UW System Listens to Campus and Community

Published: November 4, 2015

Strategic plan sessions attended by faculty, staff and community leaders

 

More than 100 people from throughout southeastern Wisconsin representing a variety of organizational disciplines gathered at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Nov. 3 for the final in a statewide series of UW System strategic plan listening sessions. Attendees discussed and offered opinions on two questions:

What are the major issues (pro and con) facing the state of Wisconsin?

What role should the UW System play to help Wisconsin address its most critical challenges and opportunities? 

listeing session

After the group discussion attended by community leaders, UW System President Ray Cross shared consistent themes that have emerged from previous sessions around the state, and were echoed at UW-Parkside.  

The UW System needs to collaborate, coordinate and align with K-12 schools, Wisconsin's technical colleges, and the private sector. 

"We have heard that expressed in different ways," Cross said, "the importance of that alignment. I heard the other day that we have collaborated, we've coordinated our activities, now it is time to get aligned."  

Ray Cross

The UW System needs to take a greater role in helping the state work toward the future and being a greater advocate for the importance of higher education.  

Cross acknowledged that affordability is critically important to the future of public higher education, as is greater investment from the state. "One of the things that we've heard consistently is the concept of devaluing higher education," he said. "That is expressed in the disinvestment, the disconnect, and disengagement. So if you flip that around, the university needs to be more engaged … but also more connected and all of those things lead to greater investment." 

By mid-December, UW System will generate a report highlighting the themes gathered from the various strategic-plan sessions. A survey will then be sent to every resident in Wisconsin. Results of that survey will help guide UW System priorities, objectives and metrics for future initiatives. 

Comments from the UW-Parkside Community Session

Issues facing the state of Wisconsin:

  • Short-term gain, long-term loss (reduced investment in higher education and other state priorities)
  • Allegiance between all education groups
  • Educating citizens is how to build the future; education cuts are like cutting the roots of a tree
  • Businesses can't grow if the state can't grow
  • Need for additional investment in infrastructure 

What role the UW System should play to help Wisconsin address its most critical challenges and opportunities:

  • Keep education affordable
  • Address employment needs and skills gap while nurturing creative genius
  • Connect to economic needs both regionally and globally
  • Engage with students in long-term practical apprenticeships, integrate with public libraries, museums, etc.
  • Campuses across the state should not be all things to all people
  • Find educational pathways for everyone in our state
  • Help the state anticipate the future
  • More emphasis on teaching degrees; teachers should have broader skill sets heading into the classroom
  • Why are 48 percent of people incarcerated in the state from Racine and Milwaukee counties? Work with the criminal justice system to help those incarcerated become aware of the educational opportunities
  • Unseen, plus untold equals unsold; help people understand the value of the UW System
  • What is our (UW System) big idea
  • UW should focus on blurring boundaries between the university and the community
  • Coordinate career pathways with K-12 and technical college systems; multidisciplinary approach

Earlier in the day, members of the UW-Parkside faculty and staff had the opportunity to share their ideas and concerns. Cross told the group that the UW System is the best vehicle to help the Wisconsin determine "what it wants to be in the future."  

faculty staff

Comments from the UW-Parkside Faculty-Staff Session

Issues facing the state of Wisconsin:

  • Growing toward a knowledge economy
  • Because of funding cuts, the state is challenged to offer competitive compensation to its employees; affects staff retention
  • The public has devalued educators, makes it more challenging to recruit students, faculty and staff; a lack of investment in education is a lack of investment in the state's future
  • Students require technical training and liberal-arts training
  • Gap between rich and poor is growing
  • How does Wisconsin become viewed as a place of trust for businesses and people? 

What role the UW System should play to help Wisconsin address its most critical challenges and opportunities:

  • Prepare well-rounded, critical thinkers
  • Help the state create a more global mindset
  • Educate not incarcerate
  • More accessibility for students throughout the UW System (easier transfer and recognition of previous academic achievement)
  • Engage with K-12 school districts
  • Redesign curriculum and delivery methods in order to advance innovation
  • Create and offer more effective adult learning options -- online and flex option that recognize prior credit
  • Be a part of regional economic development 

As he did with the community session, Cross concluded the faculty-staff session by sharing main themes from previous listening sessions. "Engagement is the key theme," Cross said. "We need to be able to communicate the value of the UW System."

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