UW System seeks $25 million for Capacity-Building Initiatives

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LA CROSSE (WXOW) – University of Wisconsin System schools made their pitch to the Board of Regents this week at the UW-La Crosse.

One topic discussed, focuses on more money in return for increased emphasis on helping students better prepare for successful careers in high demand fields.

The UW System refers to the concept as the state’s talent pipeline, seeking $25 million for the 2019-21 state budget. Funds would increase the ability of Wisconsin universities to educate students, what they call Capacity-Building Initiatives.

Proposed funds would increase opportunities in high demand fields such as health care and other sciences.

“We want to make sure that institutions serve their communities even better than they already do,” UWL Chancellor Joe Gow elaborates. “The way to do that is to say to each institution, ‘What are programs you wish you could do, or you wish you could enhance?’”

One program that fits the bill for UWL is engineering. Gow says the university does have student opportunities to earn those degrees but must collaborate with other universities to do so.

“What we can do is offer them a path to an engineering degree that also comes with a physics degree from La Crosse,” Chair of the UWL Physics Department Eric Barnes continues.

“So we have a dual degree program as a result. It’s like having a double major but two different campuses are involved.”

If funds are approved, UWL will work to offer a program on their campus.

“We don’t have the resources to get into engineering fully, but we can build off our strength in physics and create an Electrical Engineering program,” Chancellor Gow adds.

The university requests three additional positions to create that opportunity, but they plan to focus on more than engineering. Enhancing academic and career advising are among the list of aspects they hope to address.

“We also want to be sure that our finance and accounting programs, which are very strong marquee programs at the university, continue to flourish. We’ve asked for positions in those as well,” Chancellor Gow explains.

La Crosse isn’t the only university focusing on expansion. They collaborate with four other UW System universities to improve offerings across the state.

“We want to make a strong case for our funding and show how it enhances the state and community. Capacity-Building Initiatives, that’s what it’s all about,” Chancellor Gow finishes.

Each university intends to use proposed funds in ways unique to their campus. Other colleges include methods ranging from increased internships to research opportunities.

The legislature sets funding for the UW System. Each proposed program or expansion depends on the acceptance of the recommendation.

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