Academic Master Plan: Prologue
In order to live our commitment to be an equitable, diverse, and inclusive institution, a degree at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire must remain an affordable choice for all the State's residents.
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UW-Eau Claire) is a unique, public, comprehensive university—one that offers the excitement and opportunities of a mid-sized institution while providing the personalized learning environment typically available only at small, private, liberal arts colleges. Academic Year 2015-2016 marked the beginning of our second century. As we embark on this new century, we have the opportunity to significantly transform our curricula, our modes of delivery and academic support, and our campus culture, and aggressively seek new, sustainable funding sources in order to affirm our distinct position among peer institutions, all intent on enhancing their own strategic positions. In our history, there has never been a more urgent and advantageous time for UW-Eau Claire to draw from its strengths and energy to propel the institution forward in its quest for an extraordinary learning environment.
Where have we been. Since 2010, the contextual challenges facing UW-Eau Claire have been more dramatic and are likely to intensify during the period of time for which this document is written. Federal and state budgets have labored under fiscal constraints, largely leaving the University under-resourced considering our commitment to provide students with a transformative experience. Enrollment, including undergraduate and graduate students, has declined despite the admission of larger first-year classes. For many years UW-Eau Claire distinguished itself from other public, comprehensive institutions by the adoption of experiences now referred to as high-impact practices. We were proud that student-faculty collaborative research, internships, study abroad, and service-learning were unique and fundamental parts of a student's Blugold experience. Over time, the uniqueness of that Blugold experience was eroded as these and other high-impact practices were adopted by nearly all other regional, comprehensive institutions. It is urgent that we again take the lead in innovative and transformative teaching and learning.
We are moving forward. This Academic Master Plan preserves the UW-Eau Claire mission and is the foundation for the University's strategic plan. It serves as a roadmap for how the University will meet its four guidepost goals, identify opportunities for programmatic changes, and articulate priorities for resource allocations. The Plan also expands our ongoing commitment to the student experience distinguished by transformative academic, social, and cultural high-impact experiences; student-faculty relationships that begin in the classroom and extend beyond; and a commitment to liberal education. The challenges facing higher education in Wisconsin require us to make clear choices in order to continue to preserve our commitment to a high-quality education. This Academic Master Plan recognizes our challenging financial and competitive environment, but exhorts us to innovatively adapt to this new environment while remaining true to our most closely held principles. While maintaining quality, we must embrace the challenge of financial sustainability and vow not to simply pass expenses on to students via increased tuition. This clear, aspirational Academic Master Plan invites us to unite around priorities, make decisions that support our goals, and provide discipline for addressing the challenges of academic excellence and continued financial sustainability.