UW-Milwaukee delivers plans for growth in research, access, Wisconsin’s economy - Day 1 Regents meeting news summary (Jun 8, 2006)
University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
Day One News Summary
June 2006 Day 1
MILWAUKEE - With the backing of four corporate and community leaders, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos E. Santiago on Thursday made the case for additional state resources to the UW System Board of Regents.
The chancellor's presentation, "Delivering Access and Economic Growth through Research," focused on three key points:
- UWM is essential to the economic health and social well-being of this city, regional and state.
- To reach its full potential, UWM must be funded like a research university.
- UWM has the support of the region to go forward.
The plans to grow the Milwaukee campus is "absolutely essential" for the economic health of the state, Santiago said. "Just to remain competitive with other cities, the number of baccalaureate degrees in the workforce is estimated to be 33 percent by 2010 and 40 percent by 2020. In 2000, only about 20 percent of Milwaukee residents had a bachelor's degree, and that is simply too low."
The three points underscore UWM's coming budgetary request, which will have to be approved by the state Legislature when it considers the UW System budget request. UWM is asking for an additional $100 million in state support over the next six years.
The university is currently raising $100 million from private sources through a comprehensive fundraising campaign, and a third $100 million will come from increased extramural funding generated from top research projects recently chosen in competition among UWM faculty and judged by outside reviewers.
Called the Research Growth Initiative, the process reallocates the state support UWM receives for research to seed-fund projects most likely to become self-sustaining over the long-term or lead to entrepreneurial endeavors.
The majority of UWM's request, $70 million, is intended to replace the engineering and applied sciences buildings on campus, which Santiago called "vintage 1970s designs unsuitable for the needs of a 21st-century research university."
"The truth is that this institution is well on its way to raising the resources it needs," Santiago told the Regents. The funds raised so far in the campaign stand at $65 million, with $17 million of the targeted $25 million designated for scholarships.
Using a variety of information sources, Santiago showed how UWM is increasingly a university for students statewide-so much so that for the 2005-06 academic year, more Wisconsin residents attended UWM than any other single public or private state institution.
Referring to UWM enrollment totals from 1996-2003, he also showed dramatic growth in students attending UWM from many Wisconsin counties not adjacent to Milwaukee County.
"We have truly been an institution of access, with the most growth of any campus in the system," he said.
UWM also plays a major role in providing higher education to people of color in Wisconsin. Although UWM enrolls about 14 percent of those attending UW System four-year universities, it grants 42 percent of the bachelor's degrees in the system to African Americans and 27 percent of the bachelor's degrees in the system to Hispanics.
Also addressing the Regents were Sheldon B. Lubar, founder and chairman, Lubar & Co. Inc.; Dennis J. Kuester, chairman, president and CEO of M&I Corporation; June Perry, president and co-founder, New Concept Self Development Center Inc.; and Edward J. Zore, president and CEO of Northwestern Mutual. All hold degrees from the university, and Lubar, Kuester and Zore are among the co-chairs of the current $100 million fundraising campaign.
Zore talked about the difference that UWM has made not only in his life, but of Northwestern Mutual. Of the organization's 5,000 employees, he said about 1,000 have earned degrees from UWM-and it's no different at other major employers like Briggs and Stratton, Harley-Davidson and Johnson Controls.
Regent Thomas Loftus of Sun Prairie told the UWM contingency that, in an election year, they have selected a difficult time to go forward with the request.
"We have to explain to legislators why we should grow the university (UWM)," he said. "I'm impressed with the level of community leadership here. That will make the difference."
Board of Regents President David Walsh added, "I think it's a new day for UWM. It spoke volumes about your credibility that so many of your graduates work for the city's most powerful and influential companies."
--Brad Stratton and Laura Hunt
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Thursday approved the university's 2006-07 operating budget, which includes a 6.8 percent tuition increase for resident undergraduate students.
Board of Regents President David G. Walsh of Madison noted that the funding the UW System uses to educate students comes from only two sources - the state of Wisconsin and student tuition.
"We have made every effort to keep tuition as low as possible," Walsh said. "Our goal is to make sure that when tuition increases are necessary, the rates are moderate and predictable for students and their families. But as state support for the university drops, tuition must make up the difference. Our challenge is to convince the Legislature to reinvest in the UW System."
