January 2012 Chancellor's Report

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Welcome to the first issue of the Chancellor’s Report, a monthly newsletter designed to highlight important information, updates and changes that affect students, faculty and staff at UW-Platteville. Each month, the newsletter will include information from a wide variety of different university departments including the Office of the Chancellor, Admissions, Student Affairs, Athletics, Advancement and Administrative Services. It will also include information from the Center for New Ventures and the Real Estate Foundation.

Communication is a two-way process, and I am interested in hearing your thoughts about university issues. In the upcoming months, in addition to this newsletter, we will also have regular, informal “brown bag lunch” gatherings as another way to share information with you, answer your questions and address any concerns you may have about things happening at UW-Platteville.

As I write this message to you in late January 2012, it is important to note that the University of Wisconsin-Platteville enters the 21st century as one of the nation’s leading regional universities and a center of academic and educational excellence. Thanks to your efforts, we are the fastest-growing university in the entire UW System and a beacon to those looking for an exceptional, rich, diverse college experience.

Most importantly, I want all University of Wisconsin-Platteville faculty and staff members to know that I value and appreciate all that you do each and every day. Your hard work, dedication and loyalty to this university and its mission have been essential in providing the highest quality education for our students.

We live in a time of rapid change, but our core mission remains the same: to provide high quality, technologically-advanced, competitive education that is accessible to all students. Some changes, like the recent budget cuts, have been pressed upon us from the outside and are not within our control. We are adapting and are aggressively and creatively pursuing other options to make up for these shortfalls. We believe that despite some of the changes imposed upon us from the outside, in the end, we are in charge of our own destiny.

Here are some of the most recent changes that affect all of us:

Coordinating Campus Strategic Planning with Efforts by Colleges and Academic Planning

Our recently completed Master Plan will guide the physical growth and development of our campus over the next 25 years by providing a carefully-designed framework for additions, renovations and improvements for campus buildings and grounds.

We are engaged in developing a Strategic Plan to further define our overall institutional direction. This plan will help guide the university’s execution of its academic mission: student recruitment, academic programming, technology enhancements, hiring, marketing, developing and focusing/refocusing curriculum and more. With a flexible, strategic plan in place, we can successfully respond to challenges as they present themselves. Strategic planning consultants Baker Tilly, LLP and AZ Consulting, LLC are assisting us in these efforts. We hope to have the plan drafted for final review and feedback in September 2012 and then presented to the Board of Regents by October 2012. Such a plan would be impossible without the collaboration of faculty, staff, students, community members, alumni and friends of the university, and I look forward to working with all our varied constituencies as we develop this guiding document. Christina Curras is leading the development of the plan and should be contacted if you have questions, suggestions or want to know how to get involved.

The first meeting to discuss the Strategic Plan was held last week, with a very enthusiastic response from the close to 100 faculty, staff and students in attendance. The planning committee will look at the academic prioritization at the university. The Academic Planning Council, led by Tim Zauche and Lisa Riedle, held a two-day workshop with Robert Dickinson, a Colorado author and expert on the subject, prior to the meeting to begin this important process.

Impact of State Budget Lapses

One of the most apparent changes recently has been the dramatic decline in support from the state, which is currently facing up to $300 million in lapses. UW-Platteville’s share of these lapses is expected to be at least $1.8 million in 2011-13 and may increase to over $3 million. We have identified a number of options to deal with these cuts so that we can adjust and adapt in proactive ways that address the shortfalls while minimizing their negative impact as best we can. We acknowledge that these lapses are concerning, but we remain deeply committed to carrying out our mission and want to reassure you that we will do everything within our power to provide faculty, staff and students with all of the support needed. A set of options will be presented to the university community over the next several weeks with the goal of making final decisions in late February. Cathy Riedl-Farrey can be contacted if you have questions on this, or if you want to make suggestions.

