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Contact: Kevin Boatright, UW System: (608) 263-2227
February 7, 2001


University of Wisconsin System Meets or Exceeds Targets on
14 of 20 Accountability Measures; Room for Improvement Remains

MADISON -- The University of Wisconsin System continues to provide a high quality environment for learning, according to a new report released this week in conjunction with the February meeting of the Board of Regents.

The Board will discuss the report, entitled "Achieving Excellence," during its Friday morning session. The report outlines the UW System's performance on 20 accountability measures, and is available on-line at

During 2000, the System met or exceeded its targets on 14 of the 20 measures. On two other measures (retention of new freshmen, six-year graduation rates), it's too early to tell whether the targets have been achieved. In another area, academic support programs, the results are mixed, while in three areas (increasing the number of non-traditional students, increasing to 25% the percentage of undergraduates who study abroad, and reducing the maintenance backlog and upgrading classrooms), the System has made less progress than desired due to funding constraints.

"Achieving Excellence" is a new approach to accountability reporting. The UW System was a national pioneer in this area when it produced "Accountability for Achievement" in 1993 and subsequent years in response to a governor's task force recommendation.

Last year, the Board of Regents authorized the development of a revised and expanded reporting process. "Achieving Excellence" incorporates many of the 18 original indicators established in 1993 (access, retention and graduation rates, credits-to-degree, faculty workload, extramural research expenditures, and administrative costs), but focuses on the quality of the overall learning environment for students. Standardized surveys are one way of assessing student, faculty and alumni perceptions. They also provide base-line benchmarks against which future performance can be measured.

The 20 indicators are divided into six major areas:

1. Ensure widespread access to UW institutions and increase the pool of eligible traditional and non-traditional applicants;

2. Increase the levels at which students persist in higher education and complete degrees;

3. Improve learning competencies and provide learning experiences that foster the development of critical thinking skills;

4. Provide a learning environment that fosters the ability to function in a dynamic world community;

5. Enhance the learning environment by providing opportunities for guided research, mentorship, and access to student services and resources that foster learning and citizenship; and

6. Efficient and effective stewardship of resources.

While she is pleased with the report, UW System President Katharine Lyall said "We should not take the good performance of our institutions for granted. It reflects the hard work of thousands of faculty and staff, the leadership of our chancellors, and public support for our mission. Good performance on any indicator this year does not guarantee good performance next year. We must work daily at `achieving excellence.'"

She added that making significant progress in some of the categories will depend on the outcome of the 2001-03 budget process. "We're using existing resources efficiently to serve rising enrollments with high quality," said Lyall. "The truth is we're delivering above-average outcomes with below-average levels of funding and expenditures."

While the 40-page report focuses on Systemwide data for the 20 accountability measures, it also includes a set of tables that provide campus-specific information, such as six-year graduation rates, freshmen retention rates, and study abroad participation.