Monthly Archives: December 2015

Graduation smiles, 125th event and happy holidays

Commencement brings out big grins

Nothing brings out more smiles on campus than graduation day. From the parents and family members of the happy and relieved graduates, to the graduates themselves, to the faculty and staff who participate in the ceremonies, it seems that everyone is beaming.

Saturday’s festivities were no exception. In my address, I touched on our recent budget difficulties but assured the graduates that they are leaving UW-Stout as “a vibrant university that has a very, very bright future.”

I mentioned our efforts to preserve education quality, our record enrollment for fall 2015 and our 97.1 percent employment rate for new graduates. My advice to graduates was: “Surround yourself with excellence, that is, capable people who have a can-do, positive attitude. UW-Stout’s staff is replete with people like this. I enjoy working with them and, for the same reason, with our retirees and alumni as well.”

Saturday’s celebration was top shelf. Learn more about it here.

ROTC ceremony a great experience

A separate ceremony Saturday saw three Army ROTC cadets from the Northwoods Battalion commissioned as second lieutenants. The commissioned cadets were UW-Stout students Jeffrey Hilgendorf, of Tomahawk; Emily Huro, of Menomonie; and Daniel McGlew, of New Lisbon.

I congratulate these new Army officers and thank Lt. Col. K. Dave Pindell, professor of military science, for inviting me and putting together a wonderful ceremony that went to great lengths to include the families of the officers as well.

More on the commissioning ceremony is available here.

Help us celebrate UW-Stout’s birthday

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We sent out an invitation last week, but I wanted to make sure everyone knows that we are planning a birthday celebration for our great university Jan. 5, 2016, beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the ballrooms of the Memorial Student Center.

I know the timing could have been better, but we really can’t alter when we mark our birthday, the date when the Stout Manual Training School opened in a two-story building as a branch of the Menomonie school district.

We have a great celebration planned, complete with the unveiling of a gubernatorial proclamation making Jan. 5, 2016, UW-Stout Day in Wisconsin. So please try to join us if at all possible.

Happy holidays and thanks for a great 2015

Finally, I wanted to wish all of our students, faculty and staff, alumni and other stakeholders a very, very happy holiday season and a great new year. This has been a very busy, and often anxious, year, one with a lot of changes and challenges. But we made it through together and have put in place the pieces for a bright future for UW-Stout.

I hope you have time to spend with family and friends over our break, as I plan to do, and come back refreshed for 2016. Thank you for being the best group of colleagues a chancellor could wish for!

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Enrollment record official; retail contest first-rate

It’s official: UW-Stout has record enrollment

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It’s official: UW-Stout has posted record enrollment for the fall, 9,535. The UW System has just posted the 2015-16 headcounts for each institution, and UW-Stout is one of only four campuses with an increase.

Our increase of 1.75 percent over fall 2014 was the highest percentage increase in the UW System. The last 10 years of data is available here.

While an enrollment increase of this size is remarkable, it is even more stunning when you consider that all around the Midwest the number of high school graduates has been declining for the last few years, meaning that all schools are competing for a smaller pool of potential undergraduates.

I can’t say enough about the diligent and innovative work of our Admissions Office, as well as hundreds of other people on campus who have embraced increasing our enrollment as a top priority and continue to make our programs so attractive to prospective students and their future employers.

I fully realize that such a dramatic enrollment increase causes problems through increased demand for classes and other services, but this is definitely preferable to a declining student population year after year. While it is too early to say for sure, next year’s admissions also are running a little ahead of what we saw last year at this time.

Please accept my sincere thanks for the dedication you have shown on the enrollment front.

Strategic planning an important campus process

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I am very proud of the strategic planning process that we have at UW-Stout. It is structured in a way that is inclusive, responsive and transparent. Consequently, it is an effective and constructive process that is outcome-oriented.

