Board of Regents passes UW System Restructuring proposal

UW-Eau Claire and UW-Barron County to begin talks about merger

More stories from Rachyl Houterman


Photo by Sam Farley

Chancellor James C. Schmidt, Katy McGarry and Nick Webber, the student body president and vice president, respectively, were part of the team from UW-Eau Claire that visited UW-Barron County on Nov. 15. They met with leaders and administrators from UW-Barron County.

UW-Barron County will be integrated with UW-Eau Claire after the UW System Board of Regents voted to merge the 13 UW Colleges with four-year campuses last Thursday.

The merger is part of a broader UW System restructuring proposal from UW System President Ray Cross in October, which he said is a result of shifting Wisconsin demographics.

Cross emphasized during the Board of Regents meeting on Thursday that the proposal was simply a proposal and not a detailed plan. The approval of the vote signals the beginning of meetings between institutions to discuss how the merger will affect them.

For Eau Claire, talks with UW-Barron County representatives will begin this Wednesday when Chancellor James C. Schmidt, representatives from the University Senate and Student Senate and leaders from Academic Affairs and University Staff Council head to Rice Lake to meet with their counterparts.

“I believe we will be bringing many strengths to the table at both institutions, and we will truly bring out the best in each other while preserving our mission,” Schmidt said during the meeting. “I look forward to getting this conversation started when I bring a group of shared governance leaders to Barron County on Wednesday …”

Jeff French, chancellor of UW-Barron County, said he is looking forward to working with Eau Claire to ensure the success of Barron County.

“We will be stronger together, and it is vital that we continue to provide people in our region with access to a University of Wisconsin education,” French said.

Tuition levels at the UW Colleges are expected to stay the same, and the transferring of credits from two-year campuses to four-year institutions will not be affected by the restructuring, Cross said.

In an email sent to all UW System students, Cross said the Regents are “committed to engaging students, faculty, staff, community leaders, and other stakeholders in making this a successful transition.”

He also said a Steering Committee is being established, which will consist of regional restructuring committees. These committees will keep the Steering Committee informed on what is happening during the restructuring process.

Students and faculty can learn more about the proposal on the restructuring website. There, they can view FAQs and submit any questions they have might have. Anyone who would like to stay updated on the proposal can subscribe for updates from the website as they come.