I propose that we identify some basic principles that will guide us as we move forward:

  • We are all in this together
  • Preserve the quality of education for UW-Platteville students and improve the situation for employees
  • Avoid layoffs and protect jobs by holding vacant positions open and by not filling some vacancies caused by attrition (retirements, resignations, etc).
  • Move decisions regarding reductions to Assistant Chancellors, Deans and governance groups
  • Expand our on-line programs consistent with Distance Learning plans
  • Continue with targeted growth in enrollment that is consistent with our Master Plan
  • Invest in initiatives to increase our revenue

Special Task Force on UW System Restructuring and Flexibilities

The 2011-13 Wisconsin State Budget (2011 Wisconsin Act 320) included language to establish the Special Task Force on UW Restructuring and Operational Flexibilities to study the University of Wisconsin System. As a member of the Task Force, in our study we must address the following six issues:

  • Whether there is a need to restructure the system and make recommendations as to a new governance structure.
  • How system employees and those system employees assigned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison would transition from the state personnel system to the new personnel systems.
  • Whether tuition flexibility can be extended to the system while ensuring access and affordability and what role the Legislature should have in establishing tuition.
  • How compensation plans for system employees should be determined in future biennia.
  • Additional operational flexibilities that could be provided to system institutions.
  • How articulation and the transfer of credits between system institutions could be improved.

The Task Force will submit a report to the Senate and Assembly standing committees on higher education and the Joint Finance Committee no later than July 31, 2012. The Task Force may extend that deadline by 30 days to Aug. 31, 2012.

The Task Force has held two monthly meetings since December 2011. If you are interested, Wisconsin Eye videotaped the meetings from the December and January meeting. I encourage you to watch them if you are so inclined.

Rountree Commons and Plans for New Residence Hall by 2013

The New Year saw the completion of a major milestone in the construction of the Real Estate Foundation's first project, Rountree Commons. By Jan. 6, the roof was completed and the building was sealed. That same week, work began on the massive effort to install the drywall. A mock-up room with complete finishes and furniture is scheduled to be completed by Feb. 10. Mild weather has helped the pace of construction and everything remains on track for opening in August to meet our returning students for the fall 2012 semester.

The university has also submitted a request to the Board of Regents to begin a second project on campus. This project would include a new, university-operated residence hall that provides an additional 400-plus beds as well as an attached campus dining facility. The site proposed is located just north of Southwest Hall. The Real Estate Foundation is hopeful that approval will be granted in February. If approval is granted, work on the site would begin early in the spring with opening scheduled for the fall of 2013.

In the future, the Real Estate Foundation would like to start a project that will help bring more housing as well as commercial and office space to assist in the redevelopment of the downtown area. On-going discussions with the City of Platteville are taking place regarding a suitable location in the downtown area.

Personnel Task Force

As part of the 2011-2013 biennial budget (Act 32 of 2011), the legislature authorized the development of a UW-System personnel system, separate and distinct from the state personnel system, for all University of Wisconsin System employees. This new system is to be in place by July 1, 2013.

Vice Chancellor Darrell Bazzell from UW-Madison and I are co-chairing the task force to work toward realizing the changes authorized by the statute. In addition, Jeanne Durr, director of Human Resources, has been appointed to the project team, which is comprised of eight human resource directors from around the UW System. The project team has identified six broad subject areas that will need to be addressed and the team members will be chairing working groups of employees from all system campuses, including four employees from UW-Platteville.

There will be multiple opportunities for our campus community to review the project’s progress and to make comments and suggestions.


Center for New Ventures

Located in the Pioneer Tower, the Center for New Ventures is focused on assisting the faculty, students and staff members in the collaborative, entrepreneurial development of new programs and activities that will help achieve the university's mission and reinforce its commitment to teaching while also generating new sources of revenue. The Center for New Ventures was created to help the university and its expansive educational resources become more entrepreneurial. It provides technical assistance to professors and academic staff members who are seeking grants, corporate relations, government relations, business planning and partnerships for applied research projects. The center also facilitates the funding and underwriting of proposed degree programs, academic centers of excellence, technologies and applied education resources for the Provost's office.

Grant Writing:
Grant writing is one important component of generating new sources of revenue, which will benefit students, faculty and staff. Since October, the Center for New Ventures has submitted several millions of dollars worth of grant applications for a wide range of programs. The center also implemented new grants management software which improved the process of managing grant information.

