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March 7, 2003

Remarks to the Board of Regents

President Katharine C. Lyall


UW Personnel Called To Military Duty

As our nation anticipates war in Iraq, a number of UW students, faculty, and staff are being called to active duty in the military. I just want to review for you our policies regarding students and employees called to active military duty.

Employees called to duty, may, for the first 30 days of their military leave, elect to receive the difference between their military pay and their university salary. Service beyond 30 days is on unpaid leave. For those on unpaid leave,
the university will continue to pay the state's share of group life and income continuation insurance as well as the state share of health insurance. Under Wisconsin statutes, employees have rights to return to the same or a similar position at the end of their military leave.

Students called to military duty are given the opportunity to earn a grade in courses under way or if they so choose to receive a full refund of tuition for those courses to they can re-enter when they get back. The unused portion of room and board contracts will also be refunded and student loan repayments are postponed for borrowers on active duty. Institutions and faculty are committed to ensuring that students called to military duty are treated fairly and do not suffer an academic setback from their interrupted studies.

These policies were also followed for students and employees who served
in Kosovo, the Gulf War, and Desert Storm. We appreciate the personal sacrifices our university colleagues make when they are called to military duty and we will ensure that they can pick up their studies when they return.

Good News…


UW in D.C. Day

Regent Boyle and I and several Chancellors hosted "UW Day in D.C."
last week to recognize the large number of UW alumni who are working in Washington in many interesting positions. Alumni from UW institutions serve as:

  • Deputy Managing Editor of The Washington Post
  • Brigadier General of U.S. Air Force
  • Director of the Federal Witness Protection Program
  • Former Lieutenant Governor, State of Alaska
  • Manager of Banking Regulation for the Federal Reserve System
  • Manager, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
  • Construction Manager, National Science Foundation, South Pole Station
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • and in many other important positions.

We also used the occasion to honor Wisconsin's Congressional delegation, most of whom attended, and Regent Boyle presented a national 4-H award to Secretary Tommy Thompson. Altogether, there were more than 200 UW alumni who braved the Washington snowstorm to network and celebrate a commitment to public service.

I think the UW System can be enormously proud of our alumni in public service careers who never lose their talent for hard work or their belief in serving others, even if that is not fashionable these days. I think we all drew a little closer that evening and appreciated being part of the larger UW System family. I especially thank Kris Andrews and Margaret Lewis for all their hard work in planning this event.

#1 Peace Corps Volunteers

In a parallel vein, I'd note that UW-Madison once again ranks first in the
U S. in providing volunteers for the Peace Corps. Madison sent 123 graduates to the Peace Corps last year, trailed by University of Michigan at number two.

Russian University Officials Learn From UW-Extension

Under a World Bank grant, a delegation of eight Russian officials from Kuban State University in Krasnodar, Russia visited Wisconsin last month to study how they might create a university extension system modeled on the Wisconsin Idea. The delegation, hosted by UW-Extension, visited three county Extension offices and learned about UW-Extension's distance learning and small business development centers across the state. We wish them well in their new challenges.

Chancellor Zimpher Award

I want to congratulate UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who last night was awarded the Sacagawea Award. Without Sacagawea's help, Lewis and Clark would have not made it back from their trip to the Pacific, and without Nancy's presence at UWM there would certainly be a leadership void in Milwaukee. Join me in congratulating her.

Fighting Chestnut Blight

With spring just over the horizon, I was very pleased to learn that Professors Tom Volk and Jane Cummings Carlson at UW-La Crosse are working to find a way to stop the blight that threatens a unique stand of surviving American chestnut trees in West Salem. In the 1900's, American chestnuts grew to 100 feet or more and blanketed much of American forestland. In 1904, an Asian fungus began to kill off chestnut trees until the roughly 5,000 remaining in West Salem are a rare resource. Volk and Cummings Carlson are in a race with time, since the virus has finally shown up here, too. We wish them well in their efforts to save this unique piece of Americana.

UW Economic Impact Website

Finally, you will be interested to know that the UW Economic Impact website has been updated with a breakdown of the economic activity generated by our campuses by state senate district. You may recall that when David J. Ward presented the systemwide economic impact study last fall, some regents suggested that having this information by legislative district would be useful in carrying our "Engage Wisconsin" message.

It is not amiss to note that the same "multiplier effects" that work to generate increases in jobs, incomes, and tax revenues on the upside also work in reverse when we make cuts in our budgets and personnel. Last year, UW economic activity generated $400 million in state tax revenues-a reduction of $250 million in our budgets would have impacts statewide. It is also interesting to note how widespread the economic impacts are---even in senate districts without a UW campus there are significant numbers of jobs and incomes dependent upon university activities. Our employees and students live all over the state.

The website is: www.wisconsin.edu/impact/index.htm