skip to content

Office of Marketing and University Communication

UW-Green Bay: From the Beginning

Chapter Twenty-One: 1989 - 1990

“The overall picture? It's a different campus than it was 20 years ago when the University opened its doors on the Shorewood site.” - Inside UWGB , Fall 1989
UW-Green Bay campus, 1989
A series of Inside UWGB articles marking two decades of development told part of the story.

The pieces focused on the “changing face” of the student body over the years since the campus opened in 1969: from an undergraduate enrollment heavily dominated by males to a 3-2 gender split favoring women; from an all-commuter population of 1,981 to a community of 4,700-plus students of whom 1,150 lived on the campus; from a mix of “traditional” 18-to-22-year-olds and veterans of military service, nearly all attending classes full time, to a population made up one-third of students 25 and older, one third of part-timers. Armed forces veterans were still around. But of the 200 on campus in fall 1989, 15 percent were women, and several were service couples. Over a thousand students, all told, were married; some were pursuing degrees alongside a son or daughter.

Collegians continued to come to UW-Green Bay from outside Wisconsin: 23 states and 27 countries were represented on the fall semester roster. But the enrollment remained solidly regional. Fifty-four percent of the undergraduates were Brown County residents; another 23 percent came from bordering counties. The surge of international students marking the early years had subsided in the wake of economic stagnation worldwide. Diversity on the campus was now defined by the increasingly diverse nature of the Green Bay community. From 1980 to 1989 the metropolitan area grew by nine percent—from 175,000 to 191,000; the population of American Indians, Asians, Hispanics and African-Americans, meanwhile, soared by more than 50 percent, from 4,800 to 8,000. Between 1988 and 1989 minority enrollment at UW-Green Bay grew from 38 to 211 students, mostly American Indians.

The 1989-90 undergraduate catalog provided a different perspective on change.

“Theme colleges” had disappeared from the rhetoric, along with all references to a “focus on ecology.” Replacing a lofty statement of academic philosophy was an opening paragraph that spoke directly to a major concern of prospective collegians: “Students who successfully graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay are well prepared for careers or for further study. UW-Green Bay's academic plan offers a combination of knowledge and skills sought by today's employers and graduate and professional schools.”

Course enrollments reflected the anxieties of the college-bound in a tight labor market. Business administration led the list of “top 10” majors; human development, in second place, was a popular choice of students seeking credentials as teachers. Accounting and nursing followed. In an era of recession, galloping inflation in tuition and fees, and a swollen supply of college graduates on the labor market, student values had shifted significantly. According to surveys of high school seniors and college freshmen all over the country, students were more concerned with making money than with developing a meaningful philosophy of life. The number who placed money as their top priority had grown by at least 30 percent from the 1960s to the 1980s, while those engaged in a “search for meaning” had dropped by 40 percent.

Student concerns outside UW-Green Bay classrooms provided still another barometer.

The candlelight marchers of a Vietnam war moratorium had been succeeded 20 years later by pajama-clad collegians protesting visitation rules at an all-night “sleepover” in a residence hall lounge. Students were still boarding buses to demonstrations in Washington. But the burning issue was more likely to be abortion rights than civil rights.

Student government leaders organized an evening escort service to insure the safety of women leaving the library. The chancellor's office published updated policies on sexual harassment, and the women's center campaigned against date rape.

As student and faculty groups pushed for a smoke-free interior environment, cigarette machines disappeared. Condom dispensers, on the other hand—installed in response to the threat of AIDS—were doing a brisk business in several campus washrooms. Growing concern statewide about alcohol abuse had pushed through legislation to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21. The Student Association campaigned to lower the drinking age to 19, but recognized the need to promote alcohol awareness. In 1989 the association cooperated in setting aside the first Wednesday of each month as an alcohol-free day in the Student Union.

And two decades after the campus opened, community “parents” of the institution and University officials together faced the realities of the future from the threshold of a new decade. Some early expectations had been dashed along the way:

The University had not grown to 20,000 students—as some had hoped when the campus opened—and might never reach that size. Important gaps remained in the academic program array. Campus facilities were incomplete. While the state had contributed significantly to the development of a community performing arts center, and plans were moving ahead for a user-financed addition to the Student Union, other academic buildings needed to complete the campus core remained on hold. Plans for a new child care center were tangled in a funding dispute.

The early surge of nonresident and international students had slowed. National and international acclaim for the UW-Green Bay academic plan had run its course; for higher education generally, innovation was out, survival was in.