The 2006-07 tuition rates follow the costs outlined when the Board approved the 2005-07 biennial budget last year. The increase will equate to $191 per semester at UW-Madison, $187 at UW-Milwaukee, and $145 at the comprehensive universities and the UW Colleges.
Nearly half of the tuition increase follows a biennial budget provision that stipulates the UW System must use tuition instead of state support to pay for utility costs. The additional tuition will cover $19.8 million of these increased utility costs, as well as a portion of an employee pay plan, and student technology initiatives.
"Tuition is going up for two reasons," said Regent Thomas Loftus of Sun Prairie. One has to do with the costs, the other has to do with replacing lost funds. And that part is mandated by the Legislature."
Regents Elizabeth Burmaster, Jesus Salas and Student Regent Chris Semenas voted against the resolution.
State general purpose revenue will pay for less than 25 percent of the $4.1 billion 2006-07 budget. Tuition dollars will now comprise 21 percent of the budget, while gifts, grant funds, federal dollars, and other private sources comprise more than half of the UW System's total budget. The 2005-07 state budget included more than $44 million in student financial aid.
The 2006-07 operating budget also meets the Regent directive from February 2006 to increase access for Wisconsin students by establishing more competitive nonresident tuition rates for UW-Milwaukee, the comprehensive campuses and the UW Colleges. These rates will fully cover the cost of instruction, Walsh said, and at the same time, will provide the average state subsidy for a resident student.
"This plan is based in the economics of supply and demand," Walsh said. "Over time, we anticipate that we can increase access for Wisconsin students if more nonresident students enroll in the UW System under the more competitive pricing."
UW System Executive Senior Vice President Don Mash said the plan to more competitively price nonresident tuition rates was being misrepresented by some people "who know better." Calling the nonresident tuition rates "Economics 101," Mash reemphasized that the more-competitive nonresident tuition rates were likely to help retain more current nonresident students, and attract an influx of new nonresident students to UW campuses, making it possible to educate more students from Wisconsin.
Segregated fees will increase an average of 7.4 percent at the four-year institutions, and 3.3 percent at the UW Colleges, for facilities enhancements, student-initiated programming and utilities. Room and board costs will increase an average of 5.3 percent.
"I'm sure there is no one around the table that is very enthusiastic about having to support this," said Regent Judith Crain of Green Bay. "Not supporting this means there will be additional harm done."
Walsh reminded students and families that the Regents strive to balance educational quality, access and ability to pay when considering tuition rates. UW System President Kevin P. Reilly noted that the budget does not propose that students pay additional tuition to cover the costs of an expanded state program that provides tuition remissions to Wisconsin military servicemembers.
UW continues to make tough decisions on budget cuts.
In 2006-07, UW institutions will continue to manage $20 million in mandated administrative budget cuts, according to Freda Harris, UW System associate vice president for business and capital planning. To date, institutions have managed these cuts largely by reducing the number of positions that are funded by state and tuition dollars, Harris said. She reminded the Board that student instruction was not immune to budget cuts, but that campuses were to make the strongest possible effort to reduce budgets in other areas first.
Regent Jesus Salas of Milwaukee questioned the level to which institutions were able to meet the Board's intent to protect student instruction as they reduced budgets. He noted that many of the cuts came from budgets for instruction, institutional support, student services and academic support. He particularly noted cuts in UW-Madison's English-as-a-Second-Language Program, and the reduction of an affirmative action officer position at UW-Oshkosh.
UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells explained that the campus's long-time affirmative-action officer has taken another position in human resources on campus, but with help from another staffer, continues to fulfill the duties of the position in order to manage budget cuts. Wells said he intends to refill the full-time position in 2007-08.
"You're looking at real life on campus," Wells said of the cuts, noting that tough decisions had to be made, but that the campus continued to serve the same number of students, and even added positions in advising and career services. "We stayed committed to the access mission."
UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell said the campus was required to make budget reductions very quickly, and in some cases, was forced the campus to make cuts in areas it would not have chosen given more time. "We did our best."
Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee said she was concerned that the cuts may not have followed the Regents guidelines, and asked UW-Madison to provide information about the campus's English-as-a-Second-Language program.
