Sad to See Chancellor Santiago Leave UWM
Recently, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos Santiago announced his resignation from UWM to become the Chief Executive Officer of the Hispanic College Fund in Washington, D.C. I imagine our long time readers would expect us to be dancing a jig or throwing quite the party at the possibility that his departure could derail the Wauwatosa expansion, but believe it or not, we’re disappointed he’s leaving UWM. Despite our long disagreement with Chancellor Santiago over the expansion in Wauwatosa, his vision of growth and research, as well as many of the initiatives put forward under his leadership are commendable, worthy, and should move forward.
During his time at UWM, the university has seen more development than under many of the previous administrations. The recent acquisition of the Columbia St Mary’s site literally expands UWM’s main campus, will alleviate some of the parking ‘problem’, could allow for more on-campus housing, and provides for more classroom space. UWM has also been pursuing the construction of new student housing on the East Side, which now will provide university housing for over a thousand students that previously had to be denied because of a bed shortage. The Kenilworth Square Apartments, RiverView Hall, and the soon to be open Cambridge Commons have all made UWM a bigger part of Milwaukee and the community, quite literally.
His vision of turning UWM into a first-rate research university is vital for UWM and for Milwaukee. This vision has lead directly to the creation the School of Public Health and the School of Freshwater Sciences, while also driving the desire to expand the Engineering School. In the short run, it has lead to formation of the Southeastern Wisconsin Energy Technology Research Center, which for the first time brings the colleges of engineering from UWM, MSOE, and Marquette together to collaborate on a significant research initiatives. These universities are already working together on cutting-edge research in areas such as wind turbines, Li-Ion Batteries, and CO2 recycling and sequestration via algae.
The School of Public Health will play a role in improving the health of Milwaukee’s inner-city population, while at the same time helping to revitalize downtown Milwaukee. The choice of locating the program at The Brewery will allow UWM to serve the needs of Milwaukee residents, while keeping the program within a short bike ride or bus trip to the main campus.
Finally, the proposed School of Freshwater Sciences is truly visionary. The School of Freshwater Sciences has a chance to put Milwaukee back on the map as a world leader. This school is a key part of the M7 Water Council’s goals, which despite detractors claims, might be an area where UWM and Milwaukee could differentiate themselves from their peers. The Water Council is already spurring collaboration between UWM and Marquette, and has received funding by area companies including Badger Meter Inc. and A.O. Smith Corp. Although the idea of splitting the school in to two facilities isn’t ideal, the Reed Street Yards location has already gained interest from American Micro Detection Systems Inc., a water industry company, to possibly locate a facility with up to 300 jobs near the school.
Chancellor Santiago brought about many great changes and set a grand vision for UWM. We can only hope that his efforts to establish the School of Freshwater Sciences, his most game-changing initiative, continue to move forward in his absence.