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Friday, October 11, 2002

University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
October 2002 Meeting, UW-Whitewater
Day Two News Summary

UW System resources stretched thin by increased fall enrollments

WHITEWATER - Recent budget cuts and above-target fall enrollments have challenged the University of Wisconsin System to educate what amounts to 11,000 more students than expected, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall told the Board of Regents at a Friday meeting at the UW-Whitewater campus.

Preliminary system-wide enrollment figures show 134,998 full-time equivalency students were enrolled at UW System institutions as of Sept. 10. That is 2,659 more FTE students above the Fall 2002 enrollment target of 132,339, Lyall said.

The figures are a result of mounting enrollment pressures at campuses, which have come at the same time as significant base budget cuts, Lyall said. Earlier this year, state lawmakers cut the UW System budget by $44 million - equivalent to the funding it takes to educate 8,800 students, Lyall said. Combined with the students overenrolled this year, the UW System is stretching its resources to find funding to serve what amounts to an additional 11,000 students.

"This is roughly equivalent to operating one of our larger comprehensive campuses with no funding," Lyall said.

Regent Fred Mohs of Madison said student learning eventually would suffer if the UW System were to continue to admit increased numbers of students without receiving proper funding.

"I think everyone expects us to stretch and stretch, but with that will inevitably come diminished quality," Mohs said.

It takes exceptional efforts by faculty to handle increased class sizes with diminished resources, Lyall said. She also expressed concern that more and more instructional academic staff are being hired instead of faculty because of budget limitations.

"I think it begins to change the campus culture and the commitment that faculty have to the success of the campus community and students," she said.

Regent Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee said the figures demonstrate a need for urgency in enhancing revenues. He suggested that that the Board communicate to campuses a desire to see action on these issues.

UW-Whitewater outlines goals through campus report card

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Jack Miller presented the regents with a campus report card - what he called an "unvarnished" look at the goals, accomplishments and failures on the Whitewater campus.

In evaluating 36 campus goals, Miller handed out 10 As, 19 Bs, five Cs, and two Ds, as well as details about each measurable goal. Among the results:

  • Miller gave the campus a "B" in increasing the six-year undergraduate graduation rate to 60 percent. The latest figures show the rate at 52 percent, a five percentage-point increase over the last three years and equivalent to the UW System average.
  • Miller gave the campus an "A" for increasing campus-wide participation in experiential-learning programs by 15 percent in three years.
  • Miller gave the campus a "C+" in increasing graduate program enrollment from 5 percent to 8 percent. The total percentage is now at 6.4 percent, an increase of 100 full-time equivalent students.

In setting goals, Miller said it is important to challenge the campus, to measure progress and to publicly share the results.

"It's important to have goals because there is so much to distract us from accomplishing them," Miller said. "We're not embarrassed by failures. We wish to look at them as additional opportunities."

In other news, the regents also passed two resolutions at the full board meeting. The first called citizens and organizations to action at Wisconsin Economic Summit III. The summit, which will focus on actions the state can take to improve the economy, will take place next Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 14-16, at the Midwest Express Center in Milwaukee. Lyall and Regent Jay Smith are the Summit's co-chairs.

The second resolution thanked UW-Whitewater for hosting the two-day meeting. As host, the campus provided musical entertainment by student musicians, as well as campus presentations from faculty, staff and students.

The next Board of Regents meeting will be held Nov. 7-8 in Madison.

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