Monthly Archives: February 2015

An inspiring night with ROTC cadets

I was honored Friday night to address a wonderful group of cadets of the Army ROTC NorthwoodsBattalion at the ninth annual Military Ball. My wife, Deb, and I enjoyed socializing with the cadre and leaders in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.

2015 ROTC Northwoods Battalion Military, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.  Chancellor Meyer, Lieutenant Colonel Pindell, and seniors and juniors in the Military Science Leadership classes.

2015 ROTC Northwoods Battalion Military Ball, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Chancellor Meyer, Lieutenant Colonel Pindell, and seniors and juniors in the military science leadership minor program.

I also enjoyed talking with them about my father, who served in the Army during World War II and was in the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.

ROTC is a great asset for UW-Stout, and Lt. Col. Dave Pindell and his staff do a fantastic job with the department of military science. The department’s coursework embeds the values my father exemplified throughout his life.

I am very proud to have the Northwoods Battalion headquartered at UW-Stout.

An eye-opening morning for social justice issues

It was a privilege to participate in a powerful conference called SEED for Change Saturday in the student center. SEED stands for skills, empowerment, equity and dialogue.

The conference was facilitated by Phyllis Braxton, president and founder of Pink Consulting, and Beth Zemsky, an organizational consultant and trainer. It explored local, state and national social justice issues.

The event was sponsored by ASPIRE, the Dean of Students, Disability Services, LGBTQ Program Office and Multicultural Student Services. The facilitators did a great job generating meaningful discussions that I found both thought-provoking and enjoyable.

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Mechanical engineering program moves forward

MechEngGreat news: We just received official word from UW System today that our request to plan for a new mechanical engineering degree has been approved. This means that we can approach the full Board of Regents in April for approval to offer the undergraduate program, which we plan to do.

It will be an important new degree for UW-Stout and for the businesses and industries of our area who have told us they need more engineers. I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the hard work, dedication and persistence by many, many people on campustoo many to mention — put forth to bring us to this point. Now we will have to build a solid case for this program in front of the Board of Regents in April.

Reading Across Campus program kicks off

One of the Reading_Across_Campus2absolute best things about being chancellor at UW-Stout is participating in fun events involving students like Reading Across Campus, which is sponsored by the Literature Committee of the English and philosophy department, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and my office.

The book selected for reading and discussion this year is one of my all-time favorites: “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke. I also was invited to speak this week before a preview of the Stanley Kubrick film based on the book.

A series of lectures and discussions is planned in conjunction with the program. I encourage you to attend a book lecture by Professor Mike Levy at 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25, in the Northwoods Room of the Memorial Student Center.

Assistant Professor Chris Freeman also will lecture and lead a discussion at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, in room 182 of Heritage Hall. Associate Professor Aaron Durst will explore the movie’s musical score at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, in room 313 of Applied Arts.

I hope you join us for the fun.

State budget update

At this point, there really is nothing new to report on the status of the 2015-17 state budget. I met with both the Faculty Senate and representatives of the Stout Student Association this week to give them what information I have.

We continue to press our case with legislators that the cut Gov. Walker proposed is both too large — just under $6 million for UW-Stout in 2015-16 — and would go into effect too soon — July 1, 2015 — for us to handle.

Lawmakers in general seem to agree with that position. However, there is no agreement on what the cut actually should look like and where the additional money would come from.

My office is working on some additional forums to allow students, faculty and staff to discuss the budget cuts with me and other administrators. Watch for a memo with details and keep abreast of state budget information here.

Chancellors discuss budget cut with legislators

Budget_Address_03

On Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to join my UW-River Falls and UW-Eau Claire colleagues and meet with eight of our local legislators to impress upon them the seriousness of the state budget cut we are facing.

I think we made a positive impression. Both Democrats and Republicans said they appreciated the information we presented about what previous cuts have meant for the campuses and the UW System and the tremendous challenges Gov. Walker’s $300 million proposed cut for 2015-17 would pose for our institutions. No legislator at the meeting, hosted by UW-Eau Claire, said they supported a cut of that magnitude. In fact, one legislator, a Republican, asked all three chancellors to make sure they tell whatever audience they are speaking to that this is the governor’s budget proposal and not the Legislature’s.

I plan to have many more meetings of this kind, as will members of my staff, to ensure that we keep reinforcing the message that the proposed cut $5.8 million for UW-Stout in 2015-16, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau is too big. 

Regardless of the level of the reduction, we will convene a series of forums to discuss the budget and how to proceed in planning for the anticipated cut. We will prepare initial estimates of specific budget impact information for each unit on campus as soon as we can, keeping in mind that the budget situation in Madison is very fluid. Please keep reading the daily email and go to http://www.uwstout.edu/statebudget/ to keep updated on our budget situation.

 

Report says UW-Stout would face $5.8 million budget cut

News surfaced late Thursday, Feb. 5, that the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo estimating what Gov. Walker’s 2015-17 state budget would mean for each UW System campus. According to the memo, the cut for UW-Stout in 2015-16 would be about $5.8 million, which follows a $1.3 million cut in 2013-14. Our cut would be 15.3 percent of the $37.8 million we received in state support for 2014-15.

