WisBusiness: UW System meets half its “Growth Agenda” goals

By Andy Szal

The UW System reports the system’s colleges and universities are producing more graduates with fewer credits under the new Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.

The report, titled “Investing in Wisconsin’s Future,” will be presented to the UW Board of Regents at its meeting Thursday in Madison.

According to the report, the UW met half of the 20 goals presented in the Growth Agenda for the 2008-2009 academic year. The UW schools conferred 32,475 degrees — up from 32,057 in 2006-2007 — and met its 65 percent threshold for students graduating within six years of enrolling.

The report also showed graduates departing with an average of 133 credits — 12 less than in 1994. UW leaders have also made a point of maximizing the schools’ economic contribution to the state, with the system meeting goals for increasing research funding and overall contributions to state earnings.

Some of the goals the system is falling short on include increasing revenues from all sources by 5 percent a year and reducing energy usage by 10 percent.

“The information about economic impact makes the point that in a severe recession, the UW is one of few ‘sure bets’ to revitalize the economy and set it on a positive course for the long-term,” said UW System President Kevin Reilly in a statement.

Reilly will also present an update on the biennial budget’s impact on the UW System Thursday.

In a memo to UW students and staff issued Monday, Reilly said the system staved off additional reductions allotted to other state agencies through the Joint Finance process. A cut of 5.2 percent in requested funding to the university system is still projected.

“While falling revenue forecasts have resulted in major additional reductions to other agencies, we successfully argued that the base reduction to UW System’s operating budget should not grow,” Reilly wrote. “Governor Doyle did not recommend further base cuts to UW, and legislators did not propose any.”

Reilly added that UW administrators have “many unanswered questions” about impending furloughs of non-represented UW employees but they hope to spread the salary reductions over all paychecks in the fiscal year.