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