UW System

    Knowledge Powers Wisconsin’s Workforce

    In an economy driven by knowledge and innovation, the University of Wisconsin System is preparing a stronger workforce to fuel business success. With enrollment at nearly 180,000 students, UW System institutions offer a rich menu of educational options, including more than 250 undergraduate degrees and more than 300 graduate degrees. These include a growing number of fully online and accelerated degree programs, as well as collaborative degrees tailored to specific industries and emerging workforce needs.

    Beginning in January 2014, the first degrees were offered via the UW Flexible Option – a competency-based degree platform designed for adult students who come to college (or back to college) with substantial knowledge and experience. UW campuses and online degree programs now confer more than 35,000 degrees per year – a 49% increase over the past 32 years. Business, finance, management and related fields remain the most popular areas of study, and more than one-quarter of UW undergraduate degrees are conferred in critical STEM fields. Over the past 20 years, the number of degrees in STEM disciplines has increased by 46% and in health-related fields by 39%. The majority of UW degree-holders stay in Wisconsin after graduation. Regardless of where they choose to live, however, UW alumni speak highly of their educational experiences. In fact, 85% of UW graduates say they were “effectively prepared with the knowledge and skills theyneeded” to succeed in the workplace. Today’s college students are mobile, and it’s easier than ever for them to begin at one campus and finish at another. More than 17,300 transfer students enrolled somewhere in the UW System in 2013, and UW’s Transfer Information System (TIS) offers an interactive online “wizard” to help create seamless educational experiences. Because employers want college graduates to be adaptable and flexible, every UW degree is built on a set of sharedlearning goals. Inaddition to technical knowledge and skills,UW students learn to think critically, write clearly, speakpersuasively, and understand and appreciate diversity. They work in teams and bring a sense of informed citizenship to their lives – and to their jobs.

    “From UW-Stevens Point, I have truly learned the meaning of taking stewardship of our environment. I learned that I should take responsibility for my own actions in leading us to a cleaner and greener society. I have increased my knowledge about community and how I can directly impact the well-being of it through active volunteering and being a leader.” – Nigel Golden, UW-Stevens Point student (biology and wildlife ecology)

    “We recruit from a variety of schools. Students out of UW-La Crosse are so strong. Their résumés are polished. They are prepared for interviews. They present themselves well and take it seriously.” – Janelle Pogodzinski, Human Resources Manager, Reinhart FoodService

    “UW-Washington County is an important partner in addressing one of the county’s greatest economic development challenges: cultivating the talent that fuels our region’s growth companies. With over 30% of our workforce set to retire within 10 years, our economic strength will in great measure depend on our ability to build the right talent at the right time. UW-WC’s aggressive efforts to build an engineering program around local business needs is a direct example of that.” – Christian Tscheschlok, Executive Director, Washington County Economic Development Corporation

    Knowledge Powers Wisconsin business
    Educating people for career success is a vital part of UW System’s mission. Our colleges, universities, and extension networks are also working to create stronger businesses – and new jobs – to employ those UW graduates. Initiatives to bolster regional economies are under way at all UW institutions. A growing partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will help coordinate these statewide activities and leverage the UW System’s education and research assets. Manufacturing remains a cornerstone of Wisconsin’s economy, and the UW is a strong partner. From supply chain management and e-business to transportation logistics and paper science, our public universities devote more than $50 million to manufacturing research, education, and outreach every year. Another staple industry – agriculture – remains a top UW priority, as evidenced by world-class research and specialized degrees in agricultural business, animal science, biochemistry, genetics, and food science. Looking toward the future, most new jobs will come from small businesses. To support that growth, UW-Extension’s Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network (WEN) works alongside campus-based Small Business Development Centers to help new and established businesses find the expertise they need. Scientific research at UW campuses is itself a key ingredient to job growth. Academic research and development now represents a $1.1-billion industry in Wisconsin – one that has created over 38,000 jobs all across the state, according to the Wisconsin Technology Council. One tangible example of this success is found at the University Research Park in Madison, where more than 126 companies employ over 3,500 people at an average annual salary of $63,000. Many of those businesses grew out of UW-Madison research, while others were attracted by the climate of uncommon innovation. This model is being replicated at other campuses, including the Whitewater University Technology Park, which leverages UW-Whitewater’s strengths in information technology and entrepreneurship. Likewise, businesses at the Stout Technology and Business Park in Menomonie capitalize on UW-Stout’s expertise in packaging, plastics, and industrial technology.

