STEVENS POINT — UW-Stevens Point has proposed expanding capacity in several high-demand academic programs and piloting a three-year degree program. Chancellor Bernie Patterson presented UW-Stevens Point’s request to the UW System Board of Regents Feb. 8.

“UW-Stevens Point’s vision for a new regional university aligns perfectly with the UW System capacity building initiative,” Patterson said in a UWSP news release.

The UW System is seeking $25 million to add hundreds of students in high-demand fields such as health care, computer science and engineering. These initiatives are designed to enhance student success, improve the state’s talent pipeline and spur innovation.

Patterson highlighted five capacity-building requests:

  • Expand paper science and chemical engineering, doubling the number of students in both engineering programs. Paper science and engineering graduates have had 100 percent job placement rates. Wisconsin has a strong history of papermaking, and the pulp and paper converting side of the industry has grown significantly.
  • Expand computer science and information systems by nearly doubling the students in computer information systems and increasing by five-fold the students in data analytics. Demand is especially high for professionals with this bachelor’s degree.
  • Develop the first degree in aquaponics/aquaculture. Aquaculture, or farming fish, is the fastest growing sector of food production globally. Already a national leader in education, applied research and development, UW-Stevens Point would meet a growing demand for local, safe, sustainable food systems.
  • Pilot three-year degrees with a UW-Stevens Point branch campus. Under a proposed year-round schedule with three equal-length trimesters, most degrees could be completed in less than three years, reducing student loan debt and making graduates available to the workforce sooner.
  • Increase community engagement through high-impact internships and undergraduate research. This initiative would expand the number of students in paid internship programs, improving retention of first-generation, low-income or nontraditional students.

The initiatives are part of the UW System’s 2019-21 budget request.

Photo courtesy UWSP. UW-Stevens Point hopes to develop a degree program in aquaponics/aquaculture, the fastest growing sector of food production. Pictured are students at the Aquaponics Innovation Center, where lettuce and other plants are grown without soil.

Investigative journalist, music enthusiast, blogger, animal lover, kayaker, knitter, wife, mother.