The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will suspend in-person classes at its Marinette County campus when the spring semester ends.
Chancellor Mike Alexander said the Marinette Campus will not close, but will move fully online in fall.
It’s the continuation of a trend in the Universities of Wisconsin system, where three other branch campuses have closed or announced closings over the last year due to falling enrollment and budget constraints.
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“We acknowledge this will be a painful transition for those in Marinette that have endured countless campus management changes, but we must embrace a new model rather than trying to cling to the past,” Alexander wrote in a letter to faculty and students Friday. “It is our job to be responsible stewards of our resources. Rather than try to perpetuate a broken economic model, we will reallocate our resources to the benefit of the most people possible in the area.”
Enrollment at UW-Marinette declined 30 percent since 2018-19. There are 213 students this year.
Only 14 classes are being offered in person this semester.
Alexander said having a presence in Marinette is central to UW-Green Bay’s mission as a regional university serving 16 counties.
UW-Green Bay also operates branch campuses in Sheboygan and Manitowoc, which have not struggled with the same enrollment declines. Those campuses will remain open.
Alexander said, like all campuses in the Universities of Wisconsin system, budgets are tight. This decision is making sure UW-Green Bay is doing everything it can to make sure all students have access to education.
The Manitowoc campus has grown from 302 students to 404 students from 2018 to 2023-24. Enrollment has fallen in Sheboygan from 572 to 436, but that campus still has more than double the number of students at Marinette, according to data released by the university.
Fourth two-year college to end classes
The fate of UW-Marinette is similar to three other two-year campuses in the Universities of Wisconsin system.
In-person classes will end at UW-Milwaukee at Washington County and UW-Oshkosh, Fond du Lac in June. UW-Platteville at Richland has been without students since May 2023.
A proposed GOP bill could give those communities $2 million to redevelop the former two-year campus sites.
The bill was originally created for Richland, but eventually expanded to include Fond du Lac and Washington counties. The total amount allocated in the bill is $12 million, with the extra funds reserved for future closures.
Alexander said he has been in ongoing discussions with the Marinette County Board since November about the future of the campus.
Marinette County owns a maintenance, fine arts, library and main building on campus.
The county also spent $600,000 renovating a theater on campus. Alexander said the move will open up third-party access to facilities to “enhance the capital investment Marinette County made.”
“We are working to sign a new agreement with Marinette County that will ensure that we can make great use of the infrastructure at the campus,” Alexander said.
John Lefebvre, Marinette county administrator, said it is too early in the process to comment on the future of the campus but he is hoping to discuss the issue with the county board on Jan. 30.
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