More than 100 people attended a forum today on plans to restructure the UW-Stout colleges from four to three. Another 75 watched the presentation online. A lot of very valuable input was received that will be used, in conjunction with other feedback from governance groups and other sources, to produce a final product.
I’d like to personally invite everyone on campus with an interest in how our colleges are structured to attend a forum Wednesday, Oct. 28, when we will take feedback on two plans that reduce the number of colleges from four to three. The forum will be held from 9:05 to 10:30 a.m. in the ballrooms of the Memorial Student Center.
This is a very important issue for our campus and one that requires significant input from those potentially affected by the change. Please try to attend and make your opinions heard.
TEDx event was enjoyable
I had a really enjoyable time Friday evening at the TEDxUW-Stout event at the Memorial Student Center. The wide range of speakers was truly amazing, and I learned a lot from all of them. The topics ran the gamut from how art can help the hopeless to working through a mental illness to the value of whimsy.
Videos of the speakers’ presentations will be available online in a few weeks.
The hosts were Adam Ludwig, a former UW-Stout residence hall director, and Joan Navarre, a UW-Stout associate professor of English.
No tax dollars were used for the event, which attracted corporate sponsors.
More about TEDxUW-Stout and TEDX itself is available here.
A great honor for five athletes and a Blue Devils supporter
Five great former UW-Stout athletes were inducted Saturday into the UW-Stout Athletic Hall of Fame. They were honored at halftime of the football game against UW-River Falls and officially inducted at a dinner and ceremony that night in the Memorial Student Center.
Volleyball player Tanille Zenner Hartwig, basketball and track and field standout Laura Verdegan Knudsen, basketball players Erin Churchill Konsela and Lindsey Erichsen Olsen and track standout Mike Hallingstad were enshrined.
Also, long-time Blue Devils supporter and former UW-Stout instructor Lee Smalley received the UW-Stout Distinguished Service Athletic Award.
As each of the Hall of Fame inductees spoke, it was apparent how our athletic staff and coaches had touched their lives and made a significant difference with their development and success. It was very moving, and I can’t say enough about our staff throughout the university that contributes to transforming the lives of students on a daily basis. My heartfelt thanks to all of you.
More details on the inductees can be found here.
University’s enrollment has climbed to above 9,500, another record
The final fall enrollment number — probably — is in, and it’s better than anyone could have expected. The official number we recently sent to UW System for posting is an incredible 9,535, an increase of 1.75 percent over last year’s record enrollment of 9,371.
It’s hard to overstate just how important maintaining strong enrollment is to the vitality of this institution. I’m guessing that a number of other campuses in the UW System are struggling with their tuition numbers, and that has a cascading effect in a number of areas.
Simply put: A strong enrollment will help us during these financially difficult times. Declining enrollment would only add significantly to our woes.
So, a big thank you to everyone who contributed to this record. And please do whatever you can to start working now on another record for fall 2016!
School of Art and Design anniversary a festive occasion
The 50th anniversary of the School of Art and Design was celebrated in fine fashion Friday and Saturday with open houses, receptions, silent auctions and other fun events. I had a great time meeting with alumni, students, faculty, staff and retirees.
This is a very important academic area for UW-Stout, with more than 1,000 students in the art and design programs.
I’d like to congratulate the school director, Tamara Brantmeier, and all the hard-working, innovative and creative faculty, staff, students, retirees and alumni for making the anniversary events a success. More on the school’s anniversary is available on the School of Art and Design website.
Honoring a true gentleman, Bob Cervenka
I attended a more somber occasion on Sunday when I helped pay tribute to Robert F. “Bob” Cervenka, the founder of Phillips Plastics Corp. in Wisconsin. The memorial service for Bob was held in the Memorial Student Center, and I was honored that the family asked me to deliver one of the eulogies.
I cited Bob’s tremendous business acumen and also the intense interest he took in his employees, their families and the communities they lived in. That abiding interest led to Bob and his wife, Debbie, establishing the Cervenka People Process Culture endowed chair at UW-Stout.
He also co-chaired the capital campaign that led to the Fryklund Hall remodeling in the early 1990s. I considered Bob a friend and will miss him greatly.
Rep. Kind visits UW-Stout
It is always a treat to host Rep. Ron Kind on campus. On Monday, I had the chance to meet with him, and he then met with the staff and students involved in our ASPIRE-Student Support Services office in Bowman Hall.
Rep. Kind helped the office receive two federal grants totaling nearly $600,000 a year from the U.S. Department of Education’s TRiO programs. These programs help low-income students who are the first in their family to attend college and students who have disabilities.
Rep. Kind is a strong advocate for UW-Stout and higher education in general and always has been. I am grateful that he spent part of his Monday with us.
More information on the TRiO grants is available here.
Tuesday was a remarkable day, one that was a long, long time in the making. A great event at OEM
Fabricators in Baldwin celebrated the fact that three new engineering programs have been established on UW campuses in northwest Wisconsin.
As most people know, it took months and months of study, debate and advocacy to persuade UW System officials and the Board of Regents to approve mechanical engineering at UW-Stout, as well as materials science engineering at UW-Eau Claire and agricultural engineering at UW-River Falls. But all is well that ends well, and representatives from the three campuses, along with our business supporters and UW System President Ray Cross, were the guests of Regent Mark Tyler at his OEM plant to celebrate the successes of the Northwest Wisconsin Engineering Consortium.
