The University of Wisconsin-Stout may become Wisconsin's first officially recognized polytechnic institution, if all goes well after a presentation UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen plans to make to the Board of Regents Thursday.
Doug Mell, director of university communications at UW-Stout, said the idea came about during a brainstorming meeting three years ago and has been Sorensen's vision ever since.
The designation, Mell said, would help students on multiple levels in the classroom and beyond.
"The designation will raise the visibility of UW-Stout," Mell said. "It will raise more extramural money received in the form of government and private grants, and will raise the value of students' diploma."
Mell added many of the characteristics needed for UW-Stout to receive this recognition are already in place, such as the activity of applied learning laboratories on campus, the strong emphasis on science and technology, and a commitment to programs in the liberal arts — humanities, education, social, natural and human sciences, math, computer science and engineering.
And, Mell said, UW-Stout continues to promote its technology centers that collaborate with businesses and industries to help students build a relationship with corporations.
Simultaneously, UW-Stout works with the Wisconsin Technical College System to create credit transfers and institute new programs such as the NanoRite program and the proposed NanoSTEM budget initiative.
UW System spokesperson David Giroux said UW-Stout has an interesting history that evolved to create a campus focus on applied technology, which makes the school suitable to become a polytechnic institution.
"It is a niche to carve out within the UW System — or for aspirational purposes, a MIT," Giroux said. "This will define the campus as a distinctive institution."
The proposed distinction would not change the mission of the university, Giroux added. Rather, he said it would make the Board of Regents understand the direction in which the campus is headed.
"It is something the campus is excited for," Mell said. "It will inspire the campus to do better work."
Currently, Mell said the UW-Stout student association has approved the distinction, as well as the Menomonie City Council, where the university is located.
Sorensen will make a presentation to the Board of Regents' Education Committee Thursday, and the regents will vote on the issue in a resolution Friday.