University Research Park and Innovation Center:
This past summer, UW-Platteville leaders and the Platteville city manager visited UW-Whitewater’s Research Park and Innovation Center and were impressed with its success in providing applied research opportunities for faculty, researchers and students. Because of the success it afforded that university as well as area businesses and the community, it was an idea worthy of consideration.

The first step was to assess the marketability of such an effort as well as determine its financial feasibility. Under the guidance of professional consultants, the Center for New Ventures is collaborating with the City of Platteville to conduct a five-month feasibility study and market analysis for a Research Park and Innovation Center at UW-Platteville. To fund the $100,000 study and analysis, $70,000 was budgeted and funded by the City of Platteville and UW-Platteville, coupled with an additional $30,000 in grants received from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Alliant Energy. The consultants are currently in the interview, focus group, data gathering and input phase of the project while looking at many sites to help discern which site physically, logistically and financially will work, if any.

If the research proves both marketable and financially feasible, the university will look to move forward with creating the state-of-the-art physical space necessary for applied research, innovation, consultation and entrepreneurship that professors and students need. A research park and innovation center would have a major impact on our ability to expand undergraduate research and creative opportunities while bringing in outside resources to cover our costs. This effort correlates directly into the university’s history of giving our students applied educational opportunities in their fields of choice.

Collaboration with Area Businesses/Organizations:
Employers want students who are decision makers, hard workers, problem solvers and creative thinkers who possess the skills necessary to make their companies more successful. Improving the relationships between UW-Platteville and the corporate world will lead to new revenue streams for the university, new applied research opportunities for students and projects and experiences that help the students when they graduate and enter the workforce. Corporate partnerships also lead to access to state of the art technology and resources being integrated into the university's curriculum and will help professors ensure that courses remain relevant, challenging and current. The hope is that these corporate partnerships on campus will form new and expanded centers of excellence, which will strengthen our standing in the regional university realm.

Enrollment

UW-Platteville welcomed its largest first-year class ever, opening our doors to 1,700 new students this fall. Our undergraduate enrollment is now 7,458 students, meaning we have more students on campus than any time in our nearly 150-year history.

Our students are more than just numbers, though our incoming class has impressive credentials, with an average ACT score of 22.8, which ranks us above average in the UW System. With applications up three percent and completed applications more than six percent ahead of last year’s total, we anticipate another great first-year class in the fall of 2012.

With all of our growth, we are actively engaging in strategic enrollment management, seeking to match our students with our resources and vice versa. We will discuss this further in upcoming newsletters.

Student Affairs

To comply with the new Wisconsin Voter ID law, UW-Platteville will be issuing our own cards, enabling students to vote here locally in upcoming elections. Anyone without a Platteville address on their driver’s license must have a Wisconsin picture ID and verification form to vote here. Cards will be issued in time for the April 3 presidential primary election (the city of Platteville will not have local primary elections this spring). Students can help this process by updating their PASS information to include their local address and cell phone number.

Deirdre Dalsing has been hired as the new director of University Counseling Services, where she will not only continue to work with students in need but also to educate others in helping those students. Last semester, 17 students were referred for services to help them through crisis situations.

Capital Campaign Planning and Development

We have started initial planning for a major capital campaign. CCS Consulting firm recently completed a comprehensive data analysis and feasibility study, which included conducting 120 interviews with alumni, faculty and staff. Results showed that among those interviewed, there was an extreme sense of loyalty and pride in UW-Platteville. We will keep you updated as the campaign planning moves forward.

Athletics

The Athletic Department will bring close to 200 young women to Williams Fieldhouse for National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Feb. 4. Current student-athletes and coaches engage these participants in a variety of athletic activities prior to the Pioneer basketball doubleheader against UW-Stout. The men's basketball team is home tonight (Wednesday) against UW-Oshkosh at 7 p.m. Students are admitted free with their IDs.

Beginning next week, the Pioneer Activity Center will be offering a variety of exercise classes for faculty, staff and students.

University Website Redesign

The university website redesign has officially been placed on hold to allow content stewards more time to complete their text conversions and explore introducing some more functions to the site. No new launch date has been determined.

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