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Chancellor announces first Madison Initiative awards

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin and the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates Oversight Committee have identified eight proposals, ranging from an electronic system designed to capture notes of student meetings with advisers to College of Letters & Science faculty lines, to become the first recipients of funding from the innovative program.

Proposals for a second round of funding are due by mid-November and will be announced early next year.

“On behalf of the oversight committees, I congratulate all of those who submitted proposals and thank them for their commitment to enhancing undergraduate education here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” Martin says. “This is truly an historic time for this institution, and I am happy to have everyone participating as a partner in our efforts.”

Twenty-nine proposals came into the provost’s office from the deans for the Oct. 1 deadline. Of them, the following were selected to receive funding in this initial round:

— College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: Campuswide Shared Adviser Notes System. The proposal funds a system to capture notes of interactions between students and advisers so the information can be used as a resource.

— Division of International Studies: International Internship Program. The program will cultivate international internship experiences for UW-Madison students.

— Offices of the Dean of Students: Online Interactive International Student e-Tutorial. The program will provide basic information to international students about life in Madison and compliance with federal visa rules.

— College of Letters & Science: Expansion of First-Year Interest Groups (FIGS). FIGS will be expanded to 60 groups across campus.

— College of Letters & Science: Expansion of Chemistry and Physics Learning Centers. The proposal funds additional staff at the learning centers to benefit students.

— Wisconsin School of Business: Faculty Lines. The proposal funds additional lines in finance.

— College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: Globalizing Undergraduate Education. The proposal funds short-term international experiences and internationalizes course content.

— College of Letters & Science: Faculty 2010-11. The proposal funds faculty in the college.

In addition, some MIU funds were spent to open additional sections of bottleneck courses in fall 2009 and spring 2010 and to hire an institutional researcher to support campus-level data analysis and accountability, report development and dissemination related to MIU. In total, about $3.8 million has been allocated from the $10 million available this year and next.

The review process for the first round of funding was extensive. After an initial review inside the provost’s office and Offices of the Dean of Students, the Oversight Committee, with representatives from the faculty, staff, students and administrators, then separately reviewed all proposals.

Simultaneously, a student oversight board also reviewed all proposals except those that focused on faculty hiring. The committees met separately to discuss the proposals.

Members of both committees eventually came together to share thoughts and met with Martin and Provost Paul DeLuca to present recommendations and discuss the proposals.

Proposals involving new faculty hires were required to significantly impact student access and the ability of departments to allow their faculty to teach undergraduates. In addition, faculty proposals were required to outline steps that would be taken to identify and recruit a diverse pool of candidates.

“In the initial round, the committees were very pleased to see how well proposals addressed issues of access by opening bottlenecks in high-demand areas, and some did so using many high-impact and transformative educational practices,” says DeLuca.

“It has been an inspiration to see that faculty, staff and students from across the campus have stepped up to make proposals that will truly change the undergraduate experience,” adds Aaron Brower, vice provost for teaching and learning. “All of us — students, faculty and staff — involved in this review process recognize, and in fact are humbled by, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape our university’s future.”

For the second round, the process will likely be similar, but because the provost’s office is anticipating more than double the number of proposals, the review process won’t be complete until early 2010. Going forward, Brower anticipates a spring call for proposals, and then an annual call for proposals each spring until the funds are allocated.

“Overall I’m pleased with both the chancellor’s and provost’s continual effort to incorporate student input in this process,” says Tom Templeton, vice chair of the Associated Students of Madison. “I feel students had a large role with the ratings of the proposals which we all presented to Chancellor Martin.”

Templeton says he hopes to hold another town hall session in the future to answer any questions of students, faculty, staff or deans who have an interest in the MIU process or have ideas for proposals. The goal is to serve as a resource, to explain the process and what the committees are looking for in a proposal.

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