Motions proposed by Regent Salas that would have asked the campuses to reconsider these cuts failed to pass the Board.
The UW System's Growth Agenda and student financial aid are vital for the future of Wisconsin, and will be the focus of the Board of Regents' request for state reinvestment in the university in the 2007-09 biennium, Regents affirmed Thursday.
"The university can and will step up to the plate to meet the state's needs, but we cannot pull the load alone," Reilly said. "We need the state to step up, too."
The Board voted unanimously on Thursday to reaffirm support for the Wisconsin Covenant, a proposed program that is emerging as an essential way to increase student access to the UW System, and to grow Wisconsin's economy.
Described by Gov. Jim Doyle as a "basic exchange of promises," the Wisconsin Covenant would financially assist students from low-income families by covering the full costs of tuition at a UW campus if a qualified student meets academic standards while in high school.
"When you come up with a really good idea, it's not as good of an idea if it takes you too long to implement it," said Regent Danae Davis in urging the Board to be prepared to serve students under the program as soon as possible.
In addressing the UW System's process of formulating its 2007-09 biennial budget proposal, President Reilly and Associate Vice President Freda Harris outlined some initiatives the university might pursue in the coming months.
Reilly noted that the state's economy has made it difficult to secure state support, and that over the last three biennia, the UW System has been forced to absorb $413 million in biennial budget cuts, and eliminate more than 1,000 state-funded jobs, all while serving an additional 3,800 students. He said the university cannot continue to "grow on the margin" through tuition increases.
"Quality has suffered as student enrollment has increased, while money and staff have decreased," he said.
Reilly reminded the Board that the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin, to be led by the UW System, will help UW maintain its high quality, while also increasing student access. To further these goals, the Board might consider requesting at part of the 2007-09 budget funds to help recruit and retain star faculty, increase access for students from lower-income families, and provide greater revenue for university projects through an increase in application fees.
Harris suggested that the Board consider requesting $6.7 million in the next biennial budget to further university efforts to recruit and retain faculty. Such funds, she said, could not only be crucial to uphold Wisconsin's tradition of top-quality higher education, but also to securing coveted research dollars, which have fallen short due to a lack of funding for compensation.
"Without recruitment and retention funding, the UW System could continue to lose faculty and research staff that teach students and bring in money," she said.
Harris addressed what Regents have referred to as a "hold harmless" initiative, under which the university would cover the cost of tuition and fee increases for students from Wisconsin's lowest-two income levels. This measure is especially useful, she said, as it would provide comprehensive financial aid to UW students in the time before the first cohort could become eligible for the Wisconsin Covenant.
"The state cannot afford to lower access now to low-income students," Harris said.
Harris said Board may want to consider requesting $8.6 million in ongoing state funds for the "hold harmless" grant program, but added that the funds could be gradually phased if the initiatives contained within the Wisconsin Covenant are enacted.
Harris also discussed the merits of a proposed increase in application funds for all students, undergraduate and graduate, at UW System campuses. She said a $15 increase, which will equate to a $50 fee for undergraduate applications and $60 for graduate students, will add nearly $1.8 million to the university's funds.
The 2007-09 budget request is also likely to include cost-to-continue measures, including an employee pay plan, an increase in funding for utilities and fringe benefits, funding for undergraduate retention measures, and the Wisconsin GI Bill.
Regarding the latter item, President Reilly said he is working with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs to enlist Legislative support for state funding for the tuition remission program. He also indicated that the department intends to provide a veterans counselor position for the UW to help veterans enroll at UW campuses and to manage the anticipated great interest in the program.
"We're looking forward, because of the remission, to having more [veterans] come back and study at a UW System campus," he said.
The Regents also received a preliminary review of the 2007-09 budget biennium from David Miller, UW System Assistant Vice President for Capital Budget and Planning.
The presentation focused on the state-supported major projects requested for construction in 2007-09. The Board was presented with alternatives for building the Capital Budget request for a formal vote in August. The alternatives presented range from $159 million to $314 million for funding between seven and 18 new projects over the two-year period.
