July brings the return of excellent STEPS for Girls program

July brings a special group to UW-Stout, campers who participate in the weeklong Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer Camp (STEPS) for Girls. The camp is held for four consecutive weeks, with new middle-schoolers arriving each Sunday and leaving on Thursday.

This is the 21st year of the camp, and it will always hold a warm place in my heart because both of my daughters attended. Each of them, I am proud to say, went on to graduate in a science or engineering field, so the camp influenced their career choices.

In fact, precamp and postcamp surveys consistently show that camp participants have a greater awareness of the importance of science and technology in everyday life and are more likely to major in a STEM field.

STEPS for Girls

One of the great things about the camp is our ability to offer partial or complete scholarships to ensure that girls who really want to attend the camp are able to, even if they come from a disadvantaged background. In 2016, for example, industrial or private scholarship sponsors supported 54 campers out of the total enrollment of 161.

Since the camp began, some 3,000 girls have attended. STEPS also benefits from alumni returning to work as counselors. Both of my daughters came back as counselors. At present our camp director, technical director and head counselor are STEPS alumni.

bobsteps

Because more than 70 percent of the cost of the camp is covered by donations, I want to thank our Family sponsors ($15,000 or more): 3M Corp., our Stout University Foundation and the Hampton Family Trust; our Champion sponsors ($5,000 to $14,999): Xcel Energy and Polaris; and other sponsors, who can be found on the STEPS website.

 

A great partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley

I really enjoy getting out in the community and learning more about some of our partnerships that are pivotal for Menomonie and Dunn County. Recently, Mike Wollman and Mary Hopkins-Best gave me a tour of River Heights elementary school to see how the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley are integrated there. Mary is on the Boys and Girls Clubs board, and Mike is its director.

The clubs provide high-impact programming that give young students opportunities in three core areas: academic success; good character and citizenship; and healthy lifestyles. The clubs fill the gap between school and home by providing welcoming, positive environments in which kids have fun, participate in life-changing programs and build supportive relationships with peers and adults. In these times, students come from a spectrum of family situations and backgrounds, and the clubs are an important resource for them. On an annual basis in Menomonie, 165 youth are served by the program and have been provided more than 8,000 meals and snacks outside of school hours. Participants have lower school absence rates and higher academic success.

Boys & Girls Club

While touring the program, I was pleased to learn that many UW-Stout students assist these youth as workers or interns over the summer, including Lacey Sikora, Morgan Reichardt, Josh Gilland, Harly Van Brunt, Victoria Librande, Queen Harris, Jay Alston, Keith Bolden, Olivia Revolinski, Jon Mortenson, Katelyn Bird and Chris Reardon. Tyler Ball, a second-year applied science student, also was on hand demonstrating the chemistry and physics associated with dry ice.

 This is a partnership that brings value to all involved. For more information regarding this program or to sponsor the club’s activities, contact Mike Wollman at mwollman@cvclubs.org or visit the club’s website.

 

###

Three major building projects get the final OK

We had a very successful day Wednesday in the state Capitol as the Wisconsin State Building Commission unanimously approved three very important building projects on our campus. The projects, which received final approval are:

  • Bowman Hall exterior maintenance and repair, $8.95 million
  • Renovation and an addition to North Hall residence hall, $21.74 million
  • Renovation of first floor of Merle M. Price Commons, $7.57 million.

I attended the meetings in Madison, as did several other staff members, because of the extreme importance of these projects to our campus. Everyone knows that Bowman Hall, with its 135-foot Clock Tower, really is the symbol of UW-Stout. The project will help restore the exterior luster to this 120-year-old building.

North Hall is our residential workhorse for our freshman class, and this project will help modernize the facility. The Price Commons project is needed to give the staff and students who use the first floor better offices and meeting spaces.

I was overwhelmed Wednesday at the kind words of the legislators who considered our proposals, including Sen. Terry Moulton, a Republican from Chippewa Falls, who described a recent tour he took of the exterior of Bowman Hall and how important the building is to the history of UW-Stout and the entire UW System.

The highlight of the meeting was when Gov. Scott Walker brought his UW-Stout coffee mug to the meeting and made sure everyone knew he was using it! We took a picture of the governor and his mug and sent it out with the news release. You can read about the building commission meeting here.

 

Gov_Walker

UW-Stout to help Coach Gard’s cancer research foundation

On Monday I was privileged to spend time with Greg Gard, head coach of the UW-Madison men’s basketball team, his wife, Michelle, and others who are involved in their family’s Garding Against Cancer foundation.

The Gards were in Menomonie to tour our athletic and meeting facilities because they are planning to hold a luncheon in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center on Thursday, Sept. 7, to support the foundation.

