Richland County's Education Standing Committee (ESC) has expressed concern over low enrollment at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville/Richland and sent a letter to the university's interim chancellor offering to help the college boost its population.
According to the letter, Linda Gentes, chair of the ESC, wrote to Dr. Tammy Evetovich the interim chancellor of UW-Platteville, “We have met with a consortium of groups and have come to a consensus that the major initiative that needs to occur is to have dedicated recruiting for UW-Platteville/Richland.”
UW-Richland is part of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville as a unit in the UW-System.
The ESC met on Oct. 10 and was provided data for the UW-Richland campus and how it compares to peer campuses across the state.
UW-Richland's enrollment fell from 75 students in 2021 to 64 students in 2022. UW-Richland is the smallest attached institutional-education campus in the UW-System. The UW-Platteville/Baraboo campus is the second smallest with 176 students in 2022.
Some other similar campuses during this same period had higher percentages of falling enrollment. While UW-Richland saw a 14 % decrease, UW-Oshkosh/Fond du Lac fell 16 %, UW-Oshkosh/Fox Cities 16 %, UW-Platteville/Baraboo 18 % and UW-Stevens Point/Wausau 25 %.
Two UW-Green Bay satellite campuses saw large student population gains in 2021-2022 including UW-Green Bay/Marienette 21 % and UW-Green Bay/Manitowoc 24 %.
“The Richland campus has been closely aligned with the area community,” according to Gentes. “They are invested in its education and cultural programs. Several years ago, it developed that UW-Richland could offer a complete university experience for area students by having a diverse population from Madison, Milwaukee and (internationally).”
According to a report by UW-Platteville's Assistant Provost Dr. Michael Compton, UW-Richland's 2022-2023 tuition is $5,641 for Wisconsin residents, $6,204 for Minnesota reciprocity students and $13,777 for non-resident and international students. The tuition for Wisconsin residents at UW-P is $7,914 and non-resident and international students pay more than $16,500
“In order for us to add additional faculty, fully utilize our beautiful campus and offer co-curricular activities, we strongly feel that we first need to increase our student population,” according to Gentes.
According to Evetovich, recruiting is covered, “UW-Platteville has a dedicated recruiter for the branch campuses as well as marketing plans (targeted digital advertising, billboards, social media, publications, etc.) for the UW-Platteville/Richland campus.
“Based on current high school trends and enrollment, we must adapt to the changing landscape. Consulting with community, business and educational partners, we aim to find the proper niche for UW-Platteville/Richland,” Evetovich continued.
Complete breakdowns of tuition and fees are available on the website for the UW-Platteville/Richland cashier's office.
In other action at the Oct. 10 meeting, the ESC, like every other entity of Richland County government, is compiling a list of proposed cuts for the county's ad hoc operating referendum committee. The ESC spent time going through areas of its budget that could be cut totaling $37,000.
The options all involved staff reductions.
The ad hoc operational referendum committee has asked all county departments, boards and committees to forward proposed cuts by Oct. 31 as Richland County is looking at about a $1 million yearly operational budget deficit from 2023-2027. Operational referendum committee chair Shaun Murphy-Lopez has estimated the overall budget deficit through 2027 to be $4.5 million.
(Matt Johnson provides content for the Richland Observer through Johnson Media Labs. He can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org)