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May 7, 2004

Remarks to the Board of Regents
Katharine C. Lyall, President
University of Wisconsin System

2004 Commencements

This is the month of commencements—both an ending and a beginning of careers and lives that our institutions have helped each of our students to shape. The true measure of our work is not known for many years, maybe generations, but we know from introspection on our own lives the important, even critical, difference education makes. Yes, it does open the way to careers and better earnings, but it also changes us as human beings. If we have done our job well, our graduates see not just themselves and their careers, but they see themselves in the context of a larger world with many viewpoints, questions, and uncertainties, including questions like how to balance environmental values with economic growth; how to tell if/when war is necessary and how to meet our obligations to reconstruct nations for their futures as well as for ours; and how to provide for the next generation the kinds of opportunities we have enjoyed because of our parents’ and grandparents’ far-sighted investments in the future. These, and many other issues, await our graduates, and the future we all inhabit will depend in no small part on the choices they make.

This month the UW System is sending forth 29,000 graduates into this bright and challenging world; among them are 580 nurses, 3,600 new teachers, 100 pharmacists, 140 doctors, 1,600 engineers, and many others whose skills and hard work will determine the quality of our lives and the future of our state and nation.

One value we try to impart in all our graduates is the obligation to “give back” to others by keeping alive the educational growth and opportunities we’ve all had. I’d like to ask Chancellor Erlenbach to remind us of this by giving us the same “charge” he gives to graduates at UW-Superior.

. . . Chancellor Erlenbach

Jeff Pertl’s Farewell

And speaking of commencements, I want to recognize that Jeff Pertl, past president of United Council, will be leaving that post and turning over the leadership of that organization to Stephanie Hilton. I’d like to invite Jeff to share a few parting words. . . (Jeff Pertl)

Thank you, Jeff, for your leadership of students during an especially turbulent period. It has been a pleasure working with you and your staff and I know my successor will want to continue this strong collaboration with Stephanie and the United Council staff in the coming year.

2005-07 Biennial Budget Development

This morning we want to review for you several more elements that will appear in the draft materials for the 2005-07 biennial budget request you will see next month. Just to remind us all: the process we are following calls for the Board to review a preliminary draft of the 2005-07 biennial budget request in June and to give staff some guidance for developing a more complete document over the summer. At the Board’s “budget meeting” on August 19 and 20, you will be asked to adopt a final version of the budget request that will go forward to the Governor in September as required by statute.

Previously, you have discussed financial aid as part of this request. Today, we want to share with you three further possible elements of the request: “costs-to-continue,” the Charting recommendations that each Working Group chair reported out to the full Board last month, and some information on the erosion of faculty resources which is undercutting the quality of the undergraduate student experience.

Costs-to-Continue: One of the most frequently misunderstood elements of Wisconsin state budgets is the item “costs-to-continue” or standard budget adjustments. If you have a business background you might logically assume that this is some kind of “inflation factor,” designed to keep the real purchasing power of the budget intact. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Wisconsin recognizes no inflation effects in its budgeting and has not done so since the mid 1980s. Rather, “costs-to-continue” reflect costs incurred in the previous year that have been carried forward into the coming budget. They are the booking of cost decisions already made by the Governor and Legislature and thus are compulsory from an agency standpoint—the basis for estimating these continuing costs is given us by the Department of Administration; the Board is not free to alter these estimates but must reflect them in its budget request. I’ve asked Freda Harris to show us what’s in these costs-to-continue and how they change over time. After that, she will describe how the Charting recommendations to rebuild access and quality can be reflected in the budget, along with some cost savings that certain management flexibilities would let us capture.


Good News. . .

UW-Superior Award

Congratulations to Regent President Marcovich on receiving the UW-Superior Chancellor’s Award for service to higher education. This medal is given very infrequently and recognizes a broad pattern of support for UW-Superior and its mission of providing accessibility to quality education, particularly for students in the northern part of our state. Regent Marcovich and his family have made this commitment over many generations and many Wisconsin graduates join me in this appreciation. Regent Marcovich received the award at the UW-Superior Faculty/Staff Recognition Program on May 3, 2004.

“Introduction” Gets CASE Award

Even as we say “goodbye” to the Class of 2004, we are recruiting the future classes of 2008 and 2009. I’m pleased to tell you that our systemwide “viewbook,” Introduction, has just received the silver medal for student recruitment publications from CASE, the Council for Advancement of Secondary Education. Our Introduction document goes to every 8th grade and high school student in Wisconsin as well as to all high school counselors. You have a copy in your folders. In addition to a thumbnail sketch of each UW campus, it provides information on who to call at each campus for housing, financial aid, academic program options; admissions requirements and the distribution of large vs. small classes. It’s a great ready reference—please keep it to help you answer questions you may get from time to time. Thanks to our University Relations Office and the HELP Office for this award-winning and very useful publication.

Guggenheim Awards

Congratulations are also due to UW-Madison professors Gregg Mitman and Henry Drewal who have won prestigious Guggenheim Professorships. Guggenheims are much coveted because they support work in the liberal arts and humanities, fields sometimes overlooked. Professor Mitman will use his award to help him complete a book to be published by Yale University on the effects that hay fever sufferers have had on advancing the conservation movement in the United States. Professor Drewal will use his award to complete a book on African art. We are proud to have two of the nations 185 Guggenheim scholars here in Wisconsin.

Dean Sidney Bremer Retirement

I’d like to acknowledge the retirement of Dean Sid Bremer, who has served as dean of the UW-Marinette college for nine years. UW-Marinette is one of our smallest and most beautiful two year campuses located in the birch woods on Lake Michigan. It has been the location for the UW System’s Faculty College for 20 years, a retreat for senior master teachers where the improvement of college teaching is a serious subject of study and examination every year. More importantly, under Sid Bremer’s leadership, UW-Marinette has become a critical element of that small community giving it cultural focus and a working partner in many community development efforts. If you haven’t been there, summer is a wonderful time to visit. We wish Sid Bremer a rewarding and fulfilling retirement and thank her for her nine years of leadership there.

UW System Business Consortium Graduates First Online MBA Class

Eleven UW-Eau Claire students this month will be the first to earn their MBA’s completely online. UW-Eau Claire offers the online MBA program as part of a UW System business consortium that includes UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, and UW-Parkside. The MBA courses are taught by faculty from the four participating campuses, all of which have accredited programs. The arrangement allows campuses to share resources, and the UW System provides support to e-learners.

One hundred students are currently enrolled in the online tract, with students living on both the coasts, as well as in Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Online Learning Tool

A convenient new online learning tool helps Wisconsin Entrepreneur hopefuls make informed decisions about starting new businesses. “First Steps Towards Starting a Business,” a Web-based distance learning module collaboratively designed by

UW-Extension’s Small Business Development Center and UW Learning Innovations, is nearing completion. Starting in mid-May, aspiring business owners can access the module at their convenience using “First Steps” tools to assess the personal, financial, and market feasibility of going into business. Last year businesses assisted by the Wisconsin SBDC increased sales by $45.3 million, created 655 new jobs, and retained 194 other employees. These businesses also generated $2.4 million in state tax revenues and obtained $12.13 million in financing.