    “This is a special opportunity to bring a biodigester to our farm with an outstanding partner. We are proud to be working with the visionaries of the UW-Oshkosh Foundation and the university to not only create green energy but also to be part of the science and technology education that will be taking place.” – Jim Ostrom, Co-Founder and Partner, Rosendale Dairy

    “UW-Platteville contributes to economic development (including) the direct investment that comes from the growth the university has experienced. More jobs means more people shopping at the local grocery stores, going to movies, buying clothing and buying homes. All of these efforts produce sales tax and property tax — very important economic impact.” – Melissa Pahl, Executive Director, Platteville Area Industrial Development Corporation

    “UW-Whitewater has created a buzz of economic activity in our region. The partnering of the university and our city to construct a nearly 40,000-square-foot Technology Park building has created a hub for entrepreneurial growth and development. As a result, we are seeing a cluster of technology expertise assemble in our community that provides an attractive magnet for creating and assisting new business starts.” – James K. Caldwell, President, First Citizens State Bank

    Knowledge Powers Wisconsin communities
    Communities across Wisconsin share common challenges, working to boost business growth, protect environmental resources, promote public health, and sustain a high quality of life. These communities also share an invaluable resource – the University of Wisconsin System. By engaging with communities, UW institutions have positive impacts in every corner of the state. Public radio and television networks deliver information and education throughout the state. Continuing education programs on each of the 26 UW campuses provide lifelong learning and personal enrichment opportunities. Cooperative Extension educators in every county offer programs that serve everyone from families and youth to agricultural producers and Main Street business owners. Scientific research often reaches far beyond the university laboratory. By applying that knowledge to real-world problems, UW researchers help businesses improve productivity. They help protect clean water and safe food supplies. Part of the college experience at any UW campus is the opportunity to learn valuable lessons through hands-on work outside the classroom. In fact, 65% of UW seniors report participating in some type of community service. These experiences yield immediate benefits to communities while students are enrolled, and build a foundation for lifelong civic involvement of graduates. Even before they enter college, Wisconsin’s young people visit campuses to learn about everything from astronomy to zoology. They attend theatrical performances, participate in sports camps, hone their musical skills, and learn from hands-on scientific experiments. The UW System works with and for communities all around Wisconsin to enrich daily life and bring about positive change.

    “Without the help of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network (a program of UWExtension), I would not have been able to start this business. WEN was very instrumental in my decisions on how to start the business, how to hire people, how to find a location for the business, and how to go about grant writing and soliciting funding.”
    – Adel M. Talaat, Chief Executive Officer, Pan Genome Systems, LLC

    “Without question, the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities, and its academic and artistic programming, will impact UW-Parkside. More importantly, it will impact the communities served by the university. This is a great example of the importance of the arts and how they help drive the economic redevelopment and quality of life in our region.” – Francisco Loyola, Community Arts Advocate

    “Our links with UW-Milwaukee alone – from students involved with our Community Food Center to joint aquaponics research – have positively impacted thousands of people in our community. Working together we can advance research, food security, community development, education, and sustainable business practices more quickly and with greater success.”Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, Inc., and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow

    University of Wisconsin System
    The University of Wisconsin System is one of the largest, most efficient, and most respected systems of higher education in the country. It is an academic, cultural, and economic resource for the entire state, and home to the “Wisconsin Idea”—education for people wherever they live and work.

    An Efficient, Comprehensive System
    UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, the state’s largest campuses, offer doctoral and professional programs, as well as undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Eleven comprehensive four-year campuses offer baccalaureate and master’s programs. The 13 UW Colleges offer a freshman-sophomore liberal arts foundation in an affordable, accessible format, and guarantee that students can transfer to any four-year UW campus. In addition, UW-Extension works in partnership with Wisconsin’s 72 counties to provide lifelong learning and applied research to every corner of the state. The UW System’s administrative overhead costs are less than half of what you’ll find at the average public university in America. That efficiency saves Wisconsin taxpayers and students some $211 million every year, by comparison.

