Grieving for death of a student; campus activities

Student death hits everyone hard

WEB-RickeyAny death is hard — I know because I recently lost my mother. But deaths of students are a major “gut punch,” and that is what it felt like Saturday morning when I learned that Rickey Alan Hible, a sophomore engineering technology student, had been found deceased on a driveway in Menomonie. Authorities are still trying to piece together what contributed to this heartbreaking loss.

What we do know is that the loss of Rickey came far too early and is devastating to his family, friends and the campus community. Now is the time to join with Rickey’s family in Minnesota – he was from Shakopee – and his friends on and off campus to grieve the loss of a bright student who was full of life, ambition and, as his obituary states, “had a big personality and a strong presence.”

Rickey, as noted in the obituary, loved to hunt and fish, loved his family – he had joined his father in a business recently – and had a passion for sports and physical fitness. Students like Rickey make UW-Stout a truly special place.

Nothing I or anyone else can say will alleviate the overwhelming pain Rickey’s family and friends are feeling right now. So we are left with doing everything we can to show them that UW-Stout is a caring community that mourns when we lose one of our own.

I would like to thank everyone who responded Saturday morning to this tragedy: our University Police, Dean of Students Office and Counseling Center, among others. Their professionalism and compassion was evident. I also would like to thank the Menomonie Police Department and Chief Eric Atkinson for the cooperation the department showed in its response and subsequent investigation.

Finally, I ask that our students do everything possible to help each other stay safe as we head into the final weeks of the academic year. Please make smart decisions and take care of each other.

Family Weekend a whirlwind of activity

I don’t know where to start in describing the incredible events I attended Friday and Saturday as part of Family Weekend. I laughed almost nonstop Friday night at “Little Shop of Horrors,” the musical comedy University Theatre put on in beautiful Harvey Hall Theatre. On Saturday I participated in an insightful Coffee and Conversation with the Chancellor. I followed that with the Symphonic Band concert that featured Erika Svanoe’s composition “With Tower High,” which the band commissioned to commemorate our 125th anniversary.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 4.09.58 PM

Twin Cities composer Erika Svanoe, Associate Professor and Band Director Aaron Durst

I capped off the weekend with the always enjoyable, and creative, Fashion Without Fabric show put on by the School of Art and Design.


Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see our University Choirs perform at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, but it is not surprising that I am hearing spectacular reviews of their performance. I hate to admit that I was a little weary by day’s end, but the energy and originality of our students, faculty and staff all weekend kept me going.

Details about Family Weekend are available here.

Student researchers take over the Capitol


I was happy to join six of our students who were accompanied by some of their faculty mentors to showcase research projects last Wednesday in the state Capitol as part of the UW System’s Posters in the Rotunda day. The students met with legislators or their staffs from their home areas and spent a lot of time discussing their projects with visitors.

This is a great way for all campuses in the UW System to showcase the research projects they produce, as well as a shining example of the hands-on learning experiences we offer at UW-Stout. Details about our Posters in the Rotunda participants are available here.

Forming regional partnerships are important

While in Madison, I also had an opportunity to meet with state Department of Workforce Development Secretary Allen and Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson, along with UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Leavitt and UW System Associate Vice President Bruckardt to discuss how the UW System can assist the state with its workforce development goals.

The meeting was productive and likely will lead to some regional partnerships that help leverage UW-Stout’s many assets as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.

Alumni meetings are always special

I finished off my day in Madison by providing an update about UW-Stout to a gathering of alumni at the Milton Madison Monona Terrace. It’s always a joy meeting with proud alumni, and this gathering was no exception, leaving me energized for my return trip to Menomonie.