The importance of the UWM merger and two-year UW schools was hammered hard by Chancellor Mark Mone since, he argues, keeping UW system two-year schools open is so crucial to stabilizing enrollment at UWM and throughout the UW system. The idea is that, by making two-year and four-year schools more accessible to students, it will allow for more enrollment and boost the likelihood for people in more rural areas to finish at a four-year university, he said.
However, those present at the UWM Fall Academic Staff General Meeting/Academic Staff Senate also stressed how little clarity there is about how the merger will unfold. There were some bright spots at the meeting, though, as a top administrator said the budget is starting to stabilize.
“There are still a lot of unknowns, but I have no doubt we’ll sort it out and it’ll work,” said Mone.
Teachers, advisors, academic staff senate members and some people from the public poured into a lecture hall at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Curtin Hall on Nov. 14, in regards to the UWM Fall Academic Staff General meeting/Academic Staff Senate meeting. The UWM campus general fall academic meeting was held to inform staff members and the public of ongoing policy changes taking place at UWM.
When arriving at academic meetings like these in the past, attendees used to be handed the agenda for the meeting as they entered whereas now you need to bring the agenda along with you or know it beforehand due to budget cuts.
The meeting agenda can be seen here.
According to Provost Johannes Britz, this meeting was the most attended one he’s ever been to, probably due to the topics up for discussion. The Provost mainly hit on the budget crisis saying, “We went through a very difficult time these past two and half years, but we are now in the stage of stabilization, where we should plan to stay until 2019.” By stabilizing enrollment comfortably around 25,500 students, up in comparison to previous years, Provost Britz said staff had done good work and encouraged more of it.
Provost Britz also emphasized how big of a deal remaining a R1 university is for the future of UWM and discussed how everything aligned perfectly for UWM in 2014 for the university to be named an R1 institution in 2016. With the next data being pulled from 2019, the Provost let the staff know how crucial it was to stay where UWM is at in that respect.
“We need to try and graduate as many people as possible with doctorates by 2019; we want to keep this status,” he said.
This would greatly help UWM achieve and remain a R1 university and help to attract students and professors from around the state and outside of Wisconsin.
New statuses and policy changes are happening all around the UWM campus and “things are just starting to solidify,” according to Provost Britz who said we are all in for a “busy time.”
Chancellor Mone was the first to take the floor, and he first thanked the academic staff for all their hard work and then started in on policy updates around the UWM campus. The first campaign that the Chancellor touched on was the Made in Milwaukee campaign, the largest to date, put in place to help raise more money for student scholarships.
“The importance of helping our own students is key,” said Chancellor Mone in reference to what some believe is a lack of help students have received over the past couple of years under Gov. Scott Walker.
As of November 2017, the Chancellor reported that UWM has raised $175 million and is projected to reach their goal of $200 million by December 2019. “We have to find a balance,” said the Chancellor in regards to moving UWM forward and rallying together.
In conjunction with the new UWM Union project soon to be underway Chancellor Mone also talked about the don’t use collective language in news campus progress in attempting to become a “freshwater university.” Along with UW-Madison, UW-Green Bay, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater, UWM is trying to work alongside the freshwater initiative in order to draw more students from out of state and make UWM a more appealing choice for students. The idea of the freshwater initiative is to focus on preserving and sustaining local and global freshwater resources and with UWM being positioned perfectly on Lake Michigan it makes sense to consider this initiative.
Another topic touched on by the Chancellor was the salary adjustments that are working in an “accelerated manner,” according to Mone, with a 2.02 percent increase coming in both July 2018 and January 2019 for qualifying academic staff. The salary adjustments take into account solid performance and evaluation/merit when evaluating staff.
The last item talked about by Chancellor Mone was in regards to the Board of Regents and the proposal first announced back on Oct. 11. This merger idea includes joining UW system two-year schools with a four-year college to work in collaboration with and make it easier for students to transition into four-year universities.
Chancellor Mone announced at the meeting that UWM is officially going to be paired with UW-Waukesha and UW-Washington County due to the close proximity of the schools. In the past, there were whispers of UWM also receiving UW-Sheboygan but the Chancellor has now said he believes everything is finalized and UW-
Green Bay will in fact receive Sheboygan. However, with that in mind Chancellor Mone told the UWM academic staff that that can be looked at as a positive because UWM can still benefit from the merger and gain students from UW-Sheboygan as well.
This merger is being put into place in an effort to restructure the UW system. Due to the decline in enrollment in the UW system as a whole, in recent years the UW system board decided to try something new. As of right now, the proposed plans are supposed to take effect in the middle of the 2018 school year. Some instructors and professors have voiced their concerns on whether or not there will be job cuts and officials have recently come out saying there will not be, putting some people at ease.
When looking at the merger as a whole, the idea is that it will bring two-year campus enrollment numbers back up with the hopes credits will transfer, and students can then go onto a four-year university, also bringing four-year enrollment up. In doing this, another goal is to cut overall costs around campuses and raise the graduation rates at UWM, which is currently around 42.4 percent; when based on the caliber of students should be closer to 51 percent.
Enrollment numbers for UWM have dropped 29 percent since 2010 and are projected to drop even more in years to come, so the UW system is doing what they can to keep their enrollment numbers stable.
With the addition of UW-Waukesha, it helps the overall look for UWM because UW-Waukesha is one of the highest performing two-year schools in the system, officials said. When it comes to UW-Washington County, they have experienced a steady decline in enrollment, but UWM is hopeful to help that number go up.
For more information on the next UWM academic staff meeting and meetings like it go here.