University of Wisconsin Representative Discusses Restructuring

MCTV Program Covers Changes Coming to UW System

Last Thursday, the UW Board of Regents voted to restructure the UW System. On Marshfield Community Television (MCTV)’s Campus Connections program, UW-Marshfield/Wood County Campus Administrator, Michelle Boernke spoke with Dr. Keith Montgomery, Regional Executive Officer and CEO for the North, about why and how this proposal came to be.

Montgomery explained that there are a number of reasons why the proposal came into play.

“The UW system has been under some pressure lately,” he said. “Financial pressure that has been caused by an enrollment decline, and that decline has been underway since about 2010. For the UW Colleges, enrollments have declined by about a third, or 30%, and that ties directly into tuition revenue. Tuition has been frozen for the better part of ten years, so fewer students means fewer tuition dollars.”

Montgomery noted that financial hardship is also a result of the State of Wisconsin’s decreased support for the UW system.

“Over the past 15 years, support for the UW system has fallen by ⅓, or $500 million dollars,” he said. “We’ve had to make this difficult decision to essentially combine some institutions, combine campuses.”

He added that the decline in enrollment could be the result of smaller high school classes, and cultural change, as well.

“Since 2010, since the last recession, I think many of us have heard the phrase ‘you don’t need a 4-year degree’, so there’s been a big change in the alignment between education and the economy in the state,” he said. “I think that’s tied to declining high school classes. In order to avoid campus closings, for example, the decision was made to combine campuses.”

Map of proposed restructuring. UW System Photo.

Under the new system, UW-Marshfield/Wood County will combine with UW-Stevens Point, as will UW-Marathon County.

“Stevens Point is going to create this bigger campus in North Central Wisconsin,” said Montgomery.

With guidance from a system steering committee, the shifting process has already begun.

“They are going to figure out the process exactly. It’s going to be a little different in every case” he said. “It’s going to take probably a month or month and a half to figure out exactly how the process is going to be. As of July 1, 2018, however, we will be under UW-Stevens Point here in Marshfield/Wood County.”

As for what will change for students, transfers and tuition is expected to be business as usual.

“This should not impact students. We aren’t closing any campuses,” said Montgomery. “I think this should provide for some greater stability in the long run. Students will still be able to attend UW-M/WC, though as of July 1 it will be UWSP. I don’t know yet what the name will be- that’s to be decided yet.”

In the past, students transferred to UWSP, but under the new system they will already be a UWSP student if attending classes in Marshfield. Additionally, transfer to other institutions is expected to remain the same. For example, if a student wants to transfer to UW-Eau Claire, that will happen similarly to how it does now.

Continuing Education, use of the Arboretum, and other services will be discussed as the committee progresses. Unlike the 4-year colleges, the current 2-year campuses are City and County facilities. The facilitates are not State funded and thus expected to remain available.

“I would hope UWSP would be sensitive to that,” he said. “Community use of the campus is vital to the relationship we have with the community.”

Montgomery also addressed the new Everett Roehl STEM building on the program.

“There’s every possibility that, in fact, it’s possible that UWSP may bring some additional programs to Marshfield, whether they be STEM or not,” he said. “We are going to continue to teach chemistry and biology, psychology, the CNA program in there. It’s still going to be a tremendous asset to the campus and to the community.”

Watch the full program here:

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