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.