As the Wisconsin economy faltered, the gap continued to grow between demand for public higher education and resources to supply it. And as tax revenues shrank, long-held assumptions evaporated: that increasing enrollments would inevitably be rewarded by increasing budget dollars from the state; that enrollment at UW-Green Bay would always be open at reasonable cost to any qualified individual, of any age; that the typical student could complete a baccalaureate degree in four years.

By fall 1989 an honored Wisconsin tradition—a university system available to all residents who could benefit from it—was under siege. UW-Green Bay was beginning its first semester under a UW System-mandated enrollment cap adopted a year earlier by a task force of UW-Green Bay faculty and staff. The immediate target was 3,891 full-time equivalent students, or FTEs—276 fewer than actual enrollment the previous fall. For 1990 a further reduction would be required, toward a 1991 target of 3,830. As department budgets tightened, students scrambled to register in high-demand courses before available sections were closed. The typical full-time student now needed nine semesters to complete a baccalaureate degree. Part-timers, competing for places in required courses, could expect to spend six or seven years in pursuit of a degree.

For an institution that only recently had achieved a pattern of steady growth, it was a frustrating development. But the regents, examining future prospects for public higher education, could see no alternative when they announced the new policy in December 1986: “When faced with a choice between maintaining educational quality within budgetary constraints or providing access for students to particular institutions, the regents place priority on quality.” An enrollment management plan adopted a year later became the focus of a strategy to balance the number of students served with available funds. Under the plan, total enrollment in the UW System would be cut 7,000 students by 1991.

For UW-Green Bay, some implications were immediately clear.

The campus was unlikely in the future to experience a fever of construction that had once yielded a new building every 18 months. Also unlikely was the prospect of becoming a “little Madison,” whether in student numbers, proliferation of course offerings, or million-dollar research grants. Enrollment would be capped for a few more years, then allowed to grow modestly to keep pace with an expected upward trend in numbers of high school graduates. Tuition and fees would continue to escalate, along with the numbers of students competing for admission. But a greater percentage of students who started as freshmen would eventually graduate.

Two decades after opening its doors, the University was in a sense beginning again, with the rules changed. Without the exhilaration of testing an innovative direction in higher education. Without the unique energy of a newly minted faculty. Without fanfares from academics and education reporters around the world. Without start-up funds or enrollment bonuses. But the facilities were established and the programs proven. Seasoned faculty members and administrators were poised to respond to new mandates for diversity, accountability and efficiency. And in the academic year to come they would be pursuing their duties in a environment of community support, carefully nurtured over 20 years, an environment of understanding and appreciation for the University's resources and services.

Almost a quarter-century earlier, a chancellor newly appointed to a university not yet in existence had addressed the men and women of Northeastern Wisconsin for the first time. To those who greeted the Weidners at a welcoming reception in October 1966, the chancellor said: “Whether it is a public or private institution, every university is ultimately an instrument of the community and responsible to it. It is from the community that a university receives its support and much of its intellectual nourishment. And it is the community that is the ultimate beneficiary and raison d'être of a university.”

Amid all the upheavals of the years that followed, that hope had blossomed into reality. The evidence was everywhere. For UW-Green Bay, in pursuing its mission of instruction, research and outreach, had also brought a changing face to the community. Over two decades, 60,000 students had enrolled in credit courses; almost 10,000 had completed undergraduate degrees. Of that number, an estimated 6,000 continued to live and work in Brown County. Another 2,000 were pursuing their careers elsewhere in Wisconsin.

Patrick Madden Patrick Madden was one of them. Now circuit judge in Iron County, he returned to the campus during homecoming in October to accept the first Distinguished Alumni Award. After graduating from UW-Green Bay in 1971, Madden earned his law degree at UW-Madison. He served as district attorney for Iron and Oconto counties before being appointed and then elected to the bench.
Susan Kline Susan Kline came back to the campus to live out a dream cherished from her first day as a UW-Green Bay student, designing, cutting and stitching in the theater costume shop. After completing a master's degree at Michigan State University, she was hired in 1988 as a lecturer in theater and theater design. A year later she won appointment as assistant professor.

By the time Kline arrived, seven other alumni had joined the faculty ranks after earning advanced degrees in fields from music to mathematics. And 30 more former students served on the academic staff: in the herbarium, child care center, women's center, computer center and sports center; in the offices of admissions, alumni, student counseling, student life and extended degree. Among them was Barbara DeCleene, coordinator of academic computing, winner of the 1989 Chancellor's Award for academic support. Roger Hodek, computer center director and also an alumnus, had received the same award eight years earlier.

