UW-Green Bay will suspend in-person learning at Marinette campus | News | ehextra.com
MARINETTE — The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will suspend in-person classes at its Marinette campus starting in the fall.
UW-Chancellor Michael Alexander, in a letter to UW-Green Bay faculty and staff, said he visited the Marinette campus to discuss with faculty and staff changes that are intended for that location. “We discussed a path forward for the Marinette location and that we would immediately begin negotiating with Marinette County on how we would achieve our goals,” he wrote.
WLUK first reported the news on Friday.
Alexander wrote that someone leaked internal meeting notes to the Marinette County Board and the media. He stated that conversations with the county are still ongoing.
At this month’s Marinette County Infrastructure Committee meeting, County Administrator John Lefebvre said Alexander was going to attend a county board meeting this month or in February to discuss the buildings at the campus. WLUK reported that Alexander will be at this month’s meeting on Jan. 30 to discuss the lease UW Regents signed with the county in 1967.
The lease is supposed to end in 2042, but can be terminated on June 30 of any year if “appropriations by the legislature are insufficient to permit the continued operation of the university” or “state legislation concerning higher education in Wisconsin involves a fundamental change in the university’s branch campus program.”
A few days ago, a dumpster outside the library was loaded with books as in-service library service at the campus were halted. More than 850 books were sold in a one-day book sale. The remaining books were brought to other libraries or recycled.
For the fall semester, enrollment at the Marinette campus was at 213, down from 305 in 2018-19.
On the Marinette location, Alexander writes, “despite initial enrollment gains, we recognize that persisting on the current path will inevitably lead to closure. Instead of waiting for a closure, we have chosen to proactively rethink our approach to maintain a meaningful presence in Marinette.”
The letter states, “in the fall, we will keep classrooms with streaming capabilities active for courses that are taught at Marinette or coming to Marinette from other UW-Green Bay locations.”
Fourteen classes were taught purely in person during the fall 2023 semester, according to the letter.
Alexander said UWGB will continue its presence in Marinette.
“We will increase our investment in Marinette based on three pillars,” he wrote. “First, we know that the people in Marinette value the Herb Williams Theatre. We do, too, and therefore will invest further to make it the flagship theatre northwest of Green Bay.”
Alexander compared it to the revitalization of the Weidner Center on the Green Bay Campus.
“We we will do the same for the Williams Theatre in Marinette and provide programming including art exhibits, events, lectures, performances, and education that engages people of all ages,” he wrote.
He also said the location will serve as an access point for students and community members for educational resources.
“We will expand camps, non-credit educational offerings that are responsive to the requests of the community, and learning opportunities through our Lifelong Learning Institute,” Alexander wrote.
He said UWGB plans to invite third-party access to facilities that can enhance the capital investment Marinette County has made at the location.
“We are working to sign a new agreement with Marinette County that will ensure that we can make great use of the infrastructure at the campus,” Alexander wrote.
He said now is the time to move forward.
“We acknowledge this will be a painful transition for those in Marinette that have endured countless campus management changes, but we must embrace a new model rather than trying to cling to the past,” Alexander wrote. “It is our job to be responsible stewards of our resources. Rather than try to perpetuate a broken economic model, we will reallocate our resources to the benefit of the most people possible in the area.”
He said having a UW-Green Bay location in Marinette is central to the mission as a regional comprehensive university with a 16-county footprint that spans the coastline from Sheboygan to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
“We are not leaving. Yes, it will look different, but it will not close,” Alexander wrote. “We want our campus in Marinette to be an educational asset for generations to come.”