State Capitol Report: Lawmakers Discuss Proposed UW Changes

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Iris (CC-BY)

The president of the University of Wisconsin wants to restructure the education system. The proposal integrates 13 two-year colleges into UW’s four-year institutions. In the State Capitol Report, our guests disagree on what’s best for the university system. One says the restructuring expands access and promotes efficiency. The other argues it’s the beginning of the end for local college campuses.

The University of Wisconsin system boasts 26 campuses and 180,000 students. UW President Ray Cross says enrollment at the state’s two-year colleges is down 32 percent from 2010. He says restructuring the colleges is a strategy to keep campuses across Wisconsin open, and he says leaders can make the changes by July 1, 2018. Cross says the change does is not aimed at cutting jobs, but he says the move eliminates the need for some positions.

State Representative Dave Murphy is a Republican from Greenville. He says he doesn’t see drawbacks in a plan that creates opportunities for Wisconsin college students.

State Senator Janet Bewley is a Democrat from Ashland. She says the proposal does not serve small communities. Bewley says the move also diminishes local control. She says local authorities should navigate education systems in their towns. Some county officials who own and operate two-year facilities say they knew nothing about the proposal, and they’re weighing the plan’s advantages and drawbacks for their communities.

These are the recommended changes to the UW System:

  • UW-Barron County become part of UW-Eau Claire.

  • UW-Marshfield/Wood County and UW-Marathon County become part of UW-Stevens Point.

  • UW-Fox Valley and UW-Fond du Lac become part of UW-Oshkosh.

  • UW-Marinette, UW-Manitowoc and UW-Sheboygan become part of UW-Green Bay.

  • UW-Washington County and UW-Waukesha become part of UW-Milwaukee.

  • UW-Rock County become part of UW-Whitewater.

  • UW-Richland and UW-Baraboo/Sauk County become part of UW-Platteville.

The president’s proposed restructuring also affects UW-Extension. It moves Broadcasting and Media Innovations (which includes Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio) from Extension to UW System Administration. UW-Madison would oversee Cooperative Extension services.

Is restructuring the right answer for the University of Wisconsin system? What effects will this have on students, faculty, and communities? Email You can also tweet us @wprmornings or post on the Ideas Network Facebook page.

Episode Credits

  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Kealey Bultena Producer
  • Janet Bewley Guest
  • David Murphy Guest