Monthly Archives: May 2016

Three ‘Wows’ for Science Olympiad; MOC receives award

Science Olympiad National Tournament a tremendous success

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Scott Griesbach, executive director of Student Life Services, summed up my reaction to the Science Olympiad National Tournament hosted by UW-Stout late last week better than anything I could think of.  Scott wrote in an email on Sunday morning:

“WOW, WOW, WOW!! As I reflect on the observations of the Science Olympiad tournament as well as the conversations I had with participants, coaches and parents, I am filled with pride at all of the hard work and dedication that so many people put into making this an outstanding experience for our guests. I heard over and over and over again from people about how welcoming and friendly our staff are, how beautiful the campus is, how nice our facilities are, how organized and well-thought out everything is, how great the communication has been and how thoughtful the planning for this event has been,” Scott wrote.

“I heard so much praise about the information provided before people got here, how easy the registration process was, how great the food was, how nice the residence halls are, how nice everyone has been, how well signed the campus was, how impressive the ceremonies were, how much fun the evening activities were, how clean everything was and what a fantastic time everyone was having,” he added.

Scott noted that this event was almost four years in the making and included assistance from every facet of the university.

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He is right. I want to commend Forrest Schultz, national tournament director, for bringing this incredible event to campus and assembling a team that pulled it off. I also want to note the contributions of Steve Nold and Juliet Fox. However, it would be impossible for me to publicly thank everyone who helped make the Science Olympiad a success, so I won’t even try. But I will end with a final line from Scott’s email:

“We couldn’t have achieved this incredible accomplishment without each and every one of you, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have never been more STOUTPROUD!!”

For those of you who want to relive the event in photos and videos, go to the UW-Stout Facebook page to see the awesome coverage from our University Communications staff members.

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Chippewa County award an honor for Manufacturing Outreach Center

On Friday, I proudly accepted the Chippewa County Economic Development Corp.’s 2016 Partner of the Year award on behalf of the UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center. As you know, for many years I led the MOC and its parent organization, the Stout Technology Transfer Institute, forerunner of today’s Discovery Center.

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As part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology-Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, the MOC delivers measureable impacts to clients throughout Wisconsin. This commitment to measurable impacts has made me a strong proponent of the NIST-MEP program, and I proudly serve as a review panelist for center competitions and periodic reviews nationwide. I am also honored to serve on the executive committee of the board of directors for Wisconsin’s NIST-MEP 10-year award, which also allows me to track UW-Stout’s contribution to the statewide NIST-MEP.

The NIST-MEP award will build on UW-Stout’s aggressive engagement with outcomes-focused outreach, service and technology transfer. My role on the board will further streamline access to the tremendous intellectual and physical resources of UW-Stout, and I’m confident our faculty, staff and students will contribute to the Discovery Center’s mission to extend UW-Stout’s polytechnic assets available to businesses throughout Wisconsin.

As we move forward, I will continue to provide updates on the successes that UW-Stout and its Discovery Center are realizing through the applied research and technical assistance that our faculty, staff and students are delivering. I am excited about the continued attention to UW-Stout’s tradition of service and technology transfer to the region and state through our Discovery Center.

I look forward to your continued support of this novel approach to university-based economic development. More information on the award is available here.

 

A statement regarding the Faculty Senate’s no confidence vote

The following statement is in response to the UW-Stout Faculty Senate’s action Monday afternoon:

I understand the frustrations that led the UW-Stout Faculty Senate to take the action it did Monday. However, I am not in agreement with a vote of no confidence in our UW System leaders.

There is no question that, as the Senate resolution states, the budget situation at UW-Stout and the other campuses in the UW System, coupled with repeated tuition freezes, has “reached a critical tipping point in terms of the quality of education faculty and staff can provide to our students.”

Moreover, our faculty and staff have, to date, done a commendable job serving our students in an environment of continuing reduced resources. They are doing more with less without any additional remuneration, and their frustration is understandable.

While I respect the Faculty Senate’s right to entertain such a resolution and express their frustration, I also believe that a vote of no confidence misses the target and distracts us from the important work that everyone in the UW System, including our faculty, staff and students, will be required to do during the 2017-19 biennium to help us retreat from the serious financial brink where we find ourselves.

We need to work collaboratively in this regard, and a vote of no confidence detracts from that collaborative spirit. It is my hope that, going forward, we will all be able to continue to work together to ensure that we have the resources needed to provide a high quality education for our students.

