Thompson has added another item to his agenda, one that could reshape public higher education in Wisconsin: Exploring the possibility of consolidation between the System’s branch campuses and Wisconsin Technical College System institutions.
What the consolidation would entail — whether it be physical buildings, academic programs, administrative services or some other combination — isn’t clear. Thompson said all options, including declining to pursue anything, are on the table, stressing that the idea is in its infancy.
“We have a lot of buildings, lot of duplication and I want to sit down, discuss it and come up with a solution,” he said in an interview. “I’m not saying one (system) is better or one should be the only survivor. I’m saying let’s discuss it before the problem gets any worse.”
The problem, according to Thompson, is lots of real estate right next to each other. Many of the System’s branch campuses are geographically close to a state technical college campus. Collaboration could help address enrollment decline and save money when budgets statewide are strained.