Local plan presented to revitalize Richland Campus
Those interested in the future for the UW-Richland listened to a plan to revitalize the school during an hour-plus presentation by Richland County Board supervisors Shaun Murphy-Lopez and Linda Gentes at Pippin Hall on the campus Monday night.
Some 75 people attended in person with others joining remotely. They heard a comprehensive plan designed to inject new life into the school to be presented to the Board of Regents. The question is whether the Board of Regents and President Jay Rothman will even consider it with more than lip service in the wake of a UW-Platteville plan to end all in-person classes for undergraduates at the campus which was initially built by Richland County in the 1960s.
Gentes, Murphy-Lopez and County Board Chair Marty Brewer have had meetings with Board of Regents officials including Rothman.
The plan’s concept is to “get your higher education and increase your income in your backyard” while meeting the rural education needs for Southwest Wisconsin for traditional and non-traditional students.
Gentes pointed to statistics showing residents of Richland, Crawford and Vernon counties have a lower rate of higher education than the rest of Wisconsin and the United States which results in lower median incomes.
The proposal encourages the UW to “go backwards to move forward”.
In-person degree programs would be offered including an Associate’s degree from general education courses, a K-12 education program with a five semester Associate’s degree for a teaching certificate to address the teacher shortage, a nursing program leading to a Bachelor of Science in nursing, and a rural environmental program addressing the area needs in organic/sustainable agriculture, forestry/conservation and work programs in local businesses.
More dual enrollment opportunities for high school students and the return of the school’s international student program will also be included in the proposal. Reduced tuition rate would increase accessibility. Officials also said that the program could serve as a model for the system’s other two-year campuses which could come under attack.
Funding for the plan could be enhanced by grant applications through USDA Rural Development by the county as well as through the UW System. Richland County, Richland County Campus Foundation, and a community and alumni fundraising campaign could be used.
Due to a late start, minimal staffing would be needed for 2023-24, but staff needs would increase from 2024 and beyond.
Officials also advocated those interested to contact their legislators either by letter or phone to encourage support for the plan and consideration especially for the period of state budgeting process.