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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