The Advance-Titan

Merger proposal has promise

Ethan Uslabar | The Advance-Titan

The premise of combining multiple UW campuses is a worthwhile idea; however, the logistics of the merger are poor. It is highly unlikely that the UW Oshkosh, UW-Fox Valley and UW-Fond du Lac campuses will be able to become fully integrated by July 1, 2018.

Outside of the poor logistics of the merger, the idea itself should have positive results if it’s executed well. The merger will be a good opportunity for the University to restructure and improve overall, UWO economics professor and chair Chad Cotti said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for [the University] to think differently about how we could grow the University, how the University could serve its mission better,” Cotti said. “We have the opportunity to restructure the University in a way that may improve the quality of the product and also potentially change the nature of the cost relationship.”

However, there are simply too many moving parts involved in running a college for three separate two-year and four-year colleges to be able to completely merge together in less than a year. The University still has some work to be done for the transition to go smoothly, Cotti said.

“I think there’s a lot that has to be worked out, but overall there’s the opportunity for it to make a big difference in the institution in a very positive way,” Cotti said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of details that have to be worked out, which nobody really understands, and we’re going to have hundreds of situations where we have to make a call about how we want one thing or another to run and where are they similar [or] where are they going to be different.”

Since it will take time for things to run smoothly after the merger, it’s unlikely that it will affect current students in any way. However, this means that later in the future the changes will begin to take effect.

The merger is so new and the idea was proposed so quickly there isn’t much information about it available, Cotti said.

“It’s a lot of uncertainty right now for everybody, but I’m reasonably confident that over a long enough period of time it’ll end up finding its kind of groove for the betterment of everybody,” Cotti said. “It’s just in the initial state, [so] nobody really knows what’s happening because it just kind of fell out of the sky on us.”

With so little information about the merger available there is some speculation about whether it will have more benefits or deficits for students. UWO senior Claudia Blair said she wonders how the merger will affect the different types of degree options currently available between the three schools.

“I think that the merger is an unfortunate decision for students overall,” Blair said. “The two-year UW Colleges gave students a choice. They had the option to get an associate’s degree within a system where things would transfer potentially better than from the surrounding technical schools. As someone who earned my associate’s degree from UW-Fox, I appreciated what it gave me. I understand the decisions behind the merger, but I feel it takes away options from students.”

Oshkosh Student Association President Maria Berge said she looks forward to learning more information about the merger.

“There’s a lot more questions than answers right now,” Berge said. “There’s a lot of questions out there that can’t be answered yet until we know more. [There’s a] huge opportunity here though, it’s just we need to make sure that in this process we are fair to all those who are involved and make sure we get lots of student input in how things are going to happen. It’ll be a huge undertaking, but I think there’s a lot of opportunity for growth, and opportunity for evaluation for some things we do here that possibly could be improved. Just a lot of opportunities, I think.”

OSA Vice President Jared Schadrie said he believes it’s going to be important during the merger for students to be involved on campus in order to have any influence over what happens.

“I believe the merger took many people by surprise,” Schadrie said. “I personally believe this can benefit students across all three campuses. It is essential that students on all three campuses get involved in the working groups, committees and student government if they are not already. Student involvement is always important, but the involvement this year and the next couple years will be crucial to making decisions that will have long-term impacts on students at UW Oshkosh campuses. There are more questions than answers at this point. I believe it is up to the students at all three campuses to help create those answers.”

This merger has the possibility to be something that could bring great improvements to the UWO, UW-Fond du Lac and UW-Fox Valley campuses. Only time will tell if it will be successful.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Merger proposal has promise