October 4, 2019  |  News & Events, Timely Announcements

Colleagues –

I hope that your semester is off to a wonderful start.

Two weeks ago, the Chancellor laid out the strategic direction for the campus with his Plenary.  I write today to share updates on how Academic Affairs will contribute to those efforts. There is significantly more to say about each of the items below and thus I look forward to upcoming discussions and retreats where we can discuss these initiatives and how you can help.

In what follows, I provide an update on accreditation and some general school/college updates. I then use the Chancellor’s five-part strategic directions for the campus (https://uwm.edu/chancellor/strategic-directions/) to provide an overview on initiatives.


Accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission

On July 8, we successfully submitted our Assurance Agreement to the Higher Learning Commission, demonstrating that we continue to meet the criteria for accreditation. Now we will begin work on a Quality Initiative Plan (QIP) that focuses on student success.  We also will prepare for HLC’s 2023 on-site comprehensive evaluation visit, including a federal compliance audit. In that evaluation, there will be special emphasis on the assessment of academic programs and general education.

School and College Updates

  • College of General Studies (https://uwm.edu/generalstudies/). The College of General Studies (our new two-year campuses in Washington County and Waukesha) welcomed Dean Simon J. Bronner. We have asked the Dean to form a team for strategic planning related to enrollment management, program array, and strategic realignments. CGS will also put an emphasis on managing relationships between its two campuses and with the main campus.
  • Faculty Mentoring Program (https://uwm.edu/faculty-mentor/). Under the leadership of Professor John Reisel, we are reinvigorating our long-standing mentoring program for junior faculty. If interested in mentoring or being mentored, please contact John at reisel@uwm.edu.
  • Hiring and Appointment Updates. We welcome several new appointments and hires this year, including the following:
    • 22 new faculty
    • Dean Tim Behrens (College of Health Sciences)
    • Dean Kaushal Chari (Lubar School of Business)
    • Dean Simon Bronner (College of General Studies)
    • Interim Dean Nancy Frank (School of Architecture and Urban Planning)
    • Associate Vice Provost for Research Kris O’Connor
    • Associate Dean Andrew Graettinger (College of Engineering and Applied Science)
    • Interim Associate Dean Layth Alwan (Lubar School of Business)
    • Interim Associate Dean Hobey Davies (School of Information Studies)
    • Purushottam Papatla has been named Co-Director of the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute
    • Brian Hinshaw is our new Director of the Office of Central Advising
    • John Meister joins us as the new Director of the Accessibility Resource Center.

This year, we will hire a number of faculty positions as submitted by schools and colleges, as well as a Director for the Connected Systems Institute and a Dean for the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. The timeline for hiring a Dean for the School of Architecture and Urban Planning will be determined soon.

  • Professional Development. Professional development for faculty, staff, and administrators is a high priority. We just completed training sessions with department chairs, associate deans, and deans, and plan continuing professional development for these groups and others throughout the year on topics focused on leadership development and student success.

Initiatives Aligned with Campus Strategic Directions

Outstanding Learning Environment

Academic Affairs collaborates with the Division of Enrollment Management and with Student Affairs in providing an Outstanding Learning Environment for all of our students. In Academic Affairs, we focus on the following:

  • Quality Initiative Plan. As part of our accreditation process with the HLC, we will develop a QIP that focuses on student success. Pending governance approval, we are planning to examine methods for increasing participation rates in High Impact Practices such as First Year Seminars, supplemental instruction, and tutoring.
  • Academic Program Planning and Implementation. Last year, the Regents approved six new programs:
    • Bachelor’s: Public Health, Environmental Engineering
    • Master’s: African and African Diaspora Studies, TESOL and Applied Linguistics, Biostatistics
    • Doctoral: Occupational Therapy

This year, we expect to present the following for Board of Regents approval:

    • BA in Computer Science
    • BA in Digital Arts and Culture
    • BS in Freshwater Sciences

We will finalize notices of intent in preparation for a BA in Japanese and a PhD in Electrical Engineering.

In addition, this year we plan to continue development of the metamajor pathways for undecided students, including the development of pathway-specific coursework for all pathways (http://www.uwm.edu/undecided). In response to last year’s surveys and workgroups related to General Education Requirements, we are prototyping thematic pathways that will help students navigate their many options in ways they will find more meaningful. We will refresh the Flexible Option (https://uwm.edu/academicaffairs/current_projects/online-learning-innovation/), and continue to explore options for a common, customizable course evaluation tool.

  • Enrollment Management. Although UWM’s enrollment funnel is primarily managed by our Division of Enrollment Management, Academic Affairs also plays a key role. Through CEMAT (Chancellor’s Enrollment Management Action Team), we have proposed 3-, 6-, and 10-year enrollment targets for recruitment, retention, and graduation. Our Office of Dual Enrollment is providing new avenues for community engagement and marketing opportunities in area high schools. We are attracting new students with our expanded online options during summer and UWinteriM.  We continue to explore international recruitment, and we are moving quickly to improve our transfer relationships with other regional institutions, with a particular focus on our partners in the Wisconsin Technical College System.
  • Student Success. In collaboration with other areas of campus, we continue to align our priorities with the core student success efforts identified by the Chancellor’s Enrollment Management Action Team (CEMAT). Every school and college is part of this collective effort and has received a charge to align its efforts with the seven undergraduate success efforts:
      • Increase graduation rates
      • Decrease average credits to degree
      • Accumulate 30 credits by 2nd fall (new freshmen)
      • Make experiential learning available to every student
      • Improve retention rates
      • Achieve appropriate rates of Ds, Fs, and withdrawals (DFWs) in all courses
      • Eliminate the achievement gap (one-year retention).

