Hudson part of UW initiative to produce more gradsThe idea behind the UW-River Falls Hudson Center is to make it easier for adults with some college credits to earn a bachelor’s degree.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The idea behind the UW-River Falls Hudson Center is to make it easier for adults with some college credits to earn a bachelor’s degree.
The center that opened in August is a result of an initiative the University of Wisconsin System started in 2009 titled More Degrees for Wisconsin.
The goal is to increase the percentage of the state population that has a four-year college degree. University officials believe that will make Wisconsin more attractive to businesses and, consequently, boost the personal incomes of state residents.
Chancellor Dean Van Galen proposed the Hudson Center to UW System President Kevin Reilly as UW-River Falls’ contribution to the More Degrees for Wisconsin initiative.
UW-River Falls’ College of Business and Economics joined the effort by starting an Adult Degree Completion Program. Students who complete the program earn a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.
The program started in late August with 24 students enrolled in introductory macroeconomics and microeconomics classes offered at the Hudson Center.
The goal is to have 40 students enrolled in the program by the start of the second semester in January.
Four additional business classes will be offered during the second semester — Accounting 1 and 2, Business Law and a computer systems course.
In the fall of 2011, upper level classes in management and marketing will be added. The university expects to have 60 to 65 students in the program by then.
Besides the Adult Degree Completion Program, the Hudson Center is the exclusive location for UW-River Falls’ larger Master’s in Business Administration Program, which currently has 120 students.
Classes in both programs are held weekday evenings, typically beginning at 6 p.m.
On the weekends, master’s in education students take over the center.
Hudson was a natural choice for the university satellite, Glenn Potts, dean of the College of Business and Economics, said in an interview last Friday.
It’s the largest community in St. Croix County, which is the fastest-growing county in the state, Potts noted.
“What we are doing is moving the program closer to the large population in St. Croix County,” he said.
Add to that the fact that Hudson is located on an interstate highway leading into the Twin Cities and has some 6,000 to 6,500 people with some college credits but no degree living within a five-mile radius.
“If you talk to individuals in Woodbury, they don’t know where River Falls is, but they all know where Hudson is,” Potts said. “So Hudson, being on the interstate and on the border, really has a name and a location advantage that is to our benefit as we are looking to attract students.”
Potts and Michael Bilden, coordinator of the Adult Degree Completion Program, also expect adult students to like taking classes with other adults, and not having to deal with the complexities of the UW-River Falls campus.
“It’s very different being 40 years old and thinking about going to college than when you’re 18,” Potts said. “When you’re 18 it’s exciting. When you’re 40 it’s kind of frightening.”
Bilden’s job is to make it easy for adults to return to college, Potts said.
“He’s the person who knows the answers. He’s the single contact person for the students if they have a question about anything — paying their tuition, registering for class. They contact him and he helps them with whatever they need to do. So then it becomes something that the 40-year-old mother or father can do.”
Bilden is a native of Siren. He earned his undergraduate degree at UW-Superior and did his graduate work at Augsburg College.
The opportunity to be part of the University of Wisconsin System lured him away from a similar position at North Hennepin Community College in Minneapolis.
Bilden said business administration is one of the two most popular programs for adult college students across the country — the other being nursing.
Potts said the unemployment rate for St. Croix County residents with a bachelor’s degree is less than 3 percent, compared to about 10 percent for people who don’t have a college degree.
The county’s overall unemployment rate is between 6.5 and 7 percent, he said.
“The employment opportunities are really good” for people with a degree in business administration, Potts said.
To learn more about the Adult Degree Completion Program contact Bilden by e-mail at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org or call (715) 425-0697. Information about the program also is available at www.uwrf.edu/adc.