Office of the Chancellor

Chancellor's Blog

February 11, 2013

Regents learn how we're acting on retention

Regents hear of our retention efforts and UW System addresses challenges facing the higher education landscape today.

Dear Colleagues,

Last week at the Board of Regents meeting, I presented to the Board the action occurring on this campus with regard to student retention and graduation - in particular talking about our Pell-Grant students, underrepresented minorities, and their success rates and activities on campus.  I conveyed that the campus Fall Opening and Enhancement Day focused on retention and that we were working on many fronts to encourage graduation.  There were numerous positive comments about the scope of the work you are doing with our students - assisting in financial aid, promoting and supporting HIPs, removing holds, advising, and working one-on-one with students to create a welcoming climate.  I also heard kudos for our large number of international students in proportion to our size.

Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education (ACE), did a very nice presentation on challenges which our institutions face.  I've included the UW System summary below - it is worth the read and looking at the presentation slides.

This week is the Head of the Lakes Job Fair -- with a record number of employers (71!) hiring! I encourage you to stop by to meet the recruiters and say hello and to encourage students whom you know to swing by (even if they are not yet looking!). The date is February 15 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the UW-Superior Yellowjacket Union Great Room.

I am in Madison attending Business Days, visiting with legislators, cultivating alumni, and leading a lobby-team for Superior Days. Funding for education in the State is on the slate of issues we'll be presenting.

We are working on finalizing the schedule for a visit to campus by Regent Tim Higgins, Seth Hudson - regional Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) liaison, and David Burkardt, the new Associate Vice President for Economic Development from UW System.  They will be on campus Monday, February 25.

The Huron Project will kick off this Wednesday, February 13. This fresh set of eyes should help us to see areas where we can make the most of our efforts and learn whether we're utilizing our resources to the best advantage.

As the campus continues to prepare for the HLC accreditation visit, take a minute to provide your feedback on what part of our mission inspires you most. Take the poll on the HLC website.

More great campus news - On February 05-6, 2013 the first Student Freight Symposium was held at the University of Memphis. Students and faculty from fourteen different universities across the United States participated in the two day event.  Students presented research projects and case studies in transportation, logistics and supply chain management. Poster sessions on student research were held each day along with student educational sessions. Students had meetings with industry leaders and government officials. A networking and speed interviewing reception was held with industry recruiters. UW-Superior's team of Alex Antoine, Michael Bodner, Brett Brazerol and Alex Christian won first place with a case study on "Globalization - A New Asian Gateway". As the winner of the case study competition UW-Superior's team members received certificates along with a cash prize.  They also made a presentation of their case study to all the symposium participants.  Kudos to Dr. Richard Stewart and his students!

Hope you outdoor enthusiasts are enjoying the snow skiing, sledding, shoeing!


National expert discusses transformation of American higher education

MADISON - American higher education is at a crossroads, a national expert told the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Friday, and that presents not only profound challenges but also significant opportunities for innovative and creative approaches.

"We are experiencing tremendous financial pressures, and they're coming from all directions ... These financial issues are troubling and difficult to manage," said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education (ACE).
At the same time, she said, these challenges -- along with major changes in higher education's enrollment demographics -- are "precipitating some interesting innovation and advances in the teaching and learning process."

"All of this coming together is persuasive that business as usual is not in the future cards and we must innovate," said Broad, whose varied experience in higher education includes leadership roles at University of North Carolina, the California State University System, University of Arizona System, and Syracuse University.

See the ACE PowerPoint, "Higher Education at a Crossroads: Multiple Challenges, Leadership and Innovation."

She re-emphasized to Regents what is now a common refrain in university worlds: As state support of higher education has declined, dependence on tuition revenue has increased. What makes this dynamic even more challenging, Broad said, is that it also intersects with a time of decreased average family income as well as increasing political and public pressure to keep tuition hikes low.

Broad told Board members that the prevailing practice since the 2008 recession of raising tuition by ever larger amounts is "not a sustainable strategy." While over the previous five years, the average increase in tuition nationally was approaching 7% per year, Broad said this year's average rate of increase is 2.7%.

She said the changing demographics in higher education are also putting pressure on existing academic models. Despite popular perception, the so-called traditional student, the 18-year-old who enters college right out of high school, is no longer the norm. Rather, she said, "the overwhelming number of students are what we're now calling 'post-traditional.'"

According to 2009 ACE figures, of the 17.6 million undergraduates in the U.S., 15% attend four-year colleges and live on campus; 43% attend two-year colleges; 37% are enrolled part-time; and 38% of those enrolled are older than 25, and one-quarter are older than 30. What many of these students are looking for, Broad said, are credentials that have labor market recognition.

She also noted that about half of all college students today are Pell Grant-recipients.

Several promising models have arisen out of the current environment of challenges, Broad said, including MOOCs (massive open online classes) and the use of "big data" to identify student patterns and then help students complete their degrees more efficiently.

"The third really promising use of technology is right here at UW with the Flex Option," Broad said, "because it incorporates many of the emerging innovations that are enabled by technology -- competency-based education, self-paced learning, modular coursework, customizing the learning. These tools are enabling the delivery of the highest quality educational experience and doing so at a more affordable price."

"The challenge for higher education is that we need bold and responsible leaders, and we need bold and responsible management of our processes and our models of business," Broad said. "Innovation is really the imperative, and it is possible, given the breakthroughs that our universities are experiencing in areas like cognitive science, information technology, artificial intelligence. It's an exciting time to be in American higher education, it's a fulfilling time to be in higher education ... but it's also a challenging time."

Back to Top