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UW System plans to contribute more graduates to economy

April 22, 2010

The UW System is currently devising an initiative to better Wisconsin’s economy by providing more graduates over the next 15 years.

The initiative will result in 80,000 UW degrees, with UWRF contributing 5,600 graduates, by 2025. The key components to this initiative are retention and recruitment, according to Alan Tuchtenhagen, the associate vice chancellor for enrollment services.

“There are subgroups bringing forward formal proposals on retention and recruitment. They are looking at how to help students graduate in a timely manner, help them be successful and see what other student support services are needed,” Tuchtenhagen said.

But this initiative can only go so far with limited funds, according to Tuchtenhagen.

The UW System needs money from the state, so the System promises that if they receive the necessary funds they will then provide the growth (graduates) the state needs to improve their economy.

Minnesota and Illinois are ahead of Wisconsin when it comes to the number of people with a Bachelor’s degree, according to Glenn Potts, a UWRF professor of economics.

Therefore Minnesota and Illinois’ economies are better because they have people in the workforce earning more money who then can contribute more of their income to taxes.

The recruitment efforts of UWRF are focusing on certain groups. These people include veterans, Wisconsin residents who have two-year technical degrees, people who attended college but did not finish and underrepresented minority ethnic groups, according to Potts.

There have been positions developed regarding working with these groups of people. UWRF has beefed up staffing and resources for the Veterans office, according to Potts.

The Veterans office has a new position that works with the veterans to provide support and sufficient services for them. Michael Bilden has been hired to work with the development of the adult degree completion program.

“Hopefully by this time next time next year we will have 40 to 50 adults in the program who wouldn’t have been here otherwise,” said Potts.

UWRF is also developing more support services, according to Tuchtenhagen. There will be a new learning center opening this fall in Hudson, Wis.

The center will serve the St. Croix Valley with a focus on undergraduate courses for non-traditional and working adults seeking to complete a baccalaureate degree, or enroll in select graduate and certificate programs, according to the press release.

The center will include several technology-enabled classrooms and meeting spaces to serve a range of educational and community needs.

The center will be a base for UWRF to strengthen relationships with the area business community to meet economic development and workforce needs, according to the press release.

UWRF is still choosing a location for this center but it will be easily accessible from the interstate and will not be such a parking headache. The UW System is providing the initial funds for this center so the financial responsibilities will not fall on the students, according to Potts.

UWRF is taking a look at retention rates as well. UWRF needs to keep students here to get their degrees.

UWRF can increase its retention by improving and expanding services, providing more academic support and providing more counseling support, according to Potts.

Potts said this initiative is important for the UW System.

“This is a carefully designed effort with many people working on it. We need to do our part in increasing degrees at UWRF.”