UW System Restructuring Proposal

Last week, the University of Wisconsin System proposed a sweeping merger plan that would align its 13 two-year campuses with seven of its 13 four-year institutions nearby:

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Details from UW System are here. Representatives from UW System will request approval from the Board of Regents to proceed with implementation of the plan, which would go into effect July 1, 2018.

Remarks from UW System President Ray Cross:

Change often produces uncertainty, but we cannot be afraid to pursue needed reforms. We must restructure these two organizations given the state’s demographic challenges, budgetary constraints, and the need for closer alignment between research and practice. We want to leverage the strength of our four-year institutions at a time when overall enrollments at UW Colleges are declining.

Our goal is to expand access and provide more educational opportunities for more students, while ensuring our faculty are appropriately organized and supported.  We are committed to making the transition as smooth as possible for students, faculty, and staff.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank offered this statement:

We are pleased to welcome Cooperative Extension and Extension Conference Centers to UW–Madison. The roots of Cooperative Extension are intertwined with those of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the state of Wisconsin itself. Cooperative Extension is personally important to me because both of my parents served as extension agents.

Extension embodies the outreach mission of the university, spanning all 72 counties of the state. Indeed, many UW–Madison faculty are partially funded by Cooperative Extension.

We share a similar mission, inspired by the Wisconsin Idea.

There are many details of this proposal yet to be resolved which we’ll be addressing in the coming months. We look forward to working with UW Cooperative Extension leadership, President Cross, and UW System to integrate these programs into UW–Madison.

In an email to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UW-Madison University Committee Chair Anja Wanner expressed concern about the lack of communication about the plan:

We are very much aware of the demographic developments that have led to the restructuring plan, of course but, as far as I can tell, nobody was informed of the plan itself until it was a done deal, which I find troubling.

Cross also appeared on UpFront with Mike Gousha Sunday, October 15 to discuss the plan: