November 29

The Provost attended today’s meeting, and discussed several issues, including creating a sense of belonging and inclusion for students on campus, short of sanctuary status. See the letter signed by chancellors and presidents across the country, including UWM Chancellor Mark Mone, in support of DACA. The UWM Post Tenure Review document should be on the Board of Regents agenda for their December 8th meeting. He also mentioned three issues related to the budget: Madison’s drop in ranking shows what happens when the flagship isn’t supported; funding Governor Walker has said he will earmark for higher ed will likely be tied to (as of yet undetermined) performance measures; and Ray Cross has asked for a summary of what UWM is known for in his quest to secure us more GPR funding. The Provost projects that in eight years we will stabilize at a student population of about 25,000 with about 700 faculty. UC Member Bob Schwartz reported on other committee meetings he has attended, and expressed concern that campus safety training does not focus enough on how instructors should handle situations, especially in large lecture halls. UC Member Marcia Parsons reported the that L&S Dean Search committee has approved a position description that will then go to HR and the Provost. We ended our meeting by discussing our meeting last week with members of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board and how we might encourage colleagues to write relevant op-eds.

November 22

We were joined this week by David Haynes, Editorial Page Editor, and Ernie Franzen, Associate Editorial Page Editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Their first question was about how UWM is faring in the current fiscal environment. We talked to them at length about the challenges departments are facing to meet curriculum given the number of faculty who have departed and are not being replaced, and challenges to accreditation. We also discussed the value of a college degree. Additional issues that came up included: asking the state to fund the freeze on student tuition; performance-based funding; graduation and retention rates; concern for the safety of foreign and undocumented students; and the restructuring of the UW-System. Haynes and Franzen invited us to write op-eds that would address these issues.

In his chair’s report, John Reisel announced that the Strategic Visioning Task Force had its first meeting. The committee is supposed to deliver a report to the Chancellor in late January. Members of the UC suggested they look at UWM’s past vision and mission statements, as well as statements from other peer institutions. Here is the University of California-Riverside’s strategic plan; here is Madison’s vision statement. Members of the UC also reported on other committee meetings.

November 15

The UC was joined this week by several guests including three students attending as part of an assignment for a journalism class. We spent the first hour of the meeting with Chancellor Mone, Provost Britz, and Associate Vice Chancellor Venugopalan discussing Post Tenure Review Policy. Although the policy that the UWM Faculty Senate passed last month meets the requirements of the Board of Regents policy, we were informed that UW System and the Board will require us to add an administrative review at the Dean level for all faculty, including those who “meet expectations” as determined by their executive committees. We worked on inserting new language into the policy document that would address this new System request. The UC will bring the revised document to the Faculty Senate on Thursday. Members of the UC expressed concern that System is asking for additions to PTR that are not reflected in BOR policy, and that a review of “meets expectations” determined by executive committees should not require further review.

The Chancellor also informed us that he is putting together an ad-hoc committee on Strategic Visioning, and he mentioned that plans to partner with an international pathways provider have slowed down so that more questions can be answered and communicated to university units.

The Chancellor attended the APLU (Association of Public Land grant Universities) conference this past weekend and chancellors who gathered there discussed post-election fall out and concerns in particular for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students and their families, international students, Muslim students, and other groups who have been specifically targeted during and after the election. Swarnjit Arora pointed out a Chronicle of Higher Education article predicting a decrease of international students. Inside Higher Ed and other sources have reported an increase in incidents of racial and ethnic harassment on college campuses.

Michael Brondino reported on a recent meeting of SPC (Strategic Position Control). They have received plans from campus units, which will be posted online, (password protected). In its first year SPC is supposed to be monitoring the process. Next year SPC will make recommendations of hires via metrics that aren’t yet developed.

Sue Cashin vice chair of the Academic Staff Committee came in to give the ASC report. They are convening a working group that will start meeting at the end of November to update chapter 104 and to review chapter 108.

Next week the UC is meeting with the editorial board of the Journal Sentinel. If you have questions for the editorial board or would like to suggest topics for stories related to UWM, please email John Reisel.

See you this Thursday at the Faculty Senate meeting: 2:30pm in Curtin 175.

November 8

The Provost attended today’s meeting and provided updates on Post Tenure Review policy, dean searches, and ad-hoc committees. The UWM PTR policy is under review at System legal. UW-Lacrosse’s PTR policy should go before the Board of Regents (BOR) at the end of this week. Our PTR policy should be considered by the BOR in December.

