Monthly Archives: February 2016

It was a Stout Proud week in many ways

Stout Proud event a grand party

What a fun event the Stout Proud celebration was last Thursday. A generous donation from an alumna supported the party in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center, and it was a fantastic way to get out of the office and celebrate everything that is wonderful about UW-Stout.


I enjoyed all the festivities, including performances by the Cheer and Dance Team, an appearance by Blaze, the beautiful shirts turned out by the Printmakers Club, the ice cream and the music.

I had the opportunity to address the crowd and extoll the virtues of UW-Stout, which I have witnessed as a student, faculty member and now chancellor. UW-Stout means so much to me and my family that I take advantage of every opportunity to tell people how wonderful it is and what makes it so special: our students, faculty and staff and our passionate alumni. A website has been set up to keep the campus community apprised of all 125-year anniversary events. It’s available here.

State Assembly honors UW-Stout

On a related note, the state Assembly unanimously passed a joint resolution Thursday honoring UW-Stout for its 125 years of service to the state. The resolution previously passed the state Senate. It was co-sponsored by state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and state Rep. John Murtha.

John delivered some very nice remarks before the Assembly voted, saying: “It’s an honor to represent the faculty and students of UW-Stout, and they never fail to impress me with their innovative programs. It truly is a model institution.”

John has announced his retirement from the Legislature, and I want to thank him for everything he has done for UW-Stout, including championing the many capital improvement projects we have had the good fortune to secure.

Stout Scholarships an intense competition

What could be better for a chancellor than to address more than 60 high-achieving high school seniors who want to come to UW-Stout? That was my pleasant duty last week when I gave a welcome to the applicants for the Stout Scholars Scholarships.

The room was full of really smart students: To be eligible for the scholarships, they have to be accepted at UW-Stout for the fall semester, have a combined ACT of at least 26 and be in the top 10 percent of their class.

Qualified students are interviewed as part of the evaluation process, and they attend a university class, visit a residence hall and have lunch with other students. Financial support for the scholarships is provided by donors through Stout University Foundation.

The competition for these scholarships is intense because of their size: $5,000 a year, renewable for all four years. It’s unfortunate that we can only offer three a year. It would be fantastic to find the resources to expand the number of recipients in the future. For more on the scholarships, go to the Stout University Foundation website.

Alumni are very important to UW-Stout

I capped the week off by speaking to the Alumni Association Board of Directors. As an alumnus myself (as well as the husband and father of alumni), I know how valuable our alumni are in securing the future of UW-Stout.

We depend on them to serve on program advisory boards, Alumni Association boards, come back for homecoming, attend events outside Menomonie and, most importantly, to be our ambassadors in spreading the word about UW-Stout to prospective students, elected officials and the public.

We have some of the most passionate and dedicated alumni in the UW System, and they help make UW-Stout a truly special place. I thank all alumni for their service to the university.

Stout Proud Party

A little time away is good for the soul

No matter what job you perform at UW-Stout, it is important to find balance between your professional responsibilities, your family obligations, your community and what you like to do for fun. That’s why I took a couple of days off last week to trek to our cabin in far northern Minnesota for a little time away from meetings, email and the other facets of the chancellor’s job. It was great spending Valentine’s Day with two of my three Valentines—my wife Debbie and my oldest daughter Erica (unfortunately, my youngest daughter Melly could not make the trip from Houston, Texas, to join us) We spent time reconnecting, enjoying the spectacular beauty of the winter, relaxing in the cabin we have built on Birch Lake, and even catching some fish through the ice.

Bobs blog

I was lucky enough, using some new electronic technology, to catch a couple of lake trout and a beautiful rainbow trout, which supplied some nice meals. We all work extremely hard at our jobs, and I truly believe that we will perform at our best if we take some time away to catch our breath and reconnect with our family and friends, as well as nature.  

An exemplary partnership

My wife Debbie and I were fortunate to be the guests of Rajiv and Swati Lall, the owners of Vets Plus, for a wonderful meal Monday night at Jake’s Supper Club. Vets Plus makes pet health and nutrition products. The Lalls are great supporters of UW-Stout and have generously provided resources in a numbers of ways, including a recent upgrade to our microbiology laboratory in Jarvis Hall, which is now named after the couple. Debbie and I enjoyed our time with the Lalls and others at the dinner.


Ted Maday, director of human resources and project management at Vets Plus, presented Rajiv and I with identical, beautiful pieces of artwork that celebrated our partnership. Vets Plus employs more than 30 UW-Stout graduates and is enjoying rapid growth. I want to thank Vice Chancellor Mark Parsons and his staff for helping to coordinate the evening, and for their work, along with Dean Chuck Bomar, in helping to build this exemplary partnership that benefits all of the parties involved.

Please attend the Stout Proud anniversary event Thursday

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We are in the second month of our year-long celebration of our 125th anniversary, and I want to invite everyone to the Stout Proud anniversary event from 1:25-2:50 p.m. Thursday in the Memorial Student Center’s Great Hall.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends are invited to celebrate Stout pride with cake, giveaways, photo booth fun, a dance team presentation, time capsule and selfies with Blaze.

Funding for the event has generously been provided from an endowment that is specifically designated per the trust of Wawa June Thorson, alumna. I hope that everyone on campus, as well as everyone else with an interest in UW-Stout, can find time to join us for this wonderful event.

