Spectator Staff Editorial: Keep colleges

State Sen. Tom Reynolds (R-West Allis) recently suggested that closing a northwestern Wisconsin university could be a solution to the UW System’s budget problem.

The Issue
A Wisconsin senator’s
proposal to close a
UW System institution.

The Waukesha Freeman newspaper quoted Reynolds as saying that the closure of a campus is “the harsh reality of what needs to be done.”

Reynolds and other proponents of this type of action unfortunately are mistaken in even considering the option of closing any System school.

The five UW institutions in the northwestern part of the state are UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, UW-River Falls, UW-Superior and UW-Barron County.

According to information compiled by Northstar Economics Inc., these universities serve more than 27,000 students and generate in excess of $1.6 billion in the regional economy. Eau Claire alone provides an estimated 7,138 jobs locally.

The elimination of one of these campuses not only would affect that school, but also other UW institutions, students System-wide and the regional economy.

The closing of one campus would force the other schools to compensate for it.

Each UW campus serves a niche role for the System by offering distinctive programs and a variety of educational opportunities.

UW System President Katharine Lyall said Monday in a teleconference that it actually would cost more money to close a school and move the students to another campus. Lyall also said she had not heard a proposal to downsize the number of students in the system.

If the state government is looking for ways to save money, perhaps it should look into cutting prison and correctional funding rather than educational opportunities for Wisconsin citizens.