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UW Oshkosh would receive $2.3 million to support increased enrollment, additional programs

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will continue to play a major role in creating a stronger future for northeastern Wisconsin if the UW System’s 2009-2011 budget is approved by the governor and state Legislature next summer. On Aug. 22, Board of Regents approved the budget, which includes Growth Agenda funds to support the second phase of the Wisconsin Growth Agenda. Of that funding, $2.3 million is earmarked for UW Oshkosh.

The budget will now be forwarded to Gov. Jim Doyle in September as he prepares the state’s budget proposal for the Legislature’s review in February. The Legislature will prepare a response to the Governor’s proposal in late spring or early summer with anticipation that the governor will approve the 2009-2011 biennial budget by July 1, 2009.

If approved, the Growth Agenda funding would support another increase in enrollment of 250 students by 2012; allow for program expansion in high-demand areas such as biology/microbiology, health care, nursing and environmental studies; provide increased support for additional online and hybrid courses for non-traditional students; and allow for additional support for the University’s Graduation Project, which facilitates working-adult degree completion.

“The second phase of the Growth Agenda will allow us to continue to support the region by providing the strong workforce the New North is demanding,” said Chancellor Richard H. Wells. “For northeastern Wisconsin’s New North communities to grow and prosper, the state needs to both attract and retain individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary for our increasingly global economy. Only 18.8 percent of northeastern Wisconsin residents hold a bachelor’s degree, which is significantly lower than the national average of 27 percent. The region must have talented graduates who fit the needs of the community, whether they are business entrepreneurs, healthcare providers, teachers or community leaders.”

“Strong and effective regional institutions like UW Oshkosh help build relationships that can fuel economic growth and progress,” added Dave Omachinski, chairperson-elect of CHAMCO, the Oshkosh Industrial Development Corp. “We also know that other ongoing efforts to develop new majors, new programs and new services will be required to respond to rapidly changing conditions.”

The first phase of the Growth Agenda, which was approved by the governor and the Legislature in 2007, brought an additional $3.6 million to UW Oshkosh; and the ability to jump start to increase the educational capacity for northeastern Wisconsin citizens. The budget provided funding for 27 new faculty positions, already in the process of being recruited, to support an enrollment growth of more than 1,000 students since 2000, the equivalent of adding a small college to the region. The funding also allowed the University to support 500 more students by fall 2010. Approximately 200 of those students are expected to be on campus this fall, bringing total enrollment close to 13,000.

The $3.6 million also will help the University add new programs in partnership with regional technical colleges and other UW System universities.

“The second phase of the Growth Agenda is crucial to northeastern Wisconsin,” said Interim Provost Al Hartman. “Not only will it allow us to continue providing an affordable, accessible education to traditional students, but also adult learners will have many more options for earning or completing a degree. By making higher education more accessible to more people, UW Oshkosh will impact significantly the region’s growth and success.”

“During the last state budget, the Growth Agenda received broad public support because individual initiatives were developed locally with personal involvement from business leaders, regional economic development entities, students and others,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “Those local stakeholders understand that this is not about building a bigger university. It’s about building a vibrant state where our children and grandchildren will enjoy a high quality of life.”

Added John Casper, president of the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, “Phase II of the Growth Agenda for UW Oshkosh and northeastern Wisconsin means a great deal to the people, the businesses and the organizations in the Fox River Valley Region.”