UWM’s double message: “Live and learn in the city” and its Wauwatosa expansion plans

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.

"Live an Learn in the City!"

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.

Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

5 thoughts on “UWM’s double message: “Live and learn in the city” and its Wauwatosa expansion plans”

  1. @Jason Hey thanks for the post, I can’t say my work on UWM Downtown, has been all that the persistent, but I hope we can get through to somebody!

  2. It is terrifically misleading and absolutely wrong to write that UW-Milwaukee will not be expanding in the city of Milwaukee.

    UWM intends to create facilities suitable for the proposed Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health in downtown Milwaukee. The most likely location is adjacent to or near the Aurora Sinai Medical Center because such a site provides excellent access to many of the city’s best healthcare partners.

    UWM hopes to develop a marquee facility for its proposed School of Freshwater Sciences in the city either near its current WATER Institute facilities on the east end of Greenfield Avenue or at a high-profile downtown site (perhaps the property on which the former Pieces of Eight restaurant is located on the east end of Michigan Street).

    UWM continues to develop Kenilworth Square on the East Side of the city, further improving the Peck School of the Arts facilities and providing excellent retail space for new-to-Milwaukee tenants like Urban Outfitters and American Apparel.

    Yes, it is true that the university hopes to create the Michael J. Cudahy Innovation Park on the Milwaukee County Grounds outside of the city of Milwaukee. And classes for the UWM College of Engineering and Applied Science will be taught there. But that college currently enrolls just 1,700 students–less than 6% of the UWM student body. Even with the Innovation Park development, UWM students will continue to attend most or all of their courses inside the city of Milwaukee.

  3. For all the noble sentiments expressed above, I did not say that UWM is not expanding in or leaving Milwaukee. I disagree with the effort to move our engineering school outside the city of Milwaukee. There’s still plenty of room inside the city, and that should be taken advantage of.

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