to questions from Regents Spector and Davis, Provost DeLuca explicated some of the legal distinctions in the proposed rule language.  The Committee expressed its agreement with Provost DeLuca and Professor Cronon that the balancing act between what Professor Cronon called the two competing public goods, was a challenge to get right.  Senior Vice President Martin commented on the importance of the topic of academic freedom, commended the way UW-Madison had handled Professor Cronon’s case, and encouraged the other UW institutions to revisit their handling of it.

Regent Crain called for a motion to approve the consent agenda, but proposed taking the UW-Madison rule revisions off so that the item could be brought separately to the full Board at its Friday meeting.  Regent Vásquez moved adoption of the consent agenda with Resolutions I.1.a.(1-8), and the motion was seconded by Regent Evers.  The consent agenda passed on a unanimous voice vote. 

The Committee then voted on Resolution I.1.a.(9):

I.1.a.(9):  It was moved by Regent Davis, seconded by Regent Vásquez, that, upon recommendation of the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents approve the amendments to the UW-Madison Faculty Personnel Rules.

The resolution PASSED unanimously.

2.      Regent Policy Document Review:

Following approval of the Committee consent agenda, Regent Crain turned to Senior

Vice President Martin to provide the context for the review of the Regent Policy Documents (RPDs), which would become a regular feature of the Education Committee’s work in the year to come.  Senior Vice President Martin informed Committee members that, under the guidance and direction of the Board leadership, the Board of Regents Office had been charged with conducting a comprehensive effort to review, update, and improve the UW System Regent Policy Documents.  The review entailed working closely with the Offices of the System President, the Senior Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs and for Administration and Fiscal Affairs, and General Counsel, as well as consultation with UW Chancellors, staff, and governance groups.  It was also expected that the Chairs of the Regent Standing Committees would work with Board leadership, UW System Administration, and the Board of Regents Office to identify priorities for review among the policies.

Senior Vice President Martin described the principles developed by the Board of

Regents Office to guide the review process, which included consideration of the extent to which a policy established a fundamental principle, served as an enduring statement, or communicated the Board’s expectations for the UW System and/or UW institutions.  When the RPDs were categorized by committee, she continued, approximately 69 fell within the purview of the Education Committee, and they generally included academic, student, faculty, and governance policies.  In addition, the Education Committee shared responsibility for several other RPDs with the Business, Finance, & Audit Committee.  The Education Committee would begin its review process with what Dr. Martin called “low-hanging fruit,” i.e., by taking action on a number of RPDs that were time-specific and no longer applicable.  Moving forward, her office would bring more complex policies for review, beginning in June with the System’s transfer policy and, potentially, another policy having to do with student governance organizations.

The action before the Committee, elaborated Dr. Martin, comprised the removal

of five reports from the RPDs that were never really policy statements to begin with.  They included two time-specific reports pertaining to Equal Opportunity in Education and Employment, and three time-specific reports that were the result of Board and System Planning.  Senior Vice President Martin provided the background leading to the development of each report, along with a brief overview of the contents.  She made clear to the Committee that, as time-specific reports dedicated to specific planning initiatives, there were no ramifications to removing them from the Regent Policy Documents, and they would each be placed in the Regent archives as important historical documents. 

In response to questions from Regents Crain and Davis, Senior Vice President Martin confirmed that, moving forward, the kind of reports currently under consideration for removal from the RPDs would not actually become Board policy.  The set of guiding principles and the common framework for the review process being followed by each Regent committee would guide the determination of what new Board policies would look like, and how current policies would be revised.  Committee members agreed that this review constituted important work, one that—in the end—would result in a stronger set of Regent Policies.

          Regent Crain suggested that the Committee vote to approve the removal of the five reports from the RPDs in the aggregate.  Resolutions I.1.b.(1), I.1.b.(2), I.1.b.(3), I.1.b.(4), and I.1.b.(5) were moved by Regent Davis and seconded by Regent Evers as follows: 

I.1.b.(1):  That, upon the recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents authorizes the Secretary of the Board to remove from the Regent Policy Documents RPD 17-9, the Implementation Plan for “Design for Diversity.”

I.1.b.(2):  That, upon the recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents authorizes the Secretary of the Board to remove from the Regent Policy Documents RPD 17-10, “Plan 2008: Educational Quality through Racial and Ethnic Diversity.”

I.1.b.(3):  That, upon the recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents authorizes the Secretary of the Board to remove from the Regent Policy Documents RPD 28-1, the “Report of the Regent Study Group on the Future of the University of Wisconsin System.”

I.1.b.(4):  That, upon the recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents authorizes the Secretary of the Board to remove from the Regent Policy Documents RPD 28-2, “Academic Restructuring: Partners in the Process.”

and

I.1.b.(5):  That, upon the recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents authorizes the Secretary of the Board to remove from the Regent Policy Documents RPD 28-3, the “Report of the Study of the University of Wisconsin System in the 21st Century.”

