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North Central Association (NCA) Focused Site Visit Report (1998)

INTRODUCTION


In November 1995, the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools voted to continue its accreditation of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This action was in response to the required 10-year interval comprehensive NCA evaluation visit to the campus in April of the same year. The NCA evaluation team concluded that "the university meets all of the GIRs [General Institutional Requirements] and all five accreditation criteria, and continues to be a basically healthy and dynamic institution." As a result of the evaluation, NCA recommended the full 10-year interval (2004-05) until the next comprehensive visit. The evaluation team did, however, recommend that a focused visit be added "for the purpose of evaluating progress made by the university in the strategic planning process."

A three-year interval for the focused visit was recommended "to allow sufficient time for the planning process to develop, to be placed within the context of anticipated changes, and for planning to have time to impact university decision making." Three specific areas related to the campus planning framework were identified for the visit: to review the institution-wide strategic planning process, budget/enrollment management issues, and administration/faculty communication.


Preparation of the Report:

In the fall of 1997, Provost Kenneth Watters appointed a campus-wide NCA Focused Site Visit Steering Committee. The group was composed of representatives from faculty and academic staff governance bodies and campus administrators.

At the first committee meeting the purpose of the focused site visit was explained, the content of the Focused Visit Institutional Report was discussed, subcommittees were formed, and an Institutional Report timetable was established. The subcommittees were based on the three items that NCA had identified for the 1998 focused visit: strategic planning, budget/enrollment management, and communication. Each subcommittee was charged with the responsibility of drafting selected sections of the report. The entire report was reviewed by all committee members, and changes and suggestions were incorporated into a revised draft. The revised draft was distributed for comment to all deans, division heads, department chairpersons, and the president of the UWM Student Association. The draft was also made available for review on the Academic Affairs' homepage.



NCA Focused Site Visit Steering Committee Members


Sona Andrews, Chair
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs

Margo Anderson
Professor, Department of History
University Committee Representative

Swarnjit Arora
Associate Professor, Department of Economics
Academic Program & Curriculum Committee Representative

Art Brooks
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Robert Greenstreet
Dean, School of Architecture and Urban Planning

Paul Haubrich
Associate Professor, Department of Exceptional Education

Jon Lenichek
Assistant Director, Enrollment Services
Academic Staff Committee Representative

Kay Magowan
Special Assistant to the Chancellor

William Mayrl
Assistant Chancellor, Student Affairs

Mark Mone
Associate Professor, Department of Business Administration
Graduate Faculty Council Representative

David Petering
Professor, Department of Chemistry
Academic Planning & Budget Committee Representative

Michael Rupp
Director, Business & Financial Services

Beth Weckmueller
Director, Enrollment Services

Ruth Williams
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs

Wayland Winstead
Director, Budgets, Institutional Research & Space Management



Organization of the Report:

At the time of the 1995 NCA Report, UWM's strategic planning process was in its developmental stage. The plan is now complete and in its second year of implementation. The plan is the centerpiece of campus-wide planning and decision making. Because of the strategic plan's fundamental role and its wide-ranging influence on campus goals, priorities, initiatives, communication, budgets, and enrollment, this Institutional Report has been organized around the plan, the planning process, and the impact of the plan on those issues of concern to NCA. The report is to be read in the context of the specific concerns raised by the 1995 NCA evaluation team. As such, the report emphasizes the strategic planning process, the tactics initiated as a result of strategic planning to enhance enrollment and create a close relationship between budget and planning, and efforts to enhance campus-wide communication.

Section I: Strategic Planning, outlines the plan, the process used to develop it, and how long-term and resource planning documents are integrated with the plan. Section II: Enrollment/Budget Management Issues highlights topics pertaining to enrollment and the strategic planning that has taken place to address them, and presents actions taken by UWM to address budget concerns. Section III: Administration/Faculty Communication, illustrates efforts made to enhance communication on campus between stakeholders. The examples in this section are in addition to other evidence presented throughout the report of enhanced communication in areas specific to strategic planning, program array review, and budget and enrollment management. Section IV: Summary, provides a brief synopsis of the progress made by UWM on the focused site visit issues. Extensive documentation for all the information presented in this report will be available in the Resource Room for examination by the evaluation team members when they make their visit to UWM.

As the report clearly demonstrates, the campus has engaged in a productive and meaningful strategic planning process that has set a direction for the university and its core mission. The UWM Strategic Plan has served the campus well in establishing common goals and developing the means of assessing progress and charting the university's future directions. The plan's impact is already evident in the successful efforts made to increase enrollment and retention, and the budget process is now directly linked to the planning process and driven by the initiatives outlined in the plan.

UWM is just beginning to reach maturity as an urban university. Its academic programs are of high quality and are staffed with dedicated and talented individuals. The external community recognizes this and the partnerships that have been created continue to thrive and grow. It is clearly recognized, however, that as UWM continues to meet its strategic goals, it needs to continually assess the future of higher education and its preparation for a strong future for this institution. With solid strategic planning now in place we are well positioned to do so.



I. STRATEGIC PLANNING


This section addresses the concerns identified in the 1995 NCA Evaluation Team Report pertaining to strategic planning: "UWM should (must) establish an appropriate campus-wide strategic planning process which involves all stakeholders in the most appropriate manner. The process should set direction, develop goals and objectives consistent with the mission, and design strategies for implementation. The priorities established in this process should then be utilized to drive the budget planning and allocation process."

