Scholarships, ice cream bring smiles; budget advocacy; Harvey Hall event

Lots of smiles at Foundation scholarship event

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If there’s one event I go to every year where I know everyone will be smiling, it’s the annual awards banquet sponsored by Stout University Foundation. Through the financial support of alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends of the university, the Foundation has awarded more than $11.5 million since it was established in 1963.

I know how important this financial support is – as a student here in the 1970s I received a scholarship that played an important part in me being able to remain at UW-Stout. I told students at the banquet that money was tight in my family and the Owen F. Goodman scholarship I received twice made a big difference in keeping my education affordable.

I also asked students to do everything they can to show their appreciation to the generous donors who contribute to the various scholarship funds. This year 380 students received $760,000 in scholarships, the largest amount ever.

I spoke to donors at a reception before the banquet and certainly added my words of appreciation. We also heard from one scholarship recipient, Meghan Olson, a senior in early childhood education, on how important the scholarship was in her success as a student.

Evenings like this show just how important our private fundraising efforts are and why we need to build upon our successes in the future.

We all scream for ice cream

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Nothing brings out students, faculty and staff like free ice cream. Last week I was privileged to hand out hundreds of ice cream cups to students, faculty and staff who lined up in the Memorial Student Center for the annual free ice cream event my office sponsors. I was joined by vice chancellors Mark Parsons and Phil Lyons.

I really enjoy meeting and asking the students where they are from and what they are majoring in and interacting with employees about their jobs as well. Even a few selfies were thrown in.

The academic year can be stressful. Events like these help ease the tensions a bit. I know the ice cream I consumed put a smile on my face!

Already working on advocacy for next year’s budget

It might seem a bit early, but my office already is engaged in preliminary advocacy efforts for the 2017-19 state budget. After the big cut we sustained in the 2015-17 budget, we need to do everything we can to ensure at least some of that funding is returned to the UW System and we achieve other budgetary objectives.

To that end, I am meeting with the legislative candidates in our immediate area, Democrat and Republican, to impress upon them the importance of increased UW System funding in the next budget and to advocate for increased compensation for our faculty and staff. We also need to ease some rules concerning capital projects.

I made the same points last week when I addressed, along with UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt and Chippewa Valley Technical College President Bruce Barker, the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce on the budget and other higher education issues.

Turnover among our legislative representatives will be high because of retirements, so it was important to meet with the candidates to ensure they had a full understanding of our situation. I am reasonably optimistic that at least locally our legislative candidates understand the need for additional support, as well as the hardship employees are facing because of our salary structure. We will keep you apprised of these advocacy efforts in the ensuing months.

Help us celebrate a renovated Harvey Hall

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Finally, I just want to emphasize how important it is for you to attend the grand reopening ceremony for Harvey Hall, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, in the Clock Tower Plaza on the west side of Harvey. We will be joined by UW System President Ray Cross, as well as many of the people responsible for the renovation work on the 100-year-old building.

The event will feature music, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours and a reception. The rain site is the Harvey Hall Theatre.

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