 

A great year; campus climate; commencement

Thanks for a great academic year

Boy, that seemed quick — the end of the spring semester I mean. Just like that, the 2015-16 academic year is coming to a close.

I want to take this last blog post of the academic year – I will blog sporadically during the summer if an important topic arises – to thank everyone for their hard work, dedication, good humor and insight this past year.

I know that it was been a particularly challenging year because of the turmoil created by the 2015-17 budget reductions, the abnormally high number of colleagues who have left UW-Stout and the continued uncertainty over tenure, fiscal matters and the general political climate. Through it all, however, I am convinced that this campus rallied to continue to deliver to our students the kind of quality education that they expect from Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. That is a testament to the quality of faculty and staff I am privileged to work with every day.

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This is a historic year for UW-Stout, our 125th anniversary. In my commencement speech, I gave a little history lesson about our founder, James Huff Stout, and the grit and determination he needed to rebuild his fledgling institution after it burned to the ground just six years after it opened. I, of course, am eternally grateful that Stout found that wellspring of courage to rebuild, which I am reminded of every day when I see Bowman Hall and the iconic Clock Tower. When I am confronted with a particularly troubling situation at work, I am reminded of what it took for James Huff Stout to keep his dream alive and, frankly, it’s a lot easier to find a way out of whatever morass I am in.

It is important to note that I see the same grit and determination demonstrated daily across our staff as they face our significant challenges. Thank you for your persistence, hard work and contributions to our students and the university.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy, relaxing and safe summer. We have all worked very hard this past year and deserve some time away to reconnect with our families, indulge our personal passions and get ready for the upcoming academic year. Thanks again for all of your hard work. I consider it a privilege to call each and everyone one of you a colleague.

Progress reported on campus climate recommendations

Given the budget challenges, it’s more important than ever to make UW-Stout a place where all students, faculty and staff feel at home — and choose to stay. While each of us plays a part in creating a welcoming environment, we’re lucky to have the support of the campus community focused on implementing recommendations from the most-recent Campus Climate Survey.

In 2015, the Strategic Planning Group recommended approval of six action items from this survey, which I approved. I am happy to share that significant progress was made on all of the action items. The Diversity Leadership Team worked with people across campus to make the university more inclusive, driving initiatives like contracting with Empathia, which provides individual and organizational services that maximize well-being, safety and productivity in the workplace. In response to concerns about bullying behaviors, the senates formed a joint subcommittee to make recommendations that will be included in the handbook.

Efforts are continuing to engage faculty, staff and students in understanding and using the Intercultural Development Inventory framework. Criteria were established for when internal hiring can occur outside of a formal recruitment process. A training program was implemented for faculty, staff and new undergraduate students that includes information about sexual misconduct and bystander intervention.

I want to thank all the people who helped implement these important initiatives. The survey next will be administered in spring 2017, and I hope to see improvements on ratings aligned with these initiatives.

Graduation: A special time

It was a special honor Saturday to deliver the commencement speech at the three ceremonies in Johnson Fieldhouse and hand out diplomas to our happy graduates, including our first terminal degrees. I also enjoyed the chance to meet the family members and friends of graduates at the receptions and chat with our faculty and staff who took part.

I would like to thank those staff members who took the time to join me in celebrating this major milestone in our students’ lives.

Congratulations, graduates. All of your hard work has paid off. Best wishes on the start of your careers or in seeking an advanced degree.

Here is the text of my speech:

Greetings on this great day to all the graduates, their families and friends, my colleagues on stage and in the audience and everyone else who is here to celebrate with us today.

It is truly an honor and a pleasure to be here to recognize the accomplishments of so many talented individuals. This day is all about the graduates, those who are in front of me in their gowns and mortar boards. But we all know that it takes a lot of support for these graduates to actually get to today. So I would like to recognize the parents, grandparents and other family members who traveled here to see these cherished diplomas being handed out. Could all of these family members please stand up so they can be recognized?  Thank you.

I also want to take a moment to wish all the mothers in the audience a very special and happy Mother’s Day. Everyone knows how important mothers are in the lives of their children and the hard work, tears and patience it takes to be a good mother these days. Unfortunately, I lost my own mother this year. I do hope all mothers have a special day tomorrow.

