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August 19, 2004

Testimony to the Board of Regents

Joe Weier, UW-Milwaukee student

Good morning, my name is Joe Weier, and I’m a student at UW-Milwaukee.

I was born and raised in Mineral Point, a small rural community in southwestern Wisconsin. I graduated in the top 5% of my class from Mineral Point High School in 1978. I began working with United Parcel Service in the fall of 1978. After 23 years of service with UPS, I was forced into early retirement November 2001, due to a back injury that was plaguing me since 1996.

With early retirement, UPS offered me the opportunity to further my education. Since high school, I had always had a desire to become an architect and a historic preservationist. Returning to college after being out of school for 23 years was the perfect opportunity to achieve my goal.

I began my education at UW-Platteville in the Fall of 2001 because it was near my home and family. However, my ultimate goal was to complete my degree at UW-Milwaukee in the School of Architecture, since it is the only accredited architecture program in the state. I used the UW-System Transfer Information System to verify which courses would transfer from Platteville to UWM. Advisors from both campuses worked with me to ensure that all of my credits from Platteville would apply to my degree at UWM. I was able to transfer 28 credits from UW-Platteville with a 4.0 GPA, and I don’t think that I could have achieved this without the writing center, tutoring services, or computer support that I received at Platteville.

I transferred to UW-Milwaukee in the fall of 2002. Everyday, I commute to campus from Glendale where I have an apartment and on the weekends I return home to Mineral Point to be with my wife and children. My wife, Lisa and I have three children. Kevin is 19 and a sophomore at UW-Platteville studying criminal justice (who has also joked that my transfer to UWM was a good move in more ways than one). Jacob is 16 and a junior at Mineral Point High School; soon we will be starting college visits with him. And Molly is 12 and a 7th grader who likes photography and interior design (but she has plenty of time to figure that out)! It has been challenging to be away from my family during the week, but because UWM is the only program in the state to offer architecture, it is important to me to complete my degree at UWM.

In my time at UWM, I have noticed the recent budget cuts and how they have affected my ability to obtain a quality education. For example, the fall 2004 term is the first semester that I will need to secure significant financial assistance to offset the sharp increases in tuition. Recently, I have seen faculty positions go unfilled or a teaching assistant completing the work of two. It has also been difficult for me to arrange an appointment with the undergraduate advisor because there is only one advisor in the office and she is already doing the work of two. I have noticed reduced hours in the Architecture Resource Center, which holds a variety of important reference books needed to complete my assignments. It has been challenging at times to complete my design projects when the architecture computer lab that has specific design software has had decreased hours. These concerns are consistent across campus—this is not unique to the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. My request is for the state of Wisconsin to reinvest state dollars in the UW System.

As I finish up my last two years at UWM with my upper division courses, I hope that I am able to stay on track. I'm afraid if these cuts continue that the required courses I need to complete my degree may not be offered when I need to take them. Despite recent cuts, I have been afforded many unique opportunities at UWM. For example, this summer, I volunteered with the Iowa County Land Records Department to collect data to diagram and identity cemetery plots at 86 different cemeteries. The completion of this internship was the final requirement to complete a certificate in Urban Planning, and I feel that this certificate will set me apart from the competition when I interview for an architecture position. Eventually, I would like to work out of my home designing and refurbishing existing structures by combining modern, more efficient elements with the older, more classic styles.

I thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences with you.

Return to Regents news summary for Aug. 19, 2004