UW-Stout’s student government is asking the Board of Regents to reconsider a plan to merge UW-Barron County, a two-year college, with UW-Eau Claire, a four-year college, as part of a restructuring of the UW System.
UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer is concerned that fewer students from UW-Barron County will transfer to UW-Stout if the merger is approved. According to Meyer, over a quarter of UW-Barron County students transferred to UW-Stout for the 2015-’16 school year.
According to UW System enrollment figures, the number of full-time students enrolled at UW-Barron County has dropped 35 percent from 2010 to 2017. UW System President Ray Cross said the merger, if passed, would take effect on July 1, 2018.
UW-Stout’s student government — the University Student Senate of the Stout Student Association — was also critical of UW-Barron County’s proposed merge with UW-Eau Claire, especially since the merger was suggested without student input.
“We express our sincere disappointment in the handling of this proposed restructure and are asking for this proposal to be postponed for one meeting to review identified problems and potential solutions in a thoughtful and collaborative way,” SSA President Alex Vernon said in a statement.
In the resolutions, student leaders said UW-Barron County and UW-Stout have had a longer relationship than any other UW institution. Meyer said he will continue to nurture this relationship.
“I … will do everything possible to maintain our historical link to UW-Barron County and remain a top choice for students who start their education there and continue to a four-year degree,” Meyer said in a release.
In response to the proposed restructuring, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James C. Schmidt sent out an email to staff and students where he highlighted the strong connection between UW-Eau Claire and UW-Barron County.
“While it is too soon to identify all the opportunities this new structure could bring to students here and in Barron County, we do know that meeting the needs of students at both campuses will be our highest priority,” Schmidt said in the email.
The Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on the plan during their meeting Thursday.