Board of Regents

Education Committee Minutes - April 2012

University of Wisconsin-Superior
Superior, Wisconsin
April 12, 2012

Regent Crain convened the meeting of the Education Committee at 1:3 p.m.  Regents Crain, Higgins, and Tyler were present; Regent Evers joined the meeting in progress; and Regent Vásquez joined the meeting by phone.  Regent Crain welcomed the Provosts to the table.

1. Committee Consent Agenda

Regent Crain presented the minutes of the February 9, 2012, meeting 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 in arts, humanities, social sciences and music; and

       Resolution I.1.a.(3), authorizing implementation of the B.S./B.A. in Interactive Web Management at UW-Oshkosh;

      Resolution I.1.a.(4), authorizing implementation of the B.F.A. in Interior Design at UW-Stout; and

      Resolution I.1.a.(5), authorizing implementation of the B.F.A. in Industrial Design at UW-Stout.

Regent Crain provided Committee members with background on the annual request to the Vilas Trust and the three new academic program proposals under consideration.  Regent Tyler moved, and Regent Vásquez seconded the adoption of the consent agenda, which passed unanimously.

2. UW-Milwaukee:  Ph.D. in Public Health

Reminding Committee members that doctoral programs were not placed on the
Committee’s consent agenda, Regent Crain welcomed UW-Milwaukee Provost Johannes Britz to introduce the Ph.D. program in Public Health.  Provost Britz introduced Dr. Magda Peck, newly hired as the founding dean of the Zilber School of Public Health, who was completing her first six weeks in the position.  Dean Peck noted that the Board’s action would constitute a significant milestone for the School of Public Health.  The Ph.D. in Public Health, with its concentration in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion, was one of five disciplines required to achieve the school’s goal of accreditation.  She informed Committee members that the Master of Public Health, approved by the Board in 2010, would have 30 students enrolled by September.  She then turned to Dr. Paul Florsheim, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Zilber School, to describe the program. 
            Dr. Florsheim provided an overview of the program.  He explained the structure of the Ph.D. program, how both students and the program would be assessed, and the kinds of research careers for which the program would prepare its graduates, including careers in academe, public service at all levels of government, and private and non-profit agencies and medical centers.  He described the need for the program, which would address the shortage of trained public health professionals, in particular in southeastern Wisconsin.  The Zilber School would play an important convening role, bringing the right players together to address acute public health issues such as infant mortality, obesity, sexually transmitted disease, and domestic violence.  One of the program’s strengths was its interdisciplinary and collaborative approach, focused on the social and behavioral sciences, health promotion, and community-engaged research.  Other strengths included its focus on promoting social justice in health care and eliminating health disparities, its emphases on theory-based research and evidence-based practice, and its plans to develop a diverse public health workforce.

            Regent Crain commented that, for those Regents who had been on the Board for the past few years, the school’s remarkable history and development were exciting.  Dean Peck replied that the Zilber School was doing unparalleled work as it got off the ground, and was being watched closely by other schools of public health and the accreditors.  She cited emerging collaborations with the UW-Madison School of Public Health, adding that she and Dean Golden were looking to break the mold for schools of public health.

            In response to a question from Regent Vásquez, Dr. Florsheim elaborated on additional kinds of collaboration taking place, for example work on health promotion with at-risk adolescents in the Milwaukee Public Schools.  He characterized the public schools as public health micro-communities, providing great opportunities for education and behavioral change. 

Dean Peck mentioned meetings she had had with all the deans at UW-Milwaukee, yielding discoveries about new ways to collaborate.  For example, the Zilber School was working with the School of Information Studies on a program to train public librarians to think through their roles in advancing health literacy.  Collaboration, she concluded, was an essential component of the school’s endeavors to impact public health as a complex system, in which everyone had a part to play. 

            Regent Crain expressed her appreciation for the presentation, and for the great energy Dean Peck was bringing to the new school. 

I.1.b.:  It was moved by Regent Higgins and seconded by Regent Vásquez, that, upon the recommendation of the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Chancellor be authorized to implement the Ph.D. in Public Health.

The resolution PASSED unanimously.

