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00:00:00 - Name Check and Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Alright... Today is June 5th, my name is Isaac Lee.

Segment Synopsis: Overview of name of interviewee and subject of interview.

Keywords: UW Colleges; higher education administration; restructuring

00:00:50 - Professional Background Information

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Partial Transcript: But to start off, maybe you could say a little bit about what brought you to UW Colleges?

Segment Synopsis: Melissa Stutz (MS) was recruited by Cathy Sandeen, chancellor of UW Colleges (UWC). MS describes her intrigue in the position and the reputation of the UW Colleges. Follow-up: Did you know much about UW Colleges? MS did not know much beyond reputation but notes that UW system was known for being hard to break in to.

Keywords: UW Colleges; recruitment

00:02:25 - Description of Position as Vice Chancellor and Relationship with College Campuses

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Partial Transcript: MS: Something... at that time. But I knew it had a good reputation, yeah.

Segment Synopsis: MS gives brief timeline of her start at UW Colleges. MS maps out all the areas within student affairs that report to her position. MS found it odd that the student affairs office was not on a campus. She explains the politics of UW colleges' location and desire to avoid the appearance of favoritism. MS tried to visit UWC campuses as much as possible.

Keywords: UW Colleges; admissions; athletics; disability services; enrollment; registrar; restructuring; student affairs

00:06:46 - Discussion of Campus Culture and Regionalization

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Partial Transcript: A lot of time on the road. Do you have any... particularly any kind of reflections on the campuses as you were moving around?

Segment Synopsis: MS notes that travel was not required for her position but found it important to get a feel for each campus. This allowed her to discover the unique identity of each UWC campus. When MS arrived, UWC just recovering from "regionalization" efforts. MS describes the lingering trauma she observed from the regionalization process. Overall, MS cites student interactions as most important.

Keywords: UW Colleges; campus culture; regionalization

00:10:03 - Discussion of and Reaction to Restructuring Announcement

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Partial Transcript: IL: So we've started to gesture towards it obviously, but you found out...

Segment Synopsis: MS finds out in early October while at a national conference. MS describes how Chancellor Sandeen broke the news to her over the phone. Not long afterwords, Milwaukee newspaper breaks the story, which was shared widely on social media. MS suggests that many within UWC found out about restructuring over social media. System announcement follows shortly afterwords.

Keywords: communication; restructuring

00:14:23 - Initial Reaction to Restructuring Among Staff

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Partial Transcript: MS: Announcement had to come because System knew it was already out there.

Segment Synopsis: Yes; MS schedules meeting with her whole staff immediately. MS returns to "chaos" and lots of uncertainty amongst staff. MS starts holding weekly restructuring meetings open to all staff to provide updates and dispel rumors. MS explains her efforts to explain how restructuring news will affect staff members.

Keywords: UW Colleges; branch campus; central staff; communication; human resources; receiving institution; restructuring; staff; student affairs

00:24:32 - Continued Discussion of Initial Restructuring

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Partial Transcript: MS: We will continue to do our jobs, we will continue to do the best at our jobs as we can

Segment Synopsis: Overall shift from strategic planning to having to address immediate concerns. MS notes that in a meeting it is stressed that it cannot seem as if the initiative is being "sabotaged". MS reflects on the toxicity of the atmosphere. MS stresses the focus on students within her division as well as the obstacles restructuring created in doing this. MS emphasizes how wounding this process was for people within UWC.

Keywords: UW Colleges; campus culture; communication; recruitment; restructuring; student services; work environment

00:31:40 - Restructuring Meetings, UW Colleges Culture, and Communication

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Partial Transcript: MS: And so in the beginning I think we had to get through a lot of... a lot of... just that ambiguous.

Segment Synopsis: MS overviews early difficulties created by restructuring. Rumors and "conspiracy theories" constantly circulated about cause of restructuring. MS highlights how the timing of restructuring impacted financial aid. MS explains the need and mechanics behind UWC becoming the service provider for receiving UW systems institutions during the transition.

Keywords: Higher Learning Commission; Steering Committee; UW Colleges; accreditation; financial aid; memorandum of understanding; reorganization; staff culture

00:40:15 - Consultants and Management of Restructuring Process

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Partial Transcript: MS: We were told a project manager, there would be uh consultants and managing the project and helping how things go.

Segment Synopsis: MS describes the difficulties and inefficiences created by outside consultants and the amount of work that was left to her. MS recalls confusion early on of the consultants role. The Project Management Office eventually became key. To MS, UW system employees were the most effective. Overall, unclear to MS how consultants were supposed to fit in.

Keywords: UW System; consultants; project management; student services

00:47:29 - Organization and Staffing Surrounding Restructuring

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Partial Transcript: MS: My opinion. What was, and this kind of maybe brings it... the question of how communication is working during this whole process...