Key initiatives include the evaluation and possible expansion of High Impact Practices (HIPs), including experiential learning and first year seminars; changes to advising, including investment in holistic advising in the multicultural student centers, our ongoing work with undecided student pathways in the Office of Central Advising, and expansion of EAB’s Navigate tool to faculty and staff; and student success initiatives including 15 to Finish, Momentum Pathways, Math Pathways, and Academic Maps. At the graduate level, we continue developing accelerated master’s programs, assessing and responding to the results of our Graduate Student Survey (gradSERU), integrating school and college plans with the Graduate School’s R1-Graduate Outstanding Learning Environment (R1-GOLE) central plan, and investing in maintaining R-1 status.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Global Inclusion and Engagement provides the primary campus leadership on diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Academic Affairs works closely with GIE on the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students. We continue to seek opportunities to further diversify our staff; one of our many initiatives for this year is the campus diversity framework, spearheaded by Vice Chancellor Joan Prince with critical contributions from Dean Scott Gronert and Professors Jennifer Doering and David Pate. AA continues to collaborate with GIE in a long-standing partnership—Diversity in Study Abroad. Led by Dr. Chia Vang, up to ten students will be selected to engage in international academic experiences. Academic Affairs and GIE will continue their partnership working with Deans and the academic leadership with respect to inclusive practices in teaching and learning. We expect to finalize the overall diversity framework this year with the plan released to campus this semester.

Research Excellence

Two years ago, the campus finalized a research plan under the leadership of Vice Provost Mark Harris. Now, Mark is working with every school and college to align its efforts with the overall campus plan (view on the Chancellor’s “Research Excellence” page: https://uwm.edu/chancellor/strategic-directions/research/).

Other key research agenda items include:

  • Reviewing and updating practices regarding research data security and protection of intellectual property.
  • Documenting the roles and responsibilities of investigators and administrative units concerning external funding (grants and contracts) and sharing this information with the research community.
  • Reorganizing the Office of Research’s internal research grant programs and implementing a new application portal to provide more consistency among programs. The Office of Undergraduate Research SURF program provided the (successful) initial test of the new system.

Community Engagement and Talent Pipeline

Academic Affairs is involved in a number of these key campus partnership initiatives, including:

  • Connected Systems Institute (https://uwm.edu/csi/). Predominantly funded by industry, the CSI focuses on advanced research and educational programming related to digital manufacturing. This year we will hire an executive director.
  • Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute. This one-of-a-kind Institute is a collaboration between UWM, Northwestern Mutual, and Marquette University. The NMDSI is built upon the assumption that to help an entity to stay on the leading edge of its industry, its needs strong talent with skills and passion in business, mathematics, behavioral sciences, process design, and industrial engineering. This institute will help us develop an organic talent pipeline to meet those needs.
  • An online, non-credit workforce development initiative to feature self-paced training with success coaching in high-demand fields. We will explore the potential to offer a bridge to credit through prior learning assessment and stackable credentials.
  • Flex 2.0. A re-visioning of our Flex program, with the goal of maximizing student success, increasing enrollment, and ensuring future sustainability in UWM’s Flexible Option programs (offered in partnership with UW-Extended Campus).
  • Prior Learning Assessment. The Lumina Foundation, through its “All Learning Counts” program, awarded us a grant to study Prior Learning Assessment. As part of this grant, we will work in collaboration with the School of Continuing Education.
  • M3 (MCubed) (https://uwm.edu/m-cubed/). Ongoing work through the unique collaboration among Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee Area Technical College, and UWM.
  • SFS Freshwater Collaborative. The Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin (FCW) is the nation’s first integrated, higher education, multi-institutional program centered on serving the freshwater economy. We are currently searching for an externally funded Executive Director who will be housed at UWM and provide leadership, vision, policy direction, and management oversight for the FCW.
  • Mental Health App. We are working with Student Affairs to offer a mental health and well-being mobile app that will increase access to web-based resources for all students (and in particular, for online students).

Sustainable Future for the Campus

This strategic initiative represents a new effort to coordinate our administrative efforts to improve operations and maximize resources, co-led by me and Vice Chancellor Robin Van Harpen, with support from Vice Chancellor Tom Luljak and Chief Enrollment Officer Katie Miota.  Current initiatives include:

  • New Budget Model. Academic Affairs works closely with the Office of Financial Planning & Analysis and with Enrollment Management on fiscal responsibility and aligning our budget with enrollment and state support. This year, we start year two of our new budget model; there have been minor changes relating to fringe benefits. We will visit every school and college to discuss budget planning starting in November/December.
  • Capital budget planning. NWQ construction has begun and will continue in phases for the next several years. Design of the new Chemistry building has begun. Planning has also begun for the Union renovation and new Klotsche annex. Pre-planning for a new Engineering/STEM building is expected to begin in 2020, along with a determination as to whether to renovate or demolish the current Chemistry building. Finally, UWM has also been allocated funding for several repair projects around campus, including addressing the facades of multiple buildings.
  • Integrated Shared Services. Campus Technology Solutions, the IT hub, is finalizing the transition of support of all campus units to the hub. Planning for the 2nd and 3rd shared service centers is underway. SSC2 is expected to go live in Spring of 2020.
  • Data management. A new data group, headed by Mike Darnell from Letters and Science, will investigate options for rolling out supplementary data tools and providing data management solutions.

The above list highlights key initiatives that will move us forward on campus priorities. As we continue through the academic year, I intend to keep these items on the agenda in my meetings with schools and colleges, governance groups, and campus leadership. My office will track our progress, which will be shared in future updates.

Take care,


Johannes Britz
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs


Emailed from Provost Britz on Friday, October 4, 2019