Details about this and other 125th anniversary events are available at this website.

Tenure changes advance; MSC events; UW System award

New tenure provisions advance for UW System

The future of tenure in the University of Wisconsin System has been very contentious ever since the Wisconsin Legislature last summer transferred tenure authority from state statute to the Board of Regents.

I am pleased to report that the Board of Regents appears poised to adopt policies that will ensure our faculty members have strong tenure provisions to preserve academic freedoms across the UW System. The new provisions were adopted unanimously last Friday by the Education Committee of the Board of Regents and will be considered by the full board in March.

A committee chaired by Regent John Behling proposed new tenure language; our own Lopa Basu was a member of the committee.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an even-handed report on the committee’s actions.

We need strong tenure protections for our faculty in Wisconsin, and I was pleased that the new policy restricts the ability to lay off tenured faculty to when a program has been discontinued and not just modified, as an earlier draft of the policies called for. I also want to thank Lopa for her service on the committee.

Here’s a link to the tenure documents.

A busy Saturday in the Memorial Student Center


Saturday was a busy day in the Memorial Student Center, where I was privileged to address two groups that were meeting next to each other in the ballrooms.

First, I gave an address to the Stout University Foundation Board of Directors, updating members about recent developments at UW-Stout and explaining in some detail about why recent budget cuts have made private fundraising even more important. I always enjoy these discussions with foundation board members, many of whom are alumni and are so passionate about finding ways to ease the fiscal conditions that we are facing at UW-Stout.

I then stepped next door to give a welcome to a gathering of representatives of student government groups from across the UW System. Student government is near and dear to my heart, as I spent three years on the Stout Student Association while I was a student here in the 1970s.

I shared with student government representatives my strong support for shared governance in higher education, which includes the student voice as a key stakeholder. I couldn’t help bragging about our fine university a little—including our 97.1 percent employment rate for new graduates—and to relate that if I could go from a seat on student government to the chancellor’s office, the sky is the limit for student government officeholders.

A deserving award for Multicultural Student Services

I want to publicly congratulate Barbara Miller, director of the UW-Stout Multicultural Student Services office, for the inspirational speech she gave Friday at the Board of Regents meeting in Madison as she accepted a Regents’ Diversity Award on behalf of her office.

Barb spoke passionately about the need for diversity across campus, drawing on her experiences as a Native American and the experiences of the students she comes in contact with in the MSS office. UW System President Ray Cross also spoke about the importance of and critical need for diversity and inclusivity in his prepared remarks.



From left are UW-Stout Multicultural Student Services (MSS) Advisor Kalvin Yang, MSS Student Services Coordinator Victoria Sanchez, UW System President Ray Cross, MSS Associate Advisor Bo Vang, MSS Director Barbara Miller, Regent President Regina Millner, and Regent Drew Peterson. Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.

Regents’ Diversity Award; rally at Capitol; Leadership Menomonie

Congratulations to Multicultural Student Services

I will have the pleasure this Friday of being in the audience as employees of our Multicultural Student Services office receive one of the prestigious Regents’ Diversity Awards during the UW System Board of Regents meeting at UW-Madison.

The office, led by Barbara Miller, will receive the institution/unit award from Regent Jose Vasquez. Individual and team awards also will be given out.

The MSS office was honored for its work in helping underrepresented minority students address their personal, academic, financial, cultural and career needs. In 2014-15 alone, MSS had more than 3,700 individual contacts with underrepresented minority students and more than 8,900 student contacts within groups and workshops.

I know from personal experience what a wonderful, meaningful and effective job this office does to help our underrepresented minority students succeed on campus — as evidenced by the 25 percent increase in our minority enrollment in the last five years.

I hope everyone on campus has a chance to congratulate this office for this impressive achievement.

MSS Team1 2015.jpg

Left to right: Director Barbara Miller, Associate Advisor Bo Vang, Office Manager Sue Scholfield, Student Services Coordinator Victoria Sanchez, and Advisor Kalvin C. Yang. Visit for more information.

A long but satisfying day in the state Capitol

Last week I made the trip to Madison to participate with the 22nd annual Chippewa Valley Rally, a full day in the state Capitol organized by the chambers of commerce in Menomonie, Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire. It was a great opportunity to discuss our issues with legislators and their staffs, as well as network with business, industry and government officials from our three communities.

I was joined on the trip by Provost Patrick Guilfoile and Doug Mell, our legislative liaison. I also had a chance to meet with state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf before the event and had discussions about various higher education issues, including, of course, the need to provide adequate salaries for our faculty and staff.

The legislative session is winding down, and it won’t be long before talk about the 2017-19 state budget heats up. We will keep the campus apprised of our advocacy efforts as we head into that important budget debate.


At the 22nd annual Chippewa Valley Ralley with Sen. Sheila Harsdorf

A chance to discuss UW-Stout with community leaders

Last week also was Education Day for the Leadership Menomonie program sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, and I was asked to give a presentation on the history and issues we face at UW-Stout. I had the chance to meet many current and future leaders in this community and share with them some of my thoughts about the campus.

I want to thank Kristi Krimpelbein and Scott Griesbach for organizing my part of the day so well and Darrin Witucki for being such a great host in the Memorial Student Center.