    More Graduates, More Degree Programs
    The UW System is finding new ways to maintain this efficiency while also boosting productivity. The number of enrolled students and degrees conferred continue to reach record, or near-record, levels. Retention and graduation rates are also climbing, exceeding national averages. Achievement and access go hand in hand at UW. Each year, about one-third of Wisconsin high school graduates enroll the following fall at a UW campus, and about 93 out of every 100 freshman applicants from Wisconsin are admitted to at least one UW institution where they applied. To meet the needs of working adults, non-traditional students and businesses, a growing number of these degrees are offered in fully online formats, with new “Flexible Option” degrees now under development. An array of collaborative degrees meet emerging workforce needs by leveraging the existing resources of multiple UW campuses. Partnerships with Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges open up new pathways to a college degree. A Vision for Wisconsin’s Future The UW System is expanding scientific research that stimulates job creation and business growth. In addition to supporting Wisconsin’s staple industries such as agriculture and manufacturing, our universities are graduating more students in computer science, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and other high-growth fields. While UW-Madison is known worldwide for numerous scientific breakthroughs, UWMilwaukee is expanding its research capacity to develop a highly skilled and diverse workforce in the state’s largest urban area. Similar initiatives to bolster regional economies and build ties with local businesses and communities are under way at other UW System campuses.


    Enrollment: About 180,000


    • 13 four-year universities

    • 13 freshman-sophomore

    UW Colleges campuses

    • Statewide UW-Extension

    Annual Budget: $5.5 billion

    State Funding: $1.1 billion

    Gifts, Grants and Contracts: $1.6 billion

    Economic Impact: $15+ billion annually

    Degrees Awarded: 36,000 annually

    Learn More: www.wisconsin.edu

    “I am what I am for the most part because UW-Madison was such a great influence on my young adult life….I am never going to have the amount of money to build a building. But I have enough coming in to make a difference in some students’ lives….I think of the number of students that walk through the doors oF UW-Stevens Point. I am so proud of them.” – Dr. Anne Schierl, UW-Madison alumna (BS 1954, MD 1957) and long-time UW-Stevens Point supporter

    “UW-Green Bay plays a significant role in the New North economy. At Tufco, many of our salaried people are UW-Green Bay graduates. They succeed because they graduate from the university well-versed in analytical and systems thinking. I think leaders in technical and service industries in this region will — and must — continue to come from UW-Green Bay.” – Lou LeCalsey, President and CEO Emeritus, Tufco Technologies, Inc.


    Wisconsin’s workforce now has a convenient, affordable option for earning a degree or certificate from the same University of Wisconsin institutions that employers recognize and respect. UW Flexible Option, a partnership between University of Wisconsin System campuses and UW-Extension, offers a personalized, convenient, and affordable way for adults to earn a University of Wisconsin degree or certificate while balancing work, family, and other commitments. Educational leaders, including the American Council on Education president, have called the new UW Flexible Option “visionary” because of important differences from traditional and even online instruction These differences include the ability to:

    • Earn credit for what you know. Students draw upon existing knowledge to complete assessments and make progress toward a degree.

    • Advance at your own pace. Progress toward a degree is based on assessments of key competencies determined by UW faculty, not seat time in a classroom.

    • Receive personalized support. A dedicated Academic Success Coach will work with each student to create a customized learning plan.

    • Start when you want, at the beginning of any month. Progress is not limited by a traditional semester or term-based schedule, and students can take breaks in between subscription periods if they need to.

    • Learn skills employers value. By passing assessments of critical competencies, students will prove mastery of the skills and knowledge that are important to employers.

    UW-Milwaukee offers three degree programs and one certificate program in the Flexible Option format:

    • The College of Nursing offers a bachelor’s degree option for registered nurses who seek higher credentials (RN to BSN).

    • The College of Health Sciences offers a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences Diagnostic Imaging degree completion program.

    • The School of Information Studies offers a bachelor’s degree in Information Science and Technology, preparing students for a host of jobs in an increasingly digital culture and economy.

    • The College of Letters and Science offers a Business and Technical Communications Certificate, providing students with the strong written and oral communication skills that workplaces demand.

    UW Colleges, the UW System network of 13 two-year campuses, offers the Associate of Arts and Science degree in the Flexible Option format. Several other UW System institutions are working to offer UW Flexible Option programs later in 2014.

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