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Nicolet College - UW, tech college system presidents pledge continued strong partnerships

UW, tech college system presidents meet at Nicolet; pledge continued strong partnerships to benefit residents, state


Wisconsin's two largest higher education systems are working together more today that at any other time in state history to increase the number of Wisconsin residents with college degrees, particularly bachelor's degrees, according to two top education leaders speaking at Nicolet College.

UW, WTCS Nicolet PresidentsRoughly only a quarter of Wisconsin residents hold bachelor's degrees, which is slightly below the national average and markedly below that of some neighboring states, particularly Minnesota, said the UW's Reilly.

"Ten years ago we were about equal with Minnesota in the number of bachelor's degrees," Reilly said. "That's not the case anymore. Today, 32 to 33 percent of Minnesota residents have bachelor's degree. This is a trend that we cannot afford to continue." Because of the increased level of education, the average Minnesotan earns about $4,000 more a year than the average Wisconsin resident, he added.

The UW and tech systems plan to reverse this trend by a number of means including building smoother and stronger pathways for tech college grads to transfer to four-year UW universities.

"Collaborative efforts like these take advantage of the strengths of each of our systems," said Clancy, describing Nicolet as being "at the forefront of innovation" and a "true gem" for the region.

In the Northwoods the most notable of these collaborative efforts is the sweeping new credit transfer agreement Nicolet College officials recently signed with the UW-Green Bay. The highest degree Nicolet confers is a two-year associate degree. Under the partnership, anyone with any Nicolet associate degree can transfer to UW-Green Bay with junior status.

"What's especially appealing is that residents can complete the bachelor's degree without leaving the Northwoods," said Nicolet President Adrian Lorbetske. This is made possible through UW-Green Bay classes both online and on the Nicolet campus.

Nicolet also has a broad credit transfer agreement with UW-Madison where Nicolet University Transfer graduates with a B average are guaranteed admission to UW-Madison. In addition to these partnerships, Nicolet also has dozens of other credit transfer agreements with numerous other UW universities and other four-year institutions.

"I think it's great if students want to start at a technical college and then transfer to the University of Wisconsin," explained Reilly, who recently purchased a vacation home in the Northwoods. "This isn't about just the UW System. It's about getting more college graduates in the state of Wisconsin. We are working very, very hard together to make this happen."

Both men also called upon the state and federal governments to bring back increased financial support for higher education, citing continued declines by each over the past several years.

As leader of the UW System, Reilly presides over 13 universities, 13 freshman-sophomore UW Colleges, and the statewide UW Extension which together serve 170,000 students. Annually, the UW System reaches more than a million citizens through its campuses, outreach work, broadcasting arm, and continuing education programs.

Clancy oversees the 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, which includes Nicolet. Collectively, the tech system offers more than 300 different academic programs. Annually, one out of every nine adults in Wisconsin receives education from a state technical college. In the Northwoods, about 10,000 people a year utilize some aspect of Nicolet College.