UW-Sheboygan awaits impact of consolidation

STUDENTS WHO RETURN TO the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan next fall will be going back to a new school that will still be the same school they are attending this spring.

That may sound like a contradiction on the surface, but it is a true statement.

As part of a system-wide consolidation, the two-year UW-Sheboygan will become a part of the four-year UW-Green Bay this summer, along with sister two-year campuses at Manitowoc and Marinette.

The consolidation plan is in response to declining enrollments throughout the UW systems two-year campuses and is designed to increase educational opportunities and make higher education more accessible and affordable to more students.

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller spoke to the Sheboygan County Board about the consolidation plans at the board’s meeting earlier this month.

The County Board, and the county as a whole, has a stake in the issue as the UW-Sheboygan campus and buildings are owned and maintained by the county.

Miller presented an optimistic picture of the changes, telling the board, “We really think this is an historical opportunity to rethink higher education. (O)ur goal will be to expand educational opportunities.”

That’s a laudable goal and, if things all work as planned, it should be achievable.

UW-Sheboygan has served for years as a portal for local students to higher education, offering the first two years of a four-year degree close to home at a lower cost and it has met that goal admirably.

In recent years, the school has partnered with several of the UW four-year campuses to broaden its offerings, making it easier for students to complete a four-year degree largely right here in Sheboygan.

The consolidation with UW-Green Bay is, in a way, a logical outgrowth of and followup to those efforts.

The need for highly-educated, highly-trained professionals in all fields is only going to grow in the future and any effort that meets that need easily and affordably, encouraging young people to stay here in Wisconsin and Sheboygan County to put their talents and education to work here, is more than welcome.

It will require careful strategizing and cooperative efforts to ensure that the consolidation of two-year and four-year UW campuses meets those goals.

If Chancellor Miller’s remarks to the County Board are indication, that should happen.

“We do want to keep the identity of the campuses intact. We have set up a process that involves all four campuses,” in the consolidation, Miller told the supervisors.

As owners and managers of the UW-Sheboygan campus, county government and county residents should and hopefully will be represented in that process.

If that promise is kept, it should make for a successful transition and a bright future for UW-Sheboygan, its students and all of us.


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