New year off to good start; 125th kickoff; ROTC inspiring

Here’s hoping for a great year in 2016

Welcome to the first blog post of 2016, and welcome to the start of the new semester.

We had a great time Monday, Jan. 11, at the Memorial Student Center discussing the accomplishments of 2015 and some of the challenges we face in 2016. For those of you who couldn’t attend the event, watch it here.

I mentioned our enrollment record, the fact that we maintained a 97.1 percent employment rate for our graduates and a big donation we received at the end of the year for our engineering programs. It’s easy to ignore positive developments when we are dealing with a massive budget cut, but overall the positives certainly outweighed the negatives in 2015—and we are set up well for an even better 2016, our 125th anniversary year.

I want to emphasize something that I mentioned in my welcome back speech: the gratitude I feel each and every day I come to work because of the “expect to win” attitude (a phrase coined by author Zig Ziglar) prevalent among faculty and staff. That positive attitude continues to inspire me and will inspire our eventual success.

Another reason we’re set up for success in 2016 is because of the inclusive and extensive planning process we have implemented. We took time Monday morning to celebrate our planning successes in the “You Said … We Did” segment.

Even though I have been involved in these efforts for 18 months now, I still found it amazing that we accomplished as much as we did, given the limited resources we had to work with. I want to thank Meridith Drzakowski for her planning expertise and for arranging such an insightful and enjoyable presentation. (I could listen to Josh Entzminger play his blues guitar all day long, by the way.)

Another big development Monday was Provost Patrick Guilfoile’s announcement of the names of our three new colleges. The reorganization has been in the works for a long time, and I want to thank Patrick and Associate Vice Chancellor Glendali Rodriguez for their tireless efforts. The reorganization takes effect July 1. Some details remain to be worked out, but I am pleased with the progress that has been made so far.

A news release about Monday’s event is available here.

So we are off and running in 2016. I truly hope everyone at UW-Stout has a successful, enjoyable and fulfilling year.

A big birthday bash for UW-Stout

I was honored to serve as master of ceremonies last week for the first official event in the yearlong celebration of our 125th anniversary. We hosted Gov. Walker, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and UW System President Ray Cross in a birthday party of sorts in the Memorial Student Center, complete with cake.

I won’t go into all the details (available here), but thanks to everyone who helped plan the event and make it a success, including those who work behind the scenes in the Memorial Student Center. I also want to thank staff, alumni, retirees and community members who attended and made the celebration so wonderful.

Watch UW-Stout Today for more anniversary events.

National ROTC program quite an event

Last week I was honored to be hosted by the U.S. Army in San Antonio to discuss ROTC IMG_07211.jpgbest practices. Representatives from many other universities also were on hand to learn more about ROTC on a national scale.

We had a number of opportunities to be with and listen to many cadets in ROTC. They come from a variety of backgrounds and are unequivocally dedicated to serving our country and protecting our freedoms. What could be more noble and inspiring than those aspirations?

I learned that ROTC faces a challenge in recruiting qualified candidates with good physical, mental and moral fitness because of the increasing obesity rate of our youth. That’s why the Army is endorsing a national youth physical fitness plan that encourages eating healthy, reducing caffeine use, getting enough rest and committing to a regular schedule of physical exercise. This approach could benefit all of us! More information is available at

Our ROTC Northwoods Battalion, made up of four UW System campuses in the region, recently was recognized as the best in the 3rd Brigade because it excels with logistics, administration, recruiting, retention and operations. The battalion has led all others in the brigade in recruiting and retention.

I am enormously proud of the battalion’s presence on our campus and the cadets it prepares for leadership roles. I hope you join me in thanking the members of our military science department and our cadets for their good work and service to our country.