Segment Synopsis: MS describes having to work independently, unclear who she was to report to. MS reflects on all the moving parts of transition in the midst of having to navigate work as people were coming and going as well as low moral amongst staff. MS describes the improvisational nature of the restructuring plan, compares restructuring to building the airplane while flying it.

Keywords: communication; organizational structure; restructuring; staff; staff culture

00:56:28 - Accreditation and Other Issues During Restructuring

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Partial Transcript: IL: Were there any particular moments that particularly come to mind where the airplane got pretty close to the ground?

Segment Synopsis: MS describes a situation created by the delays in accreditation and its impact on the financial aid cycle. MS got used to being constantly in crisis mode and taking on new tasks.

Keywords: Higher Learning Commission; UW Colleges; UW System; accreditation; branch campus; financial aid; receiving institution

01:05:34 - Organization of UW Colleges and Services Before and During Restructuring

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Partial Transcript: IL: I think, one of the things one the subject of staff, reading one of the HLC reports, one of the things they noted was low staffing levels...

Segment Synopsis: MS considers the impact of deconstructing UWC and the challenges of decentralizing administrative services. Travel between institutions, for example, was not fully considered. MS offers some overall thoughts on the state of the transition.

Keywords: UW Colleges; higher education administration; organizational structure

01:14:48 - Messaging of Restructuring Process

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Partial Transcript: IL: Kind of on that note, when you look at some of the earlier stories on the news of the restructuring

Segment Synopsis: Immediately. MS underscores the disbelief and confusion created by the message UW systems puts out. Notes some of the disconnect within the restructure and what's getting lost, particularly in terms of customer service and student services.

Keywords: accessibility; branch campus mission; communication; enrollment; receiving institution mission; staff; staff culture

01:22:42 - Discussion of Restructuring Planning

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Partial Transcript: IL: I think um... good for our next session to reflect on where we are now...

Segment Synopsis: MS believes firmly that there was no plan. Explains the absence of logic in even her own hiring if restructure was planned. For MS, restructure was an idea but not something for which the implementation was thought through. MS shares why the notion of a restructure "plan" causes such a visceral reaction for her.

Keywords: higher education administration

01:28:42 - End of First Interview 01:28:43 - Start of Interview 2

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Partial Transcript: Introduction of interviewer/interviewee and name check.

Keywords: UW Colleges; restructuring

01:29:17 - Interviewee Educational and Career Background

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Partial Transcript: IL: A very basic question that we try to put into all these oral history interviews, you know, where did you grow up?

Segment Synopsis: Melissa Stutz (MS) was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, moved to Omaha until she was 14. Then spent 10 years in Texas before moving to the Midwest. MS describes her early college career at UT-Austin and UT-Arlington.

Keywords: UW Colleges; higher education administration; staff

01:34:07 - Interviewee Career Background continued

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Partial Transcript: MS: And then my life circumstances changed and I needed to join the workforce

Segment Synopsis: MS explains her early career search and recalls how she came to higher education through a temp agency. Reflects on her immediate enthusiasm for the atmosphere of higher education, her trajecotry at McHenry Community College, and her own student-centered philosophy.

Keywords: higher education administration; human resources

01:36:56 - Discussion of Student Affairs and Administration

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Partial Transcript: IL: Did you, as you're in these positions, did you notice then a kind of loss between yourself and people with that kind of training?

Segment Synopsis: MS reflects on how her approach to student affairs differs and shares her thinking on how different approaches translate on the administrative end.

Keywords: academic affairs; higher education administration; staff; student affairs

01:40:36 - Doctorate Background and Interests

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Partial Transcript: IL: What point did you decide you wanted to get a doctorate?

Segment Synopsis: Two reasons, MS wanted to continue on in a higher education career but also wanted to fulfill a promise to her father. MS notes a long interest in mentoring. Shares two stories about encounters that shape her interest in the intersection of race, gender, and leadership.

Keywords: UW Colleges; higher education administration; staff

01:45:55 - Career Background and Experiences with Diversity

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Partial Transcript: MS: What sticks with me, yeah.

Segment Synopsis: MS focuses on her move from suburban-based schools to Roosevelt and adjusting to an urban institution in the heart of Chicago. MS emphasizes the diversity at Roosevelt and how much she learns from it. Also notes the utility of gaining faculty perspectives.

Keywords: community college; higher education administration; staff; staff culture; student services

01:52:15 - Experiences Teaching and with Online Classes

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Partial Transcript: IL: That's what I was going to ask next, just about your time teaching...