The section begins with a description of the strategic planning model and process used. A brief description of the plan (full text of the plan appears in Appendix B) and the action plan (full text of action plan appears in Appendix C) are provided. The section concludes with a description of how the campus strategic plan, long-term unit plans and resource planning documents are integrated.


I.A. The Planning Model

Strategic planning at UWM follows the process recommended by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Under this process, the chancellor charges a group of individuals representative of campus constituencies with the task of prompting the campus discussion. The group drafts the significant components of strategic planning, distributes its recommendations widely, collects and reviews reactions and suggestions from the campus community, and submits its final recommendations for strategic initiatives to the chancellor. The process begins with the formulation of a campus vision, developed from the campus mission, which is reviewed in light of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Once formulated, the vision is reviewed in the context of both the current and projected status of the institution's clientele, assets, programs and comparative advantage. This review serves as a reality check. Based on the reality check, strategic initiatives by which the campus can best attain its vision are suggested. The chancellor then selects the recommended initiatives considered most strategic, finalizes the campus strategic plan and begins the development of the implementation plan to drive budget decisions, reward structures, and student outcome and other assessments, as well as organizational/structural changes.


I.B. The Planning Process

In the fall of 1992, Chancellor John Schroeder and Provost Kenneth Watters appointed faculty, staff and students to the campus Academic Planning Committee. (See Appendix A for a description of UWM committees mentioned throughout this report). To ensure that the strategic plan would be solidly based in the academic units, the committee was comprised predominantly of faculty members representative of all schools and colleges, including six faculty members from the College of Letters and Science. Also included were representatives of the University Committee, the Academic Staff Committee, the Student Association, the Chancellor's Office, the Divisions of Student Affairs and Outreach and Continuing Education, the Golda Meir Library, the Graduate School, and the Offices of Information and Media Technologies, Multicultural Affairs and Academic Affairs. (In hindsight, it would have been beneficial to appoint a greater number of academic staff members and student representatives to the committee. Although these constituencies had representation on the committee, their roles were more reactionary to the process rather then responsible for its development.) The committee was chaired by the provost.

The committee's first charge was to recommend a campus vision statement to the chancellor. Based on its review of the campus mission statement the committee developed and distributed a draft vision statement to the campus community. Following campus input and subsequent extensive revisions, the chancellor adopted the committee's final recommendation.

The Academic Planning Committee was reconvened in 1995 to resume the strategic planning process and was asked by the chancellor to prepare a list of recommended strategic initiatives to guide campus planning and budget decisions for the next several years. Committee members, working from the campus vision statement, reviewed the campus strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in light of current campus data ("the reality check") and input they received from campus and community members. In October 1995, the Academic Planning Committee released, for campus review, a set of draft strategic initiatives along with the committee's planning principles and goals. Following extensive input and revision, a set of revised strategic initiatives was released in January 1996. Also developed were examples of possible tactics that could be deployed to implement the initiatives. For the next two months, the committee continued to collect and review suggestions from the campus and the community and to release updated drafts. The final draft incorporated many suggestions, particularly those submitted by the Faculty Senate through a report of its Academic Planning and Budget Committee.

Throughout the process, a number of strategies were employed by the Academic Planning Committee to communicate its direction and draft recommendations to the expanded university community and to receive input and suggestions. The committee participated in a retreat with a panel of community members, including a member of the UWM Board of Visitors; the president of the Milwaukee School of Engineering; the director of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, an association of business and agency leaders; and the president of a leading non-profit community organization. An electronic mail reflector was utilized extensively during the planning process to post committee minutes and update drafts. Over the 1995-96 academic year, there were 1,968 "hits" to the reflector. The committee also mailed drafts to campus and community constituents, inviting comments and suggestions. The dialog and suggestions resulting from the reflector and mailings provided valuable input during the planning process. The committee's meetings were frequently attended by and contributed to by faculty and staff representatives, including several from many faculty and staff governance committees. For example, the chairs of the Academic Staff Committee, the Graduate Faculty Council and the Research Policy Committee attended and contributed input from discussions with their committee members. In addition to extensive suggestions brought to committee meetings, more than 50 written suggestions were received. (All committee records including input from constituents are on file in the Resource Room.) The most substantive input came from the faculty Academic Planning and Budget Committee.

The faculty Academic Planning and Budget Committee played a crucial role in the development of the campus strategic plan. The committee, the members of which are predominately elected by the faculty and include an elected representative of the academic staff, was founded through Faculty Senate action in 1995 to provide faculty input on campus planning and budget issues. In response to the request from the chancellor and the Academic Planning Committee for input into the strategic planning process, the Academic Planning and Budget Committee engaged in a thorough planning process, involved the Faculty Senate in reviewing drafts of recommended strategic goals, and presented its Senate-ratified recommendations to the chancellor and the Academic Planning Committee. The Academic Planning and Budget Committee continues to meet every week and is in the middle of an extensive program array review (described later) which is a critical element of the Provost's Action Plan to support the strategic plan. Its charge is one of the most extensive on campus in that the committee is critically reviewing not just UWM's array and quality of programs but also their budgeting ramifications. Committee recommendations are reported to the Faculty Senate and are advisory to the provost.

