Welcome to a new semester; portraits of leaders finally get permanent home

Welcome to a new semester and the first blog of 2018. I hope everyone had a great holiday season and had time to spend with family and friends.

I had the privilege of opening the new academic year with an address this morning that highlighted some of the accomplishments of 2017 and looked ahead a bit to the new year. As I mentioned, the major event for 2018 will be the announcement of the public phase of our $35 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, which is about 60 percent complete. We anticipate that the announcement will be held in September or October, and we certainly will make sure the campus is kept informed.

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I also elaborated on our recent efforts to increase the salaries we pay to faculty and staff and the fact that our past efforts have exceeded those of most other comprehensive campuses. I am pleased that within the next year eligible employees will see three salary increases: a supplemental increase on Feb. 1, a 2 percent increase on July 1 and another 2 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2019.

While these increases will help address our salary disparities with our peers, I am committed to doing whatever I can to increase salaries even more in the future.

Another topic I discussed was the total redesign of the UW-Stout website, which should greatly enhance our marketing efforts. I will not go into a lot of details about the redesign, other than to say that I am pleased with the results. I want to thank everyone who worked so hard on the project. You can find the details here.

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Finally, I want to reiterate a thank you I expressed during my address for everyone whose efforts ensured that our Memorial Student Center reopened as soon as possible after a pipe burst in December, sending water flowing from the ceiling above the Terrace dining area through to the first floor, in an area primarily occupied by student organizations and Stoutfitters bookstore. Because of these efforts, the Terrace is expected to be open by the time students come back Monday, Jan. 22.

Again, I hope you have an enjoyable and fulfilling semester. I truly enjoy working alongside every one of you!  

Portraits of university leaders finally get a permanent home 

Last week I had the opportunity to visit University Archives on the fifth floor of the Robert S. Swanson Library and Learning Center to view the new and permanent home of the portraits that have been painted over the years of the seven previous leaders of UW-Stout: James Huff Stout, Lorenzo Dow Harvey, Burton E. Nelson, Verne C. Fryklund, William J. Micheels, Robert S. Swanson and Charles W. Sorensen.

University Archives

These portraits never have been in one place at the same time, and it was incumbent on us to settle the question of where they should reside.

Most of the portraits have hung in the Louis Smith Tainter House, but we felt there was a need to find a more suitable public space. I became convinced that the remodeled space in University Archives, open to the public during normal business hours, was that suitable public space.

I would encourage you to visit the Archives and check out the portraits.

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Another great graduation day; updates on website redesign, You Said … We Did; and happy holidays

Higher salaries remain a top priority

I have made increasing the salaries we pay to our talented, hard working and dedicated faculty and staff one of the top priorities of my administration.  Therefore, I am pleased that today, in a memo to faculty and staff, we announced another round of supplemental compensation that eligible faculty and staff will see in their paychecks on Feb. 1, 2018.  It is noteworthy that the UW System Board of Regents took notice of our previous compensation efforts at the December board meeting.  The board’s Business and Finance Committee reviewed a report that showed 75.47 percent of all our faculty and staff received a base salary adjustment in fiscal 2017 (the year that ended June 30, 2017), compared to a System-wide average of 31.02 percent.  Those base adjustments averaged 2.17 percent at UW-Stout, compared to a System-wide average of 1.71 percent.  The report showed that we invested $1.41 million in base adjustments during the fiscal year, second only to UW-Oshkosh among all UW comprehensive universities.  Besides the base adjustments in February 2017, we also offered eligible employees a one-time payment in May 2016, and were able to make selective faculty increases in March 2016.

Despite these efforts to date, as I indicated in today’s memo, I am fully aware that we need to remain open to further compensation increases.  We are waiting for the state to give final approval to a 4 percent salary increase in 2018-19 for all eligible employees, which obviously will be another badly needed boost.  But our salaries remain below those of competing institutions, and, for the second year in a row, we had a higher percentage of our faculty (both tenured and probationary) leave UW-Stout than across the entire UW System.

Maintaining our institution’s quality depends on our ability to recruit and retain the best employees possible, across all job classifications.  While I am pleased that we have approved a second supplemental compensation plan in less than a year, I am committed to doing whatever I can to improve our salary situation even more.

Another great graduation day…

There really is nothing like graduation day for me. Everyone I come in contact with is smiling ear to ear — the graduates, their families and friends and the faculty and staff who choose to spend this special day with the graduates. Saturday’s graduation ceremony was a total success, and I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make it special.

