Time for a spring break; fighting alcohol abuse; Military Ball

Make time to relax before big spring push

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The weather is getting warmer and the feeling of spring is in the air. Next week is spring break, and I hope that everyone has a chance to relax at least a little bit before we make the big push to graduation and beyond.

I will be off campus until late next week. I have been asked to give a presentation, UW-Stout’s Role as a Polytechnic University, at the President’s Event and Policy Seminar at Darmstadt (Germany) University of Applied Sciences. This is the commencement of a university project titled Creating a Transatlantic Applied Science Network in Engineering. I will be joined by Dean Chuck Bomar in giving the presentation Thursday afternoon. Associate Professor Wendy Stary also is on the program later in the week.

My wife, Debbie, and I then plan to spend some time in Spain after the event, returning to the United States late next week.

We have a busy spring ahead of us, with the Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation visit at the end of March, graduation in May and the National Science Olympiad in May as well.

Remaining vigilant in fighting high-risk alcohol consumption

UW-Stout has been taking steps for many years to fight the dangers posed by student alcohol abuse. We have statistics that show progress in the percentage of students who report that they abstain from alcohol. We are not finding as many large house parties with uncontrolled drinking.

But the effort is far from over.  That was the overwhelming message I took away from my meeting with the Chancellor’s Coalition on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse last Friday. I heard frightening stories of students who, despite our best efforts, continue to abuse alcohol in dangerously high quantities, leading to injuries and other physical — and often legal — problems.

The goal of the university is for our students to enjoy their time at UW-Stout and grow in many dimensions but to do so in a wholesome and safe way. I applaud the coalition, with members from many offices on campus and in the community, for ensuring that efforts to combat high risk alcohol consumption remain a priority on this campus.

A great evening spent at the Military Ball

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Debbie and I had the great honor Saturday of attending the 10th annual Military Ball at the Memorial Student Center sponsored by the Northwoods Battalion of the Army ROTC. The cadets and leadership from UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls, as well as UW-Stout, were on hand. Many of our cadets were recognized for their exemplary work, and we are very proud of their accomplishments.

The guest speaker was retired Lt. Gen. Peter Kind who, among other things, holds an MBA from Harvard University, served in the special forces and was chief information officer for the Army.  He presented four important attributes of leadership:

  • Integrity is essential.
  • Building trust is vital because teamwork and success is not possible without trust.
  • Questions are “fair” and should be encouraged because they promote communication and an understanding of overall goals, objectives and tactics.
  • Disagreement is not disrespect. The strength of an organization is in its ability to think critically. Questioning the approach, and even offering disagreement, is healthy and should not be considered disrespectful.

These are crucial elements of servant leadership, which I subscribe to.

We were very fortunate to have had the honor of Lt. General Kind’s presence and sage insights. He helped make the ball extraordinary.

I also was privileged to receive a certificate of appreciation from the Third Brigade of the U.S. Army Cadet Command thanking us for our support of ROTC and honoring UW-Stout for 125 years of “leadership integrity and commitment to excellence.”

After commencement in May, Lt. Colonel Dave Pindell, chair of UW-Stout’s military science department, which oversees the ROTC program on campus, will retire. He received a standing ovation for his work with the battalion, which recently was named the top ROTC program in the Third Brigade.

Retired Lt. Col. Scott Bolstad and retired Associate Dean Pete Heimdahl were instrumental in launching the Northwoods Battalion and attended the ball to be part of the celebration.

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