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April 2, 2004

University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
April 2004 Meeting
Day Two News Summary

Regents signal caution on state tax reform effort

MADISON—The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Friday (April 2) formally expressed its concern about a proposed state constitutional amendment to control state spending, but reaffirmed the board’s willingness to remain engaged in efforts addressing the state’s revenue and tax challenges.

Reporting on behalf of the Business and Finance Committee, Regent Mark Bradley of Wausau summarized Thursday’s presentation by Rep. Gregg Underheim regarding legislation that would amend the state’s constitution and limit tax growth.

Overall, regents indicated concern that proposed tax reform measures would preclude long-term investments in education and other programs vital to Wisconsin’s future economic security, including the University of Wisconsin System.

Although the Business and Finance Committee did not offer a recommendation or full analysis of this or other tax reform proposals, several regents expressed interest in taking an early stand against using a highly restrictive constitutional amendment. The committee has now received three presentations related to a “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” or TABOR bill, which, if passed by both houses of the state Legislature, would begin the multi-year process of amending the state’s constitution.

“It is vitally important that the Board of Regents not be neutral. A [constitutional amendment] abrogates responsibility for legislative decision-making to rules and formulas, and puts us behind the eight ball,” said Regent Vice President David Walsh of Madison. “The bottom line is that this institution is going to be impacted more than we can imagine.”

“We need to have a real sense of urgency about this,” offered Regent Chuck Pruitt of Shorewood. “We need to counter the TABOR steamroller before it gathers considerable momentum.”

Regent Fred Mohs of Madison observed that legislators who are drafting TABOR legislation are doing so in response to voter concern. “They are trying to do something they think is right,” he said, but adding, “There is nobody on this board who doesn’t think that TABOR is an extremely damaging concept for this university. It’s hard to imagine anything that would have more far-reaching results.”

“While we are making a statement, we need to also be sensitive to the public’s desire for tax relief,” said Regent Gerard Randall of Milwaukee.

After several regents expressed reservations about formally opposing broad policy concepts and draft legislation that had not been reviewed in detail, Bradley observed that the board’s concern was focused on the highly restrictive measures offered in legislative proposals reviewed thus far.

“Our objection is with a constitutional amendment that does not allow people to sit down and reasonably establish responsible spending limits,” Bradley said.

Regent Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee offered a formal resolution which was adopted by the board that expressed the regents’ willingness to participate in the ongoing public policy debate about tax reform, while outlining their particular concerns about formula-based constitutional amendments.

Read the resolution

Regents review preliminary budget recommendations

Following months of work on “Charting a New Course,” a strategic study of the UW System’s long-term direction, the Board of Regents reviewed preliminary ideas from five working groups that may provide the framework for new initiatives in the next state biennial budget. No formal proposals were offered or voted upon, but the working groups expressed support for budget proposals that would:

  • Increase financial aid by restoring $45 million in state tax support for the Higher Education Aids Board (HEAB) budget, and provide a $12.6 million increase in funds for financial aid programs administered by the UW System;
  • Stabilize state support for higher education overall;
  • Restore faculty positions lost in recent budget cuts so students can get the classes they need for timely graduation;
  • Enhance academic and career advising resources on the 26 UW campuses;
  • Expand library and technology resources and address critical infrastructure needs;
  • Fund new pilot programs to promote administrative collaboration and investments in educational quality at the 15 UW institutions;
  • Support implementation of successful pre-college programs that increase the success of disadvantaged and minority high school students in post-secondary education;
  • Enhance access to higher education for non-traditional adult students and support workforce development.

“Ours is a potential that is under extreme duress,” said Regent Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids, chair of the Charting study. “This is a defining moment. How we identify and articulate our priorities, and how we will go about achieving them, will determine this university’s success 10 and 15 years from now.”

In thanking the working group leaders for these preliminary budget-related items, he noted that these short-term proposals do not capture the “big and bold ideas” that will come out of the study.

“We have barely scratched the surface in revealing the breadth and depth of our thinking,” Gottschalk said.

The final report is scheduled to be presented to the full Board of Regents in June.

Regents appoint next UW-Stevens Point Chancellor

Linda Bunnell, former senior vice president for the College Board and Chancellor Emerita of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, has been appointed as the 13th chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, following a closed session of the Board of Regents on Friday.

The Board of Regents approved the appointment following the recommendation of UW System President Katharine C. Lyall and the Board of Regents’ Special Committee for the UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Search.

“I am delighted and honored to be joining the UW-Stevens Point community. The university is helping central Wisconsin to grow and thrive and I look forward to being part of that exciting process,” Bunnell said in a statement. “I recognize the challenges we face, but I am confident that we can rise to meet those challenges and carry the institution to even greater levels of excellence and service if we work together—our administrative team, faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of the broader regional community.”

Bunnell will start her new position on June 1.

Read a full news release

Regents present 2004 Academic Staff excellence awards

The Board of Regents honored two academic staff members from within the UW System on Friday with the 2004 Regent Academic Staff Awards for Excellence.

The awards are an opportunity for the board to acknowledge the significant contributions members of the academic staff make to UW institutions and the university as a whole, said Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler of Oshkosh, who chaired the regent selection committee.

“We are honored to present this award in recognition of their exemplary efforts, their institutional loyalty, their professionalism, and their devotion to serving students and Wisconsin citizens,” Connolly-Keesler said.

