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UW-Green Bay, St. Norbert partnership lets students study at both schools

UW-Green Bay chancellor: 'It's so exciting that we are giving people the option to stay local for their education'

UW-Green Bay administration offices
A hallway inside the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is seen last fall. Joe Schulz/WPR

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and St. Norbert College are partnering to let students seamlessly study at both schools beginning this fall. 

The partnership will allow students in select degree programs to take classes at either institution’s four-year campus, regardless of which school they’re technically enrolled in.

The collaborative effort comes as colleges and universities across the state and country — including St. Norbert and UW-Green Bay — have faced budgetary challenges over the last year.

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Officials at both colleges said the partnership is aimed at providing more degree options by combining resources.

“It’s so exciting that we are giving people the option to stay local for their education,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Mike Alexander. “We know that there’s many students that have to stay local for their education. And if we can’t offer those degree programs, they don’t have an option to get it.”

Under an agreement between the schools, a UW-Green Bay student could finish their economics degree with classes at St. Norbert, or a St. Norbert student could take courses for an engineering degree at UW-Green Bay. Other programs are available through the partnership as well.

St. Norbert College President Laurie Joyner said she began meeting regularly with Alexander about six months ago. Often, their meetings would focus on the strengths of their institutions, as well as the challenges and opportunities in higher education.

Pretty soon into those conversations, Joyner said they realized they could partner to provide a broader range of options for students. 

“Collaboration is going to be much more effective for our community and our students than competition,” she said. “This is just a first step for us to deepen the partnership that we’ve had for many years.”

Joyner said St. Norbert will honor UW-Green Bay’s tuition rate where applicable when UW-Green Bay students take classes at St. Norbert, and vice versa.

“Our intent at this point is where the home tuition rate will prevail,” she said. “There might be some differences in terms of cost per course or program.”

Officials at both universities have had to make tough decisions over the last year. 

St. Norbert announced 35 layoffs last fall, then last month cut another 12 positions and announced benefits cuts and changes to academic programs. Similarly, UW-Green Bay announced late last year that it was considering discontinuing some programs after announcing nine layoffs. 

They aren’t the only public or private institutions in Wisconsin to announce cuts in the face of budget challenges. Last month, Marquette University announced plans for $31 million in budget cuts over six years. And an external report last week from the Universities of Wisconsin raised concerns about the financial future of multiple state universities. 

Alexander said the new partnership between his institution and St. Norbert is not a move of desperation.

“It’s a move out of the idea that we could make things better for the people here in Green Bay, make both of our institutions stronger,” he said. “And (we’ll) be able to really move forward in a way that I think, in the future, can have really amazing implications for higher education in the region.”