Board of Regents

Education Committee Minutes - October 2011

MINUTES

EDUCATION COMMITTEE, BOARD OF REGENTS

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Green Bay, Wisconsin

October 6, 2011

Regent Vàsquez convened the meeting of the Education Committee at 1:11 p.m.  Regents Vàsquez, Crain, Evers, and Tyler were present.  Regent Vàsquez welcomed the Provosts to the table.

1.      Committee Consent Agenda

Regent Vàsquez presented the minutes of the July 14, 2011, meeting of the Education Committee and the joint meeting of the Education and Business, Finance, & Audit Committees, as well as the following resolutions as consent agenda items: 

   Resolution I.1.a.(2), approving the appointment of Dr. Philip Farrell to fill an unexpired term on the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Partnership Program; and

       Resolution I.1.a.(3), approving the revisions to the Faculty Personnel Rules at UW-Milwaukee.

Regent Vàsquez provided Committee members with background for both of the consent agenda items.  Regent Crain moved, and Regent Tyler seconded the adoption of the consent agenda, which passed unanimously.

2.      UW-Parkside:  Presentation of Campus Academic Plan

Prior to introducing UW-Parkside Provost Terry Brown, Regent Vàsquez commented

that the UW-Parkside campus academic plan would complete the cycle of UW institutional academic plan presentations to the Committee begun in early 2008.  Moving forward, there would be a new process, developed in conjunction with the restructuring of the academic program planning and review process recommended by President Reilly in his response to the report of the President’s Advisory Committee on the Roles of UW System Administration.

            Provost Brown described for the Committee the process followed by UW-Parkside in developing its academic plan.  UW-Parkside was founded in 1968 out of a shared vision that the Racine-Kenosha community needed a four-year institution.  The university’s original mission had focused on industry and technology.  While the region’s economy—in particular the auto industry—had changed dramatically in the years following UW-Parkside’s founding, the community had remained deeply committed to supporting the university, and the university had sustained its enduring commitment to community engagement as a central component of its identity.  In developing its academic plan over the course of the last two years, the university had set out to refresh that commitment by asking three guiding questions:  “who do we teach, i.e., do we understand our student body? what do we teach, i.e., what should the curriculum and program array be? and how do we teach, i.e., what is the pedagogy best suited to the university’s mission and student body, and how is it aligned with the curriculum and program array?”

            In addressing the “who” question, Provost Brown shared student statistics with the Committee, including data on UW-Parkside’s status as the UW institution with the most students of color.  The campus was proud of its diversity and the learning that resulted from it, not just in terms of numbers but also in the kind of educational experience offered to students.  At the same time, she noted, Parkside’s first-to-second-year retention and six-year graduation rates were among the lowest in the UW System.  She described efforts to address these numbers, including deeper probing into what constituted student success and obstacles to it, and into how institutional silos could be broken down to foster greater coordination and integration.  The university was also reviewing many of its policies and procedures—including those addressing the academic calendar, adding and dropping classes, and academic probation—to determine whether they were inhibiting or contributing to student success.  She described some of the initiatives underway at UW-Parkside to identify key indicators of student success and to develop data-informed solutions.  She expressed appreciation to UW System Administration for enabling UW-Parkside to participate in several systemwide projects, including the Equity Scorecard and the Leading Indicators projects.

            Provost Brown next reviewed the “what” question to describe UW-Parkside’s academic programming.  She commented on its strong, outcomes-based general education program, as well as strengths in business, health sciences, and arts and humanities (including a new arts center that served the entire community).  As the campus worked to reevaluate its program array, it was taking into consideration regional workforce development needs and had reconfigured its center for community partnerships.  She described some of the collaborative, online degree programs offered with regional partners, including the UW Colleges B.A.A.S. with UW-Waukesha, and a nursing degree with UW-Milwaukee.  She also reported on the status of Parkside’s closed teacher education program.  A collaborative planning process was underway involving over 100 people from the university, the community, local school districts, and regional businesses.  The target date for reopening UW-Parkside’s teacher education program was 2013.

