WISCONSIN — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Richland campus is being closed, Universities of Wisconsin president Jay Rothman announced Tuesday.
Rothman also said in-person instruction will also end at two other branch campuses: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Washington County and University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Fond du Lac campus. Rothman said the expected end date is June 2024.
Students who attend classes on those campuses will be offered enrollment options at other universities.
“It’s time for us to realign our branch campuses to current market realities and prepare for the future. The status quo is not sustainable,” Rothman said. “This decision is a response to an evolving student marketplace. Offering students an educational experience they deserve while working with local leaders to ensure it meets their expectations is key to our long-term success.”
Rothman said he’s asked chancellors “to explore the long-term viability of the branch campuses.” This includes talking to the local county governments that own the buildings classes are offered in to see what UW’s future looks like at its 10 remaining branch campuses. Those are located in Barron County, Baraboo, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marshfield, Menasha (Fox Cities), Rock County, Sheboygan, Waukesha and Wausau.
“We want to work with the counties to determine the best way for our universities to serve their communities,” Rothman said. “This reassessment is designed to ensure facilities are used in ways that meet community needs and provide long-term stability.”
Rothman said potential future paths for those campuses involve using the existing spaces — or even new spaces — in new ways such as “offering four-year and graduate degree options, upskilling and reskilling opportunities for the existing workforce, expanding dual enrollment, or opening ‘navigation centers’ for high school and nontraditional students seeking guidance on their university journey.”
Rothman said the remaining 10 branch campuses’ futures at UW are unclear. He said keeping them is an option, though. He said whether or not they’re retained will be determined by what the community needs and if UW can meet those needs. He wants chancellors to determine “clear pathways” by spring 2024.
Rothman said his decisions are student-driven, not money-driven.
“We are seeing freshman enrollment rising at most of our four-year campuses while enrollment at the two-year campuses has been falling at a rapid rate for years,” Rothman said. “Moreover, online enrollment has been trending up as well. The market is telling us that increasingly students are pursuing a degree at our four-year campuses or online.”
Rothman said that decline in enrollment is impacting the student experience.