The request would include a new facility for student health and other services at UW-Madison's University Square and completing the campus’s Sterling Hall renovation. It would also allocate funds for UW- Milwaukee's plan to purchase buildings from Columbia-St. Mary's, and support a new engineering building as part of UW-Platteville's Tri-State Initiative.
The alternatives include funding for new academic facilities at UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, and UW-Superior that were placed in advance planning last year. Also likely to be included in the final budget request are state funds for classroom improvements at all campuses major utility systems, Miller said.
Regents will be asked for input on how much the university should plan to borrow to complete capital projects, how funds should be allocated, and how the system might approach major capital projects over several biennia. The Regents are expected to consider a final capital budget request in August.
In other business on Thursday, the Board heard from representatives of a group of community members that appeared at the meeting to share concerns about an agreement between the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and Aurora Health Care.
Steve Schwartz, a member of Wisconsin Citizen Action, and Dr. Pat McManus, a UW-Milwaukee graduate and a Wisconsin health-care advocate, both expressed worry about the effects of the partnership. Each cautioned the Regents against going forward with the agreement while "too many questions" remain.
"I understand it's a business," McManus said, "but when resources aren't there for people, we need everybody to have a moral obligation to provide citizens with quality health care."
Regent Elizabeth Burmaster, responding to the speakers, said the Regents' Education Committee at its May meeting asked the dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health to reaffirm the university's commitment to providing health care access to underserved populations. She affirmed that the Board takes these concerns very seriously.
"The health care of the citizens of Milwaukee must absolutely be a priority for us as we look at this agreement," she said.
UWM, UW Colleges to study future options; UWM's Access to Success
Collaborating with public and private colleges and universities could be an intermediary step to expanding higher education and university research in the Waukesha area, according to a report released Thursday.
In a report to the Education Committee, Don Mash, who chaired a steering group that reported to the Board, said the educational needs of the Waukesha area is a complex issue that impacts politics, economic development, higher education, and tax policy.
The steering group was formed following the 2005-07 budget biennium, when Gov. Jim Doyle directed that the UW study education in Waukesha County, including the idea of merging the UW-Milwaukee and UW-Waukesha campuses.
"We're attempting to look at this matter broadly," Mash said. "A merger is not off the table. This is a matter of timing. We don't think [an immediate merger] would be the responsible way to proceed. What we're talking about here is staged approach to something much more."
As the UW System continues to study how best to serve citizens and students in Waukesha, Mash announced Thursday that the chancellors of UW-Milwaukee and UW Colleges/UW-Extension will focus on enhancing UWM's presence on the UW-Waukesha campus.
The steering group also recommended that a director immediately begin bringing additional programs to the UW-Waukesha campus in collaboration with UW-Milwaukee and other colleges and universities in the area, following what was termed a "university center approach." In addition, the report suggested that the chancellors discuss options for a facility on the UW-Waukesha campus where UWM could establish a research center.
"We're not saying a university center is better than a merger -- we're saying a university center approach is a more prudent step now than a merger would be," Mash said. "Somewhere in the county, we want more opportunities brought to bear, and we want UWM to be a part of that to the extent they can, given their own considerable fiscal challenges."
UW Colleges/UW-Waukesha Chancellor David Wilson and UW-Milwaukee Carlos Santiago both indicated their support for the suggested next steps, and said they look forward to studying models that can efficiently and effectively meet the area's needs. They will report to the Board about plans in October 2006.
"This has been a very challenging activity given the complexity of the issues, as well as the compromised fiscal capacity of the UW System as of the last five years," Mash said. "We have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of UWM and UW-Waukesha, and actually do no harm. But that requires due diligence. We don't want to make a decision that might compromise the mission of both of these institutions."
The next steps will include working with local elected officials to analyze the best ways to bring degree programs to the campus, as well as a detailed financial analysis of projected costs to establish a UWM research center in Milwaukee, as well as a potential merger or other alternative models. A Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of the UW Colleges will simultaneously study critical questions facing the freshman-sophomore campuses statewide, Mash said. While the commission is expected to work until the end of the calendar year, the university center approach could begin immediately, he added.
"I don't think there's any disagreement on the need," Davis said. "This is a question of pace."
Members of the Waukesha County Action Network and the Waukesha County Executive have requested detailed financial projections about a university center approach to expanding higher education in the area, Mash said. He said it is not likely that significant savings would occur in the short-term.