I stand here today as UW-Stout celebrates a tremendous milestone: our 125th anniversary.  We started the celebration on our official birthday, Jan. 5, with an event that featured Gov. Scott Walker presenting us with a proclamation honoring our 125 years of service to the state. I especially like the part of the proclamation in which the governor says we have been transformed into a modern university with innovative undergraduate and graduate programs, but we have remained true to the original mission set forth by our founder, James Huff Stout, of “learning through involvement.”

Forums were valuable; time to celebrate achievements

UW-Stout in the spotlight last week

Our university was privileged last week to play host to top leaders from the UW System. They had the opportunity to hear from faculty, staff and students at open forums on the important issues facing the system today.

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I want to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules, especially with the end of the semester approaching, to share their thoughts with Board of Regents President Regina Millner, Regent member Ed Manydeeds and system President Ray Cross.

The opinions expressed were sometimes hard to hear for a chancellor, but they needed to be said. I am sure that the Regents and President Cross left UW-Stout with a much better understanding of the particular needs of this campus and with a full appreciation of just how dedicated we are to providing a quality education for our students — even in the face of our budget difficulties. I also believe we made a convincing case for our No. 1 issue: the need to address the egregious salary inequities for our faculty and staff. There might be a little light at the end of that tunnel on this issue, as President Cross suggested during his forum, and I would encourage you to look for more information coming from the Chancellor’s Office hopefully in the near future.0P5A3437

In the meantime, both of the forums are still available for viewing if you missed them. The forum on our budget situation, attended by Millner and Manydeeds, is available here. The forum featuring President Cross is available here.

A great tradition sponsored by the Honors College

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Last week I also had the privilege of helping our Honors College with a special tradition they call Bestow the Stole. Each year, graduating seniors who have remained in the Honors College throughout their college careers are awarded a blue stole, which is worn with their graduation regalia to mark their accomplishments.

I could tell that the ceremony, part of a banquet in the Memorial Student Center, meant a lot to the graduating seniors who engage in rigorous academic coursework above and beyond what their individual program requires. Students are invited to join the college if they have high ACT scores and are ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school class or have GPAs of 3.5 or above if they are unranked. Students also can apply to join the Honors College by submitting an essay and list of extracurricular and community activities and leadership roles.

This year the Honors College will have 45 graduates.

During the ceremony each graduate had a mentor who said a few words about them and then bestowed the blue silk stole. I was impressed with how closely the mentors worked with each student to help them grow and achieve. The banquet also featured guests of the graduates, including their parents.

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This year, a special stole was bestowed on Lopa Basu for her five years of service as Honors College director. Lopa received the stole from Chris Ferguson, who is coming in as director. I want to echo the fine comments Chris made about Lopa’s contributions on growing the Honors College to its present 500 students and thank her for all of her hard work and dedication.

Please attend commencement

Speaking of recognizing achievement, I would like to personally invite all faculty and staff to participate in the commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 7, in Johnson Fieldhouse. Nothing is more exciting than to see students walk across the stage and receive their diplomas and then look out in the audience to see the pride that exudes from the students’ families and friends.

I would like to have a large number of faculty and staff sharing that moment with everyone in the fieldhouse.

Undergraduate ceremonies are at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., as well as a Graduate School commencement, where we will hand out our first terminal degrees, at 5:30 p.m. If you want to be part of the processional, please email commencement@uwstout.edu. If you wish to attend but not be a part of the ceremony, contact Britta Miller at millerbri@uwstout.edu.

Leadership Academy has graduation ceremony as well

On Wednesday, the fourth and final session of our first UW-Stout Leadership Academy concluded. I attended the luncheon and reception, which recognized the graduates. I supported the Leadership Academy as a way to recognize and grow leaders on campus.

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The program was offered to UW-Stout administrators, managers and staff and is designed to help participants further their leadership skills through a deeper understanding of communication styles, motivating others, conflict resolution and identifying personal leadership strengths and opportunities for further development. Instructors were Charlie Krueger and Kari Dahl.

Congratulations to the 20 participants in the program. I expect them to make a difference in moving UW-Stout forward.

Board meeting a Foundation success

On Saturday, I met with our Stout University Foundation Board members to discuss our budget situation and how that relates to our need to expand our fundraising efforts. I went through essentially the same budget presentation we gave at the forum last Wednesday and then had a great discussion about how UW-Stout can improve its financial situation through additional private donations.

I am confident that the board, working with Vice Chancellor Mark Parsons and his excellent staff, will succeed in meeting the ambitious fundraising goals that we need to continue to be a quality public institution in a time of reduced state resources. I thank the board members for all of the time they devote to this important effort.