I want to thank everyone at UW-Stout, including Devin Berg, program director for mechanical engineering, for working so hard on making our new program a success. An amazing 56 students are studying mechanical engineering at UW-Stout this fall, even though the program wasn’t approved until April.
I’d also like to issue a special thank you to Regent Tyler, who has been a tireless supporter of adding engineering programs at UW institutions in northwest Wisconsin. More information is available here.
A deserving award for two former UW-Stout employees
Speaking of the Board of Regents, it was my privilege to join the Regents and other UW officials last Friday in Madison honoring two former UW-Stout employees for their work in advancing the causes of women of color and the LGBTQ community.
Doris Strehlau was UW-Stout’s Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award winner for 2015 while Jeanne Foley was the university’s winner of the Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on behalf of the LGBTQ community.
Doris and Jeanne both recently retired. Doris was an office operations associate in the Memorial Student Center while Jeanne was a professor in the mathematics, statistics and computer science department.
I was proud to be part of their special day. More information is available here.
Kudos for another successful Fall Career Conference
Finally, I have to comment on how impressed I was during my stop at the Fall Career Conference last week. There is no greater testament to how well we prepare our students for successful careers than to see nearly 400 employers over two days pack into the Multipurpose Room of the Sports and Fitness Center. They were seeking our students for co-op openings, internships or full-time positions.
Congratulations to our Career Services staff for pulling off another successful Fall Career Conference.
Thanks for a wonderful homecoming celebration
I want to extend my heartfelt thanks for everyone who worked so hard to make this the best homecoming celebration in my long history at UW-Stout. I know that Blue Devil Productions, the UW-Stout Homecoming Committee and many people associated with the Involvement Center, alumni, athletics, police, marketing and communications, and facilities put in many, many long hours to prepare for the celebration and to pull it off.
The event exceeded my expectations, and I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who worked so hard on the planning and execution. I recommend you visit the UW-Stout Facebook page for great homecoming photos and a video.
Gov. Walker tours our laboratories
To help celebrate National Manufacturing Month, Gov. Scott Walker asked to tour three laboratories Monday at UW-Stout that have direct connections to business and industry: the FAB Lab, the packaging laboratory and the plastics laboratory.
Along the way, the governor had a lot of conversations with some faculty, students and others and held a media availability.
I stressed to the governor the way UW-Stout concentrates its efforts on preparing our students for meaningful and successful careers after graduation and how that translates into an amazing track record regarding high employment rates.
Walker also was joined by state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and Rep. Warren Petryk. Again, there are great pictures and a video on our Facebook page.
Student government provides leadership opportunities
I learned this week that there still are open seats on the Stout Student Association. I encourage students to consider this as a fantastic growth opportunity.
According to SSA President Eric Huse, the 14 openings include two for at-large senators, a Greek life senator, three student affairs senators and two fiscal management senators.
Almost 40 years ago I began my involvement with SSA as a student senator at UW-Stout. What I learned helped develop my leadership skills, which I continue to use today. I cannot overstate how powerful involvement in student government is as a growth opportunity.
Go to this OrgSync website to apply.
In my previous blog post I addressed a concern regarding the cultural appropriateness of our homecoming’s luau theme. On Thursday, the Diversity Leadership Team, Homecoming Committee and Multicultural Student Services sponsored a conversation with Phyllis Braxton, from PINK (Pursuing Intercultural Needs & Knowledge) Consulting to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of this issue.
I participated and appreciated the candid conversation that took place. Many heartfelt comments were shared. Some themes were:
- We missed an opportunity to directly include the voice of native Hawaiians or Polynesians in our decision-making.
- We should consider withdrawing the theme altogether.
- Marketing materials have already circulated containing the theme, which can’t be pulled back.
- We could continue with the theme and use this as an opportunity to learn more about the true significance of what a luau celebration truly means to the Hawaiian culture.
- The Homecoming Committee has worked diligently to make this year’s array of events both positive and enjoyable.
The last point was punctuated by a round of applause by those in attendance Thursday, and I certainly want to commend the committee for its hard work under trying circumstances.
The dialogue at Thursday’s event was very productive, and a faculty member of native Hawaiian descent shared some of the history and cultural significance of the luau. The discussion convinced me that we truly do have an opportunity to learn more about the Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures.
To that end I would encourage you to check out the Polynesian Cultural Center’s history webpage at http://www.polynesia.com/polynesian_culture/hawaii/index.html#.Vg7sLJf5JiY. The Polynesian Cultural Center is in Laie, on the northern shore of Oahu. I’ve visited the center and found it to be an outstanding learning resource.
I’m excited that homecoming is upon us, and I would remind our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members that our theme does have cultural significance to native Hawaiians and Polynesians. I would therefore ask that you respect and honor those cultures by being civil to all and by making responsible and safe decisions.
Please keep in mind that one of UW-Stout’s key values is “the nobility of spirit, a diversity of people, respect and inclusion for all.” Let’s exemplify those values in our words and actions as we enjoy our homecoming weekend so that everyone can find it a rewarding experience.
Go Blue Devils!