By 1989 Jill Davies Kern had been operating her own chiropractic clinic in Green Bay for three years. Judy Truttman had just been named nurse manager of surgery at St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Thomas Halloin, after completing a medical residency in Tennessee, was back in his hometown to practice obstetrics and gynecology. Linda Hassett Halloin, his wife, was teaching piano in the University's music program for youth. Julie Thompson returned from a Peace Corps assignment in Africa that year to become executive director of The Center Project, a local agency providing AIDS counseling and HIV antibody testing. Her staff included three fellow alumni: Kevin Roeder, a social worker, and community educators Sandy Holden and Jean Oleksy.

Tom Cuene, after four years as Brown County treasurer, was midway through his first term as Brown County executive. Joseph Hoffmeyer had joined Valley Trust Company as vice president for the Green Bay office; Sue Nicholson was the new controller at the Freeman Paper Company. William Patzke was completing his first year as director of planning and development for the city of DePere. And Richard Larson was settling into a new job in a new organization: as director of the regional office of Forward Wisconsin, the state's economic development marketing agency.

Deborah Reis, promoted to sergeant in the Wisconsin State Highway Patrol, was supervising troopers in Racine County. In Keshena, Wendell Askenette was coordinating a new victim assistance program for the Menominee Tribal Law Enforcement Center. Elaine Peters, an education counselor for the Menominees, was elected to head the North Central Vocational, Technical and Adult Education Board. In Milwaukee, Andrew Steeno was promoted to manager of the local office of Arthur Young, a Big Eight accounting, tax and management consulting firm. In Sturgeon Bay, William Chaudoir became the first executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation.

The circle of giving and receiving was complete. And a new generation was helping to shape the future of its community.

Commencenment, May 1989
UW-Green Bay Commencement, May 1989

What would that future hold for the University? Chancellor Outcalt ventured to provide some answers as the faculty and staff came together once again in September 1990—25 years after UW-Green Bay was created with the stroke of a governor's pen.

Sharing a vision for the decade ahead, Outcalt said, “I see us continuing to build on our accomplishments: improving our teaching, administrative support, and service; extending and strengthening our commitment to UW-Green Bay; contributing to our professions and communities; and continuing, foremost, to dedicate ourselves to the growth and advancement of our students.”

In the year 2000, “the teaching of undergraduate and graduate students will continue to be our principal focus,” Outcalt said. “Undergraduates will continue to major or minor in an interdisciplinary program. Even greater effort will be given to overcome discrimination and provide opportunities for those who have been under-represented in higher education. There will be new academic programs, along with existing programs that have become “focused and strengthened in response to the needs of our constituents and the ongoing pursuit of excellence. In a shrinking world, greater attention will be given to the international dimensions of offerings and opportunities,” he said.

Service and continuing education to businesses and other agencies and groups will be “diligently” addressed, Outcalt predicted. Maturing relationships and new partnerships will prompt “an increasingly positive perception” of UW-Green Bay and even more enthusiastic support in the region. New services and programs for students will be based on a growing understanding of their goals and motivations; they will be characterized by “clarity of purpose and demonstrated, documented effectiveness.”

Outcalt envisoned the University as serving an increasing percentage of citizens of the region, with enrollment rising by half over the decade and graduate enrollment increasing to one-third of the student body. During the decade to come, the University community would also be enriched by the presence of a growing number of students from around the world. And as the state better understood the higher education needs of Northeastern Wisconsin, and prompted by citizen support, UW-Green Bay would also benefit from increased funding. Substantial gifts and bequests would be available through the generosity of private citizens and the efforts of a maturing Alumni Association.

The University would continue to take advantage of its unique and positive aspects to recruit new faculty and staff, while providing opportunities to all for professional growth, retraining and new training. It would welcome and reward faculty initiative in instructional development and the application of new technology to teaching and academic support. Creativity and scholarship would be fostered and expected. And the University would remain committed to honoring faculty, staff and student governance and to the protection of academic freedom.

Outcalt admitted that his vision—“distilled from the thoughtful efforts of so many people”—presented a formidable task at a dynamic and turbulent time for higher education. But it was not an impossible dream.

“This is the point to remember,” Outcalt emphasized. “We have good grounds to proceed with confidence, even though there is uncertainty, toward our vision. All we have to do is commit ourselves to the task. I know that we will.”

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay: From the Beginning
by Betty D. Brown: manuscript completed in 1996

Chapters