The L&S Dean search and screen committee had their first meeting and is working on the position description. The Provost hopes that candidates will be brought to campus in March or April. The Public Health dean search is also underway, and the search and screen committee for the Dean of Nursing search will have their first meeting next week.

The Chancellor’s Enrollment Management Action Team (CEMAT) has a new sub-committee called (for now) the Recruitment Action Team, which will focus on the recruitment of both undergraduate and graduate students. The process to bring an international partnership pathways program to UWM is slowing down so that the proposed contract can be fully vetted by shared governance groups. UC members Bob Schwartz and John Reisel have been asked to join a task force that will work on the Strategic Visioning of the campus.

After the Provost left, UC Chair John Reisel continued his report. We discussed a memo sent by the Provost to the APCC (Academic Planning and Curriculum Committee) requesting a hiatus on the approval of General Education distribution requirement courses. The memo also states that an ad-hoc committee will be appointed to look at GER courses. The UC expressed concerned that because the examination of issues related to GER courses falls under the charge of the APCC, there is no need for a separate ad-hoc committee to do work already under the oversight of a shared governance group. This led to a longer discussion and a deeper expression of concern that there have been an inordinate number of ad-hoc committees formed by the administration that are operating outside of shared governance, and therefore are not accountable to the faculty nor are they subject to the same rules of transparency that govern formal committees. John Boyland reported that the Senate Rules committee has begun tracking ad-hoc committees and will be asking them to give regular reports the Faculty Senate.

Speaking of ad-hoc committees, Michael Brondino reported on the Strategic Position Control (SPC) committee. SPC is discussing changing the way planning and budgetary issues are addressed on campus. Brondino suggested looking at documents produced by Stanford and Cornell as models of strategic planning. The UC also discussed campus workload policy and expressed concern that some schools and colleges are formulating or have already adopted workload policies that go against university policy.

Lastly, we discussed the recently released AAUP White Paper on the Future of UW System with UWM AAUP Vice-President (and Associate Professor of Linguistics) Nick Fleisher. The paper is a collaborative project of AAUP chapters around the UW system released in advance of the budget that concludes with a list of suggested actions to support the UW System. Some members of the UC thought that elements of the paper could be revised to reach specific (non-faculty) audiences. Fleisher pointed out that in the absence of a political climate in which data is persuasive, we still need to make a coherent moral case for the support of Wisconsin’s public universities. He suggested the slogan “fund the freeze” to illustrate how the state disinvestment in higher education is unsustainable alongside a tuition freeze. If the state wants to continue to freeze tuition, then it needs to provide GPR to offset that freeze so that Wisconsin’s public universities can maintain high quality degree programs for our students.

November 1

We started off with the Chair’s report and focused on the status of Post-Tenure Review policy. Our PTR document has not been sent to the UW System yet but will be by the Nov 15th deadline. After all the campuses have submitted plans, they will go to the Board of Regents for consideration during their December meeting. The UC will be working on PTR implementation guidelines for departments.

UC members reported that the search and screen committee for the College of L&S Dean position will have its first meeting tomorrow. Last week, the AAFEC met with Jamie Cimple-Wiemer from the Office of Equity and Diversity Services and discussed how that office could help search and screen committees implement best practices for building diverse candidate pools.

The UC also followed up from last week with a discussion of the international pathways provider that the university is negotiating with. The UC expressed concerns that shared governance groups and academic units will need to have time to examine and consult on the proposal before any contract is signed.

Under new business, a faculty member from CEAS brought forward allegations of P&P violations by the Dean’s office.




October 25

Today’s UC Meeting featured several visitors and discussions on topics that ranged from international pathways providers to extramural funding. In his chair’s report, John Reisel said that he met with the Chancellor who is putting together a group to advise him on campus vision particularly in regard to resource allocation. We eagerly await the acronym of this new ad-hoc committee.

The UC then had a lengthy discussion about INTO with the Provost, CIE’s Executive Director Sara Tully and Professor Larry Kuiper of the International Committee (a new Faculty standing committee). For those who are hearing about this for the first time, you are not alone. INTO is an organization, referred to as a “pathway” company, that partners with universities to recruit and manage international students. (Inside Higher Ed had an in-depth article on these programs in 2014). It is currently operating in eight universities in the United States including Oregon State and George Mason. While informal discussions started over a year ago, the process is now moving quickly along, and UWM representatives are trying to negotiate a proposal for a contract with INTO. That proposal would then need to make its way through shared governance on campus before it is presented to the Board of Regents. The details of the proposal, however, are still in the process of being hammered out. Many specific questions about the numbers could not be answered. Members of the UC raised several concerns including: the academic quality of the students coming into the program; creating specially tailored pathway programs for out-of-state tuition/international students and not for students from Milwaukee; the cost of the program; how this would work for grad programs; and a constricted timeline that does not give shared governance bodies the time they need to vet the proposal.

