Wednesday, October 20, 2010

UWM Having Trouble Raising Private Dollars for County Grounds Campus

UWM needs, according to Tom Daykin, another delay in closing the deal to acquire acreage on the County Grounds for an engineering school and private-sector Innovation Center.


I've been one of those wondering for months - - example here - - if the financing for the Innovation Center would materialize.

Here's the Daily Reporter, take, too.

The legendarily tight-fisted private sector around here cannot be counted on, especially in a down economy.

When philanthropist Michael Cudahy pulled out his early commitment there was no major donor to step into the breach.

Note two other negatives that undermined this entire effort  - - the County's interest in selling the land springing from an ugly balance sheet, not sound land management or long-range development plans, and now-departed Chancellor Carlos Santiago's focus on legacy and monument-building - - and you've got a campus expansion plan stumbling into political quicksand with only a $12 million taxpayer loan from Wauwatosa locked in.

As I have said before, UWM should look to adding engineering capacity in the downtown, where there other engineering campuses, real estate, transit connections and student amenities aplenty.

Or to the Fifth Ward, where the School of Freshwater Science is headed (though I hear that the private sector donations for the separate Water Council offices near the Harley-Davidson Museum - - demanded by some image-conscious corporate types - - are also not nailed down with checks already cut), and where Rockwell International, I'm told, has available square footage already set up for hands-on, graduate level work.

UWM should come back to earth and give up the picture-postcard, bucolic office park fantasy - - a nightmare, actually, when you consider that the highway-dependent campus on the County Grounds will in the next few years be gridlocked by eight years of Zoo Interchange construction.

Here's the reality:

No offense to Wauwatosa, but the County Grounds is remote from the main East side campus.

UWM is an urban school that should live within our means and embrace the city.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. However, they claim that location is adjacent to other researchers and is of importance opposed to the isolated Walker's Point area. That is a run down residential/former industrial area with no future. If they remove the coal piles it may be of more value.