I 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
One 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.