My father, who passed away in 1987, was a veteran of World War II. He rarely spoke of his service, but I recall him telling me once about his entry into his tour of duty at the Invasion of Normandy. Tearfully he recounted his advance on the beach to the German pillboxes and crawling behind his fallen brethren on the beach to shield himself from intense sniper fire.
His tour included the Battle of the Bulge. His was the lead tank in the column to liberate the concentration camp at Nordhausen.
For my father it was both miraculous and bewildering to return to America on Christmas Day 1945. His bewilderment stemmed from wondering why he had survived when so many “better than I” did not make it through the war. He determined that his work to make the world a better place was not over, and he dedicated the rest of his life to that purpose, including service as an alderman and 10 years as mayor of our hometown, Port Washington, Wis. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of his commitment and sacrifice, as well as that of his fellow veterans.
Last Tuesday, Nov. 11, was Veterans Day and an opportunity for all of us to thank our veterans for their sacrifice and service. From the bottom of my heart I express my sincere gratitude to our veterans. You are “better than I” and inspire all of us to be better citizens and leaders. Thank you!
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Councilor Felix Nkaru, who is visiting from Kenya. Councilor Nkaru and our faculty member, Brian Oenga, provided an excellent overview of Kenya and its wonderful people, customs and culture, as well as the educational system and political structure of his tribal community.
Felix received a traditional education but also was trained in a warrior group called Moranism. From that, he learned the Maasai practices and hopes to further advocate for educational opportunities for women and children. The Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center was packed, and we all learned a great deal from Felix and Brian. After their presentations, a visit to Kenya was added to my “bucket list!”
I can’t say it enough: The foundation of everything we do at UW-Stout rests on dedicated and hard-working faculty and staff. That’s why events like the Fall Retirement Reception are so special. I had a chance to honor the men and women who have given so much of themselves to make UW-Stout a great place to work and to ensure that our students have every chance to succeed in their careers. The 22 retirees had a combined 441 years of service to the institution. I truly wish each and every one of them a very happy retirement.
I had a chance to visit with a number of alumni and even play a little trivia last week during a trip to Sturgeon Bay. Alumni support is important to me as we try to move the university forward. I appreciate the time I spent with our graduates in Sturgeon Bay.
Installing a new chancellor
I was honored to attend the inauguration last week of the new chancellor at UW-Green Bay, Gary Miller. Installing a new campus leader is always a major event, and Chancellor Miller and UW-Green Bay handled it well.
We have started planning my own inauguration, scheduled for April 2, 2015. I have made it clear that the amount of pomp and circumstance will be held to a minimum and that we concentrate on all the good things we have to offer at UW-Stout.