The UW-Whitewater campus


UW-Whitewater is getting $200,000 from the UW System to put two recruiters in high schools in Rock and Walworth counties with the goal of helping students overcome barriers and attend system schools.

UW-W is one of five system schools that are splitting the $1 million for what the system in a press release Wednesday called a “new precollege pipeline initiative.” UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville and UW-Stout are the other universities.

Kenny Yarbrough, UW-W’s associate vice chancellor of equity, diversity, inclusion and support programs, told The Gazette on Wednesday that UW-W wants one coach/recruiter to target an urban or suburban area in Janesville and Beloit and the other to go after more rural areas in Walworth County.

He sees this effort as “widening and deepening” the recruitment efforts that UW-W has been implementing locally.

“I’m glad that UW System found the funding to do this because we are excited to be able to strengthen … our relationships that we have in these areas,” he said. “I’m just looking for a win-win scenario.”

The way it stands now, the funding will cover one fiscal year. But Yarbrough said “we have been assured by UW System” that they would then look to fund it for the following two years, as well.

After that, however, the university would be responsible for the funding, he added.

UW-W does not yet know when the recruiters would be up and running in local high schools. He said the $200,000 would cover the salaries and benefits for the two positions, but it will also leave some money to budget for activities within the high schools.

Some examples of work these recruiters could help students with are financial literacy, finding scholarships and taking the right classes to be on the track they want to be on. Yarbrough also said they could work with other local organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club.

Yarbrough said the local recruiters will have UW-W as their top suggestion for students, but the initiative is meant to help students attend any UW System school.

UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson said during a press conference Wednesday that they got the $1 million for this initiative by cutting costs at central administration by taking furloughs, not filling positions and not traveling.

Beyond what the system is already doing on recruitment, the funding will cover about 15 recruiters who can work with about 25 high schools and community groups statewide, according to a UW System press release.

Thompson attended the beginning of Tuesday’s faculty senate meeting at UW-W, where he heard concerns about the state of the university amid budget cuts largely brought on by declining enrollment.

But when asked if Wednesday’s initiative is meant to address enrollment, he said they are “doing other things that are going to help get enrollment,” adding that the new initiative is designed to help get underserved students and potential first-generation students prepared for college.

Yarbrough said while the initiative was not specifically targeted at enrollment, he said he could see how on the back end it could help.

“But the other piece is, it’s just the right thing to do,” he added.

This story will be updated further with more details about the initiative.