Reaching out to leaders and alumni

Mary Burke tours campus

A19A6375I was honored to help show the Democratic candidate for governor, Mary Burke, around campus last week and explain to her UW-Stout’s unique position within the UW System. Because of her tight schedule, we had to stay in the Jarvis Hall area, but we did tour the Fab Lab and Ann Parson’s cadaver laboratory.

Mary had a number of conversations with students and employees along the way and held a media availability as well.

We work hard to build relationships with all our elected representatives, an effort that begins before the election. For example, Scott Walker participated in a similar tour in October 2010 before he was elected governor.

AASCU annual meeting

AASCULast week I flew to Washington, D.C., for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities annual conference. It gave me that opportunity to meet with other university chancellors and presidents and discuss the similar issues we face.

A great deal of the discussion centered on how to more effectively advocate for our institutions. The prevalent strategies align well with UW-Stout’s strengths, including our focus on developing a graduate with a broad array of abilities and skills. In addition, the importance of communicating our emphasis on making graduates both “job ready” and “career ready” was emphasized. The need to articulate how we play a vital role in new business development through research, entrepreneurship and outreach also was an important priority.

Tom Friedman, author of “The World is Flat and several other bestsellers, spoke on many of the issues the conference focused on, as well as his impressions of journalism in the digital age.

A worthwhile trip to NIST

phil_singerman_01_0While in Washington, D. C., I had the opportunity to visit the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. NIST oversees and provides federal funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs).

The UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center, part of the Discovery Center, receives NIST funding. SMOC Director Larry Blackledge and I met with Phil Singerman, NIST/MEP director. Our discussions with Singerman focused on our efforts as a NIST/MEP center as well as future federal funding prospects.

The SMOC continues to demonstrate a very high return on the federal funds invested into it, which speaks highly of the center’s staff and leadership. I have been serving the NIST/MEP system as a “core panelist” for nearly two decades, which involves reviewing other centers’ performance and requests for funding. I enjoy my role as a core panelist and will continue serving NIST/MEP in this capacity.

I know many of you are involved in your professional circles in this manner and in other ways. This is important not only to your professional development but also to the university’s ability to pursue opportunities that align with its mission. I’m grateful to those of you who commit to that type of vital professional engagement.

A great visit with an alumnus

One of the best jobs of a chancellor is to meet with our graduates. Recently a proud alumnus came to my office to visit.  Richard Burdick and his wife Luanne stopped by to compliment the staff on doing a great job over the years updating the curriculum and facilities.  They spent time touring the campus and visiting students in the Memorial Student Center.

They were so impressed with how engaged and friendly the students and staff were that they had to walk up to my office to share their great experiences while on campus for the day.  I wasn’t surprised, but it made my day and I had to share it with you.

Thank you to our students and our staff for making visitors and alumni feel welcome when they visit campus.  It is one of the many important aspects of our culture that makes this such an extraordinary university.