Monthly Archives: November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving; updates on campus concealed carry, HLC forums

A time to be thankful

We are entering the holiday season at UW-Stout, and I want to wish everyone the happiest Thanksgiving possible. I will be spending my holiday with family and friends and will be reflecting on all that I have to be grateful for.

While a fantastic family and good health obviously are at the top of the list, I am blessed by having the privilege of working for an institution that I love and with dedicated, hard-working and innovative students, faculty and staff. This job obviously has its challenges, but I am excited about coming to work every day because of who I get to work with.

UW-Stout has a lot going for it, but our main assets are our students, faculty and staff. So while I am thankful for many, many things in my life, the ability to serve this campus as chancellor is right at the top. Please have a healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

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An update on the campus conceal carry proposal

One of the more emotional issues facing the UW System this fall is a proposal by two legislators to allow people to carry concealed weapons into campus buildings. People now have the right to carry concealed weapons on UW property but not into buildings.

I have discussed concerns about this issue at length with the representatives of our four governance groups and many other people on campus. Additionally, our four governance groups have passed resolutions opposing concealed weapons in campus buildings. These resolutions have been delivered to the offices of our local legislators in Madison to ensure they know where the campus stands on this issue.

I am happy to report that we are hearing from people in the state Capitol that it is very unlikely this issue will even come up for a vote, at least in the state Senate. I will keep the campus apprised of any developments on this issue.

HLC open forums informative

I recently attended a campus forum on the upcoming Higher Learning Commission accreditation site visit and enjoyed the discussion surrounding UW-Stout’s quality initiative and its ties to our Focus 2020 initiatives.

If you’re not aware of the quality initiative, here it is in a nutshell: UW-Stout is developing systems and incentives for maintaining and even increasing the quality of our faculty and staff. To do this, our main actions include addressing compensation gaps, improving job engagement and advancing research.

I hope you’ll join me to learn more about the quality initiative and the HLC visit at the next open forum. It will be held from 10:10 to 11:05 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, in Ballroom A of the Memorial Student Center. More on the university accreditation process is available here.

Extending the Fab Lab experience — part of a busy but good week

Last week I had the privilege of participating in the Rural Schools on the Move Through Innovation and Collaboration conference in Stevens Point. Leaders and teachers from rural K-12 school districts throughout Wisconsin attended, sharing best practices on learning.

The Three Lakes School District has implemented a digital fabrication laboratory —Fab Lab — and curriculum that allows students to invent and make new products. This emerging model of learning is gaining great interest and momentum across Wisconsin.

Because UW-Stout has been on the forefront of the Fab Lab movement, we’ve offered assistance to Three Lakes School District in establishing their lab and curriculum. In addition, our own Sylvia Tiala is evaluating the effectiveness of the district’s curriculum and its outcomes.

While at the conference I was able to join George Karling and Steven Yahr in presenting about the Fab Lab model of student learning and engagement. In addition, our collaboration was recognized by state schools Superintendent Tony Evers with the Standing Up for Rural Schools, Libraries and Communities Award. We were one of seven collaborative projects recognized at the conference.

Yahr, a UW-Stout alumnus, designed and implemented the Three Lakes digital Fab Lab and related coursework. We are proud of his contributions as an employee of the Three Lakes School District.

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Saying goodbye to many, many of our employees

I was left almost speechless Thursday when I surveyed those in attendance at the annual fall Retirement Recognition Program. So many of our dedicated employees — more than 60 — have decided to retire in 2015 that we had to use the Great Hall for the ceremony.

This is always a bittersweet time for me: I’m pained because as an institution we are losing so many valuable, hard-working, innovative and dedicated employees. But I’m pleased that so many of the retirees are excited about entering this next phase in their lives.

I was overjoyed at being able to take a few minutes last week to thank each and every one of those who attended the ceremony for their years of service to UW-Stout and for the efforts they made everyday to ensure our students receive the quality education they have come to expect from us.

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Weekend performances showcase talents of our students

The talents of our students in the performing arts were on full display last weekend. I attended the University Theatre’s production of “Antigone” at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts and then followed that with a snappy set by the Blue Devil Jazz Orchestra.

“Antigone,” a Greek tragedy, was directed by Paul Calenberg. The cast of nine students, many of whom had more than one role, was superb, as were the scenes, lighting design, costumes and music. More information is available here.

The jazz performance, Jazz from Harvey to Mabel, was directed by Aaron M. Durst and brought a smile to the faces of everyone in the audience because of the artistry of the performers and their enthusiasm for the music. More information is available here.

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A safe place for our veterans

Veterans Day has special meaning to me because my father fought in World War II. UW-Stout now has a place for veterans and those in the service to gather and discuss their experiences at the new Military and Veteran Resource Center, which I helped dedicate last week on the eve of Veterans Day.

The center is on the third floor of Bowman Hall, room 304A. I encourage all veterans and service members on campus to visit.

The center was created to assist veterans, service members and their families in transitioning to college and provides a place to study, relax and interact with peers. The center also offers support services if needed, said John Bensend, the military education benefits coordinator.

I also am pleased that UW-Stout is being recognized for its efforts to help with that important transition back to civilian life. This fall three groups cited UW-Stout’s veterans services: named a Best for Vets by the Military Times; a Military Friendly School for 2016 by Victory Media; and a Top School by Military Advanced Education.

We owe our veterans and service members our best efforts to help them achieve their goals. More details are available here.

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A fun trip with alumni to historic Lambeau Field

OK, the outcome of the game wasn’t what we cheered for, but I was delighted to join about 125 of our alumni Sunday for a trip organized by the Alumni Association to historic Lambeau Field to see the Green Bay Packers take on the Detroit Lions.

