Chancellor Mone letter to UW System on Downer Woods (March 16, 2015)

March 16, 2015

Ray Cross
President, University of Wisconsin System
1720 Van Hise Hall
1220 Linden Dr.
Madison, WI 53706

Re: Wis. Stat. §36.37, Downer Woods and building preservation

Dear Ray:

I am writing to ask UW System to negotiate with the Governor’s Office and/or Legislature to ensure that the protections contained in Wis. Stat. § 36.37, related to the Downer Woods and Downer College buildings on UWM’s campus, are retained in Chapter 36 so that these areas and buildings continue to be statutorily protected.

The Downer Woods area on UWM’s campus is currently protected as a permanent conservation area (11 acres), permanently reserved woodland (3 acres), and park and woodland areas (7 acres). These areas are important to UWM for recreation and scientific study. In addition, they provide some of the only undeveloped green space on UWM’s campus and provide a buffer between the campus and the surrounding neighborhood. As UWM develops other areas of campus to supply much needed classroom and research space as well as modernized facilities, the pristine park and woodland areas are vital to maintain a quiet corner on campus that is largely untouched by buildings or other structures.

The historic Milwaukee-Downer College buildings are also currently protected by Wis. Stat. § 36.37. These buildings are a critical part of UWM’s as well as Milwaukee’s history. The Milwaukee-Downer College dates to 1895, when the Milwaukee Female College (1851) and Downer College (1855) merged. The Milwaukee-Downer College buildings, distinct in their red color, date back as far as 1899, and have become inextricably linked with the public image of UWM and are important historical buildings as the representation of pre-Civil War era colleges, of which fewer than 200 remain.

I have heard from a number of UWM constituencies, as well as UWM’s neighbors, that they object strenuously to the possible repeal of these statutory protections. As one example, attached is a UWM Faculty Senate Resolution opposing the repeal of Wis. Stat. § 36.37.

Accordingly, I ask that you include Wis. Stat. § 36.37 in any discussions concerning specific provisions of Chapter 36 to be maintained irrespective of the proposed Public Authority.


Mark A. Mone, Ph.D.

c:         David Miller, Sr. Vice President for Administration and Fiscal Affairs
James Villa, Vice President for University Relations