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University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee not UW-Tosa


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Many recent articles and editorials have spoken to the importance of higher education and research to Milwaukee's economy and ultimately, its future. The benefits cannot be argued. It is encouraging to see Marquette University announce several new buildings on campus and UWM unveil plans to ramp up its research capabilities. University expansion is vital to the future of Milwaukee.

However, the discussions of UWM building an engineering and research campus in Wauwatosa are troubling. While the goals behind the plan are laudable--a well-educated workforce and spin-off companies--the location is a poor choice. It is clear that UWM has little room for expansion at its current East Side campus, but there are plenty of other possible locations to grow. The best choice is somewhere in the downtown area, whether that be MacArthur Square, The Brewery, the Park East, the area north of the Park East, the several vacant lots near I-794 or even Fifth Ward. Where the East Side sees students as a problem, these areas would welcome the level of activity that students provide.

Here is a brief list of the benefits of a downtown location for UWM's engineering and research campus:

* Economic Driver. Downtown needs a catalytic economic driver. Research universities have been proven to provide economic stimulus to an area.

* Spin-off Opportunities. Downtown has plenty of locations with affordable rents for spin-off companies to grow and prosper.

* Creative Class. Downtown is already a great place for the creative class. We need to keep our young, entrepreneurial professionals, in stimulating environments where they can share ideas.

* Student Convenience. A downtown location is accessible by transit, convenient for Milwaukee residents in need of a higher-education and close enough to the East Side campus for students to go back and forth between classes.

* Engineering Powerhouse. MSOE and Marquette are already great engineering schools. With the addition of UWM, combined with MATC, downtown would have a large cluster of talented engineering students and graduates that companies would want to be near.

* Future Expansion. There already is discussion of a UWM School of Public Health in the downtown area. The men's basketball teams plays at the U.S. Cellular Arena downtown. The continuing education program has a presence at Grand Avenue. As UWM continues to expand, more programs could be relocated to the downtown.

* Green. Building an urban campus is inherently Green. Few stormwater runoff issues. Discourages sprawl. Reduces energy and transportation demands. This would be a giant step forward in growing Milwaukee's green economy as many campuses around the country continue to expand in greenfields.

* East Side. More students could live downtown, reducing the strain on the East Side. If students had to drive to 'Tosa, parking problems on East Side would worsen.

* 'Tosa Issues. Many groups have fought the development of the County Grounds. Other groups have fought university expansion in 'Tosa, such as Wisconsin Lutheran. Downtown would welcome development and students with open arms.

Unfortunately, when you pick up the paper, it sounds as if UW-Tosa is a done deal. The location of public university expansion is a major long-term decision that will affect Milwaukee for generations. It appears that Milwaukee County is more interested in getting the proceeds from a land sale at the County Grounds than they are with putting UWM where it belongs to strengthen Milwaukee's future. Please take the time to discuss UWM Downtown with your co-workers, friends and neighbors. As UWM moves forward with their campus master plan, downtown must be considered over Wauwatosa for expansion.

To join the effort you can visit our website at UWM Downtown or join our Facebook Group "UWM Downtown!"

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