They also will hold a family event in Johnson Fieldhouse as well. Most families have been affected in some way by cancer; Greg Gard recently lost his father to brain cancer, and this foundation is his way to honor his father’s memory.

I am happy that the Gards have asked us to help with their foundation. We will send out details of the events as soon as they are finalized.  You can read more about the foundation here.

1245

###

National task force work a privilege; cheers for CTE Summit, pay increases

Last week I was honored to be in Washington, D.C., to help the American Association of State Colleges and Universities with a major project. I was asked to participate on AASCU’s Task Force on University Partnerships, chaired by Richard Rush, president emeritus of California State University-Channel Islands in Camarillo, Calif. Doug Mell, UW-Stout’s executive director of Communications and External Relations, attended the meeting with me.

The task force will issue a report in the fall that is intended to be a guide for university chancellors and presidents, as well as other higher education leaders, on the best ways to form partnerships with external stakeholders, the benefits of partnerships and the potential pitfalls. Muriel Howard, AASCU president, told task force members that business leaders “are asking for our help” to build their workforces, and “we are going to have to go to the private sector for more resources.”

The evening before the task force met for the first time we had an incredible dinner conversation with former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, who was asked by AASCU to discuss his views on higher education and partnerships. This former Democratic presidential candidate still is full of enthusiasm and passion at 76 and stressed the importance of education in building and maintaining this nation’s middle class.

He repeated over and over that the keys to a successful economy are education, training and research and admonished us to be “obsessive” in our quest to preserve access to higher education for all Americans.

I also was happy to reconnect with Christina Hamilton, the former chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, who now works for Gephardt and who I got to know before Rep. Obey left office.

Serving on the task force is an incredible privilege and is important to me because I believe so strongly in the value of strong partnerships with many groups, including the private sector. We will share the task force’s report with the campus when it is published.

IMG_0521

CTE Summit a success

Kudos to our career and technical education faculty for putting together an outstanding CTE Summit Monday and Tuesday in Jarvis Hall Science Wing. The event attracted CTE educators and others interested in the field from around Wisconsin and beyond, and I was pleased to be part of it.

Participants reviewed actions that have taken place since the 2016 summit; discussed how to “groom talent” to meet the emerging challenges of the workplace; and discussed the future vision of CTE in Wisconsin.

The event also was an excellent chance to network with many in the CTE field.  More information is available here.

IMG_0569

Salary increases appreciated

I also wanted to take a minute to reiterate how much I appreciate the efforts of all our advocates, both on campus and externally, who helped make the case for increased salaries for our employees. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has approved two increases of 2 percent each for UW System employees, one that will take effect Sept. 1, 2018, and the second May 1, 2019.

While I certainly would have liked the increases to be larger and to take effect sooner, I appreciate the efforts of the governor and legislators to help us address the salary inequities that many of our employees find themselves in.

I also will do everything possible to try to find additional campus resources to provide supplemental increases, although we continue to face challenges in the enrollment area for 2017-18 that will make the job harder.

###

Thanks for a great year; commencement, leadership awards are special year-end events

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 10.42.53 AM.png

As the 2016-17 academic year comes to a close, I want to thank the students, faculty and staff for their tremendous efforts over the past year and for everything each and everyone one of you does to make UW-Stout a special place for me.

Even though I have a long history with this university, as a student, faculty member, administrator and now chancellor, I continue to be amazed by the special things I see happen every day in the classroom, laboratory and athletic fields, in the student organizations, through our outreach efforts to employers, and among all my colleagues who continue to impress me with their hard work, innovation and dedication to UW-Stout. I feel it is a privilege to serve you as chancellor.

I hope that you have the chance to recharge your batteries during the summer, to reconnect with family and friends and to enjoy as much as possible the best months in Wisconsin. I have some vacation plans that I am looking forward to as well.

On the immediate horizon for 2017-18, we will be hosting the UW System Board of Regents in October, a great opportunity for us to showcase this campus and everything we offer here.

Commencement address focused on Baldrige, polytechnic designation

This past academic year was heavy on anniversaries. In 2016 we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the founding of UW-Stout by James Huff Stout. This year marks two major, more recent milestones: the 15th anniversary of UW-Stout receiving the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the 10th anniversary of UW-Stout being designated Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University by the Board of Regents.

I used my commencement address Saturday to discuss the impact on UW-Stout of both events.

I love everything about commencement; everyone is happy, and it shows. The graduates are proud of what they have accomplished and are ready to embark on the next stage of their lives. Pride also shows in the family and friends who helped their graduates secure that valuable diploma. It is a great day all around. Here is the text of my commencement address.

Here are links to coverage of the event:

Leadership Awards an inspiration

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 10.49.43 AM

I attend a lot of celebrations during the last few weeks of the academic year, but I always make time to attend the Leadership Awards presented annually by the Involvement Center. These awards are for students who have made outstanding contributions in student organizations, advocacy, service, student employment and advising. In short, these students will be the leaders of tomorrow in their workplaces and communities.

