UW-Eau Claire student body vice president serves on UW System Steering Committee

Nick Webber represents student governance and UW System students during the merging process


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

UW-Eau Claire Student Body Vice President Nick Webber represents student governance on the Restructuring Project Steering Committee. Webber is the sole student on the committee.

When the UW Board of Regent’s proposal to restructure the UW System passed, Nick Webber, the UW-Eau Claire student body vice president, was elected to serve as the student governance representative on the Restructuring Project Steering Committee.

A former UW-Barron County student and Rice Lake native, Webber said he is optimistic about the partnership between Eau Claire and Barron County.

“As someone who’s passionate about both communities,” Webber said, “I’m very excited with this opportunity.”

Chancellor James C. Schmidt said Webber was elected to the student governance representative position on the Steering Committee “through the statewide shared governance process.”

Schmidt said he is proud of Webber’s work for the UW System, as Webber is knowledgeable of the merger and the UW System.

“Nick is a talented young man,” Schmidt said. “I think he will represent the students and the System really well.”

The Steering Committee “helps oversee the planning and implementation” of the UW System merger. Representatives on the committee hail from the UW System Administration, UW Colleges and UW-Extension, and all UW System bodies, according to the UW System’s page about the committee on their website.

“Shared governance groups are integral to this process,” the UW System website states, “and the Steering Committee includes faculty, staff, and student representatives from each governance group who attend meetings as part of the planning and implementation process.”

Webber is the sole student on the committee but is kept company by fellow Blugold Patricia Kleine, who is the provost and vice chancellor at Eau Claire.

Webber said he takes his role of representing students very seriously.

“It is the right of students to know,” Webber said.

The Steering Committee does not have voting rights. Instead, it is a “guiding and census-building body,” Webber said.

Kaylie Bernard, a sophomore finance and operations/supply chain management student, believes members of the Steering Committee should have voting rights, especially because of the student voices Webber’s position represents.

“(The merger) affects (students) more than anybody else,” Bernard said.

Webber said he would be an advocate for the committee members gaining voting rights if he felt their beliefs were being underrepresented. However, he still feels he has a voice.

“I do feel as though our opinions are being valued,” Webber said, “and students are being listened to.”

Both Webber and Schmidt said the Steering Committee has a lot of work to do before the merger officially goes into effect on July 1, 2018.

“The more answers we’ve found,” Webber said, “the more questions we’ve found.”

With one meeting under their belt, Webber said he feels the committee’s next move should be to prioritize “what needs to be done.”

A task that takes top priority for Webber is the accreditation of institutions by the Higher Learning Commission, an organization that accredits higher education institutions. Webber said he believes this issue is central to students, especially concerning financial aid.

According to the Federal Student Aid website, a student must attend an accredited institution to be eligible for federal student aid.

Ideally, Webber said Eau Claire students should be able to go on with life as normal under the merger.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing if students don’t feel the effects of the change,” Webber said, adding that students can become involved with the merging process if they are interested.

With Webber’s responsibilities and workload, he said he relies on his passion for involvement  to stay motivated to do his best work for the students he represents.

“You have to find a reason why you love it,” Webber said. “Being a resource for other students that don’t … have the means or can’t speak up and speak their minds — I always like to be that person for them.”