Commencement efforts appreciated; goodbye to Chief Walter and to 2016; save the date, Jan. 17

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A very wintry but satisfying commencement day

Every commencement ceremony is special to me, but the fall 2016 exercise will stand out and not just because it brought our 125th anniversary celebration essentially to a close. It will be noteworthy because of the hardships many in the audience had to endure simply to get to Johnson Fieldhouse through a heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures.

With ominous forecasts of snow earlier in the week, we had several discussions to determine whether we would continue with our ceremonies. We had to balance travel safety with the high desire to recognize our 697 students for reaching a major milestone. We decided to hold commencement as scheduled with myriad warnings about the impending weather conditions, and we offered the option to watch a livestream of the ceremonies.

I’m grateful the snow stopped in time for our very dedicated Physical Plant crews to get our sidewalks, parking lots and other facilities cleared before guests arrived. Local road crews also did a fantastic job making it possible for people to drive to Menomonie safely, if a bit slower than usual. I’d like to thank our Physical Plant personnel and everyone who was involved in planning and executing commencement for all their hard work and long hours. You made me proud to work alongside you every day.

I concentrated my commencement speech on the tremendous compassion and empathy for others I witnessed on campus and in the community after the Oct. 31 death of student Hussain Saeed Alnahdi. I drew parallels between this degree of compassion and the compassionate way our founder, James Huff Stout, lived his life. More on the speech and commencement is available here. I also recommend our UW-Stout Facebook page for a video and many more pictures from commencement.

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Senior projects on display at School of Art and Design show

A highlight of commencement week is always the School of Art and Design Senior Shows on the Friday evening before the Saturday ceremonies. The public event in the Applied Arts building features capstone accomplishments of graduating Bachelor of Fine Arts students.

Hundreds of people generally attend, and I always am impressed by the creative achievements of the students displaying projects in graphic, interactive, interior, industrial and entertainment design, as well as studio artwork including sculpture, metals and printmaking. The exhibits were scattered throughout Applied Arts, with a throng of parents and the public taking it all in with delight.

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Best wishes in retirement, Chief Walter

Talk about bittersweet. I attended a retirement reception Friday afternoon for our campus police chief, Lisa Walter, who is leaving after 23 years. Her last day is Jan. 6.

I have come to depend on Lisa for well-reasoned advice on many topics, and she has worked extremely hard throughout her career to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. Managing a campus police department has become increasingly complex over the years, and Lisa has worked diligently to keep our department at the forefront of innovative policing techniques and practices.

The reception was bittersweet because although we will miss her experience, training and good judgment, I’m happy she’ll have more time for family and to pursue outside activities, including Special Olympics.

To her credit Lisa has succeeded with developing a team that will be able to function at high levels in her absence. Well done, Chief Walter. Thank you for your tireless, selfless and extraordinary service.

Please attend our ‘You Said…We Did’ presentation

I hope everyone on campus will be able to attend our annual “You Said…We Did” presentation from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. Information will be presented on actions that already are underway, or are ready to be taken, based on the feedback we received from campus at the fall Engagement Sessions.

These actions are intended to help us achieve our FOCUS 2020 goals. We also will take this opportunity to recognize individuals and teams who helped make these accomplishments possible. There will be fun, laughter and celebration as well.

We value your feedback in helping achieve the goals of our planning process. More information about January Professional Development is available here.

Happy holidays and thanks for a great 2016

This is my final blog for 2016, and I want to end it with my best wishes for students, faculty and staff, alumni and other stakeholders to have a very happy holiday season and a great new year. My family and I will be taking some time away from campus to reconnect and to regroup for 2017.

I hope that you also have the opportunity to recharge. Our 125th anniversary year has been exciting and challenging. Thanks to everyone for their good work and good cheer and for being the best group of colleagues a chancellor could wish for.

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