The Academic Planning Committee submitted its final report and recommendations for the campus strategic plan to the chancellor in April 1996. The report was distributed widely to administrative offices and governance groups and posted on the committee's electronic newsgroup. Copies were also made available in the provost's office and placed on reserve in the library. That same month, the chancellor held a hearing on UWM's strategic plan and invited all university employees to attend and provide their commentary on the report and the Academic Planning Committee's suggestions for implementing the strategic plan.


I.C. The Plan

In June 1996, Chancellor John Schroeder widely disseminated the strategic plan, which evolved from the recommendations developed by the campus-wide planning process described above. This included a formal presentation of the Strategic Plan for the Future of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. In so doing, the chancellor brought to closure a planning process initiated three years earlier and, at the same time, initiated a comprehensive campus planning and action strategy to realize common campus goals. The chancellor charged the provost with overall responsibility for implementation of the campus strategic plan. The plan (full text in Appendix B) states clearly UWM's main objective:

"To firmly establish UWM as one of the nation's premier urban research universities within the next decade and thereby increase the value of a UWM degree and increase the university's value to Milwaukee and Wisconsin."

The plan further prioritizes the strategies whereby the campus will meet its objective:

  1. Strengthening and more effectively integrating the university's central functions of creating, disseminating and applying knowledge:
  2. Advance UWM's stature as a center of scholarly excellence and improve its position in the Carnegie ranking of Research II universities; enrich the learning experiences of UWM students; and expand UWM's urban mission and reinforce the university's commitment to enhancing the quality of life and economic base of the Milwaukee metropolitan area and the State of Wisconsin.

  3. Stabilizing the university's enrollment and resources:
  4. Increase student enrollment and retention, better utilize existing resources, and find ways to enlarge the university's resource base.

  5. Dramatically expanding the use of technology across the campus:
  6. Employ appropriate information and communication technology to improve the academic, student service and business operations of the campus.

  7. Enhancing the campus environment:
  8. Improve the support systems and physical facilities that make the campus environment conducive to learning and working.

The strategic plan and the discussions leading to it have been essential to arriving at and communicating a common direction and set of priorities for the campus. For instance, the plan has clarified that UWM will continue to advance as a research institution and that the research of UWM faculty, staff and students will increasingly benefit the Milwaukee urban community and the State of Wisconsin. It has clarified that UWM's location in the population and business center of the state is one of its most defining and advantageous features. It has placed the learning, recruitment and retention of students at the core of all activities and planning, and it has, in effect, "raised the bar" for all campus activities in terms of expectations and effectiveness.


I.D. The Provost's Action Plan

Following discussions with the Academic Deans Council and the faculty Academic Planning and Budget Committee over the summer, in fall 1996 Provost Watters released the Provost's Action Plan (Appendix C) which reiterates and reinforces the central themes of the campus strategic plan. The action plan proposed indicators for the changes that major campus constituencies (students, faculty, staff and community) should anticipate with the successful implementation of the plan. It also identified 51 action steps to implement the strategic initiatives. The action steps serve to communicate the administration's plans and expectations to the campus, assign responsibility for actions, promote ideas for additional action steps, and place accountability for following through with the plans.


I.E. Integration of the Campus Strategic Plan, Unit Long-term Plans, and the Resource Planning Process

Released with the Provost's Action Plan were guidelines to deans and directors for the annual and long-term planning processes. The guidelines focused on implementing steps within each unit to realize the goals of the strategic plan. To initiate planning for 1997-98, the provost distributed planning packets entitled "Planning for the Year 2000" which included:

  • The UWM Strategic Plan.

  • The Provost's Action Plan.

  • Guidelines for the School/College/Division Plans for the Year 2000.

  • Guidelines instructing deans and division heads to incorporate their long-range plans (prepared during the 1996-97 planning process to implement the campus strategic goals) with their constituent departments and to involve the participation of governance and planning groups.

  • Guidelines for 1997-98 School/College Resource Planning.

In the first year of the strategic plan, each unit focused its resource planning on Strategic Initiative #3, the stabilization of enrollment and resources. Inter-unit reallocation was minimized to allow long-term planning to take place within the units. In their long-range plans, each unit identified its priorities and opportunities for contributing to a set of common strategic goals. These documents and the process of planning enabled the faculty and staff members of each unit to better conceptualize how individual departments and units fit within the campus long-term strategies.

The provost's 1997-98 planning document, which was widely distributed to divisions, schools/colleges, departments, etc., further reinforced the campus strategic plan and provided comprehensive data on the indicators and measures of the campus status in meeting its objectives. The document also provided an overview of unit activities and plans to implement the Provost's Action Plan. Budget allocations were clearly designated and justified in terms of their anticipated contribution to the campus strategic goals.

The planning process for 1998-99 continues to integrate, even more extensively, resource and program planning with the campus strategic plan. Schools, colleges and divisions have reported on progress in implementing the campus and unit long-term plans. Units have also requested campus reallocations for unit initiatives which are strategic to the campus and which require resources beyond which the unit can reallocate internally. So that all units can better prepare for and engage in long-term resource planning, the guidelines also include the provost's resource planning predictions and assumptions and anticipated campus-level strategic investments for 1998-2001.