            Provost Brown then addressed the “how” question by describing the multiple high-impact practices available to students at UW-Parkside.  She observed that in order to fulfill the goals inherent in the emerging academic plan, the university needed to restructure its colleges because the current structure was inadequate to its needs.  Committee members, she noted, could anticipate a request on their agenda in coming months seeking approval of a new college structure at UW-Parkside.  She concluded her presentation by noting that the university was holding itself accountable to meet its goals with evidence-based decision-making and a renewed focus on institutional effectiveness.  In spring 2013, the Higher Learning Commission would be making its reaccreditation site visit to the campus.  She expressed the university community’s excitement for all that was underway.

            In response to a question from Regent Crain, Provost Brown confirmed that the teacher education program was on track to be in place by 2013, contingent upon institutional, UW System, and DPI approval.  She added that, while many good models for teacher education programs were available, UW-Parkside was building a program that would be true to its students and values.  In response to a question from Regent Evers, Provost Brown answered that, while UW-Parkside had a high percentage of staff of color, the percentage was lower for faculty and instructional academic staff.  In response to a question from Regent Tyler, she named college readiness and financing as the predominant challenges faced by Parkside students.  She added that the metric of six-year graduation rates was not particularly appropriate for UW-Parkside, given its student population, which was more like that of the UW Colleges than other UW comprehensives.  Interim Senior Vice President Mark Nook elaborated that, while UW-Parkside’s retention rate was low for the UW System, it was not low compared to its peers with similar student populations.  UW Colleges Provost Greg Lampe suggested that UW-Parkside, like the UW Colleges, be held to the systemwide measures and that it should be recognized that their successes might be differently counted.

            Regent Vàsquez commented that he was a Regent buddy to UW-Parkside and he remained impressed with the students, faculty, staff, community outreach, and the work being done on teacher education.  He noted that, even with changes coming to the program planning process, the Education Committee would still play an important role in reviewing institutional academic plans.  He thanked Provost Brown for her presentation and Committee members expressed their approbation with applause.

3.      Presentation by UW-Green Bay:  “ UW-Green Bay’s Vision and the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity”

              The Committee next heard a presentation from UW-Green Bay focused on the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity.  Provost Julia Wallace introduced the presentation by calling the Cofrin Center a stunning example of the kind of education offered at UW-Green Bay, exemplifying collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and sustainability.  She then introduced Dr. Robert Howe, Director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity.

              Dr. Howe began by observing that his goal for the presentation was to make the case for how the Cofrin Center reinforced the select mission of UW-Green Bay.  There were other such programs, he noted, across the UW System, and like the Cofrin Center, they were not “exras” but, rather, part of the fabric of their institutions and indicative of how 21st-century universities were constituted.  He then described the key activities housed in the Cofrin Center, mentioning its scientific collections, natural areas (there were five managed areas, including the university’s arboretum and four others in Door, Manitowoc, and Brown Counties), and research opportunities.  All of these activities provided UW-Green Bay opportunities for student engagement and community outreach, both of which worked to fulfill the institution’s select mission, approved by the Board of Regents in 2007, to provide students with interdisciplinary, problem-focused educational experience.  He credited the late Dr. David Cofrin, his wife, and family members in making a generous endowment able to seed all the Center’s programs.   

              Dr. Howe elaborated on the problem-focused piece of the mission, citing the educational research that made clear how students learned more deeply when they were engaged in high-impact practices like those offered at the Cofrin Center.  The Cofrin Center helped render the physical campus an outdoor laboratory and Dr. Howe cited his own ecology course as an example.  The Cofrin Center served also as a place for students to apply their learning to real-life problems that were local to the university and the community, for example land management issues, and to engage in collaborations with private industry, public agencies, school systems, and local government.  He described several other examples of collaborations cultivated by the Cofrin Center, including a plant collection with the Smithsonian Museum of tropical forest specimen from around the world, and a permanent research site near Crandon in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and to which scientists from around the world were drawn.  These opportunities enabled UW-Green Bay students to have a more culturally diverse experience, and they also gave students the responsibility to conduct real science, from data collection to analysis.

