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Starting with values University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael R. Lovell Fall Semester Plenary Address September 15, 2011 Good afternoon. I’m pleased to be here with you today at the start of what promises to be another exciting and challenging academic year. Let me start by saying that I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve as UWM’s eighth chancellor. I am honored because, throughout its 55-year history, UWM has steadfastly adhered to its core values and mission. And I am honored because of this university’s promise for the future. All of you constitute an extraordinarily talented and dedicated campus community that will lead this institution to the top-tier of public research universities. I’ve been amazed by the creativity and motivation of the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners I’ve met with over the past year. I’ve found that faculty and staff approach our work in a way that I especially admire. People who come here and stay here embrace several personal values that are hallmarks of all successful organizations. UWM people volunteer for campus and community service, mostly without compensation. They have the humility to value common goals over individual goals. They work hard, are resourceful, and let each other (including their leaders) know what they think. I would like to highlight these values using an example that I experienced early this year: seven months ago in this very room. The date was February 16th and we were having our first campus forum on the recently released state budget. The budget included significant base budget cuts to our campus, increased employee contributions to health care and benefits, and the dissolving of unions as we had typically known them. We were all shaken by the budget’s austerity. Despite all of the uncertainty and trepidation surrounding the budget, I was very proud of the way the campus came together that day. It was very clear to all of us in the room that there was a strong desire to stay together as a campus to make it through the difficult times we were facing.

Starting with values


This desire was highlighted by some of the quotes that were recorded from the shared governance leadership that spoke that day. I said, “The only way we can go forward is together.” Mark Schwartz, University Committee chair, said, “We can stand together and face these issues together.” And Sara Tully, Academic Staff chair, said, “Academic Staff is concerned for all employees.” I would like to focus on Sara’s quote, because I believe it best represents the feelings of the faculty, staff, and students of the campus. Even though we all were going to feel the budget cuts personally, the campus was most concerned about their colleagues that earned the least and would be greatest impacted by the budget. As it turns out, February 16th was the second day on the job for our new athletic director, Rick Costello. The forum was his first introduction to our campus and he was amazed by all of the good will and camaraderie that he felt in spite all of the challenges and uncertainties we were facing. He told me that at some of his previous institutions, these circumstances would have caused infighting among the different campus groups. This is why UWM is different, we value each other – what a great first impression our campus made on Rick that day! Even though it is seven months later, I still hear concern almost daily for the graduate students and classified staff members on our campus that are seeing much higher percentage reductions to their income. These feelings clearly demonstrate that we value and deeply care about each other on this campus. These personal values reflect my attraction to working in higher education and in particular at this university. More than any other institution with which I’ve been associated, UWM has a strong sense of community, of wanting to do what’s best for each other. This sense may partly be Midwestern culture, partly the University of Wisconsin tradition of shared governance, or partly the inclusion of service in our university’s mission. Whatever its sources, it is my great pleasure to join this community, to work with you and to be one of you. This is not an institution for career prima donnas, and I value that. If there is a downside to this sense of individual modesty, it may be that we don’t take enough pride in our accomplishments. And there is much we can be proud of. To note just a few recent examples: • • • •

96% satisfaction among recent UWM graduates More than doubled research expenditures over past decade 37% increase in degrees granted Success and integrity of our Division I NCAA sports program: We value the true student-athlete, as shown this year by having more than 100 recognized scholar-athletes and eight Horizon League titles

Starting with values


I am proud, too, of the willingness of our administrative leaders to take up a challenge I have given them this year. The challenge is to change our budget model and to reorganize campus operational divisions. As many of you know, our current campus budget model is nearly 12 years old and was implemented to drive increases in enrollment. In the model, the campus’s funds were primarily distributed out to the units to incentive higher headcounts. At that time, there were virtually no new capital projects on campus and we didn’t have any plans for new schools or colleges. Today, things are much different. We are getting a significantly lower percentage of our budget from the state, we are executing $300 million in capital projects, and we are only growing our enrollment in strategic areas. As our capital projects come on-line, we will need to have central funds to maintain and operate our new facilities and we will needs funds to invest in areas where we will obtain a return on the investment as state funding decreases. Last week I charged leadership from all governance groups to begin working on a budgeting model that would support our current needs and as well as where we aspire to be in the next decade. Although this was a very difficult task and required a fundamental change in the way campus units operate, I am very pleased at the collegiality and willingness of all involved to put the needs of campus before their own self interest. I am confident that as the governance leaders continue to work on a new model this semester, they will continue to make decisions based on our core values to make UWM the best place to learn and work. Finally, I am proud of our faculty and staff’s continued motivation to serve their students and profession with excellence even though their compensation in recent years has been reduced. I know that you are here because this is your profession, a profession in which a commitment to serve others is an intrinsic value. But this is not only your profession; it is also your livelihood. UWM faculty and staff—like all others from the University of Wisconsin System—have sacrificed substantial compensation to help the state balance its budget: • Employees have received no salary increases in more than two years. • And state compensation in the form of payment toward faculty and staff health insurance and retirement has been substantially reduced in 2011. These reductions and the fear of future compensation reductions have had a number of harmful effects: • Morale is challenged; • Students pay higher tuition and have reduced financial support; • Faculty and staff do more for less; • UWM’s ability to recruit and retain top faculty, staff, and students is threatened; and • Senior faculty and staff are retiring at an unprecedented rate.

