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Guest opinion: Time to invest in UWPlattevilles future
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UW–Platteville has earned the attention of the UW System Board of Regents.

The board approved its 2015–17 biennium budget request on Thursday. Included in the request are two capital building projects for UW–Platteville, with an estimated cost between $60 million and $80 million.

The budget proposal will now be forwarded to the state legislature and ultimately sent to Gov. Scott Walker. A decision isn’t likely until early 2017.

The two proposed campus capital projects include the construction of a new engineering facility — Sesquicentennial Hall as well as the phase two renovation of Boebel Hall.

Both projects are clearly a necessity. Not only do we feel that way, but UW System officials feel strongly about them as well. From a list of more than 70 projects from throughout the UW System, the Boebel Hall project is the top renovation priority, and the engineering building is the lone new construction project being proposed by the Board of Regents in the 2017–19 budget cycle. Sesquicentennial Hall would complement the instructional activities in Engineering Hall, built in 2008 and funded 60 percent by the university and the UW–Platteville Foundation.

These projects, if undertaken, will certainly have a tremendous positive impact on the local economy as well as the regional industry. The engineering entities (business and industry) that hire our graduates and call on the expertise of our faculty will be thrilled as well.

The number of majors in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science has increased 63.4 percent from 2010–11 through 2014–15. There were 4,253 majors in the College of EMS during the 2014–15 academic year.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers are popular and in high demand. Our exceptional reputation throughout the country for educating high-quality engineers has not wavered. It’s time for our facilities to match our faculty, staff and students.

In 2014–15 UW–Platteville graduated 23 percent of the total number of UW System Bachelor of Science degree engineering students and the second largest number of engineering graduates (337). In addition, also in 2014-15, UW–Platteville graduated 26 percent of the total number of UW System Bachelor of Science degree in engineering plus engineering tech students (including industrial studies — 444).

UW–Platteville graduates 61.5 percent of our engineering students in six years, above the national average for engineering, which is 58.8 percent. Our students earn a high-quality education in a timely fashion, meaning that they are able to contribute to the state’s workforce as soon as possible.

UW–Platteville graduates the second largest number of engineers in the UW System and 76 percent of our highly-skilled graduates remain in Wisconsin. We need the facilities to assist our faculty in educating the next generation of those engineers and meeting the unmet needs of the state. Ottensman Hall, built in 1966, is failing in terms of supporting the STEM programs within its walls. It has never been renovated, which would be cost-prohibitive for the STEM-focused classes that we need to offer.

Boebel Hall, the lone science-focused building on campus, was built in 1977. Modern biology cannot be supported in the 1970s-era facility. Adequate, modern biology space is critical to support a STEM-focused university. The university paid for the partial first-floor renovation in 2010, which modernized labs and classrooms. A portion of Boebel Hall’s first floor and all of second and third floors are still in their original configurations.

Biology is one of the key majors within the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture. The College of BILSA accounted for 43 percent of all UW–Platteville undergraduates in the 2014–15 academic year and 39 percent in 2015–16. The biology major is one of the top 10 programs with 409 pursuing the discipline in fall 2015, serving Wisconsin in the high need healthcare profession and molecular and biotechnology areas, among others.

I am committed to working with our local legislators, including State Sen. Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green), Rep. Travis Tranel (R–Cuba City) and Rep. Todd Novak (R–Dodgeville), in advancing the UW System’s budget. Investing in higher education means investing in Wisconsin families and the future of this state. UW-Platteville is positioned for the future and this proposed capital budget will enhance our ability to further our mission as a regional, state and national leader in not only engineering, but in liberal arts education. With your support we will continue to make every day a great day to be a Pioneer!


UW System

• In June 2016 the UW System Board of Regents approved a proposal to recommend increased grant funding for University of Wisconsin students in the 2017–19 biennium budget for the Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board. The total request was $19,152,300.

• The average grant to UW System undergraduates in 2014–15 was $1,773. There were 32,885 recipients.


UW–Platteville is an affordable, accessible institution. If approved, those funds will improve the situation for students who not only want to come here, but who want to attend other state institutions as well. This is an investment in the families of this state.

Seventy-five percent of our students receive financial aid. In 2014–15, $59 million in financial aid was awarded to our students. On average, each student was awarded $9,843 in aid. Scholarships totaling more than $1.5 million were awarded during the 2014–15 academic year.



UW System

• The UW System will be requesting a 2017–19 biennium budget increase of $42.5 million from 2015–17. The funding will aid the implementation of UW System’s strategic plan; 2020FWD: Moving Wisconsin and the World Forward.


• The UW–Platteville strategic plan aligns with the System’s strategic plan:

• UWP’s potential share of the $42.5 million proposed increase will also allow us to strengthen the four pillars of our strategic plan: provide an outstanding education, foster a community of achievement and respect, control our own destiny, and enrich the tri-states.



• UW–Platteville’s phase two renovation of Boebel Hall was identified by the UW System as the number one enumeration priority in 2015–17, however, it was not funded in that budget.

UW System

• From an original list of more than 70 projects, 14 are being proposed in the Board of Regents’ 2017–19 biennium budget request.


•          The UW System has two UW–Platteville capital projects on the proposed list.

•          One of the projects is the phase II renovation of Boebel Hall, the main science building on campus. Renovation will include the second and third floors. This project supports the Department of Biology and the Geography and Geology programs. It includes 44 labs, plus lab support areas, more than 85 faculty offices and general assignment classrooms. Lab support spaces for biology will include a cadaver storage room, an animal housing area, a surgery room and renovation of the greenhouse on the third floor. The estimated cost of this project is $23 million. The earliest construction start date is October 2019 This is the highest-ranked renovation project on the UW System proposal list.

•          The other project is the construction of a new engineering building: Sesquicentennial Hall. This is the only new construction on the UW System proposal list. The estimated cost is $40 million to $60 million. The earliest construction start date would be September 2021. This new facility would provide for maker spaces, allowing students to create in an open, high-tech space. The university’s data center would also be housed here.