MADISON, Wis. – Capacity-building Initiatives at University of Wisconsin System campuses are critical to the UW System’s goals of enhancing student success, improving the state’s talent pipeline, and spurring innovation.

“To grow capacity will require additional investments in faculty, support staff, and facilities, to be able to enroll more students and produce more graduates in high-demand fields,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “UW System institutions are engaging in innovative and impactful work to meet the needs and address the challenges facing Wisconsin. This is the Wisconsin Idea in action.”

A key part of the UW System budget request for 2019-21 is focused on capacity-building proposals. The UW System is seeking $25 million to add hundreds of students in high-demand fields such as health care, computer science, and engineering. These initiatives are designed to increase student success and output, with an emphasis on addressing the state’s workforce needs.

At Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, five Chancellors – UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields, UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson, and UW-Whitewater interim Chancellor Cheryl Green – provided a closer look at the initiatives being proposed by their campuses.

UW-Green Bay would:

  • Build mental-health expertise in nursing.
  • Provide alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) training to future social workers, nurses, and teachers.
  • Launch a new school psychology program.
  • Provide intervention training for future teachers.
  • Expand ESL program region-wide.
  • Offer training and education to individuals, organizations, and small business on mental health and substance abuse.
  • Establish a Center for Excellence at its Manitowoc Campus to promote mental health and drug abuse education best practices.

UW-Madison would:

  • Expand/enhance its computer science program.
    • Create a new undergraduate degree in data science.
    • Add 2,000 seats in high-demand classes.
    • Graduate 800 to 1,000 more students in computer/data science over the next five years.
  • Expand/enhance its engineering program.
    • Add 800 additional spots.
    • Ease course bottlenecks.
    • Develop new courses.
    • Attract/retain more underrepresented students.
    • Graduate 650 more engineers over the next five years.
  • Expand/enhance its business program.
    • Add 300 additional spots.
    • Offer more high-demand courses online.
    • Expand courses in growing areas.
  • Expand/enhance its nursing program.
    • Add 40 new spots, a 25% increase.
    • Keep nursing-education technology up-to-date.

UW-Platteville would:

  • Provide affordable educational opportunities.
  • Increase enrollment and retention.
  • Provide a seamless pathway of transfer/transition to a four-year degree.
  • Use entrepreneurial and innovative educational practices early internship program.
  • Develop skilled graduates ready to enter the workforce.
  • Develop an Associate Degree in Food and Agriculture.
  • Develop an Associate Degree in Accounting and Business Administration.
  • Develop an Associate Degree in Hospitality and Tourism (Baraboo).
  • Develop an Associate Degree in Biology—with a focus on pre-health care.
    • Physician (MD)
    • Physician Assistant (PA)
    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
    • Physical Therapy (PT)
  • Develop an Associate Degree in Building Construction Management.

UW-Stevens Point would:

  • Expand paper science and chemical engineering.
  • Expand computing and data analytics.
  • Offer three-year degrees.
  • Develop a degree in aquaponics/aquaculture.
  • Increase community engagement through internships and undergraduate research.

UW-Whitewater would:

  • Create a Disability Innovation and Employment Institute.
  • Leverage its expertise to offer consulting, certificate programs, and professional development to CEOs and managers who want to receive training in employing individuals with disabilities.
  • Train and credential more students, faculty and staff in this industry through continuing education programs, conferences, and internships.
  • Create a statewide network to explore best practices in hiring and retaining employees with disabilities.
  • Develop new academic programs and create valuable products and services to support individuals with disabilities throughout their lives.
  • Increase student enrollment in job readiness programs, creating a direct pipeline for workforce development.

The Board previously heard from the other eight UW institutions at its meetings in October and December.


The University of Wisconsin System serves more than 170,000 students. Awarding 36,000 degrees annually, the UW System is Wisconsin’s talent pipeline, putting graduates in position to increase their earning power, contribute to their communities, and make Wisconsin a better place to live. More than 80 percent of UW System graduates stay in Wisconsin five years after earning a degree. The UW System provides a 23:1 return on state investment. UW System institutions also contribute to the richness of Wisconsin’s culture and economy with groundbreaking research, new companies and patents, and boundless creative intellectual energy.

Media Contact

Mark Pitsch UW System (608) 265-3419