The resolutions PASSED unanimously.

3.      Presentation by UW-Platteville – “Education through Applied Research:  Devices for Special Needs Students”

The Committee next heard a presentation from UW-Platteville focused on applied research conducted by students to develop adaptive devices for special-needs students.  Interim Provost Mittie Nimocks introduced the presentation by highlighting the particular strengths of the Platteville campus, including:  its new degree in Forensics Investigation with its new crime scene house built by students in one of the campus’s other programs; the Tri-State Initiative; the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement (PACCE), which placed students in community-based projects and internships; and the 12% jump in enrollment in the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, which continued to have a strong job placement for graduates, even in the state’s challenged economy.

Provost Nimocks introduced Professor David Kunz, Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.  Professor Kunz described the work being done by teams of Mechanical Engineering students, with support from PACCE, and introduced three student team members:  Jake Schoeny, Alexandra DeVries, and Shawn Danziger.  The students explained their projects, undertaken at the request of community clients, to design and build adaptive devices that would help special needs children learn more effectively in their classrooms.  One project involved developing an eye-tracking device, the other a visual tracking light board, both of which the students demonstrated for the Education Committee.  They spoke to the value of the experience not only in terms of putting their engineering courses to work in actual design projects, but also in terms of the process of working with real clients to develop devices that would improve their lives. 

Regent Crain thanked the presenters and Committee members marveled at both the impressive feats of engineering they had shared and the other learning outcomes on display as critical components of the Platteville educations they were receiving, including problem-solving, teamwork, community engagement, social responsibility, and understanding of people who were different than they were.

4.      Academic Quality in the UW System through Liberal Education and America’s Promise in Wisconsin

In introducing the next presentation, Regent Crain noted that the UW System was just past the midpoint of its partnership with AAC&U, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, on the LEAP Campaign, which stood for Liberal Education and America’s Promise.  Senior Vice President Martin continued that, in 2005, when the UW System was asked to be the pilot partner in the LEAP Campaign, nobody could have imagined what a prominent part the campaign would play in the System’s work to ensure student access and success to high-quality undergraduate education in the state of Wisconsin.  Nor, she added, could AAC&U, as evidenced in the letter of support and recognition from President Carol Geary Schneider distributed to Committee members and others present.  Dr. Martin commented that the System’s LEAP work was receiving a lot of national attention, of which people should be proud, and it was testimony to the System’s commitment to quality, equity and inclusion, coexisting with its efforts to create more graduates for Wisconsin.

Dr. Rebecca Karoff, Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President and director of the UW System’s Liberal Education initiative, next provided an overview of how LEAP had provided the System with a unifying framework for quality.  She described how the UW System had become a national model for AAC&U, as well as other states and state systems.  She shared with the Committee several of the initiative’s signature activities, observing that the activities taking place at UW institutions were impressive and too numerous to capture.  She spoke to the important roles that LEAP and Inclusive Excellence were playing in the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, and called LEAP “a shared conversation” systemwide, emerging from a set of consensus learning outcomes for what students should know and be able to do in the 21st century.

UW-Oshkosh Provost Lane Earns spoke next, indicating that this was his third time in five years addressing the Regents about LEAP, and that at UW-Oshkosh, people were always talking about LEAP!  He elaborated on the ways in which LEAP and Inclusive Excellence had become integrated, built, as they were, on dual foundations promoting shared responsibility for student success, increased retention and graduation rates, and the accomplishment of Growth Agenda goals.  The work required:  consistent reflection on campus priorities and institutional data; a fully engaged, student-focused campus; increased access to high-impact educational practices; the re-examination of general education, majors, and co-curricula; and the integration of learning outcomes throughout the entire student experience.  UW-Oshkosh, he affirmed, was hard at work to make this integrated framework understood and operational for students, faculty and staff, and in all aspects of academic and student affairs. 

Jeff Merrick, Professor of History and Associate Dean for the Humanities at UW-Milwaukee, then described components of his institution’s Give Students a Compass work, a grant-funded collaborative project that was one of the signature activities in the partnership with AAC&U.  The Compass project was focused on general education reform and on efforts to include more underserved students in high-impact educational practices offered at UW-Milwaukee.  Professor Merrick described the integrated efforts underway at UW-Milwaukee to mine institutional data from the campus’s “Access to Success” initiative and direct the results toward designing interventions and improving the performance and retention of targeted populations of underserved students.  The Compass project was having an important impact on how the campus engaged students in their first-year experiences.  At the same time, progress was hampered by the fundamental challenge of how to provide more access to high-impact practices for students in an environment of shrinking resources.  He described one solution that would help scale up the benefits of intentional first-year experiences through restricted enrollment for freshmen only to designated sections of large lecture courses.  Professor Merrick noted that he would be retiring in June.  He thanked the Regents for their sustained interest in and support of LEAP, and the two Rebeccas for their leadership.

