After announcing a new transfer agreement Apr. 19, University of Wisconsin Chancellor John Wiley said Tuesday he is disappointed with the reaction of some UW students.
The agreement with the Madison Area Technical College promises admission to UW for MATC students who meet certain requirements, which include earning 54 breadth credits and maintaining a 3.0 GPA.
While some UW students have denounced the program with calls of unfairness, Wiley said dissenting students are simply misinformed.
"I think they don't bother to check the facts," he said. "It makes an easy sound bite to say this is a way for [MATC students] to sneak in."
And "sneaking in" is exactly what those students are doing, according to Erica Christenson, who is chair of the College Republicans, but noted she speaks on her behalf and not for the group she represents.
"I think it's kind of a slap in the face," she said. "To be completely honest, I didn't come home last night from the library because of all the work [I had to complete] … and I would like to think the GPA I receive here is different from one received at MATC."
She went on to say that attending a four-year institution of UW's caliber is something that "becomes a lifestyle that isn't something you can just jump in and out of."
But Terri Wipperfurth, who is a former student of MATC and is currently both a UW student and faculty member, has a different opinion.
Wipperfurth completed her general requirements at MATC and transferred to UW just over a year ago to take on business school classes. Additionally, she is a human resources manager for the Antarctic Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Institute at the university.
"I think [the transfer agreement] is great," she said. "It gives students at MATC a goal to strive for."
Wipperfurth went on to say that attending MATC was particularly beneficial to her as a returning adult student, as she was able to "regain some of those skills you lose over time" in a comfortable environment with more non-traditional students.
She added the transfer agreement will give MATC students of all different ages and races the confidence needed to pursue a UW degree.
UW System spokesperson Doug Bradley also noted the program could bring more diversity to the UW campus.
"I think [MATC] has a more diverse student population," he said. "[At UW] we have a constant challenge to further diversify our student body … so the [transfer agreement] will be helpful."
The "world of work is changing," he said, adding that bringing in students of varying races, socio-economic backgrounds, skill sets and future plans will better prepare the university's graduates for life after college.
Wiley said while adding diversity is one benefit of the agreement, the real goal is to smooth the transition to UW for qualified MATC students.
"[The transfer agreement] was designed as a move to improve access to students who we would have loved to admit as freshman but just didn't have the room for," he said, adding where the university is at capacity in freshman and sophomore classes, the university has the space to accommodate more upperclassmen.
Since MATC does not offer bachelor's degrees, he said, students interested in pursuing upper level classes, and who are qualified to do so, will be now be able to work toward that degree at UW.
But another UW faculty member, political science professor Donald Downs, has some qualms about just how qualified potential students admitted through the transfer agreement might be.
"It raises the question of whether this is going against the grain of admission trends," he said, questioning the rationale behind admitting students who were not initially accepted to the university into higher-level UW courses.
But Jocelyn Milner, who works in academic planning and analysis at UW, maintained transfer students to UW, including those from MATC, "come here and do well."
"Like every other admission decision, [the transfer agreement] is very carefully designed to admit students we believe can succeed here," she said.
Christenson, though, questioned the ability of those transfer students to hold up in a university where even she can "barely keep up a 3.0 [GPA] to keep my scholarship here."
Amid concerns from dissenting students such as Christenson, Wiley continues to laud the benefits of the transfer agreement.
"I can't make them love it," he said. "But it's part of our mission to serve as many people in the state as we can possibly handle."