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UWO bold academic overhaul, saving millions and setting new standard

UWO bold academic overhaul, saving millions and setting a new standard
UWO
Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 01, 2024

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — In a bold move aimed at addressing a long-standing structural deficit and enhancing the student experience, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) has unveiled plans for a comprehensive academic overhaul.

  • Addressing structural deficit and improving student experience
  • Commitment to student success and barrier elimination
  • Streamlining operations and adopting forward-thinking approach

The initiative, announced last month, reflects the school’s commitment to improving student success and eliminating barriers.
According to Ed Martini, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UWO, the plan will streamline operations and adopt a more forward-thinking approach. "This is really about how we organize ourselves to be a little bit more efficient to be a little bit more forward-thinking and forward-facing," Martini explained.

The proposed overhaul to address declining enrollment is designed to realign academic programs and reduce administrative costs. Key to this restructuring to ease the budget deficit would save UWO up to $1.75 million dollars annually. Part of that was due to reducing its staff by nearly 220.

Part of the plan involves the reorganization of academic programs through a new college structure.

UWO describes the details on its website:

“Model A” proposes a shift from three to four UWO colleges and, within, a new structure containing six new “schools.” The colleges are titled: the College of Business, Media & Communication; the “College of Culture, Society & Education;” and the “College of Nursing, Health Professions & STEM.”

“Model B” also proposes three colleges but with eight new schools. The colleges include: “College of Business, Science & Technology;” “College of Culture, Society & Education;” and the “College of Nursing & Health Professions.”

This reorganization is intended to offer greater flexibility and alignment with career clusters already established in K-12 schools across Wisconsin. By restructuring academic divisions into interdisciplinary schools, UWO aims to give a smoother transition for high school students into university programs.

Andy Smock, Associate Professor of Radio TV, and Film at UWO, says he has been through a lot of changes on campus over the past year.

"I think, like a lot of folks on campus, I certainly have some nervousness about it. But I also am kind of excited about the possibilities of bringing those areas together," Smock said.

Recognizing the university system that hasn’t changed much since the 1970s, Smock emphasized the potential for UWO to set a new standard in higher education.

"I think what we're going to see after all this restructure is done is other universities are going to take note and say, oh wait a minute. They've aligned themselves to make it really easy for these high school students to find their home on that campus. How do we do that?" he added.

The University is still hosting planning meetings and focus groups on the proposed changes regularly to discuss the two restructuring plans. Faculty will take a vote in about a month and the new plan should be in place by January of 2025.