Board of Regents Update

uw system logoThe University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents had a very full agenda when they met in Milwaukee last Thursday and Friday.

On Thursday, the Regents approved a 5.5 percent tuition increase for all 4-year campuses, while tuition remains frozen at the 2-year colleges. They’ve also asked that students receiving Wisconsin Higher Education Grants be held harmless from the increase. In addition, the Regents approved $5 million for the faculty recruitment/retention fund for the coming year.

Also on Thursday, the Regents discussed plans for the 2011-2013 state budget. While discussing the Research to Jobs component of the Growth Agenda,  UW System President Kevin Reilly highlighted a proposal that the University Committee (PROFS Board of Directors) has been working on for the past several months: a Decision Item Narrative (DIN) that would provide funding for 225 graduate students to support faculty hired as part of the Madision Initiative for Undergraduates (MIU). The DIN will be included in the Research to Jobs plan, according to Reilly.

The Regents will discuss the 2011-13 state budget at a special meeting on July 23, and then approve the proposal at its regularly scheduled meeting on August 19 and 20.

On Friday, the Competitive Workforce Commission presented its findings to the board. As mentioned on this site earlier, the commission found current compensation levels for both faculty and staff seriously lagging behind the competition. Commission co-chair Michael Spector called for greater flexibility in how the university is allowed to operate.

The commission also recommended that a task force be created to consider tuition benefits for university faculty and staff. The PROFS Steering Committee raised this issue in its recent meeting with Regent Michael Spector. The committee made the point that if employee fringe benefits are considered when comparing total compensation among faculty of the university’s peer institutions, tuition benefits much be included. UW-Madison does not offer this benefit while many top research institutions do.

Chancellor Martin urged the Regents to continue to make compensation a priority: “I believe if there is no pay plan, if there is no restoration of rescission, and if there are furloughs for another three years…we will see the departure of great faculty,” Martin said. “I feel the situation is urgent, and it’s important to help people understand what it means to operate not just in a national market but in an international market.”

Reilly said the commission’s report was “a very good platform from which to press our case with the development of a state budget.”