As part of this process, we share our progress in achieving strategic goals with the university community in the “You Said … We Did” session. I hope you will join me for our next presentation at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 11, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. Information will be presented on actions already underway, or ready to be taken, based on the Engagement Sessions feedback, to achieve FOCUS 2020 goals.

Individuals and teams who made these initiatives possible will be recognized as well.

Strategic Design competition

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My wife, Debbie, and I had the wonderful opportunity to judge the Strategic Design competition, which was held in the Great Hall last week. The competition featured retail merchandising and management students who designed and developed marketing and business strategies for 13 area businesses.

The student teams leveraged the resources of the UW-Stout Discovery Center, the Dunn County Economic Development Corp., Main Street of Menomonie and others to put together a proposed plan for each participating business.

The student team recommendations were presented to judges at the competition; many community members were on hand to assist with judging. It was a great opportunity for students to learn and to help local businesses, as well as to engage area businesses with student learning.

This was a fantastic concept, and I’d like to thank Assistant Professor Meriem Chida for her leadership in organizing the event, as well as her colleagues for contributing to its success.

Please help our students celebrate at commencement

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UW-Stout’s fall semester commencement ceremonies are at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday in Johnson Fieldhouse. I would like to personally invite every faculty and staff member on campus to help me congratulate students who will be receiving their diplomas.

Graduation day is a momentous event in our students’ lives, and it is important that as many UW-Stout representatives as possible attend the ceremonies to send these students off in grand style.

More details about commencement are available here.

Holiday events, Stoutward Bound and new college plan

Holiday concerts a great way to get in the spirit of the season

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous Sunday afternoon as I prepared to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” to musical accompaniment provided by the UW-Stout Symphonic Band. The occasion was the band’s annual holiday concert, titled this year A Starry Winter Night, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.

I was honored to participate, and I can’t say enough about the fine talents of the musicians and the expert direction by Associate Professor Aaron M. Durst. Because of them, I don’t think I embarrassed myself or the university! The concert certainly got everyone in the holiday spirit.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the annual winter concert Friday night by the UW-Stout Symphonic Singers and Chamber Choir. I was unable to attend because of a prior commitment, but Provost Patrick Guilfoile assured me that it was a very polished, enjoyable and innovative performance as well.

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Holiday reception a fun event

Another fun event this time of year is the annual Chancellor’s Holiday Reception, held last week in the Great Hall. It is important for us to take time during this busy holiday season to spend time with those who mean the most to us. For me, this includes the faculty, staff, retirees and students who make UW-Stout a special place.

The reception is a great way to officially kick off the holiday season at UW-Stout, and I am glad that so many people decided to stop by, share some refreshments and spend time socializing. Those personal connections are very, very important to me.

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Stoutward Bound banquet was inspiring

Another inspirational event last week was the Stoutward Bound banquet in the student center. For those not familiar with Stoutward Bound, it’s a learning community of about 40 first-year American ethnic minority students sponsored by Multicultural Student Services. The program is designed to “jump start” the college experience by providing support for a successful transition to college.

Stoutward Bound historically has a high retention rate among participants; in fact, 100 percent of this group of students will finish the semester.

I left feeling inspired by the stories of overcoming difficulties that I heard from the program’s participants and with a greater appreciation for what it takes for some in our society just to get to college, much less achieve a degree. Congratulations to everyone involved in the program.

College reorganization a product of a lot of hard work

Finally, we sent out a memo last week announcing the final configuration of our colleges in the wake of a recommendation from the Strategic Planning Commission that we reduce the number of colleges from four to three. Details on the restructuring are available here.

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Provost Guilfoile and Associate Vice Chancellor Glendali Rodriguez for the countless hours they devoted to this effort, as well as everyone on campus who offered suggestions and other feedback along the way. It’s never easy going through a process like this, but it was necessary because of our budget situation.

I know that much work remains to fully implement these changes. But because of the hard work of Patrick, Glendali and everyone else, I believe we have a good blueprint for our colleges that will serve us well in the future.