Amid a series of power outages, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents unanimously approved a plan to help further connect UW students to the Wisconsin economy, in addition to both the 2017-19 operational and capital biennial budgets.

In an effort to bolster Wisconsin’s economy and keep its students and future workers in the state, the UW System created the 2020FWD Strategic Framework plan  — a plan that promotes innovation and collaboration between the state’s universities, businesses and communities in its most needed areas.

UW System President Ray Cross debuted the strategic framework plan at the Thursday meeting. Calling it a “practical roadwork” for the UW System, Cross said he believes 2020FWD will help the system navigate a “changing and unpredictable future.”

Strategic framework plan

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The system formally held public listening sessions, conducted two surveys and met with stakeholder and expert groups to gather information for the plan. The result, Cross said, was a “dynamic” plan that is meant to address four key areas through specific initiatives.

  1.  Educational pipeline
    The main goal of this area is to increase the enrollment and success of individuals. A large part of this pillar will be focused on creating partnerships with other educational institutions and community groups to help younger students, specifically K-12. The education pipeline also aims to create swifter, simpler transitions for transfer students and help non-traditional students, such as adults looking to go back to school. Overall, this plan hopes to offer more college-credit options for students looking to enroll at a UW school and reduce their graduation time.
    Initiatives: College Options, 360 Advising, Seamless Transfer, New Traditional, Wisconsin’s Workforce Needs.
    Funding: $26.1 million from state funds, $1 million from UW System.
  2. University experience
    Through this pillar, the System hopes to grow a more “creative and engaging educational experience” for its students. Along with providing students new means of learning through hands-on experience and research opportunities, this area will develop a cultural fluency program to promote diversity and tolerance for Wisconsin’s future workforce.
    Initiatives: U², Fluent, Cre-8, UW Innovate, Idea$.
    Funding: $6 million from state funds, $1 million from UW System.
  3. Business and community mobilization
    To address the state’s greatest needs for its workforce and help Wisconsin businesses and communities become more successful, this pillar is meant to connect students to Wisconsin businesses and community groups. The collaboration between these parties, in turn, will allow students to grow in their expertise and provide support for Wisconsin businesses.
    Initiatives: UniverCity Year, Wisconsin Vitality, Career
    Connect, Wisconsin Idea Summits.
    Funding: $6.4 million from state funds.
  4. Operational excellence
    With already limited funding and continuous budget cuts, this pillar seeks to educate more students with limited resources. The System hopes to pursue “transparent, efficient and effective operational practices” to improve both administrative and academic processes. While there is a growing number of Wisconsin residents entering the UW System thanks to the tuition freeze, there is no equal growth in the amount of resources provided to educate them. While funds remain limited, Operational Excellence hopes to help administrators make the most of their current budgets.
    Initiatives: Commitment to Operational Reform and Excellence (CORE), Dashboard, On-Time Degrees, Rewarding Staff and Faculty Excellence.
    Funding: $4 million from state funds. There will be no requested resources for CORE.

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To fund these projects, Cross requested $42.5 million in the 2017-19 operational biennial budget.

“This is the Wisconsin Idea in impact,” Cross said. “It is a collective vision and we hope for it to become a collective action.”

The board requested no additional resources for the CORE initiative and plans to match $1 million in funding in the first year for the Educational Pipeline and University Experience initiatives.

“We recognize the incredible importance of affordability without sacrificing quality,” Regent President Regina Millner said.

Capital budget

Along with the operational budget, the board also unanimously approved the capital budget, which seeks $713.3 million in funding for projects across the UW System.

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The two budget requests now await state approval. Gov. Scott Walker previously wrote to state heads not to expect any new funding for the 2017-19 biennial budgets.

The board also selected Regents Eve Hall and Edmund Manydeeds to chair the new Campus Climate Task Force, which is set to debut this fall.

The board conducted research to provide context for the group and will begin receiving nominations for the rest of the task force from the chancellor once the academic school year begins.

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The Business and Finance committee approved a five-year agreement with Amazon Pickup Points, LLC. The agreement allows students, faculty, staff and Madison citizens who live close to campus the ability to pick up their online purchases at a secure location on campus.

At the moment, the committee said the facility will occupy an undetermined amount of space in the Red Gym on campus. Due to the Red Gym’s status as a national historic landmark, any alterations made to accommodate the pick-up point may need to seek approval from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The university is expected to earn a guaranteed $100,000 in commission each year, but Regent Janice Mueller expects the actual commissions to be higher.