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Shields: UW leaders to reinvest in ‘human capital on campus’ at Boo-U

August 23, 2018

Baraboo’s college campus’ affiliation with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville may be an arranged marriage, but the chancellor in charge predicts both institutions will benefit from the relationship.

UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields updated the Sauk County Board on Tuesday about the campuses’ ongoing integration. He said the partnership could bring collaborative programs in agriculture, hospitality and business to the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County.

“We’re really excited about moving forward,” Shields said.

Supervisor Tim McCumber of Merrimac asked whether local students would gain access to UW-Platteville’s renowned engineering program. Shields said students could complete pre-engineering coursework at Baraboo, then finish their degrees at Platteville.

Boosting enrollment will be the key to making the restructuring successful, Shields said. Across the UW System, two-year schools like Baraboo’s are being put under the umbrella of four-year institutions. Increasing enrollment won’t be easy, as Shields said the funding model is becoming increasingly tuition-driven.

“These are challenging times in higher education,” he said.

Shields thanked the city and county — which own the campus and pay for buildings and maintenance — for their support. City and county leaders expressed concern after providing a new science building in 2015, only to see the UW System cut back and regionalize.

Supervisor Scott Von Asten of Baraboo asked how the restructuring would affect the planned renovation of the local campus’ fine arts building. “Is this going to help us with that fix?” Von Asten asked. “What can we expect as an expansion, as a gain, an add-on?”

Shields said programs will thrive once UW leaders “repopulate the human capital on campus.” He said the restructuring is expected to move forward with UW Board of Regents approval this week.

Supervisor Brandon Lohr of Prairie du Sac said the campus is critical to Sauk County. “This UW, although it’s small, is important,” Lohr said.

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