By Michael R. Lovell
Chancellor University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
College is often thought of as only for young men and women straight out of high school. The reality at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is quite different.
UWM enrolls more students age 35 or older – more than 3,000 total – than any other four-year university in Wisconsin. And nearly one-third of all UWM students are age 25 or older.
When we get to graduation day at UWM, it is almost as common to see children cheering for their parents who are receiving their degrees as it is to see parents applauding their sons or daughters. That’s because the average age of a UWM bachelor’s degree recipient last semester was 25, the average age of a master’s degree recipient was 31 and the average age of those earning doctoral degrees was 38.
Our university welcomes far more than an older-than-usual student body. The 2011 freshman class was the most diverse class of first-year students ever. More than 23 percent of new freshmen were from underrepresented groups of color. Within the full academic population, students of color from targeted and nontargeted groups comprised more than 21 percent of the UWM student body.
More than 1,200 enrolled military veterans and dependents at UWM make us Wisconsin’s largest veteran-serving university.
To ensure that students are regarded on the basis of ability and not disability, the Student Accessibility Center opens additional doors for students through its Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program, Blind/ Visually Impaired Program, Mobility/Physical Disabilities Services and more.
All of our students can take advantage of an increasing selection of courses, including those being created to serve the evolving needs of Greater Milwaukee. In just the past few years, we’ve opened up the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and School of Freshwater Sciences to address many special challenges faced by our community.
And finally, UWM continues to make more of its academic programs available online for those whose work or family schedules may not allow for taking classes on campus. For the fall 2011 semester, nearly 7,400 students were enrolled in at least one online course, and 1,600 individuals were enrolled exclusively in online courses.
The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee offers a wide variety of academic options. We take great pride in ensuring that people who do not fit the traditional mold of a college student can take advantage of these options, too.