              Dr. Howe concluded by showing pictures of UW-Green Bay graduates and the success they were now enjoying whether through graduate or employment opportunities.  He observed that, while the Cofrin Center served as a special catalyst by which the university fulfilled its mission, the real measure of success was its students.

              In response to a question from Regent Crain, Dr. Howe described the extent to which the community was aware of the Cofrin Center, mentioning, as examples, monitoring of a lower Fox River watershed by UW-Green Bay in partnership with school districts and state agencies that was now housed at the Center, and a citizen-science project focused on bird monitoring that had resulted in a website much used by the community.

                 Regent Vàsquez thanked Dr. Howe and Provost Wallace for the presentation, adding that the Provost had good reason to be proud of her university.

4.      Report of the Senior Vice President

a.       Changes to Academic Affairs as Outlined in the President’s Response to the Report of the Advisory Committee on the Roles of UW System Administration

              Interim Senior Vice President Mark Nook reviewed for the Committee the changes to the Office of Academic Affairs as outlined in the President’s Response to the Report of the Advisory Committee on the roles of UW System Administration.  The proposed changes covered four areas within Academic Affairs:  academic program review, grant programs, advisory groups, and initiatives.  Within the area of academic program review, said Senior Vice President Nook, the process of reviewing and approving new undergraduate and graduate degree programs would undergo changes with the goal of driving down the length of the process to no more than four months.  This would allow UW institutions to be more responsive in meeting the demand for new degree programs.  Discussion had already begun with the Provosts on how to revise the process and it was clear to UW System Administration and the institutions that it would take time and needed to be done carefully and deliberately.

              Senior Vice President Nook next addressed changes to the Academic Affairs grant programs.  These programs were also going to be restructured to make them more responsive to changing UW priorities and result in strategic and measurable institutional change.  The current programs, he reported, comprised eleven separate grant programs that gave away $2.6 million.  Former Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin had proposed consolidating these separate programs, a proposal supported by the Provosts and institutional grants administrators.  The restructuring would result in three funding streams:  the existing Applied Research Grants program (which would not change); a larger program that would fund single-institution and multi-institutional change grants focused on the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin; and a smaller program to fund conferences and professional development.  A draft request for proposals was being circulated to the Provosts and the final version would be distributed to the institutions within the next month.  A systemwide committee would review all the grant proposals, and final decisions would be made by May 2012, for funding of proposed programs in the 2012-13 academic year.

              Dr. Nook then described revisions to some of the advisory and working groups currently housed within the Office of Academic Affairs.  President Reilly had recommended decentralizing certain of these groups that might be better led and supported by individual UW institutions with the desire and expertise to help the entire UW System address new higher education challenges.  Four advisory groups had been identified:  the Institute for Urban Education, the System Advisory Group on the Liberal Arts (SAGLA), the Women’s Studies Consortium, and the International Education Advisory Council.  Each of these groups was currently being reviewed and there was interest by at least one UW institution in housing each of them.  Dr. Nook assured Committee members that they would have the opportunity for input into the plans for each of the groups before any final decisions were made.  He hoped to have the decision-making process completed by the spring, for implementation in fall 2012.

              The last recommendation to be addressed by Dr. Nook was the proposed reduction in the number of new national initiatives and projects taken on by the UW System, accompanied by a reaffirmation of the commitment to the core goals of the Growth Agenda.  Dr. Nook referred to the “initiative fatigue” felt by institutions, a consequence—in part—of the UW System’s success and renowned, causing national organizations like the Association of American Colleges & Universities to ask the System and institutions to be involved in multiple initiatives.  Even though some of these invitations came with funding, such involvement exerted pressure on System and institutional resources.  Moving forward, the System would work to integrate all of these initiatives under the framework of the Growth Agenda, with a more streamlined focus on producing more graduates and advancing the goals of Inclusive Excellence.