The Provost also reported that he has formed the committee for the L&S Dean search, which is comprised of 23 members. The Provost tried to split the L&S members evenly between divisions and did not list more than one member from a single department. Their first meeting is next week.

Kathy Miller Dillon, Assistant Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies, presented as the Academic Staff Committee representative. She said there was nothing new since last week’s Faculty Senate meeting, but she reiterated concerns about INTO and its impact on Academic Staff, and about the status of indefinite appointments, particularly given the lack of rolling horizons. You can view the ASC report on Instructional Academic Staff Appointments here.

We ended the meeting with a discussion about external grant funding and research assistant (RA) tuition with Mark Harris, Interim Vice Provost for Research, and Robin Van Harpen, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administrative Affairs. We were also joined by concerned faculty members Sandra McClellan, Margo Anderson, and Nadya Fouad. The current system punishes departments with externally funded research assistants because the tuition collected does not count for the department as tuition revenue, and because it goes into the central fund. While departments may be getting money back from that central pool, the flow of funds is not transparent. McClellan, Anderson, and Fouad argued that this process disincentivizes research, which is dangerous for a campus interested in maintaining R1 status and growing our overall research profile. It also compromises the academic mission of the university by pitting research and teaching interests against each other. Van Harpen said that this problem will not be fixed until we move into the new budget model in 2019. In the meantime, Fouad said that we are going to lose faculty who can write significant grants and bring in research dollars, and McClellan asked for the university to undertake a cohesive strategy to properly incentivize and prioritize research on this campus.

October 18

John Reisel focused his chair’s report on his meeting with the Provost. They discussed program discontinuance, workload policy, and putting together a task force on grading policy. From the Economic Benefits Committee, Swarnjit Arora reported that WEA Trust South Central is going away from UW system, but WEA East group will be maintained. Health insurance and dental premiums will stay the same next year, and for flexible accounts you will be able to carry up to $500. The EBC also expressed concern about parking and transit for faculty.  The Wisconsin Retirement System will make a presentation on Dec 8th on campus for those interested in learning more about retirement.

Rachel Buff reported that the UWM chapter of the AAUP met with Ray Cross this morning. Cross is optimistic about the $42 million budget request for the UW-System, and stated that State Rep. Robin Vos is a good advocate for the system. While he believes that Performance-Based Funding decreases productivity and opposes workload metrics, Cross said it is likely we will get some kind of PBF from the Governor. Technical colleges have worked with PBF but made it “flexible.”

In advance of the Faculty Senate meeting this Thursday at 2:30, we reviewed the draft report of the UC chair. Senators, please read the relevant documents, particularly the Post-Tenure Review document and the resolution protesting PTR procedure, in advance of the meeting.

We concluded with concerns raised by Marcia Parsons about the lack of policy addressing students who have to miss class for UWM-related activities, such as dance recitals and academic conferences, that fall outside of athletic events. The UC will work on a policy that mirrors what student athletes currently follow. 

October 11

Chancellor Mone joined the UC today to discuss the Board of Regents meeting and budget issues. UW-System requested a $42.5 million increase, and the Chancellor is pushing for a larger percentage allocation of that request for UWM. The Governor continues to indicate that any increase, however, will be tied to “performance-based funding.” It’s unclear what the metrics, goals, and baselines of a performance-based funding model would be. Although many state institutions of higher ed have adopted PBF models, recent research indicates that performance-based funding does not improve academic outcomes. (For example, see the article in Inside Higher Ed, which points to the research of UW-Madison professor Nicholas Hillman who “argues that performance-based funding is rarely effective.”)

The Chancellor also expressed interest in forming a faculty led advisory group on accountability metrics and best practices for faculty engagement of students. He cited the EAB for resources on student retention.

In terms of enrollments, the Chancellor quoted Ray Cross, “aligning our system with what we have and what we will become,” largely in reference to declining high school graduation rates and changing student demographics. For a snapshot of our UWM enrollment numbers please go to the Office of Institutional Research and click on the dashboard for the weekly report, currently showing a 4.1% decline in undergraduate enrollment, a 5.5% decline in new freshmen, and a 4% decline in graduate students. News from UW-Colleges is that they are facing a 12% enrollment decline and have canceled transfer fairs.

