ON-Lion Letter

The University of Wisconsin System's largest campuses in Milwaukee and Madison, "the two that award virtually all of the UW System's doctoral degrees, traditionally have been the most focused on" the system's mission of system's mission of extending "knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses," including involvement in the state's economic well-being, according to a recent report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) in Milwaukee.  "But the other 11 four-year campuses are also specifically charged with supporting 'activities designed to promote the economic development of the state' -- an oft-overlooked fact.

"Economic development is inherently a local and regional challenge," continues Beyond the Ivory Tower:  How to Get the UW System More Involved in Ground-Level Economic Development.  "The 13 four-year campuses serve every community in the state.  Chancellors know their faculties' strengths; they know their regions' businesses and industries; they know their regions' economic development needs.  To succeed, chancellors require managerial flexibility to build campus efforts and facilities to meet those needs.  That means creating classroom and internship experiences that their local markets demand, providing the applied research to help solve problems and develop new products and systems, and deploying faculty and resources for the professional outreach and economic assistance their regions require."

The report was written by recently retire UW-Stout chancellor Charles Sorenson, with Michael Flaherty.

"[I]f the regents, the system and the Legislature truly value entrepreneurial management of the campuses, it can be done only if individual chancellors are allowed to manage entrepreneurially." they conclude.  "In sum, they need more flexibility in how they manage and raise revenue and must also be held accountable for outcomes -- i.e., specific successes or failures.  They should be given the latitude to function more as chief executive officers and less like provosts."

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports WPRI.

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