UW System in La Crosse to discuss new strategic plan

UW System leaders are beginning the school year by touring the state listening to Wisconsin residents and businesses.

Trying to get input on developing the system’s new strategic plan.

System President Ray Cross is in La Crosse today hosting two listening sessions on the first stop of the trip.

In Tuesday’s first session, Cross wanted to hear from those in the healthcare field, a category he said the UW System plays a big role.

The second session was open to the public. In that session one thing rang clear, a belief in the System.

Jacob Sciammas is an instructor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, an alumnus and a member of the Grandview-Emerson Neighborhood Association, which includes UW-L. He said he went to the listening session because the UW System is eroding and he wanted to be a part of developing the System’s new strategic plan.

“The university has been under a lot of fire lately, especially financially, and I appreciate that they’re ready to listen,” Sciammas said.

Cross said listening to the needs, wants and goals of the people that live and work in Wisconsin is a major factor in developing the new plan.

“We need to understand where the people of Wisconsin, businesses in Wisconsin, organizations in Wisconsin, want to be in the future,” Cross said.

UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow said the System plays a big role in the future of Wisconsin and he hopes that through these listening sessions people realize that. He hopes the amount of state funding for the system is a topic of discussion.

“I would hope that people would say, ‘You know if we’re going to have a bright future, not only for the UW-System, but for the state of Wisconsin, we need to reinvest in the universities and colleges,'” Gow said.

Sciammas said it is clear that everyone in attendance felt strongly about the UW System, but its perception to the public has changed. He hopes what is discussed at these listening sessions can help shape a strategic plan that will bring the UW System back to where it used to be.

“I think people are looking for, trying to talk about what has changed and what does that future need to look like so it improves the visibility, it improves the presence of the university’s impacts,” Sciammas said.

Some of the things that were discussed tonight include getting the community involved in university activities and the university more involved in the community. Other ideas focused on addressing workforce shortages and increasing access to college degrees at a lower cost.

There will be one more listening session in La Crosse, which will be for faculty only.

Nine more stops will be across Wisconsin in the coming weeks.