Ongoing budget cuts mean that positions and programming have already been cut at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the three colleges are also faced with decisions about eliminating majors and minors.
The Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems program, which graduated its first majors in May 2015, announced that it would not be accepting new students. In response, SRES students and faculty began fundraising to help keep the program.
Kathryn Chorley, business administration and sustainable and renewable energy systems major, created a GoFundMe page to help raise money.
“We wanted to raise money to staff the program. The major [will be] around for another year, but what happens after that? That’s why we still have the GoFundMe page going,” Chorley said.
According to the GoFundMe page, “In order to prevent [the SRES major from being cut] our goal is to raise $100,000 by May 1, 2016, to help fund one professor’s salary and fringe benefits within the SRES program.”
EMS Dean Molly Gribb said that while the college is still “looking for external sponsors to defray the cost of the program,” she also said that the program was not actually suspended.
“Official suspension is a process that goes all the way through the Board of Regents and we have not done that,” Gribb said.
A March 15 email from program coordinator Tim Zauche to SRES students and faculty said that final decisions about whether to keep the major or minor would be made by May 1, but this may not be possible.
“We’re getting really close to May 1 and it doesn’t appear that we will meet those fundraising goals,” Gribbs said. “We’re looking for ways to continue the program, but at this time we have not identified the resources.”
SRES program coordinator Tim Zauche and SRES assistant professor Dino Ress said they both donated money to the GoFundMe page in an effort to keep the major around. As of right now, SRES has raised approximately $50,000 including donations outside of the GoFundMe page, Ress said.
“We created a major here that students really like and really want to engage in,” Ress said. “The UW-System is under a great amount of pressure and some majors have to be cut. We may be one of those majors, but we are going to try and keep this around as long as we can.”
Gribb said that there are several students that have already applied to the program for Fall 2016.
“We will honor that commitment,” Gribb said. “They will be allowed to pursue the major.”