After the Chancellor left, members of the UC continued to discuss how the administration needs to articulate a clear vision for moving forward under such difficult budgetary times and is putting off making difficult decisions regarding budget and program cuts. Michael Brandino reported that the SPC committee (Strategic Position Control) has come up with targets for spending reductions by each campus unit, which will be released, along with a plan for the taxing of any remaining carry forwards. The SPC meets as needed on Monday mornings, and invites concerned members of the university community to attend.

The Faculty Senate meeting is coming up on Thursday, October 20th at 2:30pm. The agenda includes the Post-Tenure Review document, preceded by a resolution protesting the Board of Regents PTR policy as going against AAUP guidelines for post tenure review.

October 4, 2016

The UC meeting this week included a discussion with the Provost and reports from committee members. The Provost discussed the progress of the L&S Dean search. He is still taking names for committee membership, but has confirmed Dr. Jennifer Doering, from the College of Nursing, as the committee chair. The search committee should be finalized in the next week or two.

Final enrollment numbers reveal that our undergraduates are down 3.7% overall (which translates into $5 million in lost revenue). The freshman class is down 5%. These numbers reflect both the decreased number of high school graduates from our feeder schools, and the increased number of Wisconsin students Madison is accepting in order to offset their increase in out-of-state matriculants.

In terms of the overall campus budget, the projected $18 million shortfall came down to $12 million. SPC advised we reduce that $12 million cut by borrowing $4 million from reserves. That would leave us with $30 million in spendable reserves. Campuses are required to maintain a certain level of reserves to maintain accreditation. We are above that required level, but nowhere near the recommended level.

The UC discussed at length the recent Journal Sentinel article about a WPRI study on graduation rates across the UW system. The article cited incorrect enrollment numbers. The article also featured a misleading chart that visualized 4 and 6-year graduation rates. While the numbers are not incorrect (technically) their graphic expression inflates the appearance of the number of 6-year graduates, and students who start at UWM but finish somewhere else count against our numbers. Because it focuses on entering freshmen as the measurable unit, the article also does not account for transfer students. In terms of actual numbers we graduate about the same number of students who start here as freshman (they just aren’t all the same students who started). Make sense? These numbers and their articulation will become increasingly important as we enter a new state budget proposal that may include performance-based funding.

UC Chair John Reisel reported on the system reps meeting of faculty governance groups from around the system. Every campus is working on their Post Tenure Review policy. It’s unclear how these policies will be presented to the Regents. Campus PTR policies are due to the System by November 15th. The revised UWM PTR policy has gone through codification a second time and is heading to the Faculty Senate later this month. Reps also heard that our libraries are trying to find a less expensive way to ship system-borrowed books from campus to campus. Finally, System President Ray Cross (see his latest editorial here) reported on the biennial budget proposal and went over the System Strategic Framework (aka 20/20FWD)The UW System is requesting $42.5 million in new money divided into the four areas articulated in the System Strategic Framework. Those four areas are: Educational pipeline (K-12 and Tech); University Experience (be more active and dynamic); Business and Community Mobilization; Operational excellence/Improving Online Degrees. Cross has the expectation that the $50 million lapse will be reinstated, which means the System anticipates $92 million in new revenue, some or all of which might be tied to performance-based funding, depending on the Governor. There is a new model for GPR funding due out this spring.



September 27, 2016

     Today the UC welcomed Rebecca Freer, Chair of the Academic Staff Committee. Freer briefed us on the work the committee plans to take up this year. Their focus will be to review Chapter 104 on contracts and compensation policy. There are about 1800 Academic Staff on campus and most are on terminal contracts that are either fixed term or renewable.
     The UC also discussed reports from other meetings including the Chancellor’s expanded cabinet and Strategic Position Control. Michael Brondino attended the SPC meeting and reported that target budgets have not yet been sent to units. Reserves will be used to cover part of the current $18 million cut to the University this year. Some UC members expressed concern that reserves are low and spending them could compromise accreditation, and ultimately lead to the dismantling of the public university system. Others thought that tapping into reserves keeps us from making difficult decisions in the short term. The Budget Model Working Group met to discuss how R1 status would be protected and supported under the new budget model.
     The Provost has asked for suggestions of L&S faculty to serve on the search and screen committee for the Dean of Letters and Science. UC members gave the John Reisel names and encourages L&S departments also to forward him names. Some members of the UC expressed concern about the state of L&S and would like to see the new dean set up for success.
     Lastly, we tackled another revised version of the Post Tenure Review document. The UC came to a consensus on the post-tenure-review-v7-30, and it will be forwarded to the Codification and Senate Rules committees so that it may be placed on the October agenda of the Faculty Senate.