3. UW-Superior Presentation by Interim Provost Faith Hensrud:  “High Impact Practices in Action”

The Committee then heard a presentation by Faith Hensrud, Interim Provost at UW-
Superior.  Provost Hensrud pointed to Professor of Art Pope Wright and some of his students, who were in the room drawing the “governing board in action.”  Calling UW-Superior’s public liberal arts mission one of the fruits of its last re-accreditation, Provost Hensrud highlighted funding from UW System Administration, given to help the university fulfill that mission.  The funding was dedicated to strengthening the institution and contributing to student success through institutional research, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and liberal arts high-impact practices.  Citing the research of George Kuh on the benefits of high-impact practices, Provost Hensrud described the high-impact practices infused throughout UW-Superior’s curriculum, including academic service learning, first- and senior-year experiences, global awareness, writing-across-the-curriculum, undergraduate research, and scholarly and creative activity.  The university was already seeing some results from this focus.  She also shared the university’s five liberal education learning goals, based on the UW System’s shared learning goals.

              As an example of UW-Superior’s dedicated faculty, a video was shown to the Committee featuring Professor Wright explaining why he taught.  Dr. Hensrud then introduced Jenice Meyer, Director of Academic Service Learning.  Ms. Meyer defined academic service learning as a teaching method designed to achieve course and/or program outcomes and a credit-bearing form of experiential learning in which students provide a service and meet a genuine need in the community.  UW-Superior utilized the National Service-Learning Standards for all its academic service learning courses.  Ms. Meyer provided data showing dramatic gains in the increase in academic service learning by more and more faculty, teaching an ever greater number of courses, engaging significant numbers of community partners, to more and more students.  She gave examples of several courses demonstrating the four models of academic service learning at UW-Superior, including a psychology course, a business and professional writing course, and a biology course.  She also described grants made to departments to engage them in strategically integrating academic service leaning in their curricula.  Finally, she shared an example of global awareness in action in an art education course that took students to Oaxaca, Mexico, where they created both a digital story and a mural with women in the community.

                 Regent Crain thanked Provost Hensrud and colleagues for their presentation, and Committee members issued a round of applause for Professor Wright and his drawing students, who made UW-Superior’s liberal arts mission come alive.  Regents Tyler and Higgins referenced the student posters on display at lunch, which were also illustrative of UW-Superior’s learning goals and provided further evidence of high-impact practices in action.

4. Report of the Senior Vice President

    a. Discussion of Findings and Recommendations of the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on UW System Board of Regents Roles and Responsibilities

Interim Senior Vice President Mark Nook began his report by leading a discussion of the findings and recommendations of the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on UW System Board of Regents Roles and Responsibilities.  He reminded Committee members that the report had been presented by Regent Bradley at the February meeting, and contained recommendations for making the Board’s standing committees more focused and efficient.  As a frame for the discussion, Dr. Nook reviewed the chief findings, including the recommendations that Board Committees should focus on:  those items that were critical to fulfilling the Board’s statutory and governance responsibilities; those items that were high-profile and emphasized the role of the Board in providing strategic direction and high-level policy-setting; those items that might present financial or reputational risk for a UW institution or the UW System; and those items that presented a new, unique, or challenging arrangement, requirement, or opportunity for an institution or the System.  In addition, the report found that any non-essential or optional items should be eliminated from committee agendas, thereby freeing up time for Regents to engage in advocacy or to advance issues that benefited the state, and that a conscious effort should be made to reduce the length of the committee agendas.  The central question for the Committee, said Dr. Nook, was to think deeply about what the Regent do that is most important.

Dr. Nook then proposed several ideas for consideration that would help reduce the length of meetings.  These included:  rethinking the Committee’s practice of inviting the Provosts to the table, which often resulted in longer discussions; and rethinking the frequency of presentations by UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, i.e., instead of annually, as was currently done when those institutions hosted their annual meetings, presentations by the two doctoral universities could be given every 6 years or so, which was the case for the comprehensives and the UW Colleges and UW-Extension.  Dr. Nook suggested taking the first idea off the table.  In his pre-meeting phone conversations with Committee members, they had all expressed their interest in continuing the practice of inviting Provosts to the table and were in agreement that it was valuable to hear the perspectives of the institutions’ chief academic officers as the Committee undertook complex policy discussions focused on academic issues.

Another idea for shortening the Committee’s meetings, continued Dr. Nook, was to look for opportunities to delegate the Board’s authority for responsibilities that were more operational in nature.  The authority to approve some of the “required” items, he explained, could be delegated to the System president or chancellors; some of the “information-only” items could be eliminated from committee agendas altogether.  Among those potential agenda items for delegation to the President or Chancellors, he named revisions to faculty personnel rules, appointments to advisory boards and extension of institutional boards of visitors, charter school contract extensions/renewals and/or charter school replications, and the Annual Report on Tenure and Promotions approved by the Board each June.  There was a precedent for delegating authority for certain actions previously undertaken by the Board to the President and the Chancellors, for example extended leaves of absence and out-of-cycle tenure approvals, among other items over the years.  Dr. Nook added that the Committee might even consider delegating authority for the approval of baccalaureate degree programs, which were currently placed on the Committee’s consent agenda.

