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December 6, 2002

Remarks to the Board of Regents
UW System President Katharine C. Lyall

Income Distribution of UW Freshmen

You have in your folders this morning a very brief memo summarizing at a glance the Incomes and Financial Aid for UW Freshmen over the past decade (1990 to 2001). Family income is shown by quintile -- if our freshman classes were absolutely evenly drawn from each income quintile, 20% of each freshman class would be from each group (low, medium-low, medium, medium-high, and high income) as defined in Figure 1.

As you will note, we serve every quintile, except the lowest, at or above its proportional share. While these proportions move up or down slightly over time, it is the lowest income group--those from families with $30,751 or less of family income--that are sliding below their proportional representation among freshmen.

This graph tells us nothing about educational preparation, aspirations, or other important characteristics of these students, but it does suggest that further examination of this lowest income group is important.

Table 1 on the second page of the memo shows that students from the lowest income families receive their financial aid primarily in the form of need-based grants, loans, and work-study, while students from families with incomes above $60,000 rely primarily on non-need based forms of aid.

The last table breaks out the quintile distribution for All Freshmen, UW-Madison Freshmen, UW Colleges Freshmen, and for all other UW institutions. And you can see from this that the income distribution of UW students varies significantly by institution: over half of UW-Madison freshmen come from families with incomes over $65,000 (and 33% from families over $92,000), while at the UW Colleges less than 30% are from families with $65,000 or more. The distribution for freshmen at all other UW institutions falls in between those extremes with 58% medium income or lower and 42% from families above $65,500.

Why am I showing you this information now? I hope you will take the memo with you and think about it as we move through some important policy issues this spring:

  • With the exception of the lowest income quintile, UW institutions are doing a remarkable job of serving students from across the income spectrum. It also tells us we need to know more about the lowest quintile.

  • Financial aid, and the form it comes in, is essential to maintaining broad access. Last year, the Legislature linked the state WHEG to tuition … that was a major gain for low-income students in the state. This year, the federal grant and loan programs will be re-examined as part of the Higher Education Reauthorization Bill to be discussed by Congress in 2003 - we need to be active with our Congressional Delegation to ensure that these federal aid programs grow with the needs of our student population as well.

  • Finally, I think understanding this picture will be helpful as we work with the new elected leaders to balance access and affordability to our system for the future. I thought it would be useful for you to have the income distribution and let you absorb it as we move forward with policy decisions next year.

Good News...

Student Voting

I want to thank United Council for its get-out-the-vote effort this fall. More than 12,000 students were registered to vote as part of this process. Congratulations to United Council and its president, Jeff Pertl, for their important efforts.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Three of our UW institutions rank among the top twenty in the nation in the number of students they have participating in study-abroad programs: UW-Madison is among the top 20 research institutions with 1,253 students studying abroad, while UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point are in the top 20 masters' institutions with 345 and 310 students respectively in study abroad programs. Last year, all together more than 3,200 UW students had this valuable experience. It's hard to think of a more important time for our graduates to develop some global understanding of the world in which they will live and work. It's nice to see three of our institutions in the top 20 nationally.

Brad Krutsch Award

I also want to note that three UW-Madison business students beat five international teams to win a $20,000 prize in a global business plan competition in Singapore University. Brad Krutsch was a member of this team that presented a plan for a microscope developed by the Materials Science Department in the College of Engineering. Congratulations to Brad, and to his mother, (Regent) Phyllis Krutsch - I'm sure he found this to be a wonderful learning experience.

UW-Milwaukee's IMS Center Grant

UW-Milwaukee's Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems has received a $250,000 grant for collaborative programs with universities in China, Japan, Korea, and Australia that enhance intelligent manufacturing technologies worldwide. The grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation's East Asia Program; the Center is operated jointly by UWM and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor - it conducts research in web-based technologies with e-factory applications. It's wonderful to see this outreach from our urban institution.

Extension Honors

Wisconsin Public Television also received two Midwest Emmys for their Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming with "Cultural Horizons of Wisconsin: Beyond Borders" and for the audio track on "When Wisconsin Was New France."

I also want to note that Regent Patrick Boyle was honored at the tenth anniversary celebration of Extension's Local Government Center which serves local government needs for research, technical assistance, and programming. In addition to Regent Boyle, who was one of the Center's founders, the event recognized and thanked the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Wisconsin Counties Association, and the Wisconsin Towns Association.

2002 Carnegie Teacher of the Year

I'm delighted to tell you that UW Eau-Claire nursing Professor CeCelia Zorn
has been named the 2002 Wisconsin Carnegie Foundation Teaching Wisconsin Professor of the Year. CFAT and CASE recognize one Teacher of the Year in each state selected from more than 420 nominations.

You'll be pleased to know that Professor Zorn is the fourth UW-Eau Claire faculty member who has received this honor. Our students are privileged to have such talent in the classroom and we are honored to have a Carnegie Professor from the UW System this year.

Grant for Training Hmong Teachers

UW-Stevens Point and UW-La Crosse have developed a joint program called Project Forward, designed to increase the number of Hmong teachers in Wisconsin. The Project has received an $185,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to serve 26 students who are currently enrolled in the program; the first four students actually graduated last May. Each student takes courses at UW-Stevens Point, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Marshfield, or UW-Marathon County campuses. Participants are also required to take a minor in English as a Second Language for that teaching certification. I think this effort is producing a real contribution to teachers and is reaching Hmong students in our state.

Distance Learning Helps Access to AP Courses

As you know, the PK-16 Council is highlighting and encouraging efforts to create more seamless educational opportunities across Wisconsin. One way to do this is to encourage promising high school students to take AP courses in high school, which prepare them for the transition to college and afford them more choices from the curriculum when they get to college. Nearly three-fourth's of this year's freshman class at UW-Madison entered with some Advanced Placement credits, but about one-fourth of state high schools can't afford to offer these courses.

UW-Madison's Center on Education and Work, with federal and UW System financial support, has organized a consortium that will use existing K-12 teleconference facilities to offer AP courses in 12 subjects across the state, including rural and low-income school districts next academic year.

We hope this will become a national model for smoothing the transition and expanding the educational opportunities for all students.

We sometimes become preoccupied with budget questions - but I hope you take heart, as I do, that so many good and creative and quality efforts continue across the UW System. As this year draws to a close, I really want to thank all our faculty and staff who continue their strong commitment to students and educational excellence. I think we really are blessed, indeed.