How do UW-Stevens Point cuts effect UWL?


Picture Credit: Stevens Point Journal

Julia Balli, General Assignment Reporter

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson announced Nov. 12 a new proposal to cut six liberal arts majors and conduct a major reorganization of its academic departments and colleges. This follows a proposal made last spring to cut 13 programs to address a projected $4.5 million budget deficit. Now making 17 programs be cut in total. Some programs that are being eliminated are French, German, English, political science, history, geography, art, and many other programs. 

UW-Stevens Point’s cuts could be replicated at some of the smaller UW campuses facing similar budgetary challenges. Will these cuts at UW-Stevens Point effect the entire University of Wisconsin system, more specifically University of Wisconsin-La Crosse? 

The university reduced the proposed majors to cut in part because of faculty retirements and resignations and efforts by faculty to come up with options to revise their curricula, especially in the areas of art and English. Courses in each of the six majors will still be taught at UW-Stevens Point as part of the general education program, as required classes in other majors, and through new interdisciplinary majors. 

“UW-Stevens Point has an $8 million operating deficit due to the decline in enrollment as well as state funding and the institution needs to take significant steps to address these issues,” said UWL Vice Chancellor, Bob Hetzel.  

Recently elected governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, wants to increase investments in both our technical schools and University of Wisconsin System, according to his website. Evers’ investments could put UW schools at a better financial state and decrease the number of cuts that are being made. 

“The cuts at UW-Stevens Point will have no impact on us here at UWL. That’s because our enrollment numbers remain very solid,” said UWL Chancellor, Joe Gow. 

UW-Stevens Point enrollment numbers have dropped quite drastically over the years. 

“The enrollment at UW-Stevens Point has declined by about 20% or about 1,952 students over the last 6 years from 9,677 in 2013 to 7,725 in 2018. During that same time period, UWL has experienced very stable enrollment with about 10,500 students.” Hetzel went on to say, “UWL’s enrollment for the 2018 Fall Semester is 10,569 students compared to UWSP at 7,725.” 

UWSP’s numbers by the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, including the fact book that offers a 10-year view of detailed statistical information of important facts and figures about UW-Stevens Point, has been made unavailable to the public on the official UWSP website. 

Over the past 10 years, UWL enrollment numbers have steadily increased about 1,000 students, according to the UWL Student Enrollment by Demographics. 5,179 students are enrolled in Science & Health, making it the highest enrolled department at UWL. The second highest enrollment being in Liberal Studies with 2,467 students. 

UWSP students enrolled in any major that’s being discontinued would be able to complete their degrees, university officials said. That would include students who enrolled in the fall of 2018.  

Students will not be the only ones effected, eliminating six humanities majors would cut about six to 10 faculty positions — a 2 to 3 percent cut — including at least three tenured faculty, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The history department would see the biggest share of the cuts, losing four faculty members and shrinking the upper-level courses. The proposal to discontinue programs must be reviewed by a campus governance committee, then the chancellor and UW System Board of Regents.