Ah, my fair university, how fickle thou art.
UW-Milwaukee is preparing for its annual open house. A theme of the event is “Live and Learn in the City!” In the promotional image shown below, a diverse group of young students are standing in front of some buildings in downtown Milwaukee as a Milwaukee County Transit System bus whizzes by.
That’s a laudable goal. It makes a lot of sense to restock downtown Milwaukee with people and businesses.
But if Chancellor Santiago has his way, the university will not be expanding in Milwaukee. but building a sprawling new engineering campus in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa. Despite the urging of the City of Milwaukee to stay in town and the persistent work of Dave Reid at UWM Downtown, the winds have blown away from having a downtown engineering campus, as the County panel working on the matter has spoken in favor of the suburban expansion.
It’s amazing that despite the recent spike in gas prices and the steady flow into the city, the push to spread out presses on. But it’s also not too surprising given the county executive’s will for everyone to have a car and for the suburbs to thrive (despite persistnet traffic jams) while the city… well, we don’t need to talk about that place. Right, Scott? Never mind that it’s the state’s economic engine, that it’s held up better in the decades of deindustrialization than Detroit or many Ohio and Pennsylvania cities and towns.
UWM should devote itself to making it possible for people to live, work, and learn in the city. It’s impossible to learn much while stuck in your car on I-94. But that exactly is what UWM’s Wauwatosa expansion plans call for.