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UW Oshkosh announces closure of Fox Cities campus by end of June 2025

Posted at 10:52 AM, Jun 13, 2024

MENASHA (NBC 26) — UW Oshkosh has confirmed it is closing its Fox Cities campus in Menasha by June 30, 2025.

UWO said that Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman directed the university to move forward.

“We reach this decision after spending a year analyzing UWO Fox Cities enrollment, the region’s and state’s changing demographics, student participation rates, the regional higher-education landscape, potential for new and unique academic offerings and economic trends in the competitive Fox Valley marketplace,” UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said. “In the end, we made a difficult but responsible decision.”

UWO says total enrollment at the Fox Cities campus has declined nearly 67% over the last decade. UWO projects the campus would potentially have fewer than 100 students by 2032.

“The challenges facing the campus, and indeed facing higher education in general, are not of our own making,” UWO Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ed Martini said in a university analysis. “They are reflection of massive changes in our state, our nation and our world that have increasingly threatened the educational models on which the Fox campus was founded and in which it thrived for many years.”
 
UWO is providing current and new UWO Fox Cities students guidance and support as they consider next steps following the announcement of the campus' closure. A frequently asked questions page can be found HERE.

UWO says students who prefer to stay at the Fox Cities campus through the spring 2025 semester can continue at the Oshkosh campus at the Fox Cities' tuition rate through 60 credits, attainment of their Associate of Arts and Sciences degree, or Jan. 1, 2027, whichever comes first. Leaders say if student choose to switch campuses now, the Oshkosh campus tuition rate will apply.

“Preserving the price of the UWO Fox Cities experience is important to students, and UWO is providing options to honor their choices, pathways and goals,” Leavitt said.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson expressed his displeasure on the matter, saying, in part:

“Instead, Leavitt and Rothman let down the students and families...and betrayed their trust -- and now it will be up to the rest of us to clean up their mess."

UW Oshkosh-Fox Cities began as the University of Wisconsin—Fox Valley in 1933. It merged with UW Oshkosh in 2018. The campus now joins UW Oshkosh-Fond du Lac as the latest school to be shuttered, which closed after the spring 2024 semester.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

We first learned of the decision Thursday morning, but the news didn't come from the school.

It came from Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

He blasted UW Oshkosh leaders in a statement, saying they " ... let down the students and families of UW Fox ... Shame on you."

I caught up with Nelson later in the morning.

"We know looking across the state there have been closures all over," he told me. "We were assured that that would not be us."

Later Thursday, UW Oshkosh scheduled a media conference with Chancellor Andrew Leavitt and Vice President of Academic Affairs Ed Martini.

Martini cited falling enrollment as the reason to close.

"There was simply no scenario that we could explore—and we believe we did a thorough analysis to get to that point—that was going to result in a sustainable campus for the future," he noted.

According to a media release, UW Oshkosh Fox Cities enrollment has dropped by 67% over the past decade.

Winnebago County Executive Jon Doemel, in a statement, said while he was saddened, the closure was "inevitable with the declining enrollment."

Nelson claims he was caught off guard after receiving a UW Oshkosh-Fox Cities campus assessment Thursday morning dated April 30.

The assessment recommended that the campus close.

"They knew as recently as a month and a half ago," said Nelson.

When I asked Chancellor Leavitt about the assessment, he said a final decision only came this week.

"It was communicated to us Monday afternoon. Then, it took us a few days to line up this announcement simply because we have a lot of notifications we have to make," said Nelson.

The remaining faculty and staff at the Fox Cities campus will be transferred to UW Oshkosh after June 30, 2025.

Students also have options on how to continue their higher education. You can learn more by going here.