Starting with values


UWM retirements have gone from 15 in 2010 to 38 in 2011, a 153% increase. We are losing many of our most experienced and effective colleagues. And for the retirees, it is sad that many have felt compelled to cut short their careers in this way. After 25 or more years of service to UWM, our colleagues should not have to retire out of fear. As we move forward, I will put our common values and our common welfare first in order to make UWM the best place to learn and work. This is an important principle for me. If you think that I am straying from this path, please let me know. In fact, I’m confident that you’ll do that. As Chancellor, I pledge to do my utmost to advocate for your professional success and for fair and competitive compensation. Working with the University Committee, I’m exploring the possibility of a campus-funded pay plan. As we face continued economic challenges and increased competition, it is crucial for us to remember that values are what drive this university. My administration will make decisions based on this principle: Values come first— money and marketing follow. Our core values are, first and foremost, those contained in UWM’s mission: • Providing access to a high-quality learning opportunity, especially to State of Wisconsin students; • Conducting open inquiry and leading-edge scholarship and research; and • Serving regional needs by forging innovative partnerships that advance community and economic development. Why is it important that we place these values first and insist that money and marketing follow from them? One reason is that the financial dynamic of higher education has been changing significantly. Nationwide, tax-supported state funding as a percent of operating budget has been steadily declining for several decades. And, as we well know, it has declined much more steeply in the last four years. Concurrently, universities have had to increase student tuition, increase gifts and grants, increase extramurally funded research, and develop cost-sharing partnerships. Universities have moved in this direction to offset diminished public funding and to successfully carry out their missions. In this new dynamic, universities must be vigilant that their funding, from whatever source, does not drive their mission or restrict free and open inquiry. The new funding UWM has received in recent years meets this standard.

Starting with values


From the State of Wisconsin, we have received $240 million in bonding authority for very significant capital projects.

We now receive $25 million annually in gifts and grants. Major donations we received this summer are representative of how this funding source supports our mission and values.

We had nearly $62 million in research expenditures in 2011. These monies not only support individual research projects but also generate indirect cost returns of nearly 50% on federal grants that support other areas of the university including library and information technology infrastructure.

Our challenge now is to continue to grow these funds, and to place a high priority on faculty and staff compensation, consistent with our mission and values. A second reason a values-first principle is important is that universities now have strong competition for activities that traditionally have been the exclusive domain of non-profit institutions. This is illustrated by the rapid growth of for-profit institutions that specialize in online education. This is a new day in post-secondary education. In this competitive environment, nonprofit universities must give attention to their public image both to recruit qualified students and to encourage public and philanthropic support. We must promote our campus to our friends, neighbors and community. In doing so, we must be vigilant that our marketing accurately represents our values, accomplishments, and aspirations. In this regard, we will be taking our advertising to new levels—as we will show later in my plenary. I spent time this summer thinking how we might best move ahead on the following fronts: advancing our mission and adhering to our values, obtaining resources, rolling out a new marketing campaign, and planning our next initiatives. I came to think that it would help focus our efforts to have a concise statement of goals that forms a bridge between our most general institutional values and the specific ideas we will implement. I worked with deans and division heads and my senior staff to develop a two-sentence vision statement that incorporates our values and points to our future actions.

Starting with values


Here is the proposed draft of that statement: We will be a top-tier research university that is the best place to learn and work for students, faculty, and staff, and a leading driver for sustainable economic prosperity. We will accomplish this through a commitment to excellence, powerful ideas, community and global engagement, and collaborative partnerships. Each sentence in the vision statement begins with a call to action: “We will be” and “We will accomplish.” The major actions we currently have in place to implement the vision statement are these: •

Developing a strategic plan, which will lead to setting the financial goal and timetable for a new capital campaign. The three pillars of the strategic plan are student access and education quality, research growth, and campus climate.

Transforming UWM, through the Campus Climate Task Force, from a good place to learn and work to “the best place to learn and work for students, faculty, and staff.” I have charged my cabinet to lead this effort.

Developing a new budgeting model and reorganize campus administrative structure that implements a customer service perspective.

Rolling out the new marketing campaign, Powerful Ideas. Proven Results.

We have developed an image, or “brand,” that reinforces who we are and helps to distinguish UWM from other universities. The tagline, “Powerful Ideas. Proven Results,” evolved from the previous marketing campaign, “Something Great in Mind,” initiated in 2006. During the past decade, we have articulated a series of powerful ideas that produced results: •

Encouraged state investment in our future through the $240 million capital building program and are building in close proximity to our partners,

Improved student retention, which has led to a 37% increase in degrees granted annually,

Created new campus housing through the Real Estate Foundation,

Increased doctoral programs from 18 to 30,

Doubled our research expenditures,

Created new schools of public health and freshwater sciences that draw on areas strengths and needs, and

Starting with values


Achieved new levels of excellence in undergraduate education

I first want to share with you two new print ads that we have created for the campaign. These feature our students and will be delivering the Powerful Ideas Proven Results message in many different publications. We’ll be developing more ads in the future, and you may find yourself in one. Next I want to share with you the two new television ads that will be part of our new Powerful Ideas Proven Results campaign. [Two new 30-second UWM ads are shown.] I hope you enjoy these new ads as much as I have. You should have recognized everyone in them. We are proud to have used, not professional actors, but our own faculty, staff and students going about the things they do so well in their daily campus life. In closing, I want to thank you for your continued excellent service to UWM, our profession, and our students. This time of very rapid change is also one of great promise. But the financial challenges we face are great, too, and will not be resolved in the near term. In many ways, this is, in the opening words of A Tale of Two Cities, “the best of times [and] the worst of times.” We have many achievements of which to be proud. And we have the opportunity to build on this strong foundation of accomplishment. I’m confident that if we remain true to UWM’s core values, are resolute in pursuing our common goals, and creatively advocate for those values and goals, we will succeed. We have a strong case to make. Now let’s make it.

Starting with values


UWM Chancellor Fall 2011 Plenary  
UWM Chancellor Fall 2011 Plenary  

"Starting with values", Sept. 15, 2011