UW-La Crosse's Deon Nontelle accepts her 2004 Academic Staff Excellence Award from Regent President Toby Marcovich and Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler UW-La Crosse's Deon Nontelle accepts her 2004 Academic Staff Excellence Award from Regent President Toby Marcovich and Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler. (Jay Salvo)

UW-Milwaukee's Pamela Fendt accepts her 2004 Academic Staff Excellence Award from Regent President Toby Marcovich and Regent Gerard Randall UW-Milwaukee's Pamela Fendt accepts her 2004 Academic Staff Excellence Award from Regent President Toby Marcovich and Regent Gerard Randall. (Jay Salvo)

The first award went to Deon Nontelle of UW-La Crosse, who Connolly-Keesler said is a “great inspiration.” Nontelle has worked as a teacher and academic staff lab manager at UW-La Crosse since 1973. She also serves as director and manager at the campus greenhouse, where she devotes time toward caring for plant collections during weekend and holiday hours. Each semester, Nontelle is responsible for 40 labs, more than 1,000 students and 17 lab managers.

Nontelle thanked the academic staff council and chancellor at UW-La Crosse, where she said she is fortunate to work as part of a department that supports all of her endeavors.

“It is such a joy to receive an award for something you truly love to do,” Nontelle said.

Regent Gerard Randall presented the second award to Pamela Fendt, a senior researcher at the UWM Center for Economic Development. Randall said Fendt was nominated and selected for the award because “she simply cares about doing good work and making contributions to her community.”

Fendt is considered a national expert on the effects of Wisconsin's welfare reform policy, W-2. In her position with UWM, Fendt has worked to improve economic development on the near north side of Milwaukee.

In accepting the award, Fendt said she was proud to have a position that allows her to build on the education she received as a student at UWM. “I feel very fortunate to work for the Center for Economic Development and its mission,” she said.

Board remembers UW-River Falls Chancellor Ann Lydecker

UW-River Falls Chancellor Ann M. Lydecker will be remembered for her positive contributions and commitment to education, the Board of Regents noted Friday during a presentation of a memorial resolution in her honor. Lydecker died in an auto accident on March 25.

UW-River Falls Chancellor
Ann M. Lydecker 1944-2004

Board President Toby Marcovich of Superior presented the resolution, which noted her achievements and the legacy she leaves behind. Marcovich said he was especially proud to have served on the committee that named her as chancellor at the River Falls campus.

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard, who said he first met Lydecker when they both served as provosts elsewhere, said Lydecker was part of the glue that holds the together the team of UW chancellors.

“We mourn the loss of what she continually gave to our shared enterprise,” Shepard said. “It’s is the loss of such a good friend and good person that we feel so deeply.”

UW System President Katharine C. Lyall also praised Lydecker’s leadership and read portions from a speech on women in leadership that Lydecker had been scheduled to present at UW-Platteville the day she died, including the importance of letting your humanity shine through.

Learn more about Chancellor Lydecker

Read the resolution [PDF]

Minnesota proposes changes to reciprocity agreement, president reports

The state of Minnesota has considered changes to the reciprocity agreement with Wisconsin that enables students to attend college in each state at costs that are roughly equivalent to resident tuition, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall said Friday.

Currently, Wisconsin students are able to attend Minnesota colleges for approximately $1,400 less than a Minnesota student would pay, she said.

“For a number of reasons, I hope that reciprocity remains in place between our states,” Lyall said. “If reciprocity were eliminated, it is likely that many Wisconsin students would stay home and increase the enrollment pressures on our campuses, while others would choose to leave the state for college. In Wisconsin, UW-Madison and our western comprehensives could be significantly impacted.”

Lyall said the Wisconsin-Minnesota reciprocity agreement is negotiated between the state higher education aid agencies, in Wisconsin, the Higher Educational Aids Board. Negotiations for next year are complete.

“Past examinations of this issue have led to the conclusion that reciprocity works well for both states,” Lyall said. “I hope that this will continue to be the case.”

Read President Lyall’s full remarks

Board approves pay plan parity resolution

The Board on Friday approved a resolution that directs the UW System president to submit recommendations to the state that would make the university’s pay plan more equitable.

The request would allow unclassified faculty and staff to receive a salary adjustment and benefits pay plan that is fair with regard to pay plans established for other state employees.

“This is not a request for new money,” said Regent Mark Bradley, who offered the resolution for approval during a report of the Business and Finance Committee. “This is a request to use money in the compensation reserve.”

The request also asks for adjustments in health insurance contributions and domestic partner health benefits.

Read the pay plan parity resolution [PDF]

The Board also passed resolutions to:

  • accept an annually required report on minority and disadvantaged students;
  • accept an annually required report on the university's efforts to educate students on sexual assault and sexual harassment;
  • approve requests for $5.3 million in funding from the Vilas Trust in support of scholarships, fellowships, and programs in arts and humanities, social sciences and music;
  • approve a UW-Milwaukee charter school contract;
  • approve changes in faculty personnel policies at UW-Whitewater;
  • approve UW System appointments to the Natural Areas Preservation Council;
  • approve expansion of the UW-Extension Board of Visitors;
  • accept bequests of $50,000 or more;
  • purchase equipment for three Wisconsin Public Radio stations to comply with High Definition Radio standards approved by the Federal Communications Commission, and approve a request to substitute grant funding for institutional funds should more grant funding become available; and
  • lease sites at the UW-Madison Marshfield Agricultural Research Station in Marshfield, Wisconsin, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a joint research project.

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The Board of Regents will hold its next meeting on May 5 and 6, 2004, in Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus