UW-Stout set a record for the number of degrees it awarded last year, contributing to a new high point for the entire UW System.
The Menomonie university handed out 1,989 degrees last year — primarily bachelor’s but also 362 graduate or professional degrees — during the 2017-18 school year.
“Obviously it’s a testament to what our students think the value of a UW-Stout education is,” said Doug Mell, the university’s director of communications.
Last year’s tally beat the previous record set in 2012-13 by 19 degrees and was 115 higher than the average for the last decade.
Systemwide, there were 36,825 graduates who earned a degree during the 2017-18 academic year from one of the state’s higher education institutions — 203 more than the record set the prior year.
“Students and parents recognize that Wisconsin’s public universities are accessible and affordable, and these graduation numbers indicate that UW System faculty and staff are doing a great job helping students progress toward a degree,” Ray Cross, UW System president, said in a news release.
Not every campus was able to set a new record though.
At UW-Eau Claire the number of degrees has taken a slight decline in the past two years — handing out the fewest in almost a decade. The university awarded 2,160 degrees last year — 55 fewer than the record set in 2012-13.
“While there is no simple reason for the decline in UW-Eau Claire’s degrees granted for the past two academic years, it is certainly related to an overall decline in enrollment between 2010 and 2015, which we have reversed over the past two years,” Michael Carney, the university’s associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in an email to the Leader-Telegram.
As students from that rebound in enrollment make their way to graduation, Carney said the university’s number of degrees is expected to rise.
Though its graduate numbers are up, Mell said UW-Stout’s enrollment had slid a little in recent years, but early admissions figures for next year appear to be reversing that.
“The numbers are looking good for fall 2019,” he said.
In addition to overall degree numbers, the UW System also remarked on the increasing diversity of its graduating classes.
In last year’s graduating class 13.2 percent of those students were either black, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander or biracial, according to UW System statistics. That compares to 8.5 percent in the 2008-09 academic year.
Both Chippewa Valley campuses have seen growth in the proportions of minorities graduating, but lag behind the university system’s average. UW-Eau Claire’s most recent graduating class had a 7.7 percent minority population, up from 4.2 percent a decade prior. Nonwhite students accounted for 8.6 percent of UW-Stout’s graduating class last year, up from 4.7 percent in the 2008-09 academic year.
The most racially and ethnically diverse graduating class belonged to one of the system’s smallest campuses last year. Of the 783 degrees bestowed by UW-Parkside, 27 percent went to minority students.