I.F. Progress in Implementation

One year after its adoption, the chancellor released a progress report (Appendix D) on the campus strategic plan. In addition, the provost released his "report card" (Appendix E ) on the Provost's Action Plan. Both reports demonstrated excellent progress across all campus units and constituencies in implementing meaningful strategies and action steps to realize campus goals.



II. BUDGET/ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT ISSUES


This section addresses the concerns identified in the 1995 NCA Evaluation Team Report pertaining to " inadequate tactical approaches to enrollment and funding curtailments (such as adjusting the university budgets to minimize damage) impair[ing] the ability of the colleges to staff and carry out their basic responsibilities in teaching and maintaining viability of degree program." Part II.A. focuses on enrollment changes and planning and begins with an explanation of enrollment trends and management issues at UWM over the past 10 years. This is followed by examples of several successful recruitment and retention efforts that have resulted from initiatives called for in the campus strategic plan. Part II.B. focuses on budget changes and provides an explanation of the pertinent financial climate and budget issues at UWM. This is followed by a description of how planning now impacts campus and unit budgeting and the change to "reality budgeting." The budget management changes highlighted here are in direct response to initiatives called for in the UWM Strategic Plan. Many positive results are already evident due to these changes.


II.A. ENROLLMENT CHANGES AND PLANNING

A.1 Campus Enrollment Planning

During the last 10 years UWM, like all other UW System institutions, has been subject to specific, annual enrollment management targets. During the first two phases of Enrollment Management (EM I, 1987-90 and EM II, 1991-94) enrollment at most UW System institutions was to be reduced in order to better match institutional resources to enrollment so as to insure the availability of a quality education. UWM met its enrollment goal during the first several years of EM I but then began to fall below target. Enrollment results during the years 1991-1995 were particularly unsatisfactory, and the gap between targeted and actual enrollments grew. Since a financial penalty for falling below target had been introduced in 1991 as part of EM II, this enrollment shortfall had serious adverse budgetary consequences for the campus. In 1994, UWM negotiated a reduction in its EM III (1995-2000) targets but still was unable to fully meet even these reduced targets. It should be noted that the campus now, however, is closing the gap and expects to meet or perhaps exceed the mandated target in 1998-99.

UWM's failure to meet its enrollment targets during the early and mid-1990s can be attributed to a number of factors. It is probable that targets were based on flawed assumptions and that UW System failed to include important considerations such as the demographics of non-traditional students and our urban mission. Indeed, with benefit of both experience and hindsight, the UW System is in the process of reexamining its approach to enrollment management.

The number of Wisconsin high school graduates decreased during much of this same period; however, our enrollment decline was disproportionately steep. For instance, by 1994 the size of the entering freshman class had fallen to a low of 1,806 (down 26% since the fall of 1990), negatively outpacing the 7% drop in Wisconsin high school graduates during the same period. An unexpectedly large drop in the number of transfer students enrolling in fall 1992 (1,339, or 23% fewer than the previous year) and the cumulative "pipeline" effect of these smaller entering classes resulted in shrinking total enrollments until fall 1997, despite freshman and transfer student increases beginning in 1995.

It is likely that the magnitude of UWM's enrollment shortfall, while in part the result of circumstances beyond campus control, was due in part to slowness to recognize and deal effectively with the changed and increasingly competitive nature of today's educational marketplace, particularly that within the Greater Milwaukee area. Specifically, there was not sufficient campus-wide understanding of the importance of effective recruitment and retention, nor were particularly effective enrollment planning strategies in place. Ironically, though perhaps not surprisingly, several years of enrollment decreases and the fiscal pain that soon accompanied them were what it took to bring these needs into clear focus and unite the campus in action.

Recognizing the need for a more systematic and campus-wide approach to enrollment management in line with our urban mission, the campus refocused the Campus Enrollment Management Working Group beginning in 1993-94. In its initial stages, this group (primarily composed of mid- and high-level campus administrators but with faculty representation in the person of the chair of the University Committee) tended to be primarily reactive to initiatives and information brought to it by the Department of Enrollment Services. More recently, as a result of tactics developed from the strategic plan, the working group has been considerably more pro-active, initiating appropriate market research, examining relevant enrollment related data, ensuring participation in recruitment and retention efforts by all the schools and colleges, and generally getting out the message that enrollment management is everyone's business, not something that a handful of staff in the Office of Recruitment and Outreach and Department of Enrollment Services units have been "assigned" to deal with. This improved communication and change in perspective have been quite significant, as amply demonstrated by many of the initiatives in which academic units have had direct involvement. Some of these are outlined in the section below.


A.2 Recruitment and Marketing Efforts

With the specific objective of stabilizing and, where possible, increasing enrollment and avoiding future revenue losses due to enrollment shortfalls, since 1995 the campus has intensified recruitment and outreach activities, reallocated resources into these activities, and launched a number of new programs and initiatives which are already showing results. Several of the most significant of these actions, programs and activities are highlighted below.

  • The campus has established a separate Department of Recruitment and Outreach with its own director, who reports to the assistant chancellor for Student Affairs. Previously, this unit had been housed within the Department of Enrollment Services. This move signaled a new campus emphasis on these activities, and permitted the refocusing of both administrative and staff energies within Enrollment Services on major projects such as development of new on-line course and registration systems and the introduction of electronic application for admission.
  • UWM has contracted with an outside advertising agency to help expand, sharpen and improve the effectiveness of marketing initiatives. Emphasis will be placed on heightening UWM's overall image as a first rate educational choice with an unmatched program array while employing effective strategies to market individual academic programs and degrees.
  • An Adult Access Committee was commissioned and given the tasks of assessing the adequacy and appropriateness of the academic programs and services available to adult students, and exploring opportunities for innovation and enhancement. A major market survey was conducted and, drawing upon information learned from this effort, a commitment made to expand and more effectively promote a wider array of academic programs of potential interest to adult learners.
  • Outreach efforts specifically targeting prospective adult learners have also intensified. The results since 1995 include the establishment of a new Office of Adult and Returning Student Services, which coordinates recruitment and outreach activities targeting adult/non-traditional students and provides comprehensive admission, advising and enrollment support services upon entry; a new series of publications and promotional materials specifically tailored to adults; and expanded services such as evening and weekend campus tours and a summer orientation program specifically designed for adult students.
  • Also initiated in 1995, the All-University Open House has rapidly evolved into the premier campus-wide showcase for both academic and support service units. Included are a wide array of booths, displays, demonstrations and performances; campus and neighborhood tours; and the chance for one-on-one interaction with faculty and staff. The event is widely promoted, and attendance has increased steadily each year to a new high of nearly 3,500 visitors in 1997. The Open House is truly an extraordinary effort that encompasses the commitment of hundreds of faculty, staff and administrators. In addition to the highly successful marketing benefits of the program, it provides a wonderful opportunity for the campus community to work together and share information on the quality and content of their programs.
  • The Illinois Scholars program has enabled students from Illinois to enroll in degree programs at UWM which have excess student capacity at a tuition rate less than the usual non-resident rate. Starting last year with a mere six students, 50 such "scholarships" are available for qualified Illinois students entering in fall 1998. It is expected the program will enable UWM to substantially increase the number of well-qualified undergraduates from Illinois.
  • Various administrative and support services units are implementing technological enhancements to better serve students and support the institution's primary academic mission. For example, innovations such as the new on-line registration system, Web access to the Schedule of Classes and Bulletin, and innovations such as "Jobtrack," the on-line system recently implemented by the Department of Financial Aid and Student Employment Services for posting and responding to employment opportunities, help us meet the expectations of students for access to easy, convenient and technologically up-to-date user services.
  • UWM is implementing "Strategic Alliance" partnership agreements with neighboring two-year University of Wisconsin System Colleges. The agreements will allow students from these geographic areas to complete UWM baccalaureate programs close to home. (The Dean of the UWM College of Letters and Science and the Provost of the UW Colleges have been invited to describe this important alliance at the 1998 annual meeting of the NCA this spring.)
  • In response to changing residential demographics and the chronic shortage of on-campus parking, UWM also is exploring the feasibility of increasing off-campus course offerings in other locations and perhaps developing one or more larger off-campus satellite instructional sites.

A.3. Campus Efforts to Improve Retention

UWM understands that recruitment and outreach efforts and attractive new academic programs and instructional delivery methods, even when promoted effectively, still form only two legs of the basis for long-term enrollment stability. Retention of enrolled students is the third, no less critical component. As a result of strategic planning efforts, various initiatives have been taken in recent years with the specific aim of enhancing retention of undergraduates. A few of the most significant activities are highlighted below.

  • One particularly noteworthy innovation has been the Freshman Scholars Program, introduced by the College of Letters and Science and specifically designed to enhance the experience of freshmen during their first semester. The program engages new freshmen in small seminar classes of 15 students taught by full-time faculty. Enrollment is open to all new freshmen, including those in other UWM schools and colleges. Two freshmen classes (1996-97 and 1997-98) now have had the opportunity to take the seminars, and the impact of the program is being assessed.
  • Since 1995 nearly all UWM schools and colleges have developed some sort of freshman orientation or experience course. Students enrolled in these courses are introduced to a variety of campus services and also are given "survival" skills at the start of their college careers when such information can be of maximum benefit.
  • The campus has allocated additional resources into academic advising offices in an effort to reduce adviser/student ratios and allow for more individualized, pro-active intervention with students, particularly in cases where early intervention might head off more serious academic performance problems later.
  • The Department of Enrollment Services and Office of Information and Media Technologies have made significant strides over the past two years in improving student access to their own academic and biographic information. The SASI (Student Access to Student Information) System now enables students to check grades, course availability and register or add/drop classes on-line. The change in student attitude toward the registration process has been dramatic. Within the coming year, the campus will move to a completely on-line registration format.
  • In 1997-98 UWM was one of two universities in the UW System to pilot a four-year graduation guaranty to students. Students enter into a contract with the university whereby the UWM promises that a student, agreeing to the conditions of the contract, will be able to complete an undergraduate degree within four years of his/her initial enrollment. If the undergraduate degree completion in four years is delayed by the unavailability of courses, then UWM relieves the student of the tuition financial burden for courses still required for graduation.

