While a proposal suggests to merge two-year and four-year schools within University of Wisconsin system, we share serious concerns about rushing into this unknown territory.
The merger, proposed by UW President Ray Cross, would combine two-year UW schools with four-year campuses throughout the state of Wisconsin. For UW-Milwaukee, that includes UWW and UW Washington County.
With the fear of having to close two-year schools, due to expenses and significant drop rates, the merger could possibly cut costs allowing these campuses to stay open and boost enrollment.
With the goal of merging into four-year universities, the proposal has high hopes for students continuing their education to complete a bachelor degree. Two-year schools would have easily accessible bachelor programs for students. With a high demand for four-year degrees, this could create more opportunities for students at two-year campuses.
Boosting enrollment and cutting costs should be enough to sway the opposed to get on board with merge, but there are serious concerns that need to be addressed.
With controversy arising across the state, the idea to merge two-year and four-year schools requires further research and study. The proposal process seems rushed and not analyzed critically. There needs to be a mapped-out plan of what this merger will accomplish and provide for the UW System. This is unknown territory for Wisconsin, and it requires a thoughtful and detailed plan of action.
The state of Wisconsin can’t provide solid statistics proving that the merger is the best route when trying to solve the current problems at hand. The state of Georgia has used the method of merging schools, but it is an uncertain method. We recommend testing these unknown waters slowly. A thoughtful way to test the merger’s success would be using one specific school as the “guinea pig.” The UW System could easily examine the budget and enrollment rates to gain a clear perspective on how successful or unsuccessful the merge would be. This solution, to a rushed proposal, could eliminate the risk of failure among the entirety of the UW System.
If the merger were to be unsuccessful, without the testing of one specific school, it could have serious consequences. The UW System does not know how this will impact students attending four-year universities. If the combination of schools is not fully researched, the education of students could suffer greatly. The UW System does not know the outcomes, whether positive or negative, that this merger could produce.
The proposed merger has good intentions and possible solutions to some key issues the UW System is experiencing. Though the merger is a possible solution to low enrollment rates and budget concerns, it needs to be thoughtfully researched and tested on one school. The possible negative effects of four-year schools absorbing two-year schools could be irreversible.
This editorial was written by Danielle Gazdecki based on the opinions of a JAMS 504 Media Milwaukee Editorial Board.