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We enjoyed a tremendous pregame experience through the Bart Starr Plaza Tailgate Party and then tried our best to bring home a victory, which wasn’t to be.

But my wife, Debbie, and I truly appreciated the time we spent with our fellow alumni for a memorable trip to Lambeau.

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Honoring our dedicated employees; manufacturing event and HLC forums

Years of ServiceAs a long-time UW-Stout employee myself (now in my 27th year — can you believe it?), there is nothing I enjoy more than honoring others who have devoted their professional careers to the institution. Nearly 100 employees were honored for their years of service during a ceremony last week, having achieved milestones ranging from 10 to, get this, an amazing 40 years.

Yes, Jolene Anderson from the STEM College and James Selz from University Dining Services have been at UW-Stout since 1975, which is when I enrolled as an undergraduate at UW-Stout. Close on their heels is Michael Levy from the English and philosophy department, who has been here for 35 years.

I have said many times that the true strength of UW-Stout is the dedication and hard work of its employees, and I was privileged to help our employees celebrate their years of services last week. I also appreciate the efforts of University Advancement in sponsoring the event. More details on the event and a list of those honored are available here.

Manufacturers seek an advantage at annual conference

Manufacturing Engineering ConferenceAs an industrial engineering graduate, what could be more enjoyable than getting to rub shoulders with the leaders of manufacturing in our part of the state? The eighth annual Manufacturing Advantage Conference and Technology Showcase brought those leaders to campus last week, and I had a chance to address them in the morning and then spend time with them during the day.

I made sure they knew about our exceptional employment rate for graduates, 97.1 percent, as well as the growth in the academic programs we offer that are so important to the manufacturing sector in Wisconsin.

I also invited the manufacturing executives at the conference to come to our two career fairs to recruit our students for co-op positions, internships or full-time positions. The conference is hosted by the UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center. More information on the conference is available here.

An invitation to attend a High Learning Commission forum

I’d like to invite the campus community to attend upcoming forums that will bring everyone up to speed in advance of the Higher Learning Commission accreditation site visit scheduled for March 28-29, 2016. The forums are scheduled for 11:15 a.m. to 12:10 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18, and 10:10 to 11:05 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 3, both in Ballroom A of the Memorial Student Center.

Topics covered in the forums will include the visit schedule; what to expect during the visit; potential areas of concern; UW-Stout’s HLC quality initiative; as well as an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, and community members to ask questions about the visit and the accreditation process. More information on our accreditation process is available here.

Good meetings with gov., lt. gov; Cabot event highlights successful alumna

Walker and MeyerI had a great opportunity Monday to discuss with Gov. Walker the success story that is UW-Stout and the challenges we face in the future, particularly with salary levels that trail our peers by a considerable amount.

The governor visited UW-Stout a few weeks ago and, because of that meeting, state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf helped set up a private meeting between the governor and myself to expand on our challenges related to attracting and retaining excellent faculty and staff. That’s how Monday’s 30-minute meeting came about.

I brought information on the high number of faculty who have left for other positions because of salary considerations and discussed issues we’ve had recruiting to fill faculty and other positions and the state of our salaries compared to our peers.

But it wasn’t all gloom and doom: I was happy to share with the governor the very positive news from all over campus, including our record enrollment, the continual 97 percent placement rate for our graduates, the successful new programs we’ve added recently and our plans for new programs.

I shared that these successes are directly related to the outstanding efforts and contributions of our extraordinary employees. I believe the governor listened sympathetically to my presentation and certainly seemed to understand that we are facing tremendous economic challenges that could impede our ability to produce even more graduates who would have immediate success in the workplace.

I wasn’t expecting him to make any resource commitments during our conversation. That was not the intent of the meeting. What I did want to do, and what I feel I accomplished, was to give the governor an even better understanding of what educational institutions like UW-Stout mean for the future of Wisconsin’s economy and what our budget constraints could mean for our future. In addition, I suggested ways that, collectively, we could address these daunting challenges.

An hourlong conversation with the lieutenant governor

After hearing I was in the Capitol meeting with the governor, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch requested that I come to her office as well for a similar conversation. This meeting lasted an hour and covered much of the same territory as my meeting with Gov. Walker, as well as other topics.

The lieutenant governor has been a frequent visitor to UW-Stout—she is a particular fan of the
Discovery Center’s FAB Lab digital fabrication laboratory—and also is familiar with our role with economic development and producing graduates who are successful in the workplace.

I truly appreciated the time I spent with Lt. Gov. Kleefisch as well.

Honoring a successful UW-Stout graduate and Cabot Executive

12185563_10154367516004741_7097161407779486252_oOne of the highlights of my year is welcoming our annual Cabot Executive in Residence to campus. This year’s guest last week was Shelly Ibach, a 1981 fashion merchandising graduate who has become president and chief executive officer of Select Comfort, the Minneapolis-based company known for its Sleep Number bed, SleepIQ technology and bedding products.

This is the 31st year of the Cabot program, named in honor of Arthur R. Cabot, a successful pet products manufacturer. His son, Scott Cabot, is a UW-Stout alumnus.

We always learn so much about how the “real world” works from these executives, who give so generously of their time while they are here to talk to classes in the College of Management, which hosts the program, and to share their experiences with me and others at UW-Stout.

Shelly is a great example of the value of a UW-Stout degree: She worked for 25 years for Target Corp. and Macy’s before joining Select Comfort in 2007 and working her way up to president and CEO. More information on Shelly and the Cabot program is available at http://www.uwstout.edu/news/articles/Select-Comfort-CEO-an-alumna-to-lead-Cabot-Executive-event.cfm.