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.


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.


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.