Counties across the state support the buildings and grounds of the UW Colleges campuses, including UW-Waukesha, while the state supports the instructional costs to educate students at those freshman-sophomore campuses.
An immediate merger with UW-Milwaukee, as suggested by members of the Legislature and was being studied by Mash's working group, would shift $2 million to UW-Milwaukee immediately. In addition, the UW Colleges are already among the most efficient institutions in the UW System because a number of administrative functions are performed at a central location in Madison for all 13 campuses.
The steering group is also studying how best to establish a university presence in Waukesha that can bolster knowledge-economy research and transfer of university innovation to the marketplace. For these goals, Mash said, "a UWM presence in Waukesha is critical."
Steering group member Regent Michael Spector of Milwaukee commended Mash and UW-Waukesha administrator Jane Crisler for their work to harmonize many different perspectives on this matter. He also praised Waukesha leaders for their persistence and commitment as well.
"On balance, what is suggested in this report and next steps is worthy and deserves consideration," Spector said.
Former Lt. Gov Margaret Farrow, a member of the Waukesha County Action Network, a group of private-sector leaders who study public issues, said she was pleased by the ongoing review. She said education in Waukesha County was raised originally as a fiscal issue, but agreed that the issue has proven more complex.
She suggested that Waukesha County is a major contributor to the UW, but said the county is "no means the highest in return on that investment." She suggested that an expanded research presence in Waukesha County could generate additional funds for the area, and for the university.
WCAN supports a merger with UWM to most-promptly expand research in Waukesha, which Farrow said follows models in other states. "The longer we delay, it's not going to get any easier," she said. "We're not saying it's the only solution. We're open to alternatives; we just think time is of the essence."
In the next several weeks, the steering group will follow up on questions or concerns that Regents or community members may have about the report, Mash said.
UWM furthers Access and Success
UWM is seeing success in its efforts to attract and retain a high-achieving, diverse student body, Provost Rita Cheng told the Education Committee of the Board of Regents Thursday.
"We are seeing promising signs that we are having a positive impact," Cheng said in summarizing the university's Access for Success program.
The program is designed to increase the number of college graduates from diverse backgrounds, human resources that are needed to jump-start the region's economic development, Cheng said. UWM is in a unique position to do this because it attracts twice as many students of color as the UW System as a whole, she said, and because it has become a destination campus. In 2005, more than 11,000 applications were received for the freshman class of 4,000.
Access to Success has a number of key components:
- Recruiting a pool of diverse, high achieving students;
- Improving students' first-year experience to retain more students;
- Narrowing achievement gaps between majority students and students of color;
- Providing a research-based education for all students; and
- Developing more honors programs for high-achieving students.
The Access to Success program has developed a number of ways to boost recruiting, according to Cheng. A scholarship campaign is aiming for $25 million, with $17 million raised to date. Forty percent of the scholarship money this year went to students of color. The university has also established two satellite offices - one in a predominately African American neighborhood; the other in a predominately Latino neighborhood.
The university's precollege programs are also attracting young people who later become students. Of students who took part in precollege programs between 1993-1994, and 2004-2005, 47 percent entered UWM as new freshmen, Cheng said.
The university is also working actively to bring transfer students from local technical schools and two-year programs to campus to complete four-year degrees. UWM now has 36 articulation agreements, which make it easier for students to transfer from two-year programs.
The university has also seen success in a variety of pilot programs designed to help students through their first year - ranging from providing tutors and mentors, to developing an early warning system that brings faculty and counselor attention quickly to students who are struggling and need help. Students who overcome challenges are also getting positive reinforcement from counselors and faculty.
UWM has a higher percentage of students who need remediation courses than any other campus in the UW System, so the university is working on providing those necessary, non-credit courses in an efficient way that allows students to move more quickly into credit course work, Cheng said. "We know we have gaps in preparation, but we are taking a chance on those students. We are not addressing it by denying access."
Summer Bridge courses are having an impact on both retention and GPA, as are first-year transition courses - classes specially designed to "ignite a passion for learning," Cheng said. Supplemental instruction, connected to specific courses, has also helped increase the number of students successfully completing these courses.
