Colleges need to cut down on general education requirements

General education requirements are long and tedious, and people often feel like they have no relation to whatever degree a student is pursuing. Gen eds often do not help students since many students come into college with a good idea of what they are and aren’t good at and what subjects they would never take even in their nightmares. For everyone, they are a waste of time and money and need to be cut back.

Gen ed courses are classes everyone must take to get the degree they are pursuing. Classes are in the subjects of English, math, science, art, social sciences, humanities and sometimes a foreign language. All students should have to take some of these like English because the ability to write and comprehend is invaluable for all majors and career paths. However, math classes may not be useful to all majors. A mass communication major does not need to take a math class if they don’t want to. Similarly, a biology major shouldn’t have to take another science course if they don’t desire to. Not only would getting rid of these gen eds save students time, but it would also save them money.

The 2017 fall semester tuition cost for 15 hours is $4,023.30, roughly equaling $270 per credit hour. If the University got rid of gen eds all together, they would have saved the students nearly $74 million in this freshman class alone. The likelihood of all gen eds being taken out is slim to none, but the amount of savings for the students would be immense. The savings could be used in so many ways directly school related and could potentially save many students from not having to take out loans. 

Besides the economic gain, the University, the state and the students seem to dislike gen eds. Often the classes are far too broad, leading to mass information in short periods of time. These classes should be grade buffers, but they may end up being GPA killers for some students due to difficulty and general apathy toward the classes themselves.

The University could help alleviate students’ stress by abolishing gen eds, but a more likely, student-friendly solution could be decreasing the number of gen eds and giving students more a choice of electives. Another idea is just to have more elective hour requirements and do away with gen eds as specific subsections of requirements.

Financially, the University would be doing a massive service to the students by doing away with or cutting back on gen ed requirements. The information is there, and all that is left is the hope LSU catches on.

Miles Jordan is a 19-year-old liberal arts sophomore from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Agreement allows FVTC business credits to transfer to UWGB

GRAND CHUTE – Students who earn an associate’s degree in business from Fox Valley Technical College can transfer to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with junior standing, officials announced Thursday.

The institutions formalized the transfer agreement Thursday in a signing ceremony at FVTC’s D.J. Bordini Center.

“The business management program is a very good general business associate degree and frankly many of those students do look for a bachelor’s option,” said Scott Borley, dean of business for FVTC. “We haven’t had one transfer (credits) to this extent within the UWs.”

RELATED: Proposed UWGB merger prompts optimism in Green Bay

RELATED:Merger would keep UW System 2-year campuses afloat

FVTC has similar partnerships with private universities, such as Lakeland College, but Borley said this is the first such partnership the college has entered into for its business program with a UW System school.

Students who take advantage of the option could transfer as many as 60 credits to UWGB and save nearly $11,000, based on an analysis of each institution’s per-credit costs.

“I think it’s a great example of collaboration between the UW System and the (Wisconsin Technical College) System. It’s very efficient for the students — everybody’s talking about the cost of college now and being able to lower the cost of college,” Borley said. “I can’t think of any drawbacks — I think there are so many benefits to it.”

Transfer students may have to take some general education courses when they get to Green Bay, said Doug Hensler, dean of the Cofrin School of Business at UWGB. In addition, the exact number of credits they would need to complete a bachelor’s degree will depend on what they decide to major in, Borley said.

The business management program is the largest at Fox Valley Tech, with more than 400 students enrolled. Borley estimated one-third of students will pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“It’s a pretty large pool of students who now can be thinking about UWGB whereas maybe in the past they weren’t,” Borley said.

UWGB has a similar partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Hensler said. It just made sense for officials to expand the relationship to the Fox Cities.

The credit transfer agreement may only be the beginning of the institutions’ partnership. Hensler said he would like to see UWGB create similar pathways with Fox Valley Tech in other areas.

“The tech colleges are really terrific in this state … and I think it’s a natural progression for UWGB and not just in business, but also in engineering technology and ultimately, engineering,” Hensler said.

Besides increasing enrollment for UWGB, the university sees other benefits from the partnership, such as strengthening connections with Fox Cities businesses and educating more international students who study business.

Fox Valley Technical College has a sizable population of international students, and those who study business and choose to continue their educations at UWGB would bring valuable experiences to the program.

“It’s terrific exposure for domestic students to be talking with international students and vice versa,” Hensler said. 

Whittling Down Wisconsin’s Colleges

Plans to restructure the University of Wisconsin System and merge many of its institutions are generating controversy, with the system’s president saying they are necessary, faculty members worrying they are being rushed and one expert likening the proposal to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

But in a state university system constantly buffeted by budget pressures and political battles in recent years, some also hope that the latest in a long line of changes has the potential to help students, even if it is far from perfect — or even fully formed.

The UW System officially unveiled the planned changes Wednesday, shortly after they leaked to the press. The state’s two-year UW Colleges would be merged into four-year institutions in the same general geographic areas. Programs in the UW Extension would be moved to UW Madison and the system administration, and UW Colleges Online would move to the system administration.

Proposed UW Colleges and UW-Extension Restructuring. Image shows map of the state of Wisconsin, with community college campuses connected to the nearest four-year UW campus.That would mean 13 two-year colleges being slotted under the umbrella of seven four-year institutions. No physical campuses would be closed, with the two-year campuses instead functioning as branch campuses after the mergers’ completion. Two-year campuses would maintain their current tuition levels, and officials say they would be able to offer more upper-level and general education courses.

The separate Wisconsin Technical College System would not be affected by the UW System proposal. Nonetheless, the plans stand out as among the most ambitious public system merger attempts seen in recent years.

While several states, like Pennsylvania, Vermont and Connecticut, have flirted with or pursued the idea of merging state institutions in recent years, systematic changes are virtually nonexistent. The best known example of mergers taking place is Georgia, where leaders pursued aggressive timelines but have launched consolidations in waves, only announcing a handful at any one time. That’s a stark contrast to the all-at-once approach being pursued in Wisconsin.

The changes are necessary because of a combination of budget pressures on higher education, demographic changes in Wisconsin and declining enrollment at UW’s two-year institutions, according to University of Wisconsin System leadership.

“We explored a lot of options, including just closing a few of them,” Ray Cross, UW System president, said in an interview. “The problem there is that these communities are so dependent on these campuses. So one of our premises was we must be able to find ways to maintain and preserve the university presence in these communities. It may not be as exhaustive as it was, but we need to find a way to do it.”

Merging the institutions is intended as a way to improve students’ access to college, Cross said. Some two-year campuses could add third and fourth years under programs at their new four-year affiliates. Students should find it easier to transfer to four-year programs.

The plan will go before the state Board of Regents in November for approval. Cross is proposing making the mergers effective July 1 of next year. But changes would stretch beyond that date.

“It will be a couple of years at least before we know where the fallout will be,” Cross said. “It will take a while to get there.”

The amount of money saved, changes in faculty numbers and changes to staff levels resulting from the restructuring have yet to be determined. But there will be budget savings, Cross said.

UW System leaders said that by 2040, population growth in the 18- to 64-year-old demographic — a range of ages covering most students and workers — is only expected to be 0.4 percent. At the same time, enrollment has been declining at the 13 different two-year UW colleges.

None of the colleges grew enrollment between 2010 and 2017. UW Rock County posted the smallest percentage decline, 28 percent, to 661.3 full-time-equivalent students. UW Manitowoc had the largest decline, 52 percent, to 250.7. Only one of the colleges, UW Waukesha, enrolled more than 1,000 full-time-equivalent students in 2017.

Faculty members at both two-year and four-year UW institutions worried that the process will be rushed. Some felt blindsided by a proposal they learned about mere weeks before it is set to go before the Board of Regents. They wondered about a tight timeline for implementing that plan.

“My primary concern is that the UW System administration is proposing such a sweeping overhaul without any stakeholder input, with very few details known and with very little time before the regents are supposed to vote on it,” said Nicholas Fleisher, an associate professor in the department of linguistics at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, via email. “This is the kind of major reorganization that is supposed to take years of careful planning, with appropriate feedback and approval from governance groups, in a transparent manner. What we’re seeing right now is the opposite on all counts.”

Fleisher believes cost cutting is the administration’s only reason for pursuing the restructuring.

The new restructuring would come just a few years after a leadership consolidation at the two-year colleges driven by state budget cuts in 2015. The previous round of changes combined leadership positions for the 13 campuses into four regional leaders in an attempt to save money and cope with state budget cuts.

Meanwhile, some say that the talk of changing demographics misses a larger point about the population in Wisconsin. While projections show the number of traditional-age white college students declining, the number of nonwhite high school graduates is expected to grow in coming years.

“When you look at it, really, what’s the issue with enrollment?” said Noel Tomas Radomski, managing director of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education at UW Madison. “My hypothesis is that the colleges in particular that are close to the villages, towns and cities, they are not reaching out in different ways to first-generation white students, low-income whites, first-generation Hispanics, largely because they haven’t had to do that before.”

When the leadership centralization took place at the two-year colleges several years ago, many functions that used to be local were pushed up to regional or central offices, Radomski argues. That could hurt campuses’ ability to recruit local low-income and first-generation students.

Radomski believes the changes made in 2015 were poorly planned and implemented too quickly. Those mistakes are being repeated with the new plan, he said.

“We have a lot of youth who are graduating who, historically, they and their family haven’t gone to college,” Radomski said. “That is the real issue. We’re focusing on how we’re going to have branch campuses, and wham-bam, we’re going to have enrollment increases. My argument is we’re just moving chairs on the deck.”

Not only is the university system not recruiting appropriately for new types of students, but it is also not distributing enough state money to the colleges that need it most, Radomski argues. Still, he thinks the proposal has some potential.

Faculty members in leadership positions at institutions being merged took a nuanced view. Faculty at UW Green Bay were surprised, said Patricia Terry, a professor of engineering technology at the institution and chair of its University Committee, which functions as the executive committee for its Faculty Senate.

“None of us really knew this was coming down the pipeline until we heard about it yesterday,” Terry said. “There are some concerns about how the faculty at the now-satellite campuses are going to merge with the faculty at UW Green Bay.”

Professors at UW Green Bay have different responsibilities from their peers at the three campuses that will be merging into the institution, UW Manitowoc, UW Marinette and UW Sheboygan, Terry said. There are also different requirements for being hired as a faculty member at the various institutions.

Yet Terry believes the mergers could present opportunities once the kinks are worked out. They could allow UW Green Bay to grow its enrollment without stressing supporting resources, for example. If the curricula can be standardized between UW Green Bay and the two-year colleges being merged with it, students could be able to start at the two-year colleges, save money, and more easily transfer to UW Green Bay for their final two years with specialized courses.

Holly Hassel is a professor of English at UW Marathon County, a two-year college to be merged into UW Stevens Point. She is also the chair of the senate for faculty, academic staff and university staff at all UW Colleges, including UW Colleges Online.

“There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of concern,” Hassel said. “We’ve been in this structure of a single unified institution, the UW Colleges, for 40 years almost.”

Faculty members wonder whether the tenure they have earned will be honored in the merger, according to Hassel. The concern resonates in a state system where faculty members in recent years lost a bitter battle against changes they saw as weakening tenure protections.

But Hassel also mentioned optimism that the changes could benefit students. At some level, faculty may be exhausted from other fights and changes, like the battle over tenure and the UW Colleges administrative changes.

“I am actually surprised by the lack of faculty outrage,” Hassel said. “We’re kind of shell-shocked about it, but we’re going to try to keep it together because we have students who need us to. We’re trying to make it happen.”

SRTC adult education program honored at annual GED awards … – Times

Some of Georgia’s best, brightest — and even the oldest — GED diploma recipients, as well as the educators and staff who helped them to achieve their goals, were recently honored during Georgia’s annual GED Awards Luncheon at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. 

The event, sponsored by the Technical College System of Georgia’s Office of Adult Education, was held during the Georgia Adult Education Fall Conference in front of nearly 700 conference attendees who gathered to celebrate of the exceptional achievement of the GED recipients and honor the outstanding service provided by the staff of the local GED testing centers.

Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) was the recipient of two individual awards: Largest Percentage Increase in GED Tests Taken by centers serving 200-400 students and Highest GED Completion Percentage (Medium Program).

“I am proud of our instructors and students for this achievement,” said SRTC Director of Adult Education Melissa Burtle. “These awards exemplify the quality instruction that SRTC students receive. Research shows that students attending the Adult Education program have a higher passage rate on the GED test, and SRTC is no exception. Not only are our students prepared for the GED test, but they perform well on the college entrance exam when matriculating into credit programs.”   

In the past 10 years, the TCSG GED Testing Program has awarded 166,378 diplomas. Georgia was the first state to offer the GED test on a computer in December 2011 and the first to implement a complete transition of the GED mobile computer-based testing in corrections facilities in 2014. TCSG has 66 GED Testing Centers and 63 mobile testing sites, providing testing for three Youth Challenge Academies, three Job Corps centers, more than 83 correctional institutions and 11 youth detention centers.

Additionally, the Southwest Regional Certified Literate Program, which is part of the State’s Certified Literate Community Program, was the recipient of two additional awards: Advocacy Award, GED Testing Scholarships (Multiple County CLCP); and Advocacy Award, Tutor Hours (Multiple County CLCP).

Created in 1990 by the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and the Georgia Council on Adult Literacy (GCAL), the Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP) asks a community to establish a non-profit collaborative to promote, support and enhance local community literacy efforts. Communities participating in the program analyze literacy needs, create awareness of those needs, ensure that learning opportunities are offered and evaluate progress.

To qualify as a participant in the program, a community must set the goal of reducing its functional illiteracy rate by 50 percent within 10 years. When a CLCP reaches its stated goal, it may apply for the second level of certification as a Certified Literate Community. Eighty-seven counties and two cities have been certified by the TCSG State Board as CLCPs. Fifty counties and one city are CLCP Participants (first level of certification) and 37 counties and one city are Certified Literate Communities (second level of certification).

SRTC offers over 148 degree, diploma, and certificate programs that are designed to get you quickly into a desired career, and 27 general education courses that transfer to the University System of Georgia institutions and 19 private colleges and universities in Georgia. SRTC has instructional sites located in Ashburn, Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton, and Sylvester for the convenience of students. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. For the most up-to-date information on registration, class dates, and program offerings, log on to www.southernregional.edu or call (888) 205-3449.

Spring semester begins Jan. 8.

SRTC adult education program honored at annual GED awards luncheon – Times

Some of Georgia’s best, brightest — and even the oldest — GED diploma recipients, as well as the educators and staff who helped them to achieve their goals, were recently honored during Georgia’s annual GED Awards Luncheon at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. 

The event, sponsored by the Technical College System of Georgia’s Office of Adult Education, was held during the Georgia Adult Education Fall Conference in front of nearly 700 conference attendees who gathered to celebrate of the exceptional achievement of the GED recipients and honor the outstanding service provided by the staff of the local GED testing centers.

Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) was the recipient of two individual awards: Largest Percentage Increase in GED Tests Taken by centers serving 200-400 students and Highest GED Completion Percentage (Medium Program).

“I am proud of our instructors and students for this achievement,” said SRTC Director of Adult Education Melissa Burtle. “These awards exemplify the quality instruction that SRTC students receive. Research shows that students attending the Adult Education program have a higher passage rate on the GED test, and SRTC is no exception. Not only are our students prepared for the GED test, but they perform well on the college entrance exam when matriculating into credit programs.”   

In the past 10 years, the TCSG GED Testing Program has awarded 166,378 diplomas. Georgia was the first state to offer the GED test on a computer in December 2011 and the first to implement a complete transition of the GED mobile computer-based testing in corrections facilities in 2014. TCSG has 66 GED Testing Centers and 63 mobile testing sites, providing testing for three Youth Challenge Academies, three Job Corps centers, more than 83 correctional institutions and 11 youth detention centers.

Additionally, the Southwest Regional Certified Literate Program, which is part of the State’s Certified Literate Community Program, was the recipient of two additional awards: Advocacy Award, GED Testing Scholarships (Multiple County CLCP); and Advocacy Award, Tutor Hours (Multiple County CLCP).

Created in 1990 by the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and the Georgia Council on Adult Literacy (GCAL), the Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP) asks a community to establish a non-profit collaborative to promote, support and enhance local community literacy efforts. Communities participating in the program analyze literacy needs, create awareness of those needs, ensure that learning opportunities are offered and evaluate progress.

To qualify as a participant in the program, a community must set the goal of reducing its functional illiteracy rate by 50 percent within 10 years. When a CLCP reaches its stated goal, it may apply for the second level of certification as a Certified Literate Community. Eighty-seven counties and two cities have been certified by the TCSG State Board as CLCPs. Fifty counties and one city are CLCP Participants (first level of certification) and 37 counties and one city are Certified Literate Communities (second level of certification).

SRTC offers over 148 degree, diploma, and certificate programs that are designed to get you quickly into a desired career, and 27 general education courses that transfer to the University System of Georgia institutions and 19 private colleges and universities in Georgia. SRTC has instructional sites located in Ashburn, Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton, and Sylvester for the convenience of students. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. For the most up-to-date information on registration, class dates, and program offerings, log on to www.southernregional.edu or call (888) 205-3449.

Spring semester begins Jan. 8.

UW’s Cross urges merging two-year colleges with four-year universities

WHITEWATER — University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper said Wednesday that she would welcome UW-Rock County were it to become a branch of her campus next July.

In a proposal announced Wednesday by University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross, UW-Rock County in Janesville — commonly called “U-Rock” — would become part of UW-Whitewater, effective July 1, 2018.

The change follows a statewide restructuring plan in which 13 two-year UW colleges will be combined with seven four-year universities in their respective regions. The plan must be approved by the UW System Board of Regents and will be considered at its November meeting.

The two-year schools would become regional branches of the four-year schools. Students still would be able to earn associate degrees, but they would bear the name of the four-year school. Students would have access to a wider range of courses and be able to take third- and fourth-year courses at the branch campus.

For example, two-year school UW-Rock County would cease to exist. Its buildings, faculty and staff in Janesville would become a branch of UW-Whitewater. Students who attend the branch campus would earn associate degrees from UW-Whitewater and could complete four-year degrees through there, as well.

The plan is designed to combat declining enrollment at the two-year schools and keep them open.

Chancellor Kopper said that the proposed restructuring would strengthen UW-Whitewater’s relationship with the people of Rock County, businesses and community organizations, as well as create new partnerships.

“You have my promise that the administration at UW-Whitewater is committed to making this potential transition as seamless as possible. We will be scheduling a visit soon to meet with faculty, staff and students at UW-Rock County to begin the process of getting acquainted,” Kopper said. “As UW-Whitewater readies itself for a year-long celebration of our 150th anniversary, we are delighted with the possibility of welcoming the UW-Rock County community to the Warhawk family.”

She said a website will be created so that people can stay up to date on the proposed changes during the transition.

In announcing his proposal, Cross pointed out that change often produces uncertainty, but UW cannot be afraid to pursue needed reforms.

“We must restructure these two organizations, given the state’s demographic challenges, budgetary constraints, and the need for closer alignment between research and practice,” said Cross. “We want to leverage the strength of our four-year institutions at a time when overall enrollments at UW Colleges are declining.”

He said the goal is to expand access and provide more educational opportunities for more students, while ensuring UW faculty are organized and supported appropriately. Cross added that UW is committed to making the transition as smooth as possible for students, faculty and staff.

“The dramatic demographic declines in this state are undeniable and we have been working hard to ensure the future viability and sustainability of our small campuses,” said Cathy Sandeen, chancellor for UW Colleges and Extension. “I am optimistic about the potential of this new structure to keep student access and student success at the forefront.”

She continued: “Our team has been enacting major change and transformation efforts for the past three years, so we’re well positioned to help lead a smooth transition upon board approval. Our goal is to ensure the successful future for these campuses, because we need more doors open wider to more people in this state than ever before.”

UW officials cited the following restructuring objectives:

• Maintaining and expanding access to higher education by offering more general education and upper-level courses at the integrated branch campuses.

• Identifying and reducing barriers to transferring credits within the UW System.

• Maintaining affordability by continuing current tuition levels at the branch campuses post-merger for general education courses.

• Further standardizing and regionalizing administrative operations and services to more efficiently use resources.

• Leveraging resources and shared talent at UW institutions to get more students into and through the educational pipeline, better aligning the university to meet Wisconsin’s projected workforce needs.

Cross said that the proposed restructuring will allow the UW System to better address current and projected enrollment and financial challenges at the two-year institutions, while maintaining the important UW presence in local communities.

Business and community leaders stressed the important economic and cultural role UW institutions play in their regions when providing feedback for the UW System’s 2020FWD strategic framework.

Demographic trends indicate that current enrollment challenges are not likely to significantly improve in coming years, Cross said.

“By 2040, nearly 95 percent of total population growth in Wisconsin will be age 65 and older, while those of working age 18-64 will increase a mere 0.4 percent. Our labor force growth will be flat, while the demand for an educated labor force is growing exponentially,” said Cross.

“We must plan for the future now and be increasingly bold in our efforts to get more students through the educational pipeline to help meet Wisconsin’s needs,” he said. “We must do this by improving access to higher education and keeping it affordable for students and families.”

The university president said that this proposal will help avoid closing any UW Colleges’ campus while maintaining a university presence in these Wisconsin communities.

UW Colleges Online will move to UW System Administration under the Continuing Education, Outreach and E-learning (CEOEL) umbrella.

Meanwhile, Cross also announced a proposal to assign divisions within UW-Extension to UW-Madison and UW System Administration. This will go before the Regents next month.

Under the proposed plan, UW-Extension Cooperative Extension (including Wisconsin 4-H) and the UW-Extension Conference Centers would be moved to UW-Madison.

Cross said that the integration of Cooperative Extension and Conference Centers with the state’s land-grant institution is consistent with the practice in other states, including Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania. It also will provide more opportunities to connect the important practical work of extension agents with the research enterprise at UW-Madison.

Other divisions of UW-Extension would be integrated within UW System Administration to continue their statewide role. They include: The Division of Business and Entrepreneurship; Broadcasting and Media Innovations, including Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio; Continuing Education, Outreach and E-learning, including UW Flexible Option.

Cengage Launches OER Product

Open Educational Resources

Cengage Launches OER Product

Cengage today introduced OpenNow, a digital content platform for general education courses based on curriculum-aligned open educational resources (OER).

All content in OpenNow is openly licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY), which allows users to share, adapt, remix and build upon any work, as long as appropriate credit is given. The platform includes content from OpenStax and other OER sources, new open content created by Cengage, plus content previously under a Cengage copyright. “All Cengage content in OpenNow will become open and can be reused, modified and used elsewhere,” the company explained in a news announcement. The platform is also ADA-compliant and universally designed.

OpenNow is launching with content for three courses: Introduction to Psychology, American Government and Introduction to Sociology. Additional courses are coming out this fall, including College Algebra, General Chemistry, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Introduction to Biology, U.S. History, College Success, Composition and Developmental English.


Pricing starts at $25 per student per course. For more information, visit the Cengage site.

About the Author


About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

UW merger plan concerns UW-Stout

Cross said the merger would be done effective July 1, 2018. “Essentially, there will be no change this fall or spring, and we look forward to seeing how to best leverage UW-Eau Claire to expand access to higher education by offering more general education and upper-level courses, as well as identify and reduce barriers to transferring credits within the UW System,” Cross said in an email to the UW-Eau Claire.

UW-Rock County, UW-Whitewater could merge

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JANESVILLE—Under a sweeping restructuring proposal by the UW System, UW-Rock County and UW-Whitewater will merge by July 2018, UW System officials announced Wednesday.

The consolidation of Rock County’s two-year college and the four-year UW-Whitewater is part of a new network of regional pairings of two-year and four-year colleges the UW System is proposing, according to a news release.

Under a new “campus structure,” the UW-Rock County campus will remain open in Janesville, according to the release.

The mergers are intended to address a pending glut of retirements and a shortage in young members of the state’s workforce who have attained higher education, according to the release.

The objective, in part, is to make the system more aligned to meet the state’s “projected workforce needs,” according to the release.

The restructuring proposal will be presented to the UW Board of Regents in November.

The UW System said the merger will allow colleges and universities to “leverage resources and shared talent” between colleges paired to “get more students into and through the educational pipeline.”

The changes will help students at two-year schools more easily transfer credits within the college system, according to the release. They could bring more “general education and upper-level” classes to newly created “branch campuses” such as UW-Rock County.

The changes also will “regionalize” administrative operations, which the UW System said would use resources more efficiently.

According to release, tuition levels for general education courses will not change at the two-year colleges.

The proposal comes at a time when enrollment is listing at the UW System’s two-year schools.

For instance, between 2010 and 2017, UW-Rock County saw a decline of about 258 full-time students, according to UW System enrollment records. That’s a 28 percent drop.

Under the proposed plan, UW Extension Cooperative Extension, including Wisconsin 4-H, and the UW-Extension conference centers would be moved to the state’s land grant institution at UW-Madison.

The UW System called the changes “consistent” with practices in other states, including Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

According to the release, those change will allow the UW Extension system to more readily connect the “important practical work” of Extension agents to research being done at the system’s flagship university, UW-Madison.

Last updated: 11:13 am Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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EXCHANGE: Meteorology professor studies tornadoes, teaches

After earning a bachelor’s degree in meteorology and a master’s degree in geography at NIU, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia and taught at the College of DuPage for five years. Now, he is back at his alma mater to teach and research weather and climate.


“NIU represents, to me, the ability to reach a very wide spectrum of people, from rural areas to the urban metropolitan area of Chicago,” Gensini said. “There’s a lot of people bringing different things to the table, which is one of the things I liked about NIU as a student.”

Gensini is now collaborating with his former advisor, professor Walker Ashley, to research large thunderstorm complexes and how these phenomena might change under future climate change scenarios. This work will be funded with a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

“The idea is to try and track not only how big clusters have gotten in the past, (but) how the atmosphere may or may not affect weather occurrences in the near future,” Gensini said.

His work in predicting the likelihood of tornadoes weeks in advance received national attention last year. A contributing factor in tornado formation during spring storm activity is the jet stream, which provides the necessary ingredient of wind shear to a tornado, he said.

“Every tornado leaves behind a fingerprint in the conditions that are present when the outbreak occurs, which us researchers can then use to go back in history and find similar conditions when tornadoes were occurring,” Gensini said. “If we can know the environment, we can better forecast when (tornadoes) might occur.”

When he isn’t doing research, Gensini will be teaching two classes for the fall semester: an introductory course on weather called “Weather Climate And You” and a more advanced junior meteorology course.

One thing to realize in the general education class is that 90 percent of the students are not going to be an atmospheric science major, Gensini said.

“You have to make them understand why it’s important and why it will play a role in day-to-day life,” he said. “One example I gave the first day of class was that every time you step out the classroom door and walk to your apartment or your car, the atmosphere will influence you. These are basic things a student can grab onto.”

Other topics, such as how the weather affects the economy and taxpayers, the results of devastating storms like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, and the political debate around climate change are also discussed. From a local perspective, Gensini will also discuss the damage from the 2015 tornado that struck Fairdale, killing two women.

“I try to bring as much real-world application into the classroom as I can,” Gensini said.

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Source: The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle, http://bit.ly/2yeDRU4

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, http://www.daily-chronicle.com

This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle.