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Survey says: UWM faculty members oppose campus

Sean Ryan

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will pursue its plan to build an engineering campus in Wauwatosa despite negative feedback from faculty.

The university surveyed staff members (PDF) to get their opinion on the campus plan, and the mostly negative reaction stems from faculty still carrying hard feelings about an earlier plan to relocate all or most of the engineering college staff to Wauwatosa, said Alan Horowitz, chairman of the university committee overseeing long-range planning for engineering and natural sciences. The university now intends to move only research staff to the proposed Wauwatosa campus, he said.

“I think people are still reacting to the original proposals, which were not well-received,” Horowitz said.

A survey of 298 members (PDF) of UW-Milwaukee’s staff, 16 of whom work in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, sought feedback on large projects in the campus’ long-range master plan. The plan includes the proposed School of Freshwater Sciences in downtown Milwaukee and the proposed 89-acre engineering college research campus in Wauwatosa.

The majority of the responses were neutral, but faculty responded most negatively to questions regarding the Wauwatosa campus.

That Wauwatosa campus proposal will go before the Milwaukee County Board on Thursday for a vote on whether to sell the university 89 acres in the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa for $13.55 million.

Gerry Broderick, Milwaukee County Board supervisor, said he prefers a downtown Milwaukee engineering campus but is willing to support the sale.

“It’s a mixed bag, as I see it at least,” he said.

Broderick said the university will be a good environmental steward of the site, and county government can use the money.

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman, who long argued the new campus should be built downtown, said the negative survey results are unsurprising.

“This has basically been my argument all along,” he said. “It appears the chancellor and a few of his boosters are a distinct minority.”

Horowitz said he is unaware of any serious university discussions to build the engineering campus downtown. Planners are still in the early stages of refining the university’s long-range construction plans, he said, and are finishing a list of possible future developments.

But County Board approval Thursday for the land sale would smooth the planning process, Horowitz said.

“It certainly helps us along as we know things are moving forward,” he said. “It just removes one level of uncertainty.”

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