The ceremony also includes the Outstanding Co-op Student of the Year awards and the Samuel E. Wood Medallion award winners, sponsored by the Stout Student Association, for seniors who have shown outstanding leadership and excellence while at UW-Stout. It was an inspiring night. Much more information and a list of winners is available here.

This will be the last of my regular weekly blogs for the academic year, but I will post if there is a need during the summer. We will do our best to keep the campus apprised of the 2017-19 state budget as the Legislature works on the document in May and June.  Have a great summer!

Fab Lab pays dividends; Extra Effort event inspiring; commencement Saturday

The Discovery Center’s Fab Lab continues to pay dividends for UW-Stout. It was one of the first fabrication laboratories in the state, and because of our long history with this technology, state leaders look to UW-Stout for assistance in spreading the use of fab labs across Wisconsin.
IMG_0438

Last Tuesday, I joined Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who has toured our fab lab many times, at the Altoona School District’s fab lab to help announce a $25,000 grant for Altoona to use in expanding its fab lab. The lieutenant governor is always very complimentary when she talks about UW-Stout, even to off-campus audiences. She is very aware of our 97.4 percent employment rate for recent graduates and cites that statistic from memory. You can’t ask for better branding than that!

I was very happy to join Lt. Gov. Kleefisch and several legislators to assist the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. in announcing a second round of fab lab grants. Others from UW-Stout — the Discovery Center’s Randy Hulke and Larry Blackledge — appeared at other grant recipient locations to help with other fab lab announcements. You can read more on the Altoona fab lab event here.

Grant to help with fab lab collaboration

Russian Fab Lab Exchange

On a related note, I want everyone to be aware that the Discovery Center has received a grant from the WEDC to develop a web portal to help school districts across the state collaborate on fab lab issues such as curriculum, equipment usage, training and professional development.

Besides helping fab lab operators in Wisconsin, the portal will help those school districts that are interested in applying for future grants. More on the fab lab portal project is available here.

Extra Effort event is awe-inspiring

I get invited to attend a lot of functions toward the end of the academic year, but I can honestly say that one of the most rewarding is the Extra Effort awards reception I attend every year. The awards are sponsored by the Chippewa Valley Newspapers, which includes the Dunn County News and the Chippewa Herald, and are given to high school students in our area who have overcome obstacles or provided exemplary services to their communities.

Each of the 15 students at this year’s event in Eau Claire had an amazing story to tell. I was honored to present a UW-Stout scholarship to Valerie Yang from Elk Mound High School. She was raised in a big Hmong family and, frankly, was terrified about speaking in public. She has improved her English skills greatly and now wants to do what she can to help others. She will be studying psychology at UW-Stout.

I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Valerie to campus and to congratulate all the award winners. More on the Extra Effort awards is available here.

Please attend graduation

20150508_Commencement_Rehearsal.JPG

I would like to personally invite all faculty and staff to participate in the commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 6, in Johnson Fieldhouse. Nothing is more exciting than to see students walk across the stage and receive their diplomas and then look out in the audience to see the pride that exudes from the students’ families and friends.

I would like to have a large number of faculty and staff sharing that moment with everyone in the fieldhouse.

The 9:30 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates from the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management. The 1:30 p.m. ceremony will be for graduates from the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences. The 5:30 p.m. ceremony will be for the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Graduate School.

If you want to be part of the processional, please email commencement@uwstout.edu. If you wish to attend but not be a part of the ceremony, contact Britta Miller at millerbri@uwstout.edu. More on graduation is available here.

Pay raises pushed at budget hearing; Foundation, alumni events productive

I had the chance last Tuesday to speak to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee during the committee’s public hearing in Spooner on the 2017-19 state budget. Because of the short time allowed for speakers, two minutes, I had to condense what I really wanted to get across to the committee as the No. 1 priority for the upcoming budget: the need to provide immediate salary increases for our faculty and staff.

I told the committee that we are losing many valuable employees who are being offered better salaries elsewhere, and this could endanger the quality of the education we offer our students.

I also listed some of the ways we stand out in preparing our students for challenging and successful careers (yes, I did mention our 97.4 percent employment rate for recent graduates!). A video and transcript of the testimony are available here.

I want to assure everyone on campus that I will continue to advocate as often and as loudly as possible for better compensation for our employees as the budget process continues because I truly believe you are the reason UW-Stout is truly extraordinary.

Finance committee also hears from Provost Guilfoile

I also joined Provost Patrick Guilfoile at the finance committee’s hearing the last Wednesday in Ellsworth. Patrick did a great job echoing my comments on the compensation issue as well as explaining to the committee the need for legislators to back the UW System Board of Regents’ proposal to allow us to increase tuition by a small percentage in the second year of the biennium.

