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Chancellor Announces Blugold Commitment
Proposal Aimed at Enhancing Quality, Affordability

RELEASED: Aug. 25, 2009

Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich
Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich

View the archived video broadcast of the state-of-the-university address.

Read the text of the opening meeting address by University Senate Chair Susan Harrison.

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich today announced a major new initiative that would enable the university to enhance quality through expanding high-impact experiential learning programs to all students while also improving four-year graduation rates.

The "Blugold Commitment" was the centerpiece of the chancellor's state-of-the-university address to faculty and staff at the opening meeting of the 2009-10 academic year in Zorn Arena.

Levin-Stankevich said the "Blugold Commitment" proposal would provide a way for the university to improve educational quality by implementing the goals of the strategic Centennial Plan while increasing the number of students who earn their degree in four years.

"The Blugold Commitment requires us to focus not only on the quality of our degree but also on the timely graduation of more of our students," he said. "The public demands it. Our reputation requires it."

Levin-Stankevich said the current curriculum takes too long to complete, and the current four-year graduation rate of 26 percent does not reflect UW-Eau Claire's strategic vision of becoming the premier undergraduate learning community in the upper Midwest.

"Is a 26 percent four-year graduation rate really acceptable? Is that the mark of a premier learning community?" Levin-Stankevich asked.

If approved, the Blugold Commitment would result in a revised curriculum, including general education requirements, and would expand high-impact experiential learning programs including international and intercultural immersion experiences, increased faculty-student collaborative research, and enhanced internships and service-learning opportunities for all students.

The proposal also would make the overall cost of a UW-Eau Claire education more affordable by reducing the time it takes students to earn a degree because students would be paying for four years of tuition rather than five or more, Levin-Stankevich said.

"Our purposes are first to improve educational quality by implementing the goals of the strategic plan; second, to make a college degree more affordable for all students; and third, to produce more globally prepared graduates for Wisconsin by improved retention and graduation success," Levin-Stankevich said.

The proposal would be funded in two ways. First, the university will use the results of the recently conducted Program to Evaluate and Enhance Quality (PEEQ) to redirect existing dollars to fund highest priorities. Second, differential tuition would increase significantly over the course of a four year period although the exact amount has not yet been determined. Differential tuition is what students pay above and beyond regular tuition. UW-Eau Claire students began paying differential tuition in 1998 to fund specific programs including faculty-student undergraduate collaborative research, study abroad, service-learning, first-year experience and internships. National research has demonstrated these kinds of high-impact programs contribute significantly to overall student success.

"Our proposal allocates the increased tuition funds largely to the hiring of faculty and additional staff while retaining allegiance to the principle that we established in 1998 that students should have a significant role in determining the use of differential tuition funds," Levin-Stankevich said. "We also incorporate institutional financial aid to assure that a UW-Eau Claire degree remains affordable for all students."

Levin-Stankevich said the Blugold Commitment proposal was two years in the making and the result of many conversations with faculty, staff, alumni, university supporters, legislators, UW System administration, individual members of the UW System Board of Regents and, most importantly, UW-Eau Claire student leadership.

"It is ultimately the students who will need to see sufficient benefit to their education and their preparation for careers and for life to support the Blugold Commitment," he said.

Levin-Stankevich indicated the proposal will continue to be refined during the fall semester and will be presented to the UW System Board of Regents when it meets at UW-Eau Claire Oct. 15-16. The university will seek Regents approval before the end of this year.

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MR/JP

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