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Nearly 100 state and higher education leaders from Wisconsin and around the United States will gather at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh on Oct. 16 to help solidify the future of Wisconsin’s four-year, public, regional institutions and end the student affordability crisis without jeopardizing quality and access.

UW Oshkosh and the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) will host the one-day forum, titled “The Future of Wisconsin’s Public Regional Comprehensive Universities: The Crossroads of the Affordable Quality Education Crisis.” The event is scheduled to take place at the UW Oshkosh Alumni Welcome and Conference Center, 625 Pearl Ave., Oshkosh.

“This is a rubber-meets-the-road gathering of state and national thought-leaders in higher education,” said UW Oshkosh Chancellor Emeritus Richard Wells, who is helping host the one-day forum.

“We are asking our array of participants to really come up with some bold, transformative ideas that will not only address what we can do to confront the college affordability crisis but examine what the future holds for the many four-year, regional, public institutions such as UW Oshkosh—a type of university that is essential to a healthy democracy,” Wells said.

UW System leadership; comprehensive university chancellors; faculty, staff, and student shared governance leaders; and other national and regional educational stakeholders, thinkers, policymakers, and researchers will gather for the one-day forum. Guest speakers and participants include current UW System President Ray Cross and a growing list of other state and national institution and policy leaders.

The forum will include representatives from UW Oshkosh, UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, UW-Whitewater, UW-Green Bay, along with leaders from the Wisconsin Technical College System, Department of Workforce Development, and offices of state and federal policymakers.

“This will be a ‘roll-up your sleeves’ program, not a series of seminars,” said WISCAPE Director Noel Radomski. “First, we will learn about trends confronting public, comprehensive regional universities in Wisconsin and the nation, and then participants, not presenters, will identify and prioritize policy solutions from the perspective of the student and family, state and federal governments and foundations.”

The Oct. 16 forum will kick off with state and nationally recognized speakers leading a series of morning presentations that put the present student-debt and affordability crisis in context. The forum schedule then moves into breakout sessions—led by chancellors and provosts—that will allow participants to discuss problems and offer bold ideas for change.

The one-day forum will conclude with a report-out of the emerging ideas and strategies that could lead to meaningful policy change.

Wells, in an essay inviting and rallying forum participants, said one of the fundamental goals is to produce a list of achievable strategies that higher education leaders can share with other key actors in the affordability crisis, including state and federal legislators, each with their own authority and responsibility to develop solutions addressing the problem.

“The implicit statement we want our final decisions—the final content—to convey to our partners is: ‘Here are our ideas. We stand ready to work with you on your proposed solutions that will transform the way you operate and help address the affordability crisis.’”



The Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) was founded in 2001 on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. It is housed in the School of Education. WISCAPE promotes the creation and sharing of ideas for addressing Wisconsin’s postsecondary education challenges. For more information on WISCAPE’s programs, publications, and events, visit