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August 19, 2004

Testimony to Board of Regents

Mark Keller, UW-Stevens Point student

Good morning. My name is Mark Keller. I am a non-traditional transfer student at UW-Stevens Point. Before enrolling at UWSP, I worked for Compaq Computers in New Jersey. I was downsized after a merger with Hewlett Packard. Today I am going to share a few of my personal experiences with you. As a student, I have growing concerns about the quality of education at UW-Stevens Point under the current budget.

Student-Teacher Ratio

Student enrollment at UWSP has grown over the past few years. However, the faculty has not been adequately increased to accommodate this student growth. Increased class size has forced many teachers to eliminate, or dramatically reduce, critical thinking activities from their classes. As a result, the quality of education at Stevens Point has suffered.

Writing papers and essay questions on exams are no longer required in many classes. Writing assignments requiring critical thinking have been replaced with computerized multiple choice tests. Professors simply do not have the time to grade large amounts of written assignments. Many students have become passive learners, retaining only enough information to pass the test. In contrast, students who write are active learners. They are deeply involved in making important critical choices. Learning activities involving the writing process are becoming a thing of the past. Instructional time is being "stretched too thin."

Teacher Retention

Teacher retention is also a problem at Stevens Point. I will give you a personal example of my own. This past spring semester one of my mentors announced to the class that he was in the process of applying for another teaching position outside of the UW System. The reason he gave for wanting to leave was that he received a pay increase of only 0% this year. In addition, he was unhappy that professors with his experience were earning more outside the UW System.

His announcement had a negative effect on student morale. Students relied on him not only as a great teacher, but also as a student advisor, and as the faculty advisor for the student television station. His departure would be a tragic loss for the communications department. This professor is just one of many talented teachers who are presently planning to leave the UW System. As a student, I consider many of them some of the brightest and the best.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important that we reverse this negative trend. As a student, I believe that teaching staff should be the primary focus of the new budget.


Return to Regents news summary for Aug. 19, 2004