I focused my address on the effect that our polytechnic designation, granted by the Board of Regents 10 years ago, has had on our institution. As I said in my address, it would be hard to imagine UW-Stout without the designation — that’s how much it now means for the campus.

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I also used my address to explain the meaning of the three tenets we use to describe our conception of a polytechnic institution: career focus, applied learning and collaboration. Of course, I had to mention our employment rate of 97.4 percent for new graduates.

You can read more of my address here. I also would recommend that you visit our UW-Stout Facebook page for fantastic photos and a video of the graduation ceremonies and see the commencement e-newsletter for more stories.

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An update on our website redesign

Before the academic year ended, I wanted to provide a quick update of the redesign of our website. I want to thank everyone, especially those in University Marketing, Student Life Services, and Enterprise Information Systems, who have worked so hard to make our redesign a success.

The migration of the “phase one” sites to the new site will take place Jan. 15-19.  No downtime is expected that week, but a few page link errors may occur as the website transition is finalized for launch on Jan. 23.  More information and the sites included in the phase one launch can be found here.

Please attend You Said…We Did on Jan. 16

I hope everyone on campus will be able to attend our annual You Said…We Did presentation from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. Information will be presented on actions that already are underway, or are ready to be taken, based on the feedback we received from campus at the fall Engagement Sessions.

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These actions are intended to help us achieve our FOCUS 2020 goals. We also will take this opportunity to recognize individuals and teams who helped make these accomplishments possible. There will be fun, laughter and celebration as well. We value your feedback in helping to achieve the goals of our planning process. More information about January Professional Development is available here.

Happy holidays and thanks for a great 2017

This is my final blog for 2017, and I want to end it with my best wishes for students, faculty, staff, alumni and other stakeholders to have a very happy holiday season and a great new year.

My family and I will be taking some time away from campus to reconnect and to regroup for 2018, and I hope that you also have the opportunity to recharge. Thanks to everyone for your good work and good cheer and for being the best group of colleagues a chancellor could wish for.

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Commencement time already? Holiday reception, military ball enjoyable, inspiring

Is it just me, or did that semester seem to fly by?  It is hard to believe that we will be holding our commencement ceremonies Saturday already. I want to take this opportunity to encourage as many of our faculty and staff as possible to attend the ceremonies to wish our graduates well as they begin the next phase of their lives. I also want to thank our students, faculty and staff for a tremendous semester; your hard work and dedication is unmatched in the UW System, and I am proud to call you my colleagues.  Next week’s blog will have a full report on commencement, including a text of my address.  This year’s address also will include something that has never been tried before.  I’m not going to say anything more because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.  You can read more on our commencement exercises here.

Spring Commencement

Holiday reception a time to catch up 

Speaking of the holidays, I sure enjoyed spending last Tuesday afternoon with many friends, old and new, at the annual holiday reception my office sponsors in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.  My wife Debbie and I enjoyed fantastic food, catered by Dining Services, along with music, under the direction of Aaron M. Durst, and the annual holiday giving tree.  A photo album of the event is available here.

Chancellor's Holiday Reception

 Military Ball an inspiring event 

Then at the end of the week Debbie and I had the privilege of attending the annual Reserve Officers Training Corp Military Ball in the Great Hall, sponsored by the Northwoods Army ROTC Battalion.  The ball recognizes the cadets who will be graduating this year, as well as their achievements.  The battalion consists of cadets from UW-Stout, UW-River Falls, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point.  The speaker was retired Lt. Col. Scott Bolstad, who was in charge of the UW-Stout ROTC program before leaving to join the staff of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.  I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with Scott and he gave an inspirational address to the cadets and the audience.  Scott did an outstanding job establishing our ROTC program during the years I served as dean of the former College of Technology, Engineering and Management.  He established an excellent program that now enjoys solid leadership under Lt. Col. Jessen Johnson.

Regents act after SSA resolution on performance metrics 

Finally, I would like to commend the Stout Student Association, under the leadership of President Alex Vernon, for their initiative in asking the UW System Board of Regents last week to amend a set of metrics the UW System will use to allocate $26.25 million in performance-based funding approved by the Legislature in the 2017-19 state budget.  The SSA asked the Regents to include a metric for post-graduation employment in the allocation proposal. The board then amended its original resolution and asked UW System administrators “to develop means to appropriately measure the job placement rate for each University of Wisconsin institution, gather that data on job placement rates for each institution and then evaluate the quality of the data.”  The resolution further states that a decision should be made by 2020 on “the utility of such data in outcomes-based funding models.”   The SSA should be very proud of its efforts on this and other system-wide issues this semester.  Officials in Madison are listening!

 

Holiday season means seasonal events on campus 

The calendar has flipped to December, and we officially are in the holiday season. This means several events will be happening on campus to get us in the holiday spirit.

Through my attendance at these events in the past, I know they are great performances that immerse you in the spirit of the season. I hope you have the chance to participate.

  • The Symphonic Singers and Chamber Choir will sing at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 910 9th St. E. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance at the Memorial Student Center, online and at the door before the concert. Jerry Hui, UW-Stout choral director and an associate professor, said the concert will capture in music the struggles of establishing a home, the longing for a home past or future and the celebration of a new home. More information is available here.

Winter Band Concert

  • Then on Sunday, Dec. 3, the Symphonic Band, under the direction of Associate Professor Aaron M. Durst, will perform its annual winter concert at 2 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. Tickets are $5 and are available online, at the Service Center in the Memorial Student Center, 715-232-1122, and at the door. Aaron said the band will perform works that the students have been working on this fall and feature some unique sounds. To help celebrate the approaching holidays, the band will also perform “Russian Christmas Music” by Alfred Reed, based on an ancient Russian Christmas carol; “Christmas Travelogue” featuring Christmas themes from many countries arranged by James Curnow; and closing with “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson. More information is available here.

    Winter Band Concert

  • For an ethnic view of the holidays, I would recommend the 11th annual Hmong New Year celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, in the Multipurpose Room in Johnson Fieldhouse/Sports and Fitness Center. While general admission is $5, UW-Stout students, faculty, staff and children 5 and under are free. Student artwork will be presented, and there will be performances in the afternoon and evening as well. The event is hosted by the Hmong Stout Student Organization. More information is available here.

Hmong New Year

I also want to make sure students, faculty and staff are aware of the annual Chancellor’s Holiday Reception from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, in the Great Hall. This is a great time to spend time with friends and colleagues, while enjoying some refreshments. Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off for the annual Holiday Giving Tree that supports Dunn County’s Christmas for Kids program. Individuals may choose to provide a gift to a specific child by registering at the reception or at Holiday Giving Tree/Christmas for Kids 2017.

Chancellor's Holiday Reception

Please take the time to attend one or all of these events. You won’t be disappointed!

Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving; employees recognized 

As we enter the holiday season at UW-Stout, I want to wish everyone the happiest Thanksgiving possible. I will be flying to Houston with my wife and older daughter to spend the weekend with my youngest daughter.

I hope that you have time as well to spend with family and friends. I know that I also will be reflecting on all that I can be grateful for.

I was asked by University Communications to videotape a Thanksgiving message for our Facebook page. This is what I said:

I am thankful that UW-Stout has a staff that is focused on continuing James Huff Stout’s vision of preparing students for their future careers. Our 97.4 percent placement rate is evidence that the dedicated efforts of our staff to realize this vision and our mission is working.

I’m grateful for the work that our program directors do listening to our employers to make sure our programs are responsive to their needs and prepare students to hit the ground running.

All of these efforts take resources, and I’m grateful that our state leadership has provided us with a better budget this biennium that supports our work as we transform lives. This budget also provides for a raise package that is long overdue and recognizes our staff for their hard work.

I am also genuinely appreciative of all of our alumni and donors who also help support our students and our efforts to prepare them for future careers. 

I am thankful to the citizens of Menomonie who make our campus community both safe and welcoming to all of our students.

Recently, we were recognized by the UW System for our staff’s efforts to make our veterans more successful on campus. I’m grateful for these efforts and also very appreciative of our veterans and those in uniform who have committed themselves to protecting our freedoms.

Finally, I’m grateful for our own protective services personnel who work to make our campus safe day in and day out.

To all of our staff, students, and community members, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

 

Event honors employees for their years of service 

How time flies! That was the prevailing sentiment last week in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center as I helped our University Advancement office recognize 104 employees who were honored for reaching certain milestones in their years of service to UW-Stout.

