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HLC approves joining of UW-Barron County, UW-Eau Claire

| Juliana Poquette

After less than eight months of planning and preparation, on July 1 the University of Wisconsin-Barron County officially will become a branch campus of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The Barron County campus, located in Rice Lake, also will officially assume a new name, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County, as it aligns with UW-Eau Claire as part of a UW System-wide restructuring of all the former UW Colleges.

The UW System-wide restructuring initiative was first proposed by UW System President Ray Cross in October and approved by the Board of Regents in November. The restructuring was formally approved on June 29 by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting organization for all UW System schools.

“Many faculty, staff, students and community leaders have worked very hard to get to this day, and we are proud to move forward together meeting the higher education needs of those served by each of our campuses,” said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt. “We have been deliberate in ensuring that UW-Eau Claire – Barron County will continue to provide higher education access to residents of northwest Wisconsin. We look forward to exploring the innovative ways our alignment will allow us to build an even stronger future for our two campuses and our region.”

UW-Eau Claire – Barron County faculty and staff are excited to see the opportunities that will continue to develop in collaboration with UW-Eau Claire, said Brittany Nielsen, administrator at the Rice Lake campus.

“We look forward to preserving our missions as well as to the collaborations that we can continue to develop and enhance, Nielsen said. “Together, we have worked hand in hand with faculty, staff, students and the community and have stayed true to our guiding principle of placing students first in all of our decisions.”

Despite the short timeline for the UW Colleges restructuring, UW-Barron County and UW-Eau Claire worked collaboratively with shared governance and sought ample feedback to ensure the best decisions were made for the future of both campuses, Nielsen said. 

“We will continue to uphold our mission and provide access, affordability and high-quality education with a family atmosphere at UW-Eau Claire – Barron County,” she said.

A communitywide celebration will begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, to mark the official joining of UW-Eau Claire – Barron County and UW-Eau Claire. The community picnic is open to the public and will be held in Rice Lake at the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County campus.

Top photo caption: UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt spoke during a meeting in January at UW-Barron County, one of numerous meetings of representatives from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Barron County and Barron County area community leaders in preparation for the transition to UW-Barron County becoming a branch campus of UW-Eau Claire.