By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — On Monday, UW-Stevens Point announced a proposal for the addition and expansion of 16 programs, while cutting 13 — mostly liberal arts programs. Senator Patrick Testin graduated from UWSP in 2011 with a Political Science degree, and he weighed in on the potential coming changes to the university.
According to Testin, while UWSP faces tough challenges, these potential cuts and additions could benefit the future of the university — especially the students.
“I really think we need to take a look at this proposal with clear eyes,” said Testin. “I know some individuals are trying to politicize this, and it really does a disservice to UWSP and the discussion they’re trying to have, because they do have a challenge. One of the major challenges that they have is declining enrollment.”
Testin cited the enrollment decline just from his time at UWSP has taken a dip of over 1,000 students. He believes that while the discussions may be difficult, the focus has to be on where the demand is for programs at the university. However, the senator emphasizes that this is just that — a discussion before an ultimate proposal.
Out of the advantages of these possible changes, Testin cites the ability for current liberal arts students to finish their programs without delay, as well as the opportunities in the job market for the programs that will likely be added and expanded upon. Testin used examples of programs built for entry into companies such as Sentry and Skyward.
“You have a a prime example of a partnership between UWSP and Sentry Insurance to create a new data analytics program,” said Testin. “– which is trying to develop curriculum and programming that the university can tap into which strictly leads to workforce retention at Sentry, which I think is incredible.”
According to Testin, programs such as Aquaponics and Aquaculture will be the future of agriculture, and welcomes the expansion, as well as additions of other programs that could set students up for immediate job retention.
“The main concern for some is the erosion of liberal arts, which we can all agree is of vital importance for an entire education,” said Testin. “But as the needs of the workforce evolve and change, the university is going to have to adapt.”
In closing, Testin wants to remind students and community members that this will be an ongoing process, which according to the senator, will ultimately benefit the university going forward.
“I caution those individuals who want to hit the big red button — let’s just take a moment to really review facts, take a look at this with clear eyes, and not try to politicize this and have an honest discussion on the future and direction of the university.”
To read Rep. Katrina Shankland’s response to the proposed additions and cuts, check out Rep. Shankland: Statement on Program Cuts at UW-Stevens Point