These intensified recruitment and retention efforts have already begun to show results (see Appendix F for enrollment summary and projection table and graph). In each of the last three years, for instance, double-digit increases have been achieved in the number of new freshmen. While these increases have been fueled to some extent by the current growth in Wisconsin high school graduates, UWM's gain of 37% since 1994 has far outpaced the base demographic increase of 13% during the same period. Fall 1997 also saw a significant gain in new transfer students (+5%), the largest one-year rise since 1989. Graduate enrollment also increased by 2.6% in fall 1997 as compared to 1996, the first increase since 1994. Retention rates have also increased. Fall-to-fall retention of undergraduates increased from 71.9% in 1994 to 73.2% in 1997. Efforts to improve retention of new freshman have clearly been effective (fall-to-fall retention in 1994 was 61.7% as compared with 68.5% in 1997). UWM's total FTE has risen from 15,086 in the fall of 1995 to 15,594 in the fall of 1997.

Both the efforts of the Campus Enrollment Management Working Group and the enrollment planning and modeling dictated by the strategic plan continue to move the campus toward a more future-oriented approach to enrollment management. The strategic plan calls on UWM to "meet UW System's Enrollment Management III target for the campus of the equivalent of 16,304 full-time students for the year 2000 and to reallocate existing resources to achieve the initiatives of the strategic plan." The Provost's Action Plan specifies that the campus "will meet UW System's enrollment revenue target of the campus by the year 2000." Enrollment projection models (see Appendix F) have been developed to meet these targets and our current projections indicate that we will likely surpass the UW System's target for the year 2000. This will require looking beyond the typical one-year or even biennial planning cycle when it comes to recruitment and retention issues. The campus will control its enrollment (and in so doing gain better control of available and potential resources) by continuing to take a more far-reaching view and planning accordingly.

While the immediate enrollment picture has improved considerably, the nature of future enrollment planning efforts and campus enrollment priorities will be strongly influenced by the UW System and the financial support provided through the State Legislature. Policies and direction provided from UW System to the campuses under Enrollment Management IV will shape UWM's enrollment and fiscal planning. One critical issue will be the willingness of UW System administration to recognize the significant differences between an urban institution such as UWM and other more traditional residential campuses in the system. UWM's location, mission, and especially its diverse, non-traditional student body require that it be able to operate with sufficient resources and flexibility to meet the needs of a very broad and diverse constituency. At the same time, the campus must remain competitive in the increasingly tight educational market in southeastern Wisconsin. UWM will continue to plan for future enrollment and employ strategies which include aggressive recruitment and improved undergraduate and graduate student retention rates.


II.B. BUDGET CHANGES AND PLANNING

B.1. Financial Climate History and Budget Issues

The financial climate for higher education in Wisconsin has not been as harsh as the climate in many other states. The University of Wisconsin System has not seen Draconian budget reductions, cancellation of capital outlay projects, general salary reductions, or rapid downsizing of the faculty and staff. At the same time, the recent increase experienced by other upper midwestern public universities has not occurred in Wisconsin. Wisconsin's percentage change from 1994-95 through 1997-98 in state GPR funding for higher education ( 7%) was the lowest in the upper midwest (Michigan and Minnesota 17%, Iowa and Indiana 19%, Illinois 25% and Ohio 27%). Neither the UW System nor UWM have budget problems that threaten their survival. However, UWM does have two budget problems that are being addressed through the strategic plan and within the context of policies established by the UW System and/or the state.

The first of these problems is related to enrollment declines. With the turnaround in enrollment (described earlier in this report), this budget problem will be substantially resolved in fiscal year 1998-99. The second and more persistent problem derives not so much from budget reductions as from the slow rate of growth in state taxpayer support for higher education. The rate of growth in the state program budget that UWM receives is not sufficient to fund inflation in campus operating costs and the implementation of the strategic plan. This budget problem recurs in each annual budget development cycle and is evidenced by the need for large increases in tuition and/or the need to make annual base budget reallocations which the departments see as budget reductions.

An excellent example is the Quality Reinvestment Program which, in 1993, required each campus in the UW System to base reallocate part of its budget to fund needed salary increases. At UWM, QRP required the reallocation of a total of $3.3 million over three fiscal years. While this was a simple budget reallocation when viewed at the system or campus level, at the department level most faculty and staff members viewed QRP as a budget reduction. The timing of QRP, the sudden imposition of enrollment-related budget reductions and a statewide budget reduction in the 1995-97 biennium served to increase campus concerns over the budget issues during the NCA accreditation visit in 1995. UWM is making adjustments in its operations and in its budget planning to address these types of budget issues.


B.2. How Planning Impacts Budgeting at UWM

As evidenced in the planning process described earlier, there are clear links from the UWM Strategic Plan to implementation plans for the Divisions of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Administrative Affairs. Within Academic Affairs, the schools and colleges have well defined plans for implementing the UWM Strategic Plan and these plans are closely tied to annual operating plans, to resource requests, and to subsequent budget allocations from the provost and chancellor. The current Academic Affairs Resource Planning Document clearly outlines a multi-year approach to the funding of strategic initiatives.

For example, funding for the following initiatives flows directly from campus planning efforts.