While this is a very significant decrease and would cause us to make many difficult decisions, I want to emphasize that this cut is subject to revision by the Legislature. In fact, I have been heartened in recent days that some Republican legislators have indicated they believe the proposed cut is too deep and would like to find ways to reduce the impact on the UW System. Gov. Walker even acknowledged Thursday that he was open to changes in the UW System budget.

I am attending the Board of Regents meeting in Madison. I also wanted to assure our faculty and staff that Regent President Michael Falbo and other regents firmly stated their support for shared governance and tenure in the event that the Legislature adopts Gov. Walker’s public authority model for the UW System.

 Finally, I wanted to congratulate UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank for her inspiring presentation Thursday to the Board of Regents. Her impassioned plea for adequate funding for higher education in Wisconsin was fantastic.

 We will continue to communicate important budget news to the campus. Please read the state budget stories in UW-Stout Today to stay informed.

Preserving the Wisconsin Idea

I was extremely pleased to learn Wednesday night that Gov. Scott Walker has backed off an attempt Budget_Address_02in the 2015-17 state budget proposal to eliminate language in state law that created the Wisconsin Idea more than 100 years ago.

I understand the hurt and anger that this proposal, which I learned about in the afternoon after our budget forum, caused across our campus and throughout the UW System. I share those same feelings because the Wisconsin Idea is the absolute bedrock and foundation for how we operate as a UW System.

I fully embrace, and always will, the philosophy contained within the Wisconsin Idea: We have a mission to extend knowledge past the boundaries of our campus across the state, and that is basic to our purpose, the pursuit of truth.

No action of the governor in trying to strike words from state law would change that.

Update on the budget and more

IMG_0121State budget to be released Tuesday

It’s hard to get away from the fact that Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015-17 state budget proposal, which won’t be officially released until Tuesday night, already is dominating conversations around campus. I can certainly understand, given his announcement last week that the budget would mean a $150 million reduction for the UW System for each year of the biennium.

Following the announcement, we announced steps to cut our costs immediately in the areas of hiring, travel and salary adjustments. UW System administration implemented these measures first and encouraged other campuses to follow suit.

I’m sure there are plenty of questions, concerns and anger over what the 2015-17 state budget will mean for UW-Stout in general and each individual student and employee in particular. Rest assured, I share those questions, concern and anger. At the very least, we will have a much better idea of the potential impact of the budget this week. After the governor releases the document to the Legislature, UW System will spend the next couple of days analyzing the numbers and then will tell the individual campuses what they could expect for reductions. We will disseminate that information to campus as quickly as we can.

It is important to remember that this is just Gov. Walker’s proposal; the budget has to go through a number of legislative reviews before it becomes law, probably in June. I was in Madison last week discussing the budget proposal with legislators, and I was encouraged that there seems to be an awareness among some Republican legislators of the enormity of the cut and the havoc it would cause for every campus. I will be spending a lot of time talking to our legislators throughout the budget process to make sure they have the information they need to make prudent decisions concerning our budget.

It also will be important for us to get together often to discuss the budget and how will we respond. We intend to hold budget forums in the very near future, just as soon as we get our campus-specific information from UW System and have a chance to digest it.

I hope you are reading the state budget news that our communications office is putting in UW-Stout Today and are going to the UW-Stout state budget website for additional information, including a feedback form. We need to stay informed if we are going to make good decisions.

No question this will be a difficult period for the campus. But I am convinced we have the will and the ability to make the kinds of decisions that will ensure our students continue to receive the quality education they expect from Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.

Engineering moving forward?

The Board of Regents meets at the end of the week, and there will be yet another debate over whether UW-Stout can offer additional engineering programs. However, I am optimistic that by the end of the meeting there will be consensus that we can offer a mechanical engineering degree in the fall.

Once we get that intent to plan signed, it appears we will be able to recruit students for the fall.

We also intend to pursue new programs in electrical engineering and chemical engineering.

Thanks again to everyone on campus who has worked so hard to get us to this point.

We lost our oldest living alumni

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Henry Hulter enjoys his 107th birthday party in November with his daughter, Marilynn Hulter Ackermann.

I took note last week that Henry Hulter, 107, believed to be UW-Stout’s oldest living alumni, died Jan. 16 in San Rafael, Calif.  Henry graduated from what was then Stout Institute in 1938 and went on to teach in Detroit for many years.

Henry came to Stout from his native Superior and was known as a kind and loving father and grandfather who will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Henry had a very active life right to the end. In fact, he did his usual 45-minute morning bike workout at a local gym the day before he died. A memorial service will be held Feb. 7 in San Rafael.

Apply for a Stout University Foundation scholarship

I’d like to remind students that the deadline for Stout University Foundation scholarships is today, Feb. 2. Please go to http://www.uwstout.edu/foundation/scholarships/ to apply.

Many years ago when I was a student, I was very fortunate to have received several Foundation scholarships that helped me continue my studies. Think of it this way: The time you spend filling out the application could well be the most you’ll ever be paid in your life if you receive one of these great scholarships. It remains true for me.