UW-Platteville gets new chancellor ahead of end of classes at Richland Center campus

Appointment of Tammy Evetovich comes amid steep enrollment declines and criticism over branch campus decision

A blue sign reading "University of Wisconsin-Platteville" stands on the schools' campus.
A sign on UW-Platteville’s campus. Miranda Suarez/WPR

Former provost Tammy Evetovich has been named the 15th chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She immediately takes the helm of the university, which has seen the steepest enrollment declines of any four-year state school, two months before it ends classes at its branch campus in Richland Center.

Tammy Evetovich, chancellor of UW-Platteville
Tammy Evetovich, chancellor of UW-Platteville

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Tuesday unanimously approved hiring Evetovich, who has already served as interim chancellor since June 2022. She will make $265,000 per year. She replaces former UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields, who in 2022 was picked to lead the Southern University System in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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In a UW System statement released Tuesday evening, Evetovich said as a first-generation college graduate focused on students and rural communities, the opportunity “is especially important to me personally.”

“The work we do at UW-Platteville changes lives, and I look forward to working together with faculty, staff, students and the communities we serve to build UW-Platteville into the best university it can be,” Evetovich said.

UW System President Jay Rothman said Evetovich’s “committment and strong leadership at UW-Platteville will be key to its future success.”

“As we seek to grow UW-Platteville and enhance the student experience, her background and expertise will serve the UW System well,” Rothman said.

While all sectors of higher education in Wisconsin and the U.S. are facing challenges with enrollment and budgets, UW-Platteville’s enrollment declines stand out. Between fall 2018 and fall 2022, enrollment at the southwestern Wisconsin university has fallen by 27.6 percent.

Platteville’s branch campuses in Richland Center and Baraboo have also seen the steepest declines of all the UW System’s former two-year colleges. Enrollment at UW-Platteville Richland fell by more than 83 percent between 2018 and 2022. UW-Platteville Baraboo has seen enrollment fall by 63 percent in that span.

In November, UW System President Jay Rothman announced college classes will end at the campus formerly known as UW-Richland on July 1. He has since called for financial assessments of the other 12 two-year schools, which have also seen sharp enrollment declines over the past five years.

The enrollment declines haven’t helped an ongoing structural deficit at UW-Platteville. A financial recovery plan is being developed “to eliminate the structural deficit in order to maintain a viable and sustainable operating budget” according to meeting materials from a regents meeting in March.

UW System budget documents from June 2022 showed expenses for Platteville were projected to exceed revenues by more than $4.5 million.

Evetovich served as UW-Platteville’s Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs since May 2020 and led the school’s switch to online classes at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before joining UW-Platteville, Evetovich served as a dean and department chair at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska.

UW-Platteville Student Body President, Rebekah Poh, told WPR the Evetovich hire wasn’t a surprise for the campus.

“I think she knows the university really well,” Poh said. “She’s very passionate about it, and she’s proven to be doing a good job since June, almost the past year. So. I think it’s a really positive step going forward. You don’t have to have any transition, and she can just take over immediately.”

She and UW-Platteville Student Body Vice President Sean McGrath say students are aware of the enrollment challenges affecting the university and higher education in general, but the two are optimistic about a 13 percent increase in last fall’s freshman class.