  • Adult Access Initiatives

  • Creation of the Learning Technology Center

  • Distance Education

  • Enrollment enhancement

  • Expanding the campus backbone network infrastructure

  • Faculty desktop computing initiative

  • Improvements to general assignment classrooms

  • Increased marketing

  • Instructional technology

  • Internet 2

  • New academic programs

    • Bachelor of Science in Information Resources

    • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

The funding provided to each school or college is clearly identified in the resource planning documents published by Academic Affairs. These documents, in addition to the annual planning documents and resource requests from each division for the past two years, illustrate the budget linkages to the strategic plan.


B.3. Reality Budgeting

Under an initiative known as reality budgeting, UWM has undertaken concerted steps to make the budget more closely reflect actual operating plans. Budgets for salaries and operations are more accurate as are counts of faculty positions. The process of reality budgeting also has resulted in the introduction of market factors (enrollment targets) directly into the budget process along with modest financial penalties for schools and colleges that fail to achieve their targets. One-time budget transfers have been included in the budget process and are reflected in a new schedule in the fiscal year 1997-98 Budget Report. In addition, the budget process has been revised to incorporate reports on internal reallocations within each division in the annual budget report.

Prior to these revisions, the university formally acknowledged only those budget reallocations that crossed organizational lines or that moved money between the major class and activity codes used in budget development and control. A new section on the financial climate affecting UWM has been included in the budget report to provide a broader context within which to interpret the budget. Moreover, UWM has produced a new financial report for the campus that provides more information about actual expenditures in each fiscal year than had been previously available. These changes have been directed to developing and sharing with the university community budgets and financial information that realistically reflect actual operating plans and financial conditions.

UWM has initiated a number of operational changes and undertaken a number of reviews that will lead to major changes in the future. Foremost among these is the program array review. The campus strategic plan states that UWM will "adjust academic program array to maintain high quality and meet the needs of students." The Provost's Action Plan notes that faculty and staff should expect a "change in program array (the addition of new programs and the reduction or discontinuation of others) supporting areas of emphasis and reflecting changing needs of students and society." The provost's plan further states: "The campus will review and modify its program array to ensure effective utilization of resources. An initial emphasis will be placed on a review of doctoral programs in light of the university's strategic objectives."

The faculty Academic Planning and Budget Committee accepted the charge by the provost to undertake the development and implementation of a comprehensive program array review. The committee devoted most of its energies in 1996-97 to the design of the review criteria and process, discussed its plans with the Faculty Senate, and received Faculty Senate approval in May 1997. The campus is now engaged in this extensive program array review under the leadership of the faculty Academic Planning and Budget Committee and in cooperation with the campus undergraduate and graduate curriculum review committees. This review is critical to all campus leaders in assessing UWM's strengths and weaknesses and determining priority areas for future growth and support.

Strategies for improving administrative productivity are also integral to UWM's ability to manage in an environment of limited resource growth. The use of procurement cards, for example, coupled with expanded authority to make purchases, have greatly increased productivity in the purchasing process. New management information systems that will further improve productivity are under active review both by the UW System and UWM and it is likely that several of these will be implemented in the next two to three years.

These examples demonstrate that UWM is engaged in a continuous process of adjusting to the new financial climate and that the directions outlined in our strategic plan are supported by the budget. Completion of the program array review is clearly one of the most critical current issues here, but there are other issues of similar strategic importance that will no doubt emerge from the continuing dialogue among faculty, staff and students.

At present, the campus is closely following the directions outlined in the Provost's Action Plan. The plan called for reallocating resources "as appropriate to meet campus goals." Over a three-year period, at least $6 million will be directed and reallocated primarily within the schools, colleges and divisions to achieve the initiatives of the strategic plan and to improve the quality and productivity of programs and activities. Accordingly, the 1997-98 resource plans of deans and division heads reported internal reallocations exceeding $6 million to implement the campus strategic initiatives.

Balancing the current UW System budget is predicated on tuition increases that are almost four times the rate of inflation. Tuition increases in the next fiscal year will be similar. At these rates tuition will double in the next decade. The UW System has argued that the increases are justified because the rates are so low when compared to those in other states. However, the rapid tuition and fee increases may undermine UWM's status as the best educational value in southeastern Wisconsin. Given the population of students served and the competitive nature of the higher education market in southeastern Wisconsin, UWM's continued efforts to serve their diverse student population and urban mission may not be well served by current UW System pricing strategies. In the context of the national debate over college costs, finding a way to control tuition increases over the long-term is another critical current issue.


III. ADMINISTRATION/FACULTY COMMUNICATION



This section addresses the concerns identified in the 1995 NCA Evaluation Team Report pertaining to communication: "Communication among stakeholders is strained and ineffective, both downward from central administration and upward from faculty constituencies."

Numerous examples have already been cited in this report that demonstrate that information and involvement in decision making in strategic planning and resulting implementation has included the entire campus community. The creation of the UWM Strategic Plan and the ongoing dialogue between faculty and administration in an attempt to form a consensus on the future of the university are indicative of the new efforts to expand communication between these groups. These efforts clearly signify that the institution has made progress in addressing the concerns of the 1995 NCA Evaluation Team members. This section highlights additional practices that have been implemented on campus to enhance communication over the past three years. These improvements build upon existing networks that are formalized through the principles of shared governance.

