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DEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald Photo

This is the ninth part in a series profiling members of the Board of Regents, the governing board for the University of Wisconsin System.

The University of Wisconsin has a special place in Judith Crain's family — not only did she herself graduate from the UW, but her children are also all UW System alumni.

With her family's education deeply rooted in the UW System, Crain works hard to enable more students and their families to afford the opportunities she had.

Crain has experience with all levels of public education, which she said is important for Wisconsin to grow and be successful. After serving on the Green Bay Board of Education for 16 years, Crain is now currently a trustee for the UW-Green Bay Chancellor's Council.

And, according to Crain, education is key in Wisconsin.

"I think that the future of the state depends on educated ability," she said. "I think that the university system is critical to that."

UW System Communications Director Doug Bradley said the experience Crain has with the different levels of public education is important to the UW System.

"She has brought some really good awareness of the seamlessness of education," Bradley said. "We don't just stop what we're doing with the folks in the state when they graduate from high school."

Crain also said she would like to see an increase in the amount of financial aid available to students. She supports a proposed financial aid plan called the Wisconsin Covenant program, which is currently being discussed by the Board of Regents.

This program would guarantee financial aid for middle school students who are willing to commit to several academic goals for their high school careers. Upon meeting these goals, students would receive financial aid toward their college education.

Though Crain noted there is a "good deal of detail" that needs to be worked out with the program, she said it does offer some important opportunities.

"She is very sensitive to some of the economic impacts of things like financial aid and tuition increases and how challenging that's become for our students," Bradley said of Crain. "She wants to try and get this right."

Crain also supported a decision by the regents last week to lower out-of-state-tuition. She said the increased diversity of students is important to the university, and added the reduction is also expected to generate more funding for the university.

"I think that is a terribly important point," Crain said. "I think the board was especially supportive of this because of [these projections]."

While Crain has been an active member of the Board of Regents since May of last year, she has not yet been confirmed by the Wisconsin Senate.

Todd Allbaugh, spokesperson for Senate Majority leader Dale Schultz, said Crain has to make a courtesy call to all senators before a confirmation vote can take place.

According to Crain, the Senate Committee for Higher Education has approved her, and she remains hopeful that her confirmation on part of the full Senate will take place soon.

"I have been speaking with senators and making myself available so that they can know who I am and the kinds of things that are important to me," Crain said.

Allbaugh defended the length of time it has taken to confirm Crain by pointing to Schultz's record as the house majority leader.

"[The Senate has] taken up and confirmed more gubernatorial appointments, well over 100 now, than either Chuck Chvala or Mary Panzer when they were senate majority leader," he said.