UW Restructure to be done by 2019

Calvin Skalet, News Editor

With the announcement that the UW merger is to be completed by the end of 2019, UW Oshkosh is currently discussing ways to make the upcoming transition as smooth as possible.

UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt gave his remarks to the Board of Regents via his blog post and gave his reassurance, that this transition will echo the University’s commitment to excellence.

“A commitment to excellence, access, affordability, inclusiveness, shared governance, liberal education, responsiveness and other principles that have always been foundational to us,” Leavitt said.

According to the Associated Press, the three-phase fiscal recovery plan has proven to take longer than originally thought due to “logistics such as whether to rename the branch campuses, how to retain the smaller campuses’ identities and how to maintain student access and navigating layers of bureaucracy.”

According to “UW Merger Will Take Until End of 2019,” an article posted by Associated Press, UW Colleges Chancellor Cathy Sandeen and leader of the two-year schools said the merger is quite complex and will need time before it is executed.

“This restructure is not just simply merging two campuses,” Sandeen said.

Leavitt said he is proud of the work that has been done in the Fox Valley area.

“The development of a unified, community vision for UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley and UW Oshkosh will take some time,” Leavitt said. “But I’m proud that good work is underway. Dozens of dedicated students, faculty and staff members from our three campus communities are helping lead the restructuring work.”

Leavitt said the University will present a new vision in the next year that will make the future of UWO an attractive place for students to attend.

“We’ll be back before you in the next year or so,” Leavitt said. “We will have a proposal for a new vision and mission statement for the institution.”

Former faculty senate president and history department professor Karl Loewenstein said this announcement does not come as a surprise.

“It’s not a setback, it’s an open announcement of something we already know,” Loewenstein said. “We’ll merge on July 1, and then we’ll have a year to figure out what’s going on.”

Loewenstein said while it sounds like a big transition, there won’t be too many changes for this next year.

“We expect that the each of the colleges will not change their operations for one full year,” Loewenstein said. “Technically they will be part of us, but they will have their own policies, processes and scheduling for the next year.”

Oshkosh Student Association president Jared Schadrie said as of now, there won’t be any drastic changes to the way each university’s student government is run.

“It’s going to look the same for the first year,” Schadrie said. “It might change in the future, that’s up to next year’s students.”

Schadrie said there are many different ideas being discussed to make the campus feel more like a community, one of which includes changing the UW Oshkosh name.

“One of the conversations that we’ve had was the possibility of opening up to a different name,” Schadrie said. “This would help make things more unified with our merging campuses. It may be something that gets a lot of heat, but it’s an idea being discussed.”

Leavitt said he has seen improvement with the number of students applying for enrollment at UWO.

“And, today, I am happy to report that every campus’ student applications are up, and so are our collective hopes,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt said he is confident the University will continue to do everything in its power to improve despite this setback.

“We will increase the educational attainment rate, we will help more people pursue knowledge and prosperity and we will provide the talent the region needs,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt said this decision will not stop the work UWO leaders are putting in each and every day to improve the University.

“We continue the critical work to align student information systems, course catalogs and other operational functions,” Leavitt said.

According to Leaitt, the merger won’t be here when originally planned, but when finally compleeted, the impact it will make on the UW System will be well worth the wait.

“It won’t be on July 1, but it will be in the next year or two,” Leavitt said. “And it will change lives.”