The number and types of honors courses and programs in the Honors College has been increased, and a new Business Scholars program and the CSEMS (Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarship) program added. More emphasis is also placed on expanding undergraduate research opportunities and attracting more students of color to key fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The overall result has been that freshman participants in retention programs are performing better and staying in school. Next steps include continued data collection and evaluation, and using mini-grants to expand the Access to Success strategies into more freshman classrooms.
"We want to ramp up participation and look at what's happening inside the classroom," Cheng said. Noting that only 27 percent of Milwaukee residents hold college degrees, well below the national average, Cheng added that the connection between college education and total personal income is clear. UWM's Access to Success program offers an opportunity to impact total personal income, economic success in the knowledge-based economy and state revenues.
In other business, the committee postponed its consideration of a report on remedial education in the UW System until August, and rescheduled a discussion about holistic admissions for Friday's full Board session. The Board also forwarded resolutions for consideration by the full Board that would:
- Authorize a B.S. in Information and Communications Technologies at UW-Stout (view presentation); a bachelor's degree program in Fire and Emergency Response Management at UW-Oshkosh; and an M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at UW-Milwaukee (view presentation);
- Approve Revised Faculty Personnel Rules at UW-River Falls;
- Accept the report on Promotions, Tenure Designations, and Related Academic Approval Items.
In describing UWM’s current budgetary funding request, Abbas Ourmazd, UWM vice chancellor for research and dean of the Graduate School, showed the Board of Regents just how vital a research university is to a metropolitan area.
Using Atlanta and its main university, Georgia Tech, as the example, he said, "If you compare the GMP of Atlanta with the research output of Georgia Tech, time-shifted by three years, there is a direct correlation."
But the sphere of a university’s entrepreneurial influence is limited to about 50 miles, he said. "Even for a powerhouse like MIT," he said, "if a company relocates outside that radius, they might as well move 500 or 5,000 miles away."
So it is with Milwaukee, a once-thriving manufacturing center that today is in need of an economic transformation. "I know of no metropolitan area that has succeeded in such a transformation without a university in close proximity," said Ourmazd.
In Milwaukee, research and development trails the state and the nation, even though the city is the economic heart and the population center of the state and it is home to nearly a third of the state’s employment.
To remedy this, UWM has recently reallocated 5 percent of its state money to launch the Research Growth Initiative, a process that makes seed funding available for research projects that are likely to become self-sustaining after one to three years. The projects were chosen by teams of reviewers from other institutions, many of them Ivy League.
"We see it as the most efficient use of state money," said UWM Chancellor Carlos Santiago.
UWM will be asking the state for $12.6 million for the coming biennium, provided the Regents approve the request.
UWM will use the money to enhance regional economic development by strengthening existing companies, turning research into economic competitiveness, and providing a workforce with research training.
The plan is to hire 50 new faculty members at UWM, 20 of which will expand research clusters, 15 to fuel undergraduate research and 15 for research to augment the RGI.
External reviewers indicated that 25 percent of the RGI proposals submitted ranked in the top 10 percent of other research proposals in their field.
UWM needs the help of the state to continue the RGI, because the university can only fund some of the RGI projects that reviewers considered top-notch, he said.
Is UWM "research capable"?
"I’m here to say we are," said Ourmazd. "External reviewers in the RGI process said UWM had huge untapped potential, and the impact of the funding will substantially exceed the investment."
-- Laura L. Hunt
The committee also reviewed recommendations that were part of an internal audit of student segregated fee collection and use by UW System institutions. Business, Finance and Audit Committee members recommended the creation of a systemwide committee to discuss and implement the recommendations brought forth in the audit. The committee will be comprised 50 percent of students, and will include a student regent.
In addition, members of the Business, Finance and Audit committee expressed concern to committee chair Regent Charles Pruitt of Shorewood that they would like further discussion before voting on the upcoming budget proposal. The committee asked Pruitt to recommend to Regent President David Walsh that the committee meet in July to review some budget details.
In other business, the Business, Finance and Audit Committee:
- Forwarded a resolution for consideration by the full Board to acknowledge those who left bequests to UW System institutions of $50,000 or more;
- Asked Ron Yates, UW System Director of Operations Review and Audit, to outline a potential audit of textbook costs, citing concern that, as tuition continues to increase, textbook prices are becoming more of a burden on UW System students.
