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Advancing Innovation

UW-Extension continues to promote innovation even in tight financial times. Rather than dialing back on new projects, UW-Extension stimulates innovation sharply focused on UW System goals to grow well-paying jobs, build stronger communities and produce more college-degree holders in Wisconsin.

UW-Extension Proposed Mission Change

UW-Extension is seeking a mission change that would allow UW-Extension to offer professionally oriented, interdisciplinary and competency-based credit-bearing degrees and certificates. These credentials will be directed toward the nontraditional audience who needs them most, and delivered in the flexible and collaborative formats that are required. UW-Extension will provide access to a quality UW education for those who have not had access to what the UW has been offering. The new mission will represent a true evolution in UW-Extension's historic mission of embodying the Wisconsin Idea. The process to change the mission began with June 2015 approval by UW-Extension governance groups: the Faculty Senate, Academic Staff Council and Classified Staff Council.
Proposed Mission Change
Mission Change Rationale

Supporting UW Entrepreneurs

The Ideadvance Seed Fund – a collaboration among UW-Extension, UW System and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation – provides capital to encourage and support the UW community to explore their ideas and accelerate commercialization of ideas across all disciplines through Lean Startup methodologies and access to expert business consultants. The Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament is an annual entrepreneurship event open to undergraduates attending UW institutions across the state (except UW-Madison). It teaches cutting-edge Lean Startup business development tools, provides business mentorship and allows students to compete for paid internships and entry in the International Business Model Competition.

Find out more about the Ideadvance Seed Fund at or call 608-263-3315. For information about the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament, visit

UW Flexible Option

UW Flexible OptionThe Lumina Foundation estimates that 60% of the U.S. workforce will need at least an associate degree in 2025. Wisconsin has far to go to reach this goal: from 39%, according to Census data, to 60% in about 10 years.

Simply offering more of the same educational opportunities is not the answer. To better serve working adults, UW-Extension created the UW Flexible Option, the first public higher education system "competency-based" program. Launched in November 2013, UW Flex allows students to work at their own pace and earn credit for what they know, whether that's through prior coursework, on-the-job or military training or other learning experiences. UW faculty and staff define competencies required for UW degrees, and they develop assessments to measure these knowledge and skills. That means degrees, which are conferred by UW partner institutions, reflect the same high quality as degrees earned in traditional UW settings.

Find out more at or by calling 1-877-895-3276.