Patrick told the committee that the additional revenue from the increased tuition would be used to continue our efforts to meet the workforce demands of our business and industry partners. A video and transcript of his remarks are available here.

I was joined at the Spooner hearing by UW-Superior Chancellor Renee Wachter. Joining Patrick and I in Ellsworth were UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt and UW-River Falls interim Provost Faye Perkins.

Hearty thanks to Stout Foundation Board

My Saturday included a very interesting and productive meeting with the Stout University Foundation Board of Directors. We discussed a number of topics, including the comprehensive fundraising campaign that the board has endorsed.

These board members spend a lot of time on Foundation board matters and do an excellent job. I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their service to UW-Stout.

balboabay5

Alumni event a highlight of a trip to California

Speaking of fundraising, I spent a week recently on the West Coast meeting with alumni and donors to talk to them about the comprehensive campaign and all the great things that are happening at UW-Stout. A highlight was a fantastic evening at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, Calif., at an event sponsored by alumnus Bill Hendricksen. I can’t thank Bill enough for his generosity in supporting this event. Everyone who attended had a great time!

balboabay3

balboabay1

balboabay2

balboabay4

###

Family Weekend offered family fun, impressive events

I had the opportunity to attend several Family Weekend events over the weekend and really enjoyed all of them. This special event gives me the opportunity to learn a lot more about our students and their families who attend as well as listen to their feedback about our wonderful campus and staff.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped plan and execute the weekend’s activities — they really are too numerous to mention.

‘Seussical’ a great musical

My wife, Debbie, and I had the opportunity to see “Seussical,” a terrific musical tribute to Dr. Seuss’ works, performed in Harvey Hall Theatre. Kudos to Paul Calenberg, the director and choreographer; Michaela Gifford, the musical director; Audric Buhr, the orchestra conductor; Jennifer Sansfacon, who designed the scenes and lighting; Barb Weisenberger, costume designer; Corey Schoff and Jeremiah Bowe, sound designers, and our many talented student performers who made this performance an outstanding success and one perfectly suited for Family Weekend audiences.

More details are available here.

Fashion Without Fabric an inspiring experience

Debbie and I also were able to take in the Fashion Without Fabric show, which had Real Genius as a theme and offered student interpretations of the MacArthur Fellows genius program. More than 100 student projects were showcased, demonstrating some amazingly creative interpretations that were designed, developed and choreographed over three short weeks.

The work of our students was nothing short of impressive and completely “wowed” the audience, including yours truly.

Special thanks are in order to show advisers Robert Atwell and Cathie Weissman for making the event a huge success. I would also like to thank our faculty who worked so closely with the students to complete their impressive projects, including Timothy Alberg, Tom Hollenback, Masako Onodera, Geoffrey Wheeler, Josh Wilichowski, Molly Uravitch and many others.

David Beck, Cynthia Bland and Laura Oliver (of UW-Eau Claire) also did a great job with the unenviable task of judging the projects. That seemed nearly impossible given the impressive work turned in by the students. Many, many other people made the event special, including the emcee, student Gemma Schlotthauer, to whom I’m very grateful.

I left the event feeling very proud of our art and design students and staff. More details on the event are available here.

Book club to feature new UW-Stout history

On Saturday afternoon I also stopped by a book-signing event featuring our own Jerry Poling, the assistant communications director who has authored an incredible history of UW-Stout’s first 125 years entitled “An Idea Comes of Age: UW-Stout, 1891-2016.” The book signing was in front of the campus Stoutfitters apparel and bookstore on the lower level of the Memorial Student Center, which has the book in stock.

We also are planning a book club event on consecutive Tuesdays, April 25 and May 2, that I will attend if possible. The book is the first full-length history of UW-Stout, chronicling 125 years from its founding by James Huff Stout as Stout Manual Training School to eventually becoming a full-fledged university and part of the UW System. It’s also available online at the Seattle Book Company, on Amazon, at Bookends on Main in Menomonie and at Volume One’s Local Store in Eau Claire.

People can register for the book club here.

Regents approve Bowman Hall repairs

At the UW System Board of Regents meeting last week, an important capital project to repair the exterior of Bowman Hall was approved, moving the issue next to the Legislature’s State Building Commission.

The project, costing nearly $9 million, will repair and restore the exterior masonry on the building, constructed in 1897, as well as conduct structural repairs on the clock tower. Windows and doorways also will be replaced with more historically accurate ones.

This is an important building in the history of our campus, and I thank the regents for their approval. We will be working with our legislative delegation to receive final approval at the Building Commission, tentatively scheduled in June.