Regent Crain reiterated her support for including Provosts at the table during Committee meetings and stated that she greatly valued their input and the opportunity for interchanges that allowed deeper understanding of institutional issues and contexts.  In considering the frequency of UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee presentations, she posed the broader question, what time was the Committee trying to capture that it was losing to such presentations?  Dr. Nook replied that it was not only a matter of cutting down meeting time, but also of the lengths of agendas.  The Bradley report asked Regents to think through how they spent their time more broadly and asked for a refocusing of agendas that would allow the Regents to make the most of their meeting time.

Regent Evers stated that having an equal distribution of provost presentations was appropriate.  He added that the question of charter schools was more complicated and that he would like to see a conceptual conversation among Committee members on charter schools.

Regent Tyler queried whether institutional presentations should actually take place more frequently than when the Regents visited campuses, at least for the comprehensives, the UW Colleges, and UW-Extension.  He expressed his interest in building a ladder of career paths and continuous learning through more intentional program design and expanded collaboration with, for example, the Wisconsin Technical College System.  Senior Vice President Nook suggested delaying that suggestion until the program planning conversation that would happen next.

Regent Crain observed that she would prefer to continue trusting the judgment of UW System leadership in determining what the Board and Committees should be hearing about and what agendas should contain, as opposed to locking the Regents into a schedule dictating the frequency of presentations.  UW-Milwaukee Provost Britz and UW-Oshkosh Provost Lane Earns clarified that, in fact, Provosts had more frequent occasions to make presentations to the Committee than every six years when their institutions hosted Regent meetings.

In returning to Senior Vice President Nook’s list of agenda items that might be delegated, Regent Crain suggested setting aside charter schools.  She expressed her support for delegating the other items, although she again questioned whether some of these changes would save the Committee any time and what the Committee’s time needed to be saved for.  The Education Committee’s role was different, she reflected.  Its members needed to understand the academic programs and initiatives the System offered to the state and to students, citing as an example the presentations the Regents had heard throughout the day from UW-Superior. 

Regent Higgins concurred with Regent Crain, adding that the Regents could delegate but that the “buck stopped” with them.  Hearing about the kinds of topics typically on the Education Committee from UW institutions helped the Regents understand the distinct missions and nature of each institution.  In fact, he said, he would like more Committee time spent on the distinct identities and regional roles of each UW.

Senior Vice President Nook responded to Regent Crain’s question by noting that it would be reasonable and beneficial to save reading and preparation time for the Regents.  Regent Crain added that the Regents should also be cognizant of saving staff time, too.  Dr. Nook commented that he would not want to remove controversial items from Committee agendas, stating that, “if there was heat to be taken, System leadership and the Regents should take it.”  He recommended three items for delegated authority:  revisions to faculty personnel rules, appointments to advisory boards and extension of institutional boards of visitors, and the Annual Report on Tenure and Promotions.  Committee members expressed their agreement with this recommendation.

Committee members also agreed that the question of how to handle charter schools was more complicated.  Regent Evers articulated his frustration with how much time the Education Committee expended on charter schools, saying that the Committee was “held hostage” to an issue that did not, in fact, significantly impact UW-Milwaukee, the Board, or the UW System.  There were 20,000 students in charter schools versus over 800,000 in the Milwaukee Public School System.  UW-Milwaukee faculty were not engaged with charter schools, a fact that also bothered him.  He proposed a process allowing for “passive review” of charter schools by the Regents.

Regent Crain admitted that she had been a “pain in the neck” on this issue, and that its political volatility was huge.  She acknowledged that the Committee had spent a huge amount of time on charter schools, incommensurate with the Regents’ statutorily required role.  She declared that she was comfortable with leaving the decisions on individual charter schools to the UW-Milwaukee Chancellor.  The overall policy issues—for example, the role of charter schools in the UW System, how charter schools interfaced with other K-12 schools, how big the System’s charter school program should grow—should all remain within the Committee’s purview.  Provost Britz noted that UW-Milwaukee could still consult with individual Regents in making decisions about charter schools.  UW-Oshkosh Provost Earns added that he would be concerned if other UW institutions began to offer charter schools and that such a move would necessitate further discussion by the Regents.

