MADISON — Counting spring commencement exercises this month, the University of Wisconsin System will have graduated approximately 28,000 students during the 2001-02 academic year.

UW System President Katharine Lyall said the infusion of these university graduates into the workforce underscores the importance of public higher education to Wisconsin’s economy.

“This is why our universities are such critical assets for Wisconsin’s future,” Lyall said.

Lyall noted that contrary to popular opinion, most UW graduates stay in Wisconsin to work, attend graduate school or care for a family member. The most recent survey data show that 82 percent of Wisconsin residents who earn their degrees from the UW System stay in the state after graduation, as do nearly 20 percent of non-resident students.

“This is a brain gain for Wisconsin,” Lyall said. “More than 4 of 5 of our in-state students remain in Wisconsin after graduation, and nearly 1 in 5 out-of-state students choose to live in Wisconsin after completing their degrees in the UW System.”

Lyall said the UW System’s impact is even greater when considered profession by profession. For example, Lyall said 68 percent of Wisconsin’s K-12 teachers and about 90 percent of the state’s pharmacists hold UW degrees. In addition, the majority of nursing students educated at one of the UW’s nursing schools stay in the state to work after graduation, she said.

“One of the best ways to improve Wisconsin’s economy is to increase the state’s per-capita income, which is lower than the national average and our neighboring states,” Lyall said. “This will be accomplished by increasing the number of college-educated residents in the state.”

Lyall said the state needs to do a better job of creating an economic climate to attract more businesses and college-educated workers. The UW System is hosting its third statewide economic summit this October to focus on positive steps to meet Wisconsin’s economic needs, including education.

The majority of UW graduates will receive their degrees this month, while others graduated last December or will graduate this summer. Three-quarters of UW graduates will earn bachelor’s degrees this year; the rest will complete master’s, Ph.D.s or professional degrees, such as a law or medical degree.

Since the creation of the UW System in 1971, the university’s 26 campuses have awarded more than 700,000 degrees, Lyall said.

UW System Spring 2002 Commencements

  • Eau Claire: May 18. Speaker: David C. Karlgaard, co-founder, CEO and president of PEC Solutions.
  • Green Bay: May 25. Speaker: U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Green Bay.
  • La Crosse: May 18. Speakers: Arthur J. Ross III, M.D.; Gregory G. Mahairas, M.D.; state Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse; Thomas P. Rosandich.
  • Madison: May 17-19. Speakers: Louis A. Holland, managing partner and chief investment officer of Holland Capital Management; Thomas F. Pyle Jr., chair of The Pyle Group and former principal owner of Rayovac.
  • Milwaukee: May 12. Speaker: Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.
  • Oshkosh: May 18. Speaker: Cora Marrett, UW System senior vice president for academic affairs.
  • Parkside: May 19. Speakers: Thomas Beck, CEO and director of UNICO, Inc.; Cora Marrett, UW System senior vice president for academic affairs.
  • Platteville: May 11. Speaker: Timothy Christen, CEO of Virchow Krause & Co. LLP.
  • River Falls: May 25. Speaker: James M. Hegstrom, graduating senior.
  • Stevens Point: May 19. Speaker: William Meyer, retiring provost and vice chancellor.
  • Stout: May 11. Speaker: Roy Bauer, vice president and general manager of Pemstar Corp.
  • Superior: May 18. Speaker: U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wausau.
  • Whitewater: May 18. Speaker: Michael O’Halleran, president and chief operating officer of Aon Corp.

Media Contact

Erik Christianson UW System 608-262-5061