Evaluation of Administrators: In order to provide an opportunity for faculty, staff, members of the community and alumni to offer input on the performance of administrators, a system of thorough five-year evaluations has been introduced. All administrators, from associate dean to chancellor, now receive feedback from these various constituencies to allow them to evaluate their effectiveness and, if appropriate, look for ways to enhance their performance.

Working with the Department Chairpersons: Over the past three years, the 48 department chairpersons have been more consistently engaged in campus leadership in several ways. First, regular "brown bag" meetings are held with the assistant vice chancellor for personnel in order to create a strong network of information sharing. Second, the provost's office has also set up an e-mail reflector for all chairpersons. The reflector is heavily used to communicate information to chairs and for discussion of ideas and issues. Third, annual Chairperson Workshops, initiated and organized by the provost's office, create the opportunity to train new and continuing chairs in methods of management, strategic planning and communication. The workshops have been positively received by the chairs and, in addition to the brown bag meetings and e-mail reflector, provide both an opportunity to interact with other chairs and a chance to deal directly with campus administration.

The UWM Faculty Mentor Program: Originally created as the Women's Faculty Mentoring Program, the UWM Faculty Mentoring Program is now available to all new faculty and incorporates the expertise, experience and interest of many faculty and administrators, with numerous opportunities for interaction, both formal and informal. When the program was established five years ago it enrolled 37 mentee/ mentor dyads. It now has 77 dyads. Successes can be demonstrated in retention and promotion of faculty and the general campus supportiveness that the program has fostered.

Strategic Plan Report Card: Annually, the provost prepares a thorough summary of the progress made on the initiatives outlined in the strategic plan. This "report card" details the campus progress on each of the strategic plan implementation action items (Appendix E). The report card is available on the web, and is disseminated widely across the campus and is discussed in a number of venues. A number of units have elected to use the format to mark their own progress in achieving the goals and initiatives outlined in the strategic plan.

Technology: The strategic plan calls for a "comprehensive campus technology plan that will address near-term goals and long-range potential in areas such as distance education and administrative efficiency." Utilizing the AAHE Teaching Learning Technology Roundtable model, the provost's staff facilitated extensive campus discussions in 1996-97 which culminated in the UWM Learning Through Technology Plan. The Learning Through Technology Roundtable (comprised of more than 30 representatives from every school/college, and division, 12 faculty/staff committees, the Student Association, and local school district representatives) continues to meet three times per semester to discuss issues that arise as the technology plan is implemented. The roundtable has been identified as an effective campus model for providing a forum for all stakeholders to communicate and exchange ideas as they pertain to campus planning, priorities and reallocation of resources for technology.

UWM is also making significant funding commitments for faculty desktop computing and the campus backbone network infrastructure to help enhance communication. In particular, the administration has reallocated funds to purchase and upgrade faculty and staff computers in order to increase the communication and effectiveness of faculty and staff through improved technology.

Other: The monthly campus newsletter for faculty and staff is the UWM Report. This publication is designed to keep the campus (and many of its external constituencies) informed of campus activities and events. The report contains a column by the chancellor to keep the campus abreast of current developments. The chancellor and provost also issue campus-wide mailings and/or e- mailings on significant issues and are always available for meeting with school/college faculties. In addition, the chancellor now provides a brief annual update of the strategic plan to internal and external constituencies.

Most recently, the chancellor and provost announced a program designed to prepare campus requests for special funding opportunities and generate ideas for new initiatives at UWM. They have asked deans and division heads to work with their faculty and staff to develop a set of idea or concept papers directed toward the engagement of our campus strengths and opportunities. The ideas generated are designed to build on the shared vision articulated in the strategic plan and what UWM can do collectively to support their urban mission.

Future plans for increased communication include the creation of an internal campus website (an Intranet) by the Office of Information and Media Technologies, continued work on the campus rewiring project that will bring fiber to office and all classrooms, forums that will bring prominent speakers to campus to initiate continued dialog on changes in higher education, and the development of a faculty/staff survey to assess perceptions on the progress the institution is making on the strategic plan. Also of note is a motion passed by the Faculty Senate to form a committee to develop a mechanism to explore the expansion of academic staff representation on Faculty Standing Committees, thus further widening the avenues of communication. This action is a critical step forward in ensuring that academic staff members have appropriate representation in campus decision making and policy recommending bodies.


IV. SUMMARY


This report clearly demonstrates that UWM has engaged in a successful process of strategic planning. The process was, and continues to be, characterized by campus-wide input and open communication and identified common goals to move the campus forward. UWM has carefully reviewed its mission in light of its urban location and assessed current strengths and the future trends in higher education. The campus has worked diligently to understand who its students are and how best to serve them. Changes have been made in budget management and enrollment and retention practices in direct response to strategic planning initiatives.

UWM's plans are well focused and realistic. The campus is committed to pursuing its collectively established initiatives and priorities for the campus. This report outlines a number of these and illustrates the progress made. It is obvious that the high level of success achieved by the campus would not have been possible without having the planning process permeate all levels of the institution.

The progress UWM has made in the 3 short years since the 1995 NCA evaluation in the areas of strategic planing, enrollment/budget management issues and administration/faculty communication is notable. UWM continues to be a strong and healthy institution with a strategic plan and planning process to guide its future.