Three of the employees have served for 40 years, and five have served for 35 years. I proudly joined seven others in receiving a pin for 30 years of service. As I said in announcing the years of service awards:

UW-Stout is an exceptional place to learn because of our talented, dedicated and supportive faculty and staff. They make a difference every day in students’ lives, so it’s an honor to recognize our employees for their many years of service.

I also want to thank Vice Chancellor Mark Parsons and his staff for organizing a great ceremony. More information is available here.

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UW restructuring approved; VETS certification; 10 retirees honored

As most of you have heard by now, the UW System Board of Regents last Thursday approved a sweeping restructuring of the UW System that will bring the two-year campuses under the operation of four-year campuses and shift the administration of UW-Extension departments to either UW-Madison or System administration.

UW-Stout was not chosen to receive a two-year campus, so our direct impact of this restructuring is minimal. However, I have said publicly a number of times and want to reiterate here that we will do everything in our power to ensure that we retain our recruiting presence at UW-Barron County and other campuses during and after this transition period.

We recruit, on average, about 100 students a year from all of the two-year campuses, about a quarter of whom come from UW-Barron County. In comparison, we recruit three times as many students from the technical colleges in Wisconsin.

The UW System has established a steering committee made up of one member from each campus and System staff. I have asked Doug Mell, executive director of Communications and External Relations, to represent me on the committee. He will use his communications position to ensure that the campus is informed of important developments in the implementation of this restructuring and to help me ensure that our transfer pipeline is maintained.

Please let me or Doug know if you have questions or concerns about the restructuring plan. More information is available here.

 UW-Stout achieves UW VETS certification

Also at the Regents meeting Thursday, I was honored to join Eric Konsela, our associate registrar, in a ceremony honoring the campus for achieving UW VETS — Veterans Education and Transition to Success — certification.

To be VETS certified, a campus must go above and beyond in providing a wide range of critical supportive services, including counseling, a welcoming campus environment and giving student veterans a voice in university life. The certification also recognizes each institution’s commitment to helping student veterans succeed.

It was especially fitting that the ceremony occurred just two days before Veterans Day and the certificates were handed out by UW System President Ray Cross, who served our country in Vietnam in the U.S. Army.

Earlier this year, UW-Stout was named a national Military Friendly School, a Best for Vets School and a Top Military School.

My father was an Army veteran who served in World War II, and I am proud of the way our institution responds to the needs of the brave men and women who give so much of themselves defending the freedoms that we enjoy each day. More information is available here.

Retirement ceremony honors 10 employees 

Last Wednesday we said goodbye to 10 hard-working and dedicated employees who have retired or are retiring from UW-Stout. These employees have served the institution for a total of 216 years, and they will be missed!

The employees come from all parts of campus, from faculty to custodial to accounting, and it was my privilege to thank them during a ceremony in the Memorial Student Center for their services and to wish them well in retirement.

It is always hard saying goodbye to colleagues, but I know that they will enjoy their retirement, which makes it easier.

Retirements

Front row from left, David Fly, engineering and technology; Jo Anderson, STEMM; Ann Zielieke, Stout Online; and Judy Gifford, Child and Family Study Center. Second row, Diana Nutter, Custodial Services; Julie Bower, communication technologies; and Brad Nasset, Discovery Center. Back row, Rodriguez; Elvin Newhouse, Custodial Services; and Meyer.

Blue Devils make UW-Stout proud in game at Kohl Center

Heart and determination were on display Sunday in the Kohl Center in Madison as the Blue Devils men’s basketball team took on the Wisconsin Badgers in an exhibition game in front of more than 17,000 fans.

The Blue Devils might have lost 85-56, but it was relatively close at halftime, 41-28, and the players never quit right up to the final horn. It had to be a huge thrill for our players to take the court against the Badgers, who recently played for a national championship.

UW-Stout Coach Eddie Andrist commented after the game, “What an honor to come in here and play the Badgers.”

My wife, Debbie, and I joined several other alumni and UW-Stout staff at the game to cheer on our Blue Devils.

The game was part of a fundraising campaign initiated by Badgers Coach Greg Gard and his wife, Michelle, after Coach Gard’s father died of brain cancer.

We were honored earlier this fall to host two Garding Against Cancer events on campus, and I want to thank Coach Gard, Michelle and the entire Badgers organization for involving UW-Stout in this effort.

Coach Gard said after the game, “Hopefully we can continue to raise awareness and help the state of Wisconsin through our efforts.”

More information is available here.

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