Notes on downsizing Universities (!) of Wisconsin Campuses

Liam Beran:

The UW System hopes to downsize its remaining branch campuses amid declining student interest in associate degrees and ongoing enrollment struggles, according to an October briefing by UW System President Jay Rothman Isthmusobtained via records request. 

Five campuses have already been targeted for closure or a transition from in-person learning — UW-Platteville Richland will be completely vacated by July 1, while UW-Oshkosh Fond du Lac, UW-Milwaukee Washington County, UW-Green Bay Marinette and UW-Milwaukee Waukesha are all slated for closure or a transition to online-only classes. But the briefing, first sent to branch campus chancellors on Sept. 19, recommends that the UW System reduce the physical footprints of the remaining eight campuses and negotiate contractual exits where appropriate. 

The UW System comprises three levels of universities: two flagship research universities, UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, 11 comprehensive universities offering bachelor’s and graduate degrees and 13 branch campuses, offering associate and bachelor’s degrees. The branch campuses, though located elsewhere, are embedded in a nearby four-year university and operate under the jurisdiction of that university’s chancellor. 

The branch campuses are funded through a hybrid model: the counties hosting the campuses pay for the land and facilities, while the UW System covers operational costs. 

“Negotiate New Agreements with All Other Counties,” reads the title of one slide included in the briefing. “Will seek to reduce space allocations/footprints, repurpose facilities, negotiate exits where appropriate, and address any other concerns.”