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Nov. 8, 2002

University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
November 2002 Meeting
Day Two News Summary

Regents approve Ph.D. degree in history at UW-Milwaukee

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee can proceed with plans to implement a new Ph.D. degree in history, following approval Friday by the UW System Board of Regents.

The board voted to approve the program after the Education Committee forwarded the matter to the full board without a vote, citing extensive debate in committee on Thursday.

Before Friday's vote, Cora Marrett, UW System senior vice president for academic affairs, reiterated the reasons behind the UW System's decision to recommend that the regents not approve the new Ph.D. degree.

The UW System has limited resources for new initiatives, given constraints on the state budget, Marrett said. She added that a review of the proposed program found evidence of a weak job market for history Ph.D.s, and that Milwaukee students who seek an advanced history degree may do so through UWM's interdisciplinary Ph.D. option.

"To recommend the program, in our view, would be to abdicate our responsibility to the Board of Regents," Marrett said.

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher spoke in support of the new program, saying the Ph. D. degree fully fits with UWM's mission as a premier urban research university.

"This is about the full realization of the Milwaukee Idea," Zimpher said.

UWM History Department Chair Jeffery Merrick noted that the entire UWM faculty supports the proposed program, which is intended to serve nontraditional students who already have jobs.

Several regents spoke in favor of allowing UWM to implement the new program, saying that current faculty would benefit from their role as advisers to Ph.D. students, and that the Milwaukee community as a whole would benefit from more qualified teachers.

Regent James Klauser said it was the board's responsibility to allow the program to go forward.

"There is no question in my mind that there is a need in this community," Klauser said. "It will enhance the Milwaukee community and our state's understanding of history."

Other regents noted their opposition, saying the board must be fiscally prudent in light of expected further cuts to the UW System, and that the board should heed the expert advice of the Academic Affairs staff.

"It's not a question of whether it would be nice to have this," Regent Jay L. Smith said. "It's a question of whether it's a priority."

The regents approved the program in a 10-6 vote.

UW System President Katharine C. Lyall said the system fully supports the board's decision.

"You can count on the UW System to follow you," Lyall said after the vote. "We are now of one mind to make this program successful."

President's report

In her report to the board Friday, President Lyall noted that the state has elected new leaders who will soon begin work on solving Wisconsin's fiscal crisis.

"The UW System is a willing partner in those efforts, and I think we have much to offer," she said.

Among the 132 members of the state legislature (including 17 new members), Lyall said 83 have college degrees, and 73 of those hold at least one degree from a UW System campus.

"We have our alumni facing these difficult decisions with us," she said. "We look forward to working with the new legislature for Wisconsin's future."

President Lyall's full remarks

Regents affirm success of Wisconsin Economic Summit III

In a fitting end to Wisconsin Economic Summit III, the board passed a resolution Friday affirming the success of the summit and thanking all those who contributed their time and energy to the event.

Regent President Guy Gottschalk summarized the summit for the board. He said the summit's fiscal policy reform panel offered what has been described as the first real solution to the state's fiscal crisis. He added that the creation of the Wisconsin Economic Collaboration Council would ensure success of future summits.

Gottschalk thanked Smith and Lyall, who served as summit co-chairs, as well as Laurie Dies and Richard Wegner, who served as summit coordinators.

"As usual, they did the UW System proud," he said. "I think many of us who have attended all three of our summits felt that this was the best and most newsworthy summit to date."

Lyall reminded the regents that the next Wisconsin Economic Summit will receive significant support from the Milwaukee-based financial services firm Robert W. Baird & Co. Smith said the partnership is valuable not just in terms of financial support, but because Baird will be able to garner additional support from the state's business communities.

President Gottschalk's full remarks
Summit news highlights

In other news, the board on Friday approved the following items:

  • Permitting UW-Waukesha to amend a land and facilities agreement allowing a cellular tower to be built and operated on campus land.
  • Construction of a sprinkler system for the Towers Residence Hall at UW-Eau Claire at a cost of $1.97 million program revenue supported borrowing.
  • Construction of a new crew house at UW-Madison at an estimated cost of $8.35 million.
  • Budget increases at UW-River Falls for a new residence hall and UW-Platteville for its new Living and Learning Center.
  • New bachelor's of science degrees in biochemistry at UW-Milwaukee and UW-La Crosse;
  • A new master's of science degree in biotechnology at UW-Madison;
  • Revised mission statements for UW-Eau Claire and UW-Platteville.

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The next Board of Regents meeting is scheduled for Dec. 5-6 in Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.