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UW System President Outlines Vision, Priorities


MARCH 17, 2005--University of Wisconsin System President Kevin P. Reilly outlined his vision and priorities to ensure a vibrant state university system at his first official visit to UW-River Falls to welcome visiting Chancellor-elect Donald Betz on March 14.

While Reilly is only in his "second semester" of service as the new president, he offered ambitious goals and enthusiastic support for the 26 campuses and UW Extension that make up the UW System. Betz will join UW-RF on July 1.

"We must work much more closely with all state government to increase 'brain gain' and raise the percentage of Wisconsin residents who have a college degree," said Riley to UW-RF faculty and staff.

"Wisconsin does well in retaining graduates in the state workforce after they receive their UW degrees, but we rank nearly last in the nation in the number of college graduates," he said. "This is important because states with higher than average personal incomes have a higher percentage of the adult population with a college degree.

This, in turn, creates more prosperity, generate more tax revenues, and improves the quality of life."
Reilly also commended staff efforts at making operations more efficient and open to review and input from the regions served by UW System campuses.

"The report we submitted to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee highlights more than 250 cost-saving measures we are pursuing [that] will save an estimated $15 million annually. We stand accountable to all citizens of the state, and we are very administratively efficient when compared to other university systems and to many industry clusters. We intend to be as thrifty with state tax dollars as you would be if they were in your own checking account."

Another initiative is to continue the strong participation of UW campuses with local, regional and statewide economic development. "You were active participants in the Wisconsin Economic Summits that we have sponsored over the past four years. These laid the groundwork for several recent state economic development initiatives, including angel investment networks, more technology transfer, the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network, greater regional collaborations, and cluster initiatives such as printing, plastics and paper. These were a good way to get the university, business, government and labor more or less on the same page in planning the state's economic future."

Finally, Reilly noted that protecting opportunities for students and prospective students is a top priority. "The deep state budget cuts to the university over the past two biennia have resulted in some erosions to quality as well as double-digit tuition increases. Our rising tuition and declining state support have closed our doors to many who desire a UW education, particularly returning adult students and students whose families have lower incomes."

Reilly outlined his perspective of opportunities and challenges in Gov. Jim Doyle's budget. "The governor's budget was also very student-focused," said Reilly. It included proposals to reinvest $49 million of state tax dollars into the university system, increase financial aid, restore 125 faculty teaching positions, and make tuition increases manageable and predictable.

Challenges to the UW Sytem in the governor's budget, said Reilly, include proposals to cut 200 more academic support positions on top of the 225 administrative positions lost in the previous biennium. In addition, the budget does not address the issue of competitive pay for faculty and staff, he said.

Reilly later met with members of the Joint Committee on Finance at UW-Stout to talk about these issues with Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and Reps. Kitty Rhoades, Rob Kreibich, and Andy Lamb. UW-RF Interim Chancellor Virgil Nylander also spoke to the committee.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:20 Central Daylight Time

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