After nine months on the job, University of Wisconsin-Extension and UW Colleges Chancellor David Wilson has a vision for the future of education in Wisconsin.
During a speech Wednesday at the Pyle Center, Wilson said his main goal is to expand UW-Extension and UW Colleges' resources and make them available to every Wisconsin resident.
UW Colleges encompass the UW System's 13 two-year campuses, while UW-Extension provides system resources to Wisconsin residents not enrolled in a university.
According to Wilson, those programs often do not get the attention they deserve.
"My aim is a very simple one — to make Wisconsin an even better place for current and future generations," Wilson said. "UW Colleges is one of the most efficient institutions in the United States in preparing students for degree success."
Wilson — who has already traveled through the state speaking at numerous schools — said the best way to increase access for students of all economic status is to secure more funding from the state.
The goal for UW-Extension and UW Colleges in the coming years, Wilson said, is increased enrollment, especially for adults and through online courses.
And the best way to achieve this goal, Wilson added, is through both access and affordability.
"I know a lot about wanting to go to college and not having the resources to do so," said Wilson, who was the first member of his family to attend college. "My desire is certainly to keep the tuition of the UW Colleges within reach of the average citizen. Lack of resources should not be a barrier; … if it was, I would not be your chancellor today."
In Wilson's nine months as chancellor, Regent Danae Davis said Wilson has proved himself to be more than qualified for the job.
Davis said she was part of the committee that reviewed applicants for the position, and added the UW System Board of Regents had high expectations for Wilson.
"We were very pleased with the caliber of talent … that was presented to us," Davis said. "We knew back then he would be up for the task, and he has been."
According to Regent President David Walsh, Wilson has succeeded in his chancellor position because of his approach to higher education. This approach, Walsh added, will serve the UW System well into the future.
"From day one, Chancellor Wilson … has gained credibility from listening and communicating," Walsh said.
Wilson called UW-Extension and UW Colleges Wisconsin's "best kept secrets."
However, in order to keep improving higher education in the state, Wilson said schools need to become more compatible with today's students.
"The UW System should not be afraid of over-selling what it has to offer," Wilson added. "And the state needs to start praising itself more for the quality of its higher education."
"I have traveled all over this state. And let me tell you, Wisconsin, you vastly undersold yourself to me," Wilson said. "We desperately need a greater investment if we want to move to the next level of excellence and service in the state of Wisconsin."