UW System President Asks For Funding To Start ‘Talent Development Initiative’

Ray Cross Proposes Making More Investments In STEM Fields

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UW System President Ray Cross speaking to Aaron Brower, interim chancellor of the UW-Extension. Photo: Ray Cross (CC-BY-NC).

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross says more resources are needed to transform the state’s higher education system into a bigger driver of the state’s economy, a request that comes at a time when Gov. Scott Walker says no new revenues will be available.

As he addressed the UW Board of Regents, System President Ray Cross said the UW needs to look beyond management of campuses and instead should focus on new and innovative ways to produce high-talent graduates to close skills gaps in the state.

“Just creating jobs is not enough,” said Cross. “We need to create high-impact jobs —jobs that increase personal growth, quality of life and social and economic opportunity, but most importantly jobs that create other jobs.”

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To do that, Cross is asking for $95 million in new funding to implement what he’s calling the “UW-System Talent Development Initiative.” It includes more funding for science, technology, engineering and math along with an increase in the number of graduates.

Cross also called for building talent infrastructure by making program investments in high-demand fields.

“We need resources. We must produce more high-impact talent in these critically important fields by growing this infrastructure so that we can directly impact the future of this state,” said Cross.

Cross said the UW System must transform itself to be more future-oriented, focusing on a statewide vision.

“From this day forward, our priority will be to develop the talent and ideas that raise Wisconsin’s prosperity and serve the world,” said Cross.

Cross’s budget request also includes giving the UW System more say over things like merit-based raises for its employees.

The call for new funding may be a hard sell, since Walker has told most agencies there will be no new money available.

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