Dr. Karoff concluded the presentation by emphasizing how LEAP and Inclusive Excellence helped the UW System ensure that its More Graduates for Wisconsin goals would not proceed at the expense of quality, and that “more” would also mean “better-prepared” graduates.  LEAP, she said, had always been about large-scale transformation of higher education.  As the pilot partner, the UW System had helped AAC&U understand and scale up the unit of change from single colleges and universities to entire state systems.  The national LEAP Campaign now included six states and state systems as formal partners, with another eight and a consortia of military academies lined up to join.  AAC&U had convened the first LEAP State Summit in March and the meeting had provided powerful confirmation of the power of state systems to effect change.

Regent Crain thanked the presenters for their “powerful” presentation, adding that it was a different world in which education now took place compared to when she was a student.  UW-River Falls Provost Fernando Delgado agreed, describing the understanding and support his faculty had for high-impact educational practices and the mapping of learning outcomes to general education courses.  And yet, he countered, this work was taking place on a campus with extremely outdated classrooms and laboratories, with no resources in sight to bring them into the 21st century.  UW-Whitewater Provost Beverly Kopper described how LEAP had been embraced by all the governance groups on her campus:  faculty, academic staff, and students.  UW-Whitewater was engaged in a series of discussions that brought people together from academic and student affairs units across campus to focus on deep student learning, assessment, and Inclusive Excellence.  Provost Earns emphasized that such intentional focus by a campus on the goals of LEAP was something that every institution could do, even in the current budget environment.  Similar to the reaction of people on Provost Kopper’s campus, he said, his faculty were excited by these discussions.

Provost Greg Lampe described for the Committee an AAC&U project in which the UW Colleges was participating called Shared Futures:  General Education for a Global Century.  The UW Colleges was revising its associate’s degree, which had not been done since 1995, to make it relevant for the 21st century.  The revision entailed a comprehensive review, in collaboration with other institutions around the country, and would include the embedding of global learning outcomes as a part of the revised Associate of Arts degree.  Provost Lampe also mentioned attending the first LEAP States Summit in March and how it provided strong validation for not only the value of such work taking place at the state and state system levels, but also, of the validation of the national leadership and work being done in and by the UW System. 

The Committee then engaged in discussion of the public advocacy and messaging that remained to be done to help those outside the university understand the value and purpose of liberal education.  UW-Parkside Provost Terry Brown stated that a lot more advocacy needed to take place, observing that, on her campus, discussions were taking place about the relevance of the education offered at Parkside.  Regent Crain emphasized that these discussions needed to be about preparation for life, and not just about preparation for work and careers.  Professor Merrick added that AAC&U had conducted compelling public opinion research detailing how the LEAP learning outcomes were valued by faculty and employers.

Regent Davis expressed her concern that those working from within higher education were missing an audience, that of parents and families.  Not only did higher educators need to improve their messaging, but they also needed to make the practical case for liberal education to families.  Regent Evers concurred, saying that public school educators faced the same problem.  He also said that the business community needed to step up and convey this message.  Dr. Karoff described an earlier part of the UW System’s LEAP work that had focused on public advocacy, acknowledging that the System had not had the staff power necessary to sustaining it.

Provost Delgado agreed with Regent Davis, stating that public universities did not make their own case well to those outside the academy, especially in terms of the explicit value of liberal education.  Provost Earns commented that he went out into his community all the time to make the case for liberal education and encouraged others to do the same.  The ultimate goal, he said, was a “life of jobs, unanticipated, not just one job.”  Regent Crain added that the case should be made for the public, as well as the private good of liberal education.  Provosts Earns and Lampe concurred, reiterating that state systems of higher education were particularly well-poised to make this case.  

Regent Crain thanked the presenters, her Regent colleagues, and the Provosts for the powerful discussion.  Senior Vice President Martin added that it was great to be able to carve out time in the Committee meeting for discussion on such an important topic.

5.      Report of the Senior Vice President

Senior Vice President Martin’s Report provided a preview of the Committee’s June meeting, indicating that, as the last Committee meeting of the academic year, the agenda would be very full.  In addition to acting on revisions to the UW System’s transfer policy, the Committee would also hear an overview of transfer data from UW institutions, and the findings of the Wisconsin Transfer Equity Study.  The Committee would be asked to approve the UW Colleges’ proposed Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences, along with its revised mission.  As always, the June meeting would also bring acceptance of the Vilas proffer and the annual Tenure and Promotion Report, and a number of new academic programs for the Committee’s approval. 

6.      Full Board Consent Agenda

Resolutions I.1.a.(2), I.1.a.(3), I.1.a.(4), I.1.a.(5), I.1.a.(6), I.1.a.(7), I.1.a.(8), I.1.b. (1), I.1.b.(2), I.1.b.(3), I.1.b.(4), and I.1.b.(5) were referred to the consent agenda of the full Board of Regents at its Friday, April 8, 2011, meeting.  Resolution I.1.a.(9) was referred separately to the full Board for its action.

The meeting adjourned at 3:32 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,
Rebecca Karoff
Secretary, Education Committee