Monthly Archives: August 2015

VSIP participant list finalized

As most of you know, earlier this year we offered a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program for eligible employees to mitigate the effects of impending state budget reductions. Some 239 individuals met the criteria (at least 55 years old and at least five years of service). 

Of those, 75 employees applied and 61 were offered VSIP agreements.

The deadline for submitting signed agreements has passed, and 50 employees have decided to sign their agreements. Those employees come from all parts of campus and include professors, office associates, custodians and administrators.

We are losing many valuable employees who have worked very hard to make UW-Stout a special institution. They take with them many years of experience and institutional knowledge that will be hard, if not impossible, to replace. Their departures also will require many remaining employees to step into new roles to ensure the university continues to function efficiently and effectively.

A major reason for offering the VSIPs was to encourage voluntary separations in strategic areas to significantly reduce the need for layoffs. While unfortunately we will not be able to eliminate layoffs, it appears the number will be minimal and I am thankful for that.

I want to thank our retiring employees for their tremendous service to the university. I hope to speak to many of you personally during our fall retirement reception from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.

I also want to express my deep appreciation for those employees who are taking on new responsibilities because of the large number of retirements. The devotion that you show for this institution inspires me to work even harder on behalf of UW-Stout.

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Time to catch up on summer activities

A week paddling and portaging

Paddling and portagingIt’s been a while since I did a blog entry. That’s because I took a little time off to paddle in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). My wife Debbie and I enjoy spending at least a week in the BWCA every summer. This summer we entered the BWCA off of Poplar Lake on the Gunflint Trail and took the one mile portage into Meeds Lake. From there we portaged to several other lakes, fished and enjoyed an outstanding display of the Northern Lights. The bugs were biting more than the fish, but we were able to have several shore lunches that were delicious. The abundance of wildlife and spectacular scenery provided a great backdrop for a week of camping and relaxation.

Another successful YALI summer

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Upon returning from the BWCA, I had the privilege of attending the closing ceremony for our visiting Young African Leaders. These 25 impressive Mandela Fellows were on campus for six weeks before heading to Washington, D.C., to complete their fellowships (and meet with President Obama). While on campus they learned about entrepreneurship and innovation in the United States and shared a great deal of information about their countries. Debbie and I had the honor of hosting these amazing entrepreneurs and business people at our home. We learned a great deal about Africa and its diverse cultures. I am grateful for the work of Dean Abel Adekola, Mark Fenton, Vickie Kuester and many other faculty, staff, and community members who made these visitors feel welcome and fulfilled during their stay. A video of the UW-Stout YALI experience is available here.

Important STEPS

STEPS for Girls 2015July heralded several camps for K-12 students on campus to expose them to the great opportunities that UW-Stout has to offer. Our Science, Technology, and Engineering Preview Summer camp (STEPS) hosted about 160 sixth and seventh grade girls, exposing them to the wonders of science and technology, while reinforcing their ability to be both “cute and smart.”   I was able to participate in one of our STEPS graduation ceremonies and witnessed the significant impact the program continues to have in transforming the lives of these wonderful young ladies. Jo Hopp, Becky Messer, Brigit Kyle, Meghan Walters, Vickie Price and many other faculty and staff members committed a great deal of time to make the program another “home run,” and I thank them for their dedicated efforts to make it a huge success.

PreCollege 2015 a success

We also had K-12 students attend our PreCollege 2015 program, including a number from the Lac du Flambeau schools. Like the STEPS program, these students were exposed to activities related to science, technology, art and the environment. I had a chance to meet these amazing students at their closing banquet and was struck by their enthusiasm for what they had learned during their UW-Stout visit. Barb Miller, Vickie Sanchez and our entire Multicultural Student Services Staff deserve a heartfelt “thank you” for organizing and facilitating another spectacular PreCollege program, as well as the faculty, staff and departments across the university who helped out.

A boost for Main Street

A boost for Main StreetOn Friday, July 31, I was honored to join our local officials in a ceremony led by Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch to announce the city’s designation as a Wisconsin Main Street Community. Also attending was Reed Hall, chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Menomonie is now just one 35 Wisconsin communities to have that designation. UW-Stout is a proud supporter of our Main Street association, and it was an honor to host the event at our Clock Tower Plaza.

Recognizing Vets Plus

That same evening I was privileged to speak at the Vets Plus Family Celebration. Vets Plus was founded by Rajiv Lall, and the celebration marked this successful organization’s 25th year. Lt. Governor Kleefisch was on hand, and I had the opportunity to recognize Rajiv and his wife Swati for their significant contributions to our microbiology laboratory. I also recognized the important roles that both the University of Minnesota and UW-Stout have had in making Vets Plus a success. The company produces advanced pet food products that are developed using the latest research in science and technology and now employs nearly 100 people. Vets Plus is a prototype for how universities and the private sector can work together to facilitate business growth, economic development and job growth.

A Hall of Fame day

WIAC_hof_15_3157aOn Saturday, Aug. 1, I had the wonderful honor of attending the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s Hall of Fame Banquet at UW-Platteville. Three exceptional people from UW-Stout were inducted in the WIAC Hall of Fame. Twenty-three time All-American swimmer Wendy Heineke, former Olympic gold medal winning wrestler John Peterson and 27-year men’s basketball coach Dwain Mintz were inducted into the conference-wide honors hall before more than 300 people. It was a very, very proud night for all of UW-Stout. Much more details on our inductees is available here. (photo)