Dave Reid

More “Great” Reasons for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Expand in Wauwatosa

By - Feb 19th, 2009 05:23 pm
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I recently gave up and said, “fine, let the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee expand in Wauwatosa“.  I argued this move would make life more difficult for students and that’s great because they will learn about the “real world”.  Further I thought it was great that this move would allow the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to stay in Madison’s shadow.  Of course I really think the best thing about the Wauwatosa site, will be the UW-Tosa t-shirts.  It occurred to me that beyond these there are a few more “great” reasons for UW-Milwaukee to expand in Wauwatosa.

  • Clearly one of the benefits of the Wauwatosa site is its proximity to GE Medical and the Medical College of Wisconsin.  In fact they will both be so close that you’ll be able to jump in your car and drive over.  Drive over?  Definitely don’t try to walk over because as Google points out “Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths”.
  • UW-Milwaukee will literally be leading by example.  UW-Milwaukee will lead engineering firms and other tech companies out of the City of Milwaukee.  Now that’s what I’ve come to expect of great Milwaukee institutions.
  • This effort also fits in with UW-Milwaukee’s “green” initiatives.  If completely ignoring them by paving over park land, encouraging sprawl, and promoting automobile use is UW-Milwaukee’s idea of green.
  • This move will also be a great reason to expand the freeways and roads, and with some luck maybe even knock down a few homes and businesses.

Of course none of these reasons are actually great, and neither are UW-Milwaukee’s stated reasons.  For example, representatives from UW-Milwaukee have argued that by moving the Engineering School to Wauwatosa they will be able to collaborate with the Medical College of Wisconsin and tap into some of those R&D funds.  Although there is some truth to this, the site itself doesn’t actually lend itself to much better collaboration than a downtown location, as either way you still would need to drive to other facilities.  Now a downtown location may not facilitate collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin as well, but it offers the ability to easily collaborate with Johnson Controls, We Energies and build stronger connections with Marquette University, MSOE, and MATC.

Collaborating with the Medical College of Wisconsin on bio-technology and life science research, sounds great, but it misses a greater opportunity. UW -Milwaukee should focus on research where they could actually become a leader, instead of a second citizen to Madison.  With the downtown partners UW -Milwaukee could take a leading role in research related to energy, water, and advanced manufacturing.  Now that sounds like a great reason to me to locate downtown.

Categories: Real Estate

6 thoughts on “More “Great” Reasons for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Expand in Wauwatosa”

  1. JT says:

    Valid arguments, I agree with the author but development scenarios are never so cut and dry. The political influence at play here cannot be understated. The Med College has all but signed a lease in the UW-Tosa facility and has genuine intent to collaborate and has identified specific spaces to house spin-off businesses in the vicinity. County officials love the idea of creating best-use of the County grounds and augmenting the infrastructure that would extend out along the 94 corridor.

    In the end, it is more likely that City politics will win out and the school ends up moving to the parkeast corridor. Scottie’s selling the land to the City for a song, the City has requested millions for site acquisition/prep and no economic generator offers more promise for the City than UWM. But this concept of “partnerships” does seem stronger at the County grounds with stated commitments already on the table. MSOE, MATC, DCD, the Valley, and 30th street all offer great potential, but do they offer security for positive return in the next 15 years? Hopefully the proactive planner at DCD is currently pursuing this.

  2. David B. says:

    I definitely agree that the downtown expansion would be better for the city and for UWM and am hoping that it ends up happening. I wonder if there’s more long term strategy in play here then what UWM is officially saying.

    Is it possible that UWM wants the Tosa location to be in a better strategic place if the Medical College decides to affiliate again with a University at some point? That would help to explain the focus on bio-tech issues (competing with one of UW-Mad’s strongest points). Adding a UWM Medical school certainly would be a prestigious addition and might explain some of the odd arguments/decisions regarding the expansion location by UWM.

    I know very little about the MCW, but from what I’ve read very few independent Medical Colleges remain in the US, most having felt the need to merge with Universities. It seems like Marquette might have the upper-hand due to its historical ties (including Alumni of the Med. School who graduated when it was part of MU), but if UWM launches a major expansion near the Medical college and is able to strengthen its financial/research/academic ties they might put themselves in a better position in the eventuality of MCW deciding to merge with another school. And if they expand downtown they wouldn’t have any stronger argument then MU proximity-wise.

    So I guess I wonder if this is part of the reason why UWM seemed focused on Tosa from the start when it seems like the city is willing to give financial perks similar or better then the county is at the Tosa location (plus all of the other benefits– enivironmental,community, proximity– of being closer to the actual University)? This might be a stretch but I think it could partially explain the infatuation with the Tosa location.

    See this story about the Indep. Baylor Medical school being in talks with Rice University for a somewhat similar example of this type of merge

  3. Matthew says:

    If you look at the UWM Master Plan website, under planning documents there is a document called Section-8_Appendix which outlines a survey done by the master planners of external stakeholders for UWM, and what their needs and ideas are. The list of stakeholders includes businesses that UWM partners with as well as other organizations, and it shows their responses to what they think of multiple campuses, as well as asks them for ideas for new sites for the campus.

  4. Matthew says:

    here is the link, it is the second to last pdf file on the list: http://www4.uwm.edu/master_plan/planning_materials/planningdocs.cfm

  5. Suzanne says:

    This is hilarious and totally true. Especially sad now that apparently UWM will be buying the Columbia Hospital buildings and would be able to expand there.

  6. DAN says:




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