The Future of Public Higher Education in Wisconsin

For several decades the UW System has been confronted by a wide range of external forces which have fueled serious and fundamental questions about the UW System’s affordability, access, quality and purpose.

With Governor Scott Walker’s release of the 2015-17 state budget, the legislature will soon debate proposals to reduce state revenue to the UW System by more than $300 million and convert to a public authority.

Significant concerns have been raised, both within and outside of the University, on the ability of the UW System to continue delivery of its mission in light of these proposals.

As a way for multiple groups to address the UW System budget issues and the significant challenges ahead, two public discussions will take place in Appleton April 15 and in Wausau April 16.

Titled, “The Future of Public Higher Education in Wisconsin: A Public Discussion of the Purpose, Relationship and Structure of the UW System,” the events will bring together civic and business leaders, Wisconsin legislators and staff, members of the UW System Board of Regents, UW staff, and campus shared governance leaders.

Event dates, locations:

Wednesday, April 15
8:30 – 9 a.m. – Continental breakfast, mingle
9 a.m. – noon – Group discussion
Liberty Hall Banquet and Conference Center
800 Eisenhower Dr.
Kimberly, WI

Thursday, April 16
8:30 – 9 a.m. – Continental breakfast, mingle
9-11:30 a.m. – Group discussion
Jefferson Street Inn
201 Jefferson St.
Wausau, WI

“We intend to have broad representative input,” said Eric Giordano, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS), an event sponsor. “We expect to address questions, anticipate outcomes and provide suggestions that policymakers can use to make informed decisions to guide public higher education in the future.”

The events will provide a platform to exchange ideas from diverse backgrounds about the purpose of the UW System while offering comments on the evolving financial compact among students and their families, the state and UW campuses.

“We will also look at the trade-offs surrounding the proposed UW System public authority, and make suggestions on ways to advance the conversation about the goals of public higher education in Wisconsin,” Giordano noted.

Live streaming will be available at Appleton event through UW-Fox Valley. The Wausau event will have live streaming through the Wausau Daily Herald.

In addition to WIPPS, state partners for the program are the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters (WASAL), the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) and the Wisconsin League of Women Voters.

Local partners in Wausau are Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce; Gannett Central Wisconsin Media and Center Right Coalition; in Appleton – Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Appleton Post-Crescent and the Appleton League of Women Voters.

Findings from these discussions will be integrated into an Executive Report that will be distributed to participants and other interested groups.