Segment Synopsis: MS lists various courses she taught for and the experiences she gained. MS offers her thoughts on online teaching. Follow-up: Were there things you learned in your past experience that you hoped to implement at UW-Madison? Answer: MS didn't come in with expectations. Describes trying to get aclimated as quickly as possible to begin addressing problems like enrollment, as well as her philsophy in starting a new position.

Keywords: UW Colleges; enrollment; online classes; organizational structure; student affairs; student services; teaching

01:59:31 - Enrollment Nationwide and in Wisconsin

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Partial Transcript: IL: So you kind of um... so you mentioned the low enrollment

Segment Synopsis: MS discusses nationwide trends in enrollment and specific problems facing UW schools. She considers on how students approach college differently and reflects on for-profit colleges, retention issues, and the responsibilities of higher-ed institutions.

Keywords: UW Colleges; UW System; academic affairs; administrative affairs; branch campus mission; demographics; enrollment; higher education administration; receiving institution mission

02:07:18 - Discussion of Two Year and Four Year Institutions

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Partial Transcript: IL: Uh I think in previous discussions you've noted the points of grasping the differences between two year institutions and four year institutions.

Segment Synopsis: MS lists various factors including a more personalized experience, cost, location, and open-access. MS notes the challenge this created for restructuring and shares some frustrations with the assumptions receiving institutions made about students at 2-year campuses.

Keywords: UW Colleges; academic affairs; admission; advisement; branch campus mission; demographics; enrollment; financial aid; recruitment; staff culture; student services

02:11:53 - Regionalization and the UW Colleges

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Partial Transcript: IL: You talked about the regionalization efforts that had been undertaken a couple years previous, prior to your arrival.

Segment Synopsis: MS points to the budget but says that the cuts went too deep. MS speculates on ways regionalization could have worked better and the kinds of resource management it facilitated. MS sees the consistency that resulted from centralization as positive.

Keywords: UW Colleges; enrollment; organizational structure; regionalization; restructuring; staff; student culture; student services

02:17:35 - Timeline of Restructuring

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Partial Transcript: IL: Um I think maybe kind of speaks to the challenge that the restructuring effort ended up being.

Segment Synopsis: MS says only Ray Cross can really answer that question. Hard to say definitively how much time was needed for various processes. MS stresses the need for post-restructuring assessment years afterwards. MS notes push-back to the Steering Committee on timeline.

Keywords: Steering Committee; UW Colleges; branch campus; receiving institution; recruitment; reorganization; restructuring; student services

02:23:31 - Discussion of UW System's Future in Context of Restructuring

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Partial Transcript: MS: Where there's implementation time. IL: Where is the UW System today, from your perspective?

Segment Synopsis: MS hopes restructuring has brought to light aspects of how UW System operates. Shares some of her observations on the potential created by restructuring. MS has hopes for UW System but notes it is behind in many aspects. Highlights several key people in leadership positions that MS sees as important.

Keywords: UW Colleges; UW System; enrollment; restructuring; student services

02:28:25 - Restructuring, the UW System, and Budgeting

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Partial Transcript: IL: On that note of kind of, its not all about money

Segment Synopsis: MS's impression is that money and the budget were driving the majority of decision being made. Other factors like politics are also key. MS believes that there are too many higher-ed institutions in Wisconsin and worries about the future of all the branch campuses.

Keywords: UW Colleges; UW System; budget; higher education administration; organizational structure; restructuring; student services; tuition

02:32:06 - Career Background and Restructuring

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Partial Transcript: IL: This is changing gears a little bit, but its maybe trying to connect...

Segment Synopsis: Going through having a position eliminated before helped MS better empathize with both people in colleges who had previously lost positions and UW Colleges employees facing job elimination. MS highlights the loss created by restructuring particularly felt by employees. MS hopes to never go through another restructure but feels prepared.

Keywords: UW Colleges; restructuring; staff; staff culture

02:36:08 - The Future of Higher Education and Restructures

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Partial Transcript: IL: I hope restructuring, like this isn't a general trend in higher education these days

Segment Synopsis: Restructures are becoming much more common all across the country. Institutions, for budgetary reasons, are becoming increasingly "creative" in their organization. To MS this has potential to be disastrous. MS stresses the institutional conversations and reflection that need to happen to better address this trend.

Keywords: academic affairs; organizational structure; restructuring; student affairs; student services

02:39:34 - Discussion of UW Colleges and Legacy

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Partial Transcript: IL: Um, this'll be my last question and uh... take this however you interpret this, but what should the legacy of the UW Colleges be?

Segment Synopsis: Access, affordability, and opportunity. MS underscores the millions of lives changed by UW Colleges. MS concludes by expressing a hope that something will have been learned from restructuring and that in particular the students impacted are are not forgotten.

Keywords: UW Colleges; branch campus mission; community college

02:42:55 - End of Second Interview