Written by Chancellor Bernie L. Patterson
The University of Wisconsin is embarking on the largest change in how higher education in Wisconsin is structured since the UW System was created in 1971. In November 2017, the UW Board of Regents approved UW System President Ray Cross’s proposal to restructure UW Colleges and UW Extension. This means UW–Marathon County and UW–Marshfield/Wood County will align with UW–Stevens Point beginning July 1, 2018.
UW–Stevens Point has had strong relationships with faculty, staff, and the students they serve at the UW campuses in Wausau and Marshfield. We expect these partnerships will grow even stronger as we explore opportunities to link more seamlessly, enhance access, and pursue our strategic goal of ensuring vibrant, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable communities.
We already have a strong transfer program among our three campuses. This restructuring will make it seamless because students at Wausau and Marshfield campuses will already be UW–Stevens Point students. More students at UW–Marathon County already transfer to UW–Stevens Point than to any other university.
Like many of you, we have more questions than answers about this restructuring and how success will ultimately be defined…
We have begun a process to seek answers, naming a Regional Transition Committee with representatives from each campus and community. They will lead the work of numerous project teams focused on academics and curriculum, student support, shared governance, informational technology, operations, enrollment management, and communications.
Members of my leadership team toured the Wausau and Marshfield campuses in November with Regional Dean Keith Montgomery, learned more about operations, and enjoyed getting to know faculty and staff. Faculty and staff members at each of our three campuses bring diversity of opinion, thought, and work experiences to our partnership. We encourage their input, ideas, and collaboration. All three campuses have strengths we can learn and benefit from.
I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with government officials in Wausau and Marshfield. As owners and supporters of facilities on these campuses, Marathon County, City of Marshfield, and Wood County are important partners. These facilities are community resources as well.
We have begun listening sessions with business and community leaders, who can help us understand regional workforce needs and envision a future that is responsive to meeting those needs. We have the opportunity for even closer collaboration.
We must also be realistic.
All three UW campuses in central Wisconsin share enrollment challenges, and our two-year campuses lead the enrollment decline among UW Colleges. We are committed to maintaining the services our students need to succeed. The strategic planning process under way at UW–Stevens Point will broaden as appropriate to ensure we are offering the programs students want and communities need. This will require flexibility, ingenuity, teamwork, and courage to think in new ways.
I envision successful integration of the campuses, expanded offerings, and enhanced access for students. We have the collective strength and stamina to overcome hurdles. We have the intellectual capacity across our three campuses to meet these challenges and turn them into opportunities. We have the opportunity to reinvent our higher education system.
We will succeed, as long as we remain focused on our students.
While much remains unknown, we do know this:
Our top priority throughout the transition will be what is best for our students.
Regardless of campus location, we will prepare our students to be successful in the careers that await them. We will educate them to succeed professionally and personally, to be leaders in the workplace and their community. Student success is, and will always be, our priority.
I invite you to learn more about the UW Colleges and UW–Extension restructuring at www.wisconsin.edu/uw-restructure.
Bernie L. Patterson
Chancellor | University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
Bernie Patterson has led UW–Stevens Point since 2010, guiding the strategic plan and vision of the university while strengthening ties with local and regional communities. Previously, he was the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma City University, where he established offices for institutional research, international education, and instructional technology, as well as a teaching and learning center. Bernie also served as a dean at Georgia College and State University and as a faculty member at Valdosta State University. He has traveled extensively as an educational delegate. In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Missouri Western State University, he holds a Ph.D. and Master of Arts in criminology from State University of New York at Albany and an Educational Specialist degree and a Master of Science from the University of Central Missouri. Bernie resides in Plover and is active in several local and regional organizations. He has a daughter, who is a practicing attorney, and two granddaughters. Email Chancellor Patterson.
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