Moving programs creates ‘a barrier to students,’ Hillman tells Chronicle of Higher Education

UW–Madison’s Nicholas Hillman is quoted in a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the effects of a decision to end instruction at the UW System’s two-year Richland Center campus and move its degree programs to the University of Wisconsin–Platteville.

Hillman, a professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, is an expert in how finance, policy, and geography shape educational opportunities. He is also the director of UW–Madison’s Student Success Through Applied Research (SSTAR) Lab.

nick hillman

The Chronicle report, headlined “In Wisconsin, a Merger Can’t Save a Community College,” explains that financial pressure and low enrollment has made offering in-person degree programs at the Richland Center campus “no longer tenable,” according to UW System President Jay Rothman. Programs previously offered at Richland Center will instead be offered about 60 miles away at UW–Platteville — the institution the college merged with four years ago.  

Hillman told the Chronicle that shifting the Richland Campus’s degree programs to UW–Platteville will create a barrier for current and future students. 

While online instruction in many programs might also be available, Hillman said, access to broadband internet is not assured in Wisconsin’s rural areas. In addition, he added that “some programs that require hands-on experience are just better suited to in-person instruction.” 

As campus mergers are becoming more common, Hillman said the ending of instruction at Richland Center shows the limitations of these efforts. “These are problems that will keep happening,” he said, “without a statewide plan or coordination across agencies.”

To learn more, check out the full report at

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