A smooth transition as UW System campuses merge

Image source: UW System

OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- University of Wisconsin officials say the UW System merger has been a smooth transition, despite the quick turnaround.

Across the state, thirteen of the two-year college campuses have become part of the seven four-year campuses.

The merger went into effect July 1.

When UW-Fox Valley student Taisto Oney heard about the merger, there was no doubt he had some questions.

"I was a bit concerned that there may be some issues where some of the two-year campuses may have been shut down," said Oney. "Very quickly into the restructuring, we learned that that wasn't the case at all."

UW officials assure there's nothing to worry about.

“Things aren't going away; in fact, things are adding on, and there's going to be more and more of those opportunities," explained Cindy Bailey, UW-Marinette Campus Executive.

From now on, the two-year campuses in Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan will be a part of UW-Green Bay.

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller said after the first year, the schools should have an idea of what changes need to be made.

“We have to figure that out, we have to figure out what’s best for them, what’s most efficient for us to deliver. They could do that starting this fall if they wanted to," said Miller.

UW-Oshkosh will take on the responsibility of UW-Fox Valley and UW-Fond du Lac.

“We have a lot of the pieces in place, a lot of financial that we know and understand now," said UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt.

Leavitt said the low tuition rate at the former UW colleges will stay the same. The merger will also reduce barriers to transferring credits.

“Now we're working on the academics, so we're going to be keeping separate academic calendars this year, separate curriculum, but in time, those two will merge into one," Leavitt explained.

As for branding, Leavitt told FOX 11 all the campus mascots, teams, and colors will stay the same.

“We want those campuses to be fully involved with extracurricular activities, so what we want to do is respect and support the differences of the campuses, but at the same time blend them to create a new institution," said Leavitt.

UW officials say part of the reason for the merger is because of declining enrollments at the two-year campuses.

"The Fox Valley campus, for instance, over the course of last three to four years, we probably saw a 25 percent drop of total enrollment," said Martin Rudd, the assistant chancellor for access campuses.

With low tuition rates and the potential to get a baccalaureate degree at the smaller campuses, Menasha Mayor Don Merkes said it'll hopefully attract students to stay in the community.

"So now this will allow them to get that four-year degree right here on campus, so it should open up more opportunities for people as the merger plan continues to move forward," said Merkes.

And as the merger moves forward, Oney told FOX 11 he's eager to see the restructuring take place.

"I think we're in great hands here as well as the UW System," said Oney.

UW officials say the transition will be complete sometime in 2020.

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