The Business, Finance and Audit Committee deferred until the August meeting:
- A discussion of UW System policy on criminal convictions and background checks;
- A policy discussion regarding investment in tobacco interests; and
- A discussion of the Sudan Divestment Informational Report.
A "creative solution" is on track to provide a new residence hall for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in ten months, according to a presentation to the Business, Finance and Audit Committee and the Physical Planning and Funding Committee.
Sherwood Wilson, UWM vice chancellor of administrative affairs, said the construction timeline for North Avenue Freshmen Housing, to be located at the intersection of E. North Ave. and N. Commerce St., was compared to the traditional model for new construction at the university, which takes several years.
The key is a partnership between the UWM Real Estate Foundation, a private, non-profit entity and the university. The UWM Real Estate Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 of the UWM Foundation, will own the residence hall. UWM, through Auxiliary Services' department of university housing, will manage North Avenue Freshmen Housing.
"The goal is to create sufficient new residence hall inventory to house all UWM freshmen within five years," Wilson said. Although 92 percent of the freshmen who apply to UWM request on-campus housing, only 45 percent are able to get it. "We know those who are unable to get on-campus housing frequently got to other schools."
The advantages of the UWM Real Estate Foundation include flexibility, efficiency and speed. "It expedites the design/bid/build process, eliminates cumbersome and costly state processes, accelerates procurement, and can utilize double tax-exempt bond financing. In addition, excess revenues stay with UWM, and there is provision of seamless operation of all university housing via a Department of Administration approved management contract," Wilson said.
Under the management contract, the foundation will finance, build and own the facility; insure the facility; provide capital improvements and long-term maintenance; reimburse UWM for all actual expenses of operating the facility; and assume all risk.
UWM, through Auxiliary Services, will market the facility and assign students consistent with other housing, coordinate the collection of rents, provide food service, staff the facility consistent with other university housing, and establish room rates via Board of Regents approval.
Final approval for the project from Milwaukee County is anticipated on June 23, 2006, with construction to begin July 7, 2006. Scheduled completion is August 15, 2007. The building will have 488 beds, mostly organized into shared suites. The building also includes a dining facility, fitness room, laundry facility, coffee shop, lounges, convenience store, classroom space, student kitchen, and indoor bicycle storage.
The location is approximately 1.5 miles from campus, with views of the Milwaukee River and connections to a bike path which students will be encouraged to use.
This method of financing operates outside the jurisdiction of the UW System Board of Regents, and Regent Gerard Randall of Milwaukee voiced concerns regarding the integrity of the UWM Foundation, transparency of contractor selection, and accountability.
"Since this is under the purview of the chancellor, it's critical that the chancellor is ultimately held accountable," Randall said.
In addition, Department of Administration Division of State Facilities Administrator Rob Cramer spoke to the committees about the DOA Energy Conservation and Green Building Initiatives. The energy initiative is a response to energy legislation and has a goal of reducing energy use by 10 percent by 2008. The goal of the Green Building Initiative is that new state facilities be 30 percent more energy efficient than required commercial code.
In a separate session of the Physical Planning and Funding Committee, Regents approved resolutions for consideration by the full Board that would:
- Grant approval and authorize a budget increase for a University Union Expansion and Remodeling Project at UW-Green Bay;
- Transfer land from UW-Madison known as the Ashland Agriculture Research Station to Ashland and Bayfield Counties;
- Adjust the UW-Stout campus boundary to allow for future land acquisition; and
- Approve the design report and adjust the project scope and budget and construct the College of Business and Economics Building at UW-Whitewater.
Assistant Vice President David Miller reported that the State Building Commission approved about $31 million for projects at its May meeting. The funding breakdown for those projects is $16.5 million in general fund supported borrowing, $11 million program revenue, and $3.5 million in gift and grant funds.
--UW-Milwaukee photographers Peter Jakubowski and Alan Magayne-Roshak contributed to this report.
The Board of Regents will resume its June meeting on Friday, June 9, at 9 a.m. in the Wisconsin Room of the UW-Milwaukee Union.
Related: Read June 9 (day 2) news summary