Tuesday, March 17, 2009

UW-Milwaukee Gets Significant Boost In Doyle Plan

Gov. Jim Doyle is offering a substantial boost to the profile and content of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a $240 million investment package.

His proposals, which include creation of a school of freshwater science, a significant and long-overdue upgrade to UW-M's hidden gem - - the WATER Institute - - and a public health school downtown will add great value to the University.

Unfortunately, the spending plan endorses the off-note location of the University's proposed new engineering school at the County Grounds, miles from the East side campus.

The engineering school should be located downtown, where there are intersecting bus lines, housing, commercial and cultural amenities, and most-importantly - - related programs at both the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Marquette University.

The County Grounds siting decision is being driven by Milwaukee County, which is looking to sell land, and by UW-M, which has private funds with which to acquire the property.

Lost in that decision-making process are the needs of faculty and students - - you could bike in the nice weather from the East side downtown, then hop over to the lakefront, and so forth.

Also lost are spinoff benefits to downtown businesses and entertainment venues, as an exciting synergistic network of new schools and programs will lose one major element right from the start.

It's a social and economic mistake to isolate the new engineering school from what the rest of the University and city have to offer.

Rethinking and then relocating this element of the UW-M upgrade would turn a triple into a grand slam homerun.

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