Skip to main content

Q&A: Ward explains Madison Initiative benefits

October 21, 1999

Biotechnology is one area of academic emphasis in the Madison Initiative’s spending priorities.

Libraries and other services will receive more resources through the Madison Initiative.

See also:
Hiring a key to maintaining university excellence

New resources expected to aid recruiting of faculty and academic staff

Budget Summary

Here are some questions and answers on the university budget from Chancellor David Ward.

Q: Did we get what we needed in this budget?
This is the best budget for UW–Madison and the UW System in over 10 years. It contains much-needed funding for libraries and instructional technology initiatives; increases management flexibility; and most importantly, funds the Madison Initiative. The 1999-2001 state budget will provide $29.2 million for the first two years of the Madison Initiative, putting the university in the position to maintain excellence in the new millennium.

Q: How does the Madison Initiative help UW–Madison improve its stature as one of the world’s top research institutions?
By using increased private giving to leverage more state dollars. It is the same partnership as our capital budget, which has allowed tremendous growth in our buildings and campus infrastructure. It is a tribute to Wisconsin, with its moderate wealth and population, that it has been able to support one of the nation’s and world’s best public universities for the past 150 years. This initiative will help enhance that legacy in the next century.

Q: How did UW–Madison determine the funding priorities in the Madison Initiative?
In the past several years, the university has gone through an extensive self-evaluation to determine its overall priorities, which include improving undergraduate education and positioning the university to participate in a global economy. The Madison Initiative’s five target areas closely reflect these priorities.

Q: What changes will we see on campus as a result of the initiative?
The first half of the Madison Initiative, as well as our share of the UW System budget, will enable us to do many things, including:

  • Provide our students with improved educational and research opportunities.
  • Strengthen our libraries, advising services and information technology.
  • Renovate and repair our buildings, so that students can learn in the best classroom and laboratory environments possible.
  • Increase financial aid for students with financial need.

But more than anything else, it allows us to recruit and retain the very best faculty and academic staff. To that end, I authorized the hiring of 32 new faculty members last year with a combination of reallocated funds and private support, and 16 of them are now on campus teaching and conducting research. Several more will begin teaching over the next 12 months. Overall, we plan to hire more than 100 new faculty in the next four years.

Q: Why is there so much emphasis on attracting and retaining faculty and academic staff?
Intellectual firepower is what makes a great university. The Madison Initiative allows us to recruit and retain the very best faculty and academic staff – and do so in a new way, through the cluster hiring program. Cluster hiring encourages related programs to combine in a strategic hiring program. In a 1992 survey of UW System alumni, 97 percent said that the quality of faculty was the number one component of a quality institution.

Meanwhile, the UW faculty is aging. Nearly 27 percent of the UW–Madison faculty is projected to retire by 2004-05. Faculty hired over the next five – seven years will play a large role in maintaining academic quality at UW–Madison. In a national market, the university’s compensation must be competitive.

Q: How will we convince lawmakers to maintain this level of support in future budgets?
This new funding partnership is the wave of the future. It will help Wisconsin remain competitive in the global economy, provide strong economic benefits for the state’s businesses and citizens, produce top graduates for the state’s 21st century workforce, and increase the university’s outreach activities in the state. Above all, it allows the university to retain outstanding and imaginative faculty to serve the needs of our students.

We have raised the first $20 million from the University of Wisconsin Foundation and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and now with the state’s support we have met our initial commitment of funding.

This biennial budget will allow the university to remain among the best institutions in the country. And as a rising tide raises all ships, excellence at Wisconsin’s flagship institution leads to excellence for the other UW campuses, the state’s businesses and industry, and the citizens of Wisconsin.

Q: With this new money, how will UW–Madison compare with its peer institutions in the Big Ten?
The $29.2 million funding from the first two years of the Madison Initiative will bring us halfway to our goal of being at the midpoint of our peer institutions in the Big Ten in terms of state support and tuition revenue per student. Now we need to move forward to obtain the second half of the $57 million Madison Initiative.

Q: Who gets the credit for getting this initiative through the Legislature?
There are many people to thank. Governor Tommy Thompson, for including the Madison Initiative in his budget; the UW System Board of Regents, and especially Regent President San W. Orr Jr., for their unwavering support of the proposal; state lawmakers, in particular Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala; faculty, through PROFS and individual lobbying efforts; academic staff, through ASPRO and individual advocacy; our alumni and donors; students, who helped raise awareness of the need for additional state support; and members of my staff and the administration.