              Regent Vàsquez requested a grid or matrix that would help the Regents understand how the various initiatives related to one another and were, in fact, a part of the Growth Agenda.  While Regents might understand individual initiatives or programs, he said, it was difficult to understand in the aggregate and a visual of some kind would help.  Dr. Nook agreed that such a grid would be developed and shared with the Committee at its next meeting.

              Regent Crain commented that Dr. Nook’s summary of the recommendations made by President Reilly was consistent with the discussions held and recommendations made by the President’s Advisory Committee, of which she was a member.  She expressed her appreciation for this alignment, observing that some of these issues were weighty and that the purview and responsibilities of the Office of Academic Affairs mirrored those of the Education Committee.

              Dr. Nook also described changes that were being made to the UW System’s accountability reporting, as required by Act 32 passed by the Legislature in early summer.  Act 32 mandated both additional indicators on which the UW System would be required to report, and two separate reports, one for UW-Madison and the other for the rest of the System.  The institutional research offices at both System and UW-Madison were working to determine how the Legislature’s mandates could best be fulfilled.  UW System Administration was choosing to still include UW-Madison in the report that was shared each spring with the Regents, even if two separate reports would be sent to the Legislature. 

              In response to a question from Regent Vàsquez, UW-Madison Provost Paul DeLuca replied that the indicators would be the same for each report.  Dr. Nook added that some of them would be challenging to address.  UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells gave the example of six-year graduation rates, referenced earlier by UW-Parkside Provost Terry Brown in the presentation of her campus academic plan.  All UW institutions, he said, had more robust data, that covered all their students, whether native or transfer.  He asked the Regents to think about the symbolism inherent in one overall UW System report, versus two separate reports, one for UW-Madison and the other for all the remaining UWs.  He added that the systemwide data would look markedly different without Madison data, especially graduation rates.

              The Committee discussed other challenges arising from the requirements in Act 32.  In response to another question from Regent Vàsquez, Dr. Nook answered that the System would be held accountable for students who had difficulty finding employment in the current economic environment.  Because measures did not exist for some of what the Legislature has asked for, UW System Administration was talking to the Department of Administration to explore how best to move forward.  Provost DeLuca noted the required changes were taking place in a context that was already complicated.  For example, UW-Madison sent many of its students to graduate school not jobs.  That information would not be counted.  Regent Tyler agreed, adding that the Wisconsin Technical College System had similar issues for its students.  It was important, he added, for public higher education in Wisconsin to tell the correct story, so that incorrect conclusions would not be drawn.

b.      Review of Regent and UW System Policy Relating to Academic Program Planning and Review

              Interim Senior Vice President Nook continued his report by outlining the scope of the policy review that would be needed as part of the restructuring process for academic program planning and review described earlier.  Both Regent and UW System policy would need to be carefully reevaluated and revised, and Dr. Nook expressed his commitment to having a new academic program review process in place by Fall 2012.  The restructured process would remove the UW System Office of Academic Affairs from its historical role of assessing the quality of new academic programs submitted to the Board for approval, although it would still have authority over program array for the entire System.  Dr. Nook stated that this change left a number of issues to be resolved in terms of process and roles not only for the Office of Academic Affairs, but also for the Board of Regents and the institutions.  These issues included:  what would be required of UW institutions under the new process of proposing new academic programs and getting them approved?  What would the array maintenance role entail for the Office of Academic Affairs?  And what would the Regents need from UW institutions in order to approve new academic programs, when they were no longer brought to the Board with the recommendation of UW System Administration?  It was clear that many questions of accountability, reporting, and documentation needed to be addressed, along with considerations of what kinds of quality assurance the Regents would need from institutions, including, potentially, stronger roles for accreditation reviews. 

              Dr. Nook reported that he had and the Provosts had already begun discussing these questions, and that he was in the process of putting together a Program Planning and Review Task Force, with broad institutional representation, to determine what the new process should be.  He then turned to Committee members for their input into all that he had shared.

