Today, Governor Evers included the Cofrin Research Center as part of his 2021-23 Capital Budget Request. This is an important first hurdle for us to clear in order to replace the current Cofrin Library with a building that represents the future of UW-Green Bay. If this new building is next approved by the Wisconsin State Legislature, we will have a physical space that reflects the positive trajectory UW-Green Bay is on, aligning with our current mission and vision.
This is an extremely important and exciting step for the University. Put in perspective, there has not been approval for a transformative building project on our campus in the last 20 years. The current Cofrin Library has exceeded its useful life. The Governor agrees; we are hopeful the Legislature will also see the need to invest in this campus through this building project.
A final decision on whether or not the building gets enumerated will likely come in late June after the final capital budget is approved, but for today, we should take a minute to celebrate the amazing possibilities that lie in front of us and our students. The draft renderings of the proposed new Cofrin Research Center are below.
I believe that I was assigned to this committee because of the great work we have done at UW-Green Bay to be a model in the state for how a UW campus can effectively partner with our local technical college counterparts. We have been doing this work for years and it is something that I am exceptionally proud of. In fact, at our Marinette Campus we even have formed the Marinette Area Higher Education Coalition that you can read about here. As I have said many times, I believe that the future of higher education will be based on partnerships, not competition. We should be proud that we are leading the way with models like the Coalition.
My concern is that the article uses the word “consolidation” without a full explanation of what that means. Since I have been here and before, we have been working to consolidate pathways for students between all of our campuses and our technical college partners. We must see the holistic way that students view higher education and work to make sure that we are creating clear pathways for students to reach their educational goals. If that is what is meant by consolidation, I am all for it. From the article, it can be inferred that there are broader conversations occurring on this topic from the respective leaders of the UW and Technical College Systems. As always, I will advocate for UW-Green Bay in any discussions that I am involved in. I will try to do what is best for our students, our faculty and staff, and our partners that we work with to create an educational ecosystem that benefits the region we serve.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions. I think the wording of the article has understandably caused stress particularly to our campuses in Manitowoc, Marinette, and Sheboygan. From my perspective, we should just continue to rise above and be a leader in thinking differently about how higher education can work in Northeast Wisconsin.