Provost Johannes Britz outlined two major initiatives for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at a recent general Academic Senate meeting, which he said are designed to push UWM forward. The two initiatives that UWM would like to invest in are retention rates and excellence in research.
Chancellor Mark Mone also attended the meeting to discuss big UWM projects. The meeting was attended by about 80 people.
According to the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research, in 2012, UWM had about 29,000 students enrolled. Today, that number is about 25,000. Many universities are facing a decline in enrollment. Fewer people are enrolling in many four-year and two-year colleges. The questions that many universities are trying to answer is, why are students not enrolling in college and how will they increase enrollment?
The officials spoke about other projects and developments: UWM received a $1.7 million gift from Rockwell Automation to start a Connected Systems Institute. According to the UWM Report, the Connected Systems Institute will be focused on the (IIoT) Industrial Internet of Things. The Industrial Internet of Things is a link between machine learning, data, and people. The term is used in the industry of digitization. Chancellor Mone stated, “55 percent of these funds are dedicated to students.”
Another big project is the campaign called, “Made in Milwaukee, Shaping the world.” It is a $200 million fundraiser campaign. The campaign is focused on enhancing student access and success through entrepreneurship.
So, what is UWM doing to increase enrollment?
The M3 initiative is a link between MPS, MATC and UWM. The education partnership is aimed to increase retention. According to the M3 initiative, the goal is to create a “roadmap” for students and families. Students start on a pathway to success and take classes that align them with MATC and UWM. The program is designed to raise graduation rates and prepare students to enter the workforce after graduation.
The first initiative is the UWM retention rate. A retention rate is the number of first-time students who continue school the next year. College retention rates are important because they affect the graduation rate of the school. UWM’S retention rate is 72 percent, which is close to the national average 71.2 percent.
“The decline in enrollment is about 5,000 students. 1,000 students is about $10 million of in-state tuition. That translates into about $50 million,” Britz said.
The second initiative is excellence in research. UWM reached the achievement of reaching Research-1 institution status. UWM received this top rating from Carnegie. According to UWM Report, “The “highest research activity” rating was given to only 115 of the 4,665 universities evaluated this year. In Wisconsin, only UWM and UW-Madison received the rating, often referred to as R1.”
Research-1 institutions are institutions that offer a full range of baccalaureate programs, give high priority to research and are committed to graduate education through the doctorate.
There are many reasons for the decline in student enrollment. Students drop out of school due to economic, family and personal reasons. A dip in birth rate also contributes to the drop in college enrollment. Provost Britz said that the number of high school graduates is also dropping.
The initiatives stated by Provost Britz are aimed at attracting more students to the campus.
On the upside, “UWM had an increase of more Wisconsin students coming. Most of the other colleges in the system are actually down in freshman student applications.”
Mone also talked about the pay plan, a topic that a lot of the Senate members were interested in. Mone explained that the pay plan, which would be a possible 4.04 percent. The first 75 percent increase would be based on performance and the last 25 percent would be based on merit. Many meeting attendees had questions about the pay plan. One person wanted to know if the cost of living would be any consideration. Mone answered that the cost of living would not be considered in this decision.
The Senate meets on the third Thursday of every month at 2:30 p.m. during the academic year.