A request for Tommy Thompson
UW System President Tommy Thompson recently announced his idea for Wisconsin's outstanding two-year universities. He's wondering if they should be combined with the state's technical school system.
As a professor for 49 years at one of the UW System's two-year campuses, I would like to answer Thompson's question with a resounding "no." Please leave the two-year colleges alone. Give our new relationship with the four-year campuses time to grow.
In 1971, when I started my career in education, my two-year campus was aligned with UW-Stout. The relationship was strong. A few years later, the tie between Wisconsin’s two- and four-year campuses was severed. The two-year campuses became the UW Centers and, later, the UW Colleges. When UW System President Ray Cross came into office, he recommended that the Board of Regents align the two-year campuses regionally.
My campus was in the Northern Region that spread across the entire northern portion of the state. Our dean was gone. Student Services was gone. New administrators visited when they had time.
Two years later, Cross decided regionalization wasn’t working. He recommended that each of the two-year campuses be aligned with a four-year campus.
The faculty and staff of the two-year campuses are survivors. We have done everything asked of us to make each new alignment work — for the sake of our students who thrive with the attention they receive at our small, affordable campuses.
In 2018, my campus aligned with UW-Eau Claire. Dedicated faculty, staff and administrators on both campuses are striving to make this relationship work. But relationships need time to flourish.
Think of us as a flower, President Thompson. We are just starting to push our head above the ground. Please don’t uproot us again.