Monthly Archives: January 2017

Work on state budget to begin; visits from officials, trip to Madison highlight week; welcome to new CIO

Get ready for the state budget process to begin

July 1 might seem like a long way off, but it’s when the new state budget will take effect — and the process is about to kick into high gear. Gov. Walker will release his 2017-19 proposal at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, which will then be reviewed and amended by the Joint Finance Committee and the full Legislature for 4½ months before taking effect July 1.

In contrast to previous budgets, I go into this debate with guarded optimism that UW-Stout and the rest of the UW System will emerge with additional resources with which we can fulfill our mission to prepare students for rewarding careers after graduation. The governor has spoken about increasing funding for the UW System and tying it to performance measures, which is a good sign. He also has indicated that he wants to cut the cost of tuition at UW institutions, with the state picking up the costs.

We will be very interested in seeing the details of these and other proposals and will get the details to campus as soon as possible after the governor’s address Wednesday evening.

Chippewa Valley Rally a satisfying experience

The governor, along with Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, spoke last Wednesday to the 23rd annual Chippewa Valley Rally, sponsored by the chambers of commerce in Menomonie, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. It was a tremendous opportunity to visit with legislators from across the state and talk about the upcoming budget.

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I appreciate that rally organizers fully endorsed the UW System’s $42.5 million budget proposal as one of their “asks.” That sends a very powerful message to our elected officials about the business support for increased UW funding. The Leader-Telegram wrote a very nice editorial Sunday about this issue, which can be found on the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram website.

Rep. Quinn spends some quality time on campus

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I also had a very positive meeting Friday with state Rep. Romaine Quinn, a Republican from Chetek, who sits on the Assembly Colleges and University Committee. We had a great discussion about the issues important to UW-Stout, both fiscal and policy. I want to thank Rep. Quinn for the time he spent on campus.

It’s important that we establish strong relationships with our local legislators, especially those in a position to influence higher education legislation.

Advocacy plan rounds into shape

Finally, we are putting the finishing touches on our advocacy plan for the state budget, which leans heavily on our external stakeholders to talk to legislators on our behalf as the budget process continues. We have assembled a list of potential advocates and are talking to them about the degree to which they want to be involved. I think this will be a very effective approach in the weeks ahead.

Welcome aboard, CIO Traxler

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.43.27 AM.pngI want to officially welcome Suzanne Traxler to campus as our new chief information officer. She replaces Doug Wahl, who has retired, and comes to us with a wealth of experience in the IT field from a similar position at UW-Platteville.

I look forward to working with Suzanne on a variety of issues and to seeking her advice and counsel as a member of my Cabinet. Please take time to introduce yourself to Suzanne and make her feel welcome. A news release about her appointment is available on the UW-Stout News website.

 

Thanks to Lt. Gov. Kleefisch for visiting Fab Lab

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I was privileged to spend Tuesday afternoon with Lt. Gov. Kleefisch in our Discovery Center Fab Lab as she, along with Mark Hogan, CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., announced a $60,000 contract for our Center for Innovation and Development.

We will match the $60,000, and the money will be used to help innovators take their ideas through a prototype to market. Details about the contract are available on the UW-Stout News website.

I was overwhelmed by the lieutenant governor’s warm words of praise for UW-Stout, highlighted by our 97.3 percent employment rate for recent graduates and our efforts to help businesses and industries solve their problems and become more efficient.

 

 

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Ready for the new semester and a busy, important year ahead

Welcome to spring semester 2017

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I’d like to welcome back our students, faculty and staff for the start of the spring 2017 academic semester. I hope everyone has a very successful and rewarding semester.

As I have noted previously, this year will be marked by a couple of major events. On Tuesday, March 7, we will hold a celebration of two very important anniversaries in UW-Stout’s history: the 10-year anniversary of UW-Stout being designated Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University and the 15-year anniversary of UW-Stout receiving the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The celebration will begin at 9 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and other dignitaries will attend. More details will be coming soon in an email.

Then on Thursday-Friday, Oct. 5-6, we will host the UW System Board of Regents. This will be a great opportunity to showcase the campus and to focus on student achievement. Details on this event will come later in the year.

You said …and we did

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The academic year kicked off for faculty and staff with the always popular You Said…We Did event coordinated by our office of Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality.

This event is intended to celebrate the actions we have taken based on feedback we receive at the annual Engagement Sessions. It is an important part of our planning process — to show stakeholders that their opinions count and are acted on. You can watch the event on Livestream.

Chippewa Valley Rally to advocate for UW budget plan

Besides the beginning of a new semester, January marks the unofficial start of the state’s budget process. Gov. Walker will introduce his 2017-19 state budget in early to mid-February.

On Wednesday I will be joined by three others from UW-Stout in attending the 23rd annual Chippewa Valley Rally in the state Capitol. I am happy to report that the rally, sponsored by three chambers of commerce, Eau Claire, Menomonie and Chippewa Falls, will include a very strong “ask” of all legislators to support the 2017-19 state budget request submitted by the Board of Regents.

I can’t stress how important this is — to have business leaders, elected officials and others from the Chippewa Valley advocating strongly on our behalf in every legislative office in the Capitol. I will be making a presentation to rally participants before they go to the Capitol, explaining the UW budget request, and I will be expressing my appreciation that the chambers made this a top priority this year.

Dunn County Board supports pay increases for UW employees

On a related note, I want to thank the Dunn County Board of Supervisors for its support last week of the pay-plan proposal the Board of Regents has sent to the governor and the Legislature. The County Board approved a resolution that calls for full state funding of the proposal, which would allow employees to receive increases of an average of 2 percent a year in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

This resolution will help us make a case that higher salaries have important local support, and I want to thank County Board Chairman Steve Rasmussen and the entire board for their assistance.

Chancellor issues statement after arrest of suspect in death of Hussain Alnahdi

 

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MEMO TO: Students, faculty and staff

DATE: Jan. 13, 2017

SUBJECT: Apprehension of suspect in death of Hussain Saeed Alnahdi

The Dunn Country District Attorney’s office has charged a 27-year-old Minnesota man, Cullen M. Osburn, with felony murder and battery in the Oct. 30 attack that killed UW-Stout student Hussain Saeed Alnahdi.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram newspaper reported the arrest and charges this morning. Details are available here.

I want to thank the Menomonie Police Department and Chief Erik Atkinson for tirelessly pursuing the leads that resulted in this arrest. I know that Chief Atkinson and his officers took this case very personally, and they should be commended for pursuing this investigation to this stage.

I also want to thank retired UW-Stout Police Chief Lisa Walter and interim Police Chief Jason Spetz for working very closely with Menomonie police during the investigation.

Finally, I want to thank Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf for her work in charging this suspect and offer whatever assistance she may need to ensure justice prevails in this case.

I hope this arrest brings some measure of peace and comfort to Hussain’s family in Saudi Arabia. They have gone through a living nightmare, and our hearts and prayers continue to go out to them. I also hope that Hussain’s roommates and many friends on campus also feel a sense of closure and relief with the arrest.

The death of Hussain on Oct. 31 from injuries he sustained in downtown Menomonie has affected everyone on campus, especially our international and minority students who expressed concern for their safety.

At the same time, I have witnessed many people reaching out to these concerned students to assure them that they live and study in a safe environment. I hope these efforts to help all students feel safe on campus and in the community continues.

I also think it is worth mentioning that the criminal complaint issued in this case said the suspect “was adamant that the altercation was not a result of anybody’s race.”

Finally, I also want to thank everyone who contacted the Menomonie Police Department with information about the attack, as well as those who contributed to the reward fund administered by the Community Foundation of Dunn County and those who have contributed to the memorial fund established by the Stout University Foundation. Your efforts are truly appreciated.

Student Death

 

Statement on governor’s State of State speech

Chancellor Bob Meyer issued the following statement after Gov. Scott Walker’s State of the State speech Tuesday, Jan. 10:

Like the governor, I too am concerned about ensuring that everyone who wants a college education has the means to obtain one. I will be interested in hearing the details about the governor’s proposal to cut tuition costs.

I certainly hope, however, that the governor plans to both fully fund his plan to cut tuition and to restore at least part of the budget cut we received in 2015-17. We are still working our way through that cut, which amounted to $5.3 million a year, without reducing educational quality. It’s been a very challenging task.

Another critical need is state support for salary increases for our employees. In the last six years, UW employees have received 1 percent pay increases in only two years, while university employees in other states have received, on average, increases between 1.4 percent and 2.3 percent each year. Our faculty salaries are now 21 percent behind those in our peer group, and we are experiencing record turnover rates.

I believe we have reached a critical period in the history of the UW System. We hope to work with the governor and the Legislature to ensure a bright future for UW-Stout and the entire UW System.

Ready to kick off a new year Tuesday, Jan. 17

Opening Day

Faculty and staff attend the Opening Day presentations in August. Opening day for the second semester will be Tuesday, Jan. 17, with Chancellor Bob Meyer’s address at 8:40 a.m.

Welcome to 2017!

I hope everyone had an opportunity to recharge over the holidays and spend time with family and friends. I know I enjoyed some time away from campus after what was a pretty challenging (and fulfilling) year. Now it’s on to 2017 and the start of a new semester.

I will be making my opening address at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. I certainly hope you can attend. I will touch on some of the accomplishments of 2016 and lay out what I perceive to be the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2017. If you can’t attend, the address can be viewed here live.

My address will be followed by the ever-popular You Said…We Did presentation organized by the Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality office. And yes, there will be some high jinks!

I also hope you attend as many of the professional development sessions as possible the next two weeks. A lot of time and energy went into listening to your needs to host sessions that will help you with your career and life. Details are available here.

More blogs ahead

I intend to use this blog as often as I can to keep campus apprised of important developments and news items, both on campus and in Madison. I was quite surprised to learn that the blog was viewed almost 29,000 times in 2016 by more than 21,000 people.

The blog obviously has turned into quite a useful way for me to connect with campus and our external audience, and I will continue to use it as much as possible.

State budget cycle begins

Most people know that 2017 will be a budget year for us; Gov. Scott Walker will introduce his 2017-19 state budget proposal in early to mid-February, and then legislators will spend the next four months debating and reshaping the document. We intend to work hard to ensure that our voice is heard during those debates.

Speaking of the Legislature, I wanted to point out a significant development: Five of the 10 Republicans on the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee are from western Wisconsin, including state Rep, Rob Stafsholt, who replaced John Murtha as the Assembly member who represents UW-Stout. The other four are Reps. Shannon Zimmerman from Hudson, Rob Summerfield from Bloomer, Warren Petryk from Eleva and Romaine Quinn from Rice Lake.

Democrat Rep. Dana Wachs from Eau Claire also is a member.

Sen. Sheila Harsdorf continues to chair the Senate Higher Education Committee. This is a welcome development for UW-Stout and western Wisconsin because we will have a significant voice on higher education issues that pass through those committees.

I hope 2017 is a great year for you and your family. By working together, we can make it a great year for UW-Stout as well.

Campus Climate Survey to be sent out Jan. 17

Faculty and staff will receive an invitation Tuesday, Jan. 17, via email from parq@uwstout.edu to participate in the Campus Climate Survey, which will provide important information about our climate. Survey results will be reviewed by the Strategic Planning Group, Diversity Bridge Team and other groups to determine if any actions are needed to improve the environment for working, living and learning at UW-Stout.

Some actions taken based on the 2014 survey include purchase of LifeMatters, which provides confidential professional assistance to all UW-Stout faculty and staff; creation of an ambassador position to champion the use of Intercultural Development Inventory on campus; and updates to the process for hiring and promotions.

The survey was first administered in spring 2011 as part of a UW System project; the instrument was developed by a consultant, Sue Rankin. A shorter follow-up survey was conducted in spring 2014. The 2017 survey is a revised version of the 2014 survey, and I encourage all of you to participate.