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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 23, 2004

Contact: Larry Rubin, UW System
lrubin@uwsa.edu
(608) 262-6717

Contact: Kathleen Cullen, WTCS
kathleen.cullen@wtcsystem.org
(608) 266-9399

Public input sought on ways to increase the number of Baccalaureate Degree holders in Wisconsin

MADISON - Recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that Wisconsin lags behind neighboring states - and the national average - when it comes to baccalaureate degree holders.  The end result is a smaller pool of educated workers from which to choose and lower average earnings for state residents. Now, the committee charged with developing a strategy for expanding the number of Wisconsinites with baccalaureate degrees is interested in hearing what the public has to say on the matter. 

The Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion (COBE), a joint committee of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and the University of Wisconsin System (UWS), is part of an ongoing initiative to enhance opportunities for students to progress successfully to and complete a bachelor's degree.  The committee is seeking input and ideas from the general public before it develops strategies fully.  

"We're looking for creative proposals that represent new or enhanced ways our educational systems can work together to increase bachelor's degree holders in Wisconsin," said Brent Smith, co-chair of the committee and WTCS Board member from La Crosse.

According to Smith, COBE has already met three times and has heard proposals from major stakeholders such as UWS universities and colleges, WTCS colleges and Wisconsin's private colleges, but the committee would also like to hear from interested others.

"It's premature to develop a strategy before we tap into the creative ideas from around the state and the nation," added Charles Pruitt, committee co-chair and UW System Regent from Milwaukee.

Cost effectiveness, collaboration, and serving the needs of low income, minority and/or non-traditional students are consistent themes of the committee's discussion.  Proposals to date  emphasize curriculum alignment, baccalaureate completion and cooperation among the UWS, WTCS and private colleges in Wisconsin. 

Proposals may be submitted to either Kathleen Cullen at the WTCS (608-266-9399 or kathleen.cullen@wtcsystem.org) or Larry Rubin at the UWS (608-262-6717 or lrubin@uwsa.edu) and are due by August 13.  Proposals should include the proposal components, which were developed by the committee, and which are available on the COBE website at http://www.uwsa.edu/opar/cobe.

COBE members include board members, administrators, faculty and students from both public higher education systems.  The joint committee expects to complete its work by early fall and then make recommendations to the presidents of WTCS and the UW System. 

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