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.