State Street Blues

    Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:39 pm

    University of Wisconsin System officials say they believe access to the UW-Milwaukee needs to be expanded and the urban university needs to become more appealing to top-notch students. UWM’s urban setting, large size and increasing doctoral programs are appealing, and the school’s plan to grow its research programs bodes well for its future, said David Miller, assistant vice president of UW System capital planning and budget.

    UW-Madison remains Wisconsin’s flagship institution. However, many top-of-their-class high school graduates in Wisconsin are having difficulty gaining entrance into the Madison school, prompting some to leave the state to pursue a quality education elsewhere.

    Some UW System administrators say they see UWM as the place to address the needs of those students rejected by UW-Madison and stem the state’s brain drain.

    Because Milwaukee serves as the state’s economic engine, UW Board of Regents member Charles Pruitt said the board is attempting to allocate more money to the university in its proposed 2007-09 biennial budget.

    “Though we didn’t resolve anything or vote on anything (yet), I think UWM is a very high priority,” Pruitt said. “Everything I’ve heard suggests that the regents are very supportive of the proposal that essentially includes a growth initiative for UWM.”

    The Regents were scheduled to vote on their proposed 2007-09 biennial budget Aug. 17-18.

    However, the state legislature and ultimately Gov. Jim Doyle will need to approve the recommendations.

    “Doyle is committed to doing whatever it takes to continue UWM on its path to development,” said Matt Canter, a Doyle spokesman. However, Canter declined to say whether the governor would make a financial commitment to UWM until the state’s budget is rolled out.

    Money is the first factor in the efforts to make UWM a top-flight university, said Tim Nettesheim, managing shareholder for Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s Waukesha County law office.

    However, providing financial support for the UW System, let alone for UWM, is not a priority for the state’s residents, according to recent polls.

    The UW has taken several public relations hits in recent months, including reports of UW-Madison having registered sex offenders teach classes and the controversy over an instructor who believes that the U.S. government planned the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

    “There just isn’t a heck of a lot of love for the university on the (State Capitol) end of State Street,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center). “The University (System) has a huge problem with the legislature right now.”

    Schultz said that the lack of financial support has nothing to do with UWM in particular.

    “The chancellor of Milwaukee is taking a separate path than the rest of this system,” Schultz said. “I think he’s benefiting from that.”

    However, the bottom line is that there isn’t going to be much in the way of money coming to the UW schools until accountability is resolved, Schultz said.

    “Because of the politics, good programs are being overlooked and ignored and not getting the attention they deserve,” Schultz said.

    “If UWM is focused on making a difference within the state and helping people get jobs, that’s something parents care about. I think we need to have those discussions,” Shultz said.

    UWM Chancellor Carlos Santiago said the university can ramp up its prestige rankings by increasing retention and graduation rates and its percentage of UWM alumni donating to the university. The university also needs to lower its student-to-faculty ratio, Santiago said.

    Still, UWM may be caught in a chicken-and-an-egg conundrum. Santiago says the school needs increased funding so it can expand its research programs and become a more prestigious school.

    However, Mark Graul, campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Mark Green, the Republican candidate for governor, complains that UWM researchers and students are not producing more technologies that can benefit the state’s people and economy.

    “I’m not aware of a significant amount of that going on at the UWM campus right now,” Graul said. “We have to reengage the universities of the UW System, particularly UWM, to help them all be an economic engine for the state. We need to examine the system as a whole to make sure that all the campuses are maximizing their potential for economic engines.”

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