              Regent Vàsquez asserted that the Regents’ role would ultimately need to be guided by statutory requirements.  Regent Crain emphasized that lots of deliberation would be needed and that Regents would need to be comfortable with the revised process given that the authority for new program approval would still rest with them.  She expressed her appreciation for the guidance that Office of Academic Affairs staff had always provided on behalf of the Regents as they made academic program decisions.  In response to a question from Regent Crain, Dr. Nook summarized the robust discussion that had taken place with the Provosts at their last meeting.  Much of the conversation had focused on the entitlement process currently detailed in Academic Information Series (ACIS) 1.0, the UW System’s policy on academic program planning and review.  ACIS 1.0 would need to undergo extensive revisions in order to conform to the recommendations made by President Reilly.  He said there were other, older policies on the books that were no longer followed but that might be helpful in working out the new process.  There was broad agreement that the current entitlement process took too long and was overly laborious.  The other topic discussed by the Provosts was the joint review conducted by the institution with UW System Administration five years after a program had been implemented.  There was a range of viewpoints on whether the joint review was necessary, as well as how programs that received accreditation might be reviewed differently.  These topics would definitely be taken up by the Task Force being put together.

              UW-Oshkosh Provost Lane Earns acknowledged that, while UW institutions were the right arbiters of quality for academic programs, he would also like to see the Regents maintain their quality oversight role.  He pointed to Regent Crain’s championing of quality, as critical to the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin and all discussions of growing the number of UW graduates.  UW-Parkside Provost Brown concurred, adding that Regent and institutional peer review of program quality beyond the campus was a core value for higher education.  UW-Madison Provost DeLuca stated that it was important to convey quality to the Regents in a manner that was not onerous, as the current process was.

              Regent Vàsquez expressed his interest in ensuring that the Regents adhered to their stewardship roles, in particular oversight of the appropriate use of resources and the need to guard against unnecessary duplication of academic programs.  He expressed his hope that, as the new academic program review process was developed, there would be judicious attention to the various governance roles held by the Regents, UW System Administration, and the institutions. 

              In response to questions from Regent Crain, Senior Vice President Nook addressed the next steps that would be taken to move the restructuring process forward and assured her that regular updates would be shared with the Committee.  He mentioned that one Provost had inquired as to whether or not a Regent should serve on the Task Force.  Regent Evers questioned whether a Regent would add value and Regent Vàsquez agreed.

c.       Education Committee Priorities for 2011-12

              A discussion of Education Committee priorities for 2011-12 concluded the report of the Senior Vice President.  Dr. Nook enumerated topics that had arisen in his pre-meeting conversations with Regents and others.  Obviously, he said, the changes to the academic program planning and review process would be a priority attended to throughout the year.  Others included:  the More Graduates focus of the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, Inclusive Excellence, the Legislative Task Force focus on transfer in the UW System, Teacher Preparation, Dual Enrollment of students earning high school and college credit simultaneously, and Faculty Pay, especially the challenges faced by faculty paid over nine instead of twelve months.

              Regent Crain asked that the Committee not lose sight of certain areas on which it had focused in the past, like the UW System’s work on the LEAP Campaign, i.e., Liberal Education and America’s Promise.  In response to a question from Provost Earns, Dr. Nook confirmed that LEAP was considered an integral part of Inclusive Excellence.  Other Provosts added topics they hoped the Education Committee would focus on, including:  adult students and how institutions measured their success, student veterans, Prior Learning Assessment, and the Win-Win project.  Interim Senior Vice President Nook agreed that each of these topics, addressing as they did the growing demographic for UW institutions of adult and non-traditional students, were critical to the Growth Agenda’s emphasis on More Graduates.

5.      Full Board Consent Agenda

Resolutions I.1.a.(2) and I.1.a.(3) were referred to the consent agenda of the full Board of Regents at its Friday, October 7, 2011, meeting. 

 

The meeting adjourned at 3:20 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted, Rebecca Karoff

Secretary, Education Committee