Senior Vice President Nook expressed his appreciation to the Committee for the thoughtful discussion and its insistence that it remain engaged at the “big-picture” policy level.  He stated that he would bring formal recommendations back to the Committee for its action in coming months.

    b. Status Report on Revisions to the UW System Program Planning and Review Process

              Interim Senior Vice President Nook turned to UW-Stout Provost Julie Furst-Bowe and Associate Vice President Stephen Kolison to provide an update on the work being done to revise the System’s academic program planning and review process. 

              Provost Furst-Bowe briefed Committee members on the formation of the Program Planning and Review Working Group, which was charged by Senior Vice President Nook in January to carry out the direction provided by President Reilly in his response to the President’s Advisory on the Roles of UW System Administration.  The working group included representation from every UW institution and included provosts, deans, faculty and academic staff.  In fulfillment of the charge, the group was working to: 

  • assess the roles played by UW institutions, the Board of Regents, and the UW System Office of Academic Affairs in program planning and review;
  • conduct a comprehensive review of the current policies and processes for reviewing and approving new degree programs in the UW System; and
  • propose to UW System Administration new policies and processes that would:  reduce the preparation time needed for institutions to submit new degree program proposals; increase flexibility in the development of new degree programs; reduce UW System Administration’s role in assessing the academic quality of proposed program; and direct the focus of UW System Administration’s role in program planning and review towards the maintenance of an appropriate array of degree options across the state.

              Provost Furst-Bowe remarked that the work was moving quickly and that significant changes were being proposed.  The working group’s recommendations included:  replacing the current entitlement process with a “pre-authorization” process, in which the institution submitted a “letter of intent” to plan a new program; altering the authorization process resulting in a reduced role for UW System Administration and a reduced timeline for bringing new programs to the Board; and the elimination of the current joint-System-institutional review process, although institutions would still conduct their own reviews of academic programs following implementation.  New program proposals, she clarified, would continue to be brought to the Board at the recommendation of the UW System President.  The working group was still reviewing existing policy and developing revised roles and responsibilities for the institutions, UW System Administration, and the Board.  The plan was to bring a preliminary set of documents, including the working group’s recommendations, to the Education Committee in June, with formal adoption taking place in August.  Dr. Kolison added that the revised authorization process would include a new component, a letter of commitment by the Chancellor or Provost.

              Regent Crain asked how the Provosts and others were feeling about the proposed revisions, and the Provosts registered their strong support for these new directions.  Rebecca Karoff, Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President and a member of the working group, added that the Education Committee would also see a draft revision to the Regent Policy Document on academic program planning in June, one that would have quite a bit more substance than the current policy.  Committee members expressed their appreciation for the briefing.

    c. Recognition of Regent Judith Crain

              Senior Vice President Nook concluded his report by recognizing Regent Crain in what was her final meeting as a member of the Board.  Dr. Nook acknowledged her insistence that the Committee stay focused on students and on quality and called her the “absolute guardian of the liberal arts.”  He recognized her outspoken agenda advocating for access and inclusion for under-represented individuals, especially women and their increased presence among students, faculty, staff, administrators, and Regents.  He honored her for her understanding of the role of provosts and their place at the Committee’s table.  And he gave her credit for the name badges that were provided to all Regents and institutional and System administrators, providing relief to those who could not remember names.  His remarks were met with a standing ovation for Regent Crain.

              Regent Crain thanked Dr. Nook and all those present.  She observed that she had grown so much by working with such a wonderful group of people, and that it had been a true privilege to chair the Education Committee.  Regent Vásquez expressed his appreciation to Regent Crain, thanking her for her exemplary service as chair.  He noted that he had learned so much from her passion, her sense of fairness, her honesty, and her insistence that it was not enough just to talk about things—one had to get involved.  He concluded that he would remain guided by her determination to ensure that the actions taken by Regents needed to be beneficial to all concerned.

5. Full Board Consent Agenda

Resolutions I.1.a.(2), I.1.a.(3), I.1.a.(4), I.1.a.(5), and I.1.b were referred to the consent agenda of the full Board of Regents at its Friday, April 13, 2012, meeting. 

The meeting adjourned at 3:28 p.m.


Respectfully Submitted,
Rebecca Karoff
Secretary, Education Committee