By Harry Muir, Special to   Published Mar 10, 2015 at 4:06 PM

Dear Citizen of Southeast Wisconsin,

UW-Waukesha excels at preparing students with a wide range of academic skills and abilities to successfully transition into four year degree programs upon leaving UW Waukesha. Over 73 percent of UW-Waukesha students who transfer to four-year public Wisconsin universities earn a Bachelor degree within six years after they began at UW-Waukesha. This is an extremely high rate of success especially given the backgrounds and experiences of a lot of UW-Waukesha students. While a majority of students choose to attend UW-Waukesha directly out of high school, a significant number attend UW-Waukesha as a second chance opportunity after experiencing difficulties at a larger university the first time around.

In both cases, students attend UW-Waukesha to prepare themselves to be successful at the next level and because UW-Waukesha is so affordable. It seems to be working because it is very hard to go anywhere in the greater Waukesha area without meeting someone who attended or had a family member attend UW-Waukesha. Next year, UW-Waukesha will be celebrating its 50th year in existence. It is no exaggeration that over those 50 years, we have educated tens of thousands of Waukesha area residents.

Our hope is that UW-Waukesha will be able to continue our mission in providing the superior education it always has, serving the needs of the citizens of the greater Waukesha area. 

The State Legislature’s cut to the current budget reflected a concern with accumulated fund balances. UW colleges’ piece of that fund balance pie chart was 2.6 percent, and we used some of those modest fund balances to phase in the 2013-15 budget cuts, which totaled $2.3 million for UW colleges. For the UW-Waukesha campus, it meant laying off two long-term employees, letting go a number of part-time instructors, reducing sections of classes we were able to offer as well as additional cuts to the supplies and equipment portion of the campus budget.

One year later, we are facing an even bigger potential budget cut. The Governor has proposed a permanent 13 percent cut to the University of Wisconsin system and another two-year freeze on tuition and fees. For the UW colleges, such a cut could be devastating. A freeze on fees and tuition for resident undergraduates – 99 percent of our student population – makes it even tougher on the public two-year universities to somehow make up for the permanent cuts.

In the last eight years, in an effort to keep our tuition and fees at the most affordable rate, the UW colleges raised tuition only twice (2011-12 and 2012-13). During that same time period while other public higher education institutions chose to increase their tuition rate annually, the UW colleges chose to freeze their tuition rate to maintain affordability. 

With student debt currently one of the biggest issues for students and parents (and grandparents) as students complete their Bachelor degree programs, UW-Waukesha continues to be the most affordable and desirable public university option. The current national average of student debt upon graduation with a Bachelor degree is over $28,400 ("Student Debt and The Class of 2013" a national report by the Institute for College Access & Success, The Project on Student Debt, November, 2014). In the same study, graduates from the state of Wisconsin ranked 17th highest at an average debt of $28,128. By attending UW-Waukesha for their first two years, students are reducing their level of debt substantially. 

Most recently, UW-Waukesha has also been able to offer working adult students an affordable and flexible Bachelor degree option, the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science. With the recent signing of an articulation agreement with Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), graduates with an associate degree from WCTC will now be able to continue their education and complete their Bachelor degree at UW-Waukesha while living and working in the greater Waukesha community.

What I am asking you to do today is to let your local legislators know how important you feel UW-Waukesha is to our community. There is much needed public discussion about the Governor’s proposal and after the Joint Finance Committee holds its Agency Briefings on the budget in Madison, they will go on the road for three or four public hearings around the state.  The closest hearing for those of us living in the greater Milwaukee area will be held at Alverno College, on Friday, March 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be many topics addressed at that one day meeting, so for many of us, sending a letter directly to our legislators will assure that the message is received. For your convenience please refer to the You can click on either the Senate or Assembly and then click on either Senators or Representatives to identify their specific contact information.

Please let your voices be heard during this process.


Harry Muir
Dean UW-Waukesha