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Merger vote allows UW campuses to look ahead

University of Wisconsin Manitowoc flag. (Photo credit: WLUK)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- A day after the UW Board of Regents voted to restructure UW campuses, employees and students across the state are still trying to figure out how they might be affected.

In an effort to save two-year schools, the board of regents approved combining the colleges with nearby four-year universities.

Enrollment at two-year schools in the UW-System has dropped 32 percent since 2010.

First-year students at UW-Manitowoc are sorting opportunities and concerns from the news their school is becoming part of UW-Green Bay.

“I might transfer up there or be able to get some of the classes offered from there to come down here,” said Dylan Johnston, a freshman at UW-Manitowoc.

“I have some concerns like if we become a satellite school of Green Bay, is tuition going to go up?” said Jared Luckow, a freshman at UW-Manitowoc.

The UW-System's 13 two-year schools will be regional branches of seven four-year universities. UW-Sheboygan and UW-Marinette will be joining UW-Manitowoc at UW-Green Bay.

“I assume as we add new programs there will be a discussion about tenure, but the great advantage of those colleges is having the lower tuition,” said Gary Miller, UW-Green Bay’s Chancellor. “We want to figure out how to leverage that.

The union representing workers of the UW-System has some concern.

“We understand the challenges facing the UW-System and we look forward to working with President (Ray) Cross on finding a solution to the Board of Regent’s concerns,” writes Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 32. “However, we need transparency in this process and a commitment from President Cross that this merger is not an attempt to eliminate staff.”

“It's way too early to think about how the staffing will change,” said Miller. “It may be a couple years before we ever get to that point.”

Among other things that need to be decided include whether the two-year schools will keep their current names, what school name will appear on degrees, and whether the two-year schools will keep their sports teams.

“It's a greater advantage to us for us to keep those community identities because that's what attracts those people and that's where the networking in that community goes,” said Miller. “We'll figure out how to do that.”

The changes take effect July 1st.

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