Menomonie (WQOW) - During the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Wisconsin System officials are proposing some big changes to their universities and campuses under the Blueprint plan, but some professors are not on board.
The Blueprint calls for the restructuring of many areas including consolidating I.T. services to reduce costs, creating a unified strategic online education delivery model, reallocating resources and discontinuing some university programs.
The Blueprint indicates the proposed changes are necessary due to COVID-19 and a shrinking budget since 2007, but one professor from UW-Stout said this will do more harm than good.
"The proposed changes that it makes, they actually limit and diminish the budgets of especially the rural universities that are going to be affected by this. So by outsourcing online education, we actually give a hit to UW System schools in terms of their ability to produce revenue," said Chris Freeman, an associate professor of history and social science at UW-Stout.
Another professor said this may lead to larger classes, which would hurt the learning experience of students and limit their choices.
"Our students are different. Our region is different. Our university is different, and so we really need to be thinking about 'Why do we want to be centralizing?' And I think that the assumption is that it's going to save money somehow, but that is not at all proven," said Innisfree McKinnon, assistant professor of geography at UW-Stout.
News 18 also reached out to UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents for comment. Below is the full statement they sent to News 18:
“President Cross’ Blueprint provides concepts for the UW System, which is facing significant financial challenges beyond COVID-19. We have held listening sessions with shared governance representatives, and the UW System and the Board of Regents will continue to deliberate on the issue as we work to identify the best steps forward.”
The Board of Regents will have another meeting on Thursday. Again, these are proposals. Nothing has been voted on yet.
Click here to take a look at the proposed Blueprint plan. Click here to view a petition being circulated statewide to Uphold the Wisconsin Idea. And click here to read a letter faculty and staff wrote to UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank.