Dave Reid

Sad to See Chancellor Santiago Leave UWM

By - Aug 18th, 2010 11:12 am


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.

A vastly expanded Engineering School is certainly a key part of helping UWM raise its level of research and will allow it to better collaborate with other institutions and industry partners. Our issue is how and where this expansion should occur, not that it shouldn’t occur. It simply would serve Milwaukee and our region better to build on relationships with MSOE and Marquette as that would create a strong engineering core within the region, while building a stronger urban core. Further, this alignment would allow UWM to stake out more of a niche, possibly within advanced manufacturing, energy technology, or possibly nanotechnology, rather than becoming one of hundreds of schools chasing the biotech dream. That said, the goal of increasing the role, size, and scope of the Engineering School is a laudable one that needs to be successful.

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.

Categories: Real Estate

7 thoughts on “Sad to See Chancellor Santiago Leave UWM”

  1. colucci says:

    The School of Freshwater Sciences is truly brilliant. It’s not that UWM is starting from scratch in creating this, it’s taking advantage of, and unifying, the staggering amount of research, outreach and industrial activity currently happening here in Milwaukee.

    In 2007 our company (www.elumenati.com) moved here from Minneapolis. We moved because of family but it turned out to be a great move professionally too. We specialize in creating immersive environments with an emphasis on earth sciences. NOAA is one of our bigger partners. When I started to see the breadth of work around freshwater sciences happening here I was dumbfounded. It is by far the most concentrated and dynamic (read: collaborative) culture we’ve seen. Milwaukee should be very proud of this. I view the School of Freshwater Sciences not as a new research initiative but rather as a reaffirmation of an already thriving environment.

    Just to name some other players: Discovery World, MATC, Great Lakes WATER Institute, RiverPulse/Gathering Waters Festival, Will Allen/Growing Power, Sweet Water Organics… And I’ve only been back in town for 3 years!

    Santiago has done a world of good for UMW and Milwaukee. He will be missed. But I’m confident that one man does not make a culture and that Milwaukee’s “water culture” is going to continue to grow long after he has gone.


  2. Dave Reid says:

    @colucci Thanks for the adding information, it’s great to hear. And yes this is bigger than just Santiago which is why I hope the Water School continues to move forward, and quickly. Thanks Again.

  3. dgen says:

    Here’s another scenario: Expanding to 40,000 underarchieving, low-scoring undergrads, UWM supplants Madison as #1 drink-til-you-puke school and #1 supplier of new employees for Enterprise-Rent-a-Car…in Illinois. The East Side becomes a devalued student ghetto, and by 2015 the suburbs gain >50,000 good residents fleeing the area. The gold coast becomes a gated community, with private security forces.

    The three urban engineering schools cooperate, meaning ambitious UWM faculty move up to the others. It’s the fallback school for people who want to be engineers but not leave Milwaukee. MSOE and MU remain the fallbacks for people who don’t want to leave Wisconsin. Brain drain holds steady, and the least ambitious graduates are retained.

    The School of Public Health keeps The Brewery from every taking off residentially and commercially. It ends up serving largely UWM and other college students, due to the endless waves of morons who binge drink while taking prescription opioids with acetominaphin. Area hospitals become leaders in treating liver and kidney failure. Milwaukee also achieves the highest per capita number of convicted gun felons who have survived multiple shootings and overdoses on the public dime.

    Walkers’ Point returns to being a red light district with strip clubs and crack-addled hookers under the protection of a new alderman known as “Johnny the Horse.”

    By 2020 Milwaukee ranks #25 among “water hubs.” Discovery World, Growing Power, and Sweetwater Organics have long ceased to attract sentimental reportage and have gone out of business or are desperately seeking government handouts.

    The County goes bankrupt, the City becomes a true tax hell, and revenue from gotcha fees increases every year while the population of employed, educated people decreases. The police department reaches 50% of the city budget by 2015.

  4. dgen says:

    I forgot MPS…. it gets bought out of its own bankruptcy by a private prison corporation. Milwaukee is noted by Forbes as the #1 worst city for families/corporate employees/major corporate employers.

    Harley leaves, and eventually nothing is left of Miller but empty buildings. Some developers lose their shirts trying to make nostalgic condos from Miller buildings, but the Baby Boomers are tapped out, and the remain vacant.

    The Brewers get sold and the new owner wants to move them to Indianapolis, but Indy residents revolt and roll out the unwelcome mat.

  5. Jesse Hagen says:

    dgen, It sounds like you just summarized the suburbs’ view of Milwaukee and their unchanging expectations… even in the face of facts showing otherwise. Sometimes businesses, cities, and people need to realize that you’re never going to please everyone all the time.

    So you just have to cut your losses on the ignorant, savage, and just plain ol’ negative people that tend to creep out of the woodwork whenever something positive/different/new is happening in Milwaukee or Wisconsin.

    That was a great piece of fiction you wrote, dgen, although a little bit too far out for my liking. Can we call you ‘moonbeam dgen’?

  6. colucci says:

    Hey Moonbeam! Welcome to the forums!

    That was an amazing essay – if I may call it that without offending you. One slight omission is that you forgot to say “choo-choo”. All the Rushpublicans are doing it these days. Somewhere you really needed to work that in.

    Wanna have a beer (or six) sometime? I’d love to watch you puke.


  7. Dan says:

    Unfortunately the jobs and educated population are indeed on a long term pattern of drainage from the city and growth in the burbs, so you can’t just blow off the contempt of the metro-majority.

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