Monthly Archives: April 2017

Pay raises pushed at budget hearing; Foundation, alumni events productive

I had the chance last Tuesday to speak to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee during the committee’s public hearing in Spooner on the 2017-19 state budget. Because of the short time allowed for speakers, two minutes, I had to condense what I really wanted to get across to the committee as the No. 1 priority for the upcoming budget: the need to provide immediate salary increases for our faculty and staff.

I told the committee that we are losing many valuable employees who are being offered better salaries elsewhere, and this could endanger the quality of the education we offer our students.

I also listed some of the ways we stand out in preparing our students for challenging and successful careers (yes, I did mention our 97.4 percent employment rate for recent graduates!). A video and transcript of the testimony are available here.

I want to assure everyone on campus that I will continue to advocate as often and as loudly as possible for better compensation for our employees as the budget process continues because I truly believe you are the reason UW-Stout is truly extraordinary.

Finance committee also hears from Provost Guilfoile

I also joined Provost Patrick Guilfoile at the finance committee’s hearing the last Wednesday in Ellsworth. Patrick did a great job echoing my comments on the compensation issue as well as explaining to the committee the need for legislators to back the UW System Board of Regents’ proposal to allow us to increase tuition by a small percentage in the second year of the biennium.

Patrick told the committee that the additional revenue from the increased tuition would be used to continue our efforts to meet the workforce demands of our business and industry partners. A video and transcript of his remarks are available here.

I was joined at the Spooner hearing by UW-Superior Chancellor Renee Wachter. Joining Patrick and I in Ellsworth were UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt and UW-River Falls interim Provost Faye Perkins.

Hearty thanks to Stout Foundation Board

My Saturday included a very interesting and productive meeting with the Stout University Foundation Board of Directors. We discussed a number of topics, including the comprehensive fundraising campaign that the board has endorsed.

These board members spend a lot of time on Foundation board matters and do an excellent job. I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their service to UW-Stout.

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Alumni event a highlight of a trip to California

Speaking of fundraising, I spent a week recently on the West Coast meeting with alumni and donors to talk to them about the comprehensive campaign and all the great things that are happening at UW-Stout. A highlight was a fantastic evening at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, Calif., at an event sponsored by alumnus Bill Hendricksen. I can’t thank Bill enough for his generosity in supporting this event. Everyone who attended had a great time!

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Family Weekend offered family fun, impressive events

I had the opportunity to attend several Family Weekend events over the weekend and really enjoyed all of them. This special event gives me the opportunity to learn a lot more about our students and their families who attend as well as listen to their feedback about our wonderful campus and staff.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped plan and execute the weekend’s activities — they really are too numerous to mention.

‘Seussical’ a great musical

My wife, Debbie, and I had the opportunity to see “Seussical,” a terrific musical tribute to Dr. Seuss’ works, performed in Harvey Hall Theatre. Kudos to Paul Calenberg, the director and choreographer; Michaela Gifford, the musical director; Audric Buhr, the orchestra conductor; Jennifer Sansfacon, who designed the scenes and lighting; Barb Weisenberger, costume designer; Corey Schoff and Jeremiah Bowe, sound designers, and our many talented student performers who made this performance an outstanding success and one perfectly suited for Family Weekend audiences.

More details are available here.

Fashion Without Fabric an inspiring experience

Debbie and I also were able to take in the Fashion Without Fabric show, which had Real Genius as a theme and offered student interpretations of the MacArthur Fellows genius program. More than 100 student projects were showcased, demonstrating some amazingly creative interpretations that were designed, developed and choreographed over three short weeks.

The work of our students was nothing short of impressive and completely “wowed” the audience, including yours truly.

Special thanks are in order to show advisers Robert Atwell and Cathie Weissman for making the event a huge success. I would also like to thank our faculty who worked so closely with the students to complete their impressive projects, including Timothy Alberg, Tom Hollenback, Masako Onodera, Geoffrey Wheeler, Josh Wilichowski, Molly Uravitch and many others.

David Beck, Cynthia Bland and Laura Oliver (of UW-Eau Claire) also did a great job with the unenviable task of judging the projects. That seemed nearly impossible given the impressive work turned in by the students. Many, many other people made the event special, including the emcee, student Gemma Schlotthauer, to whom I’m very grateful.

I left the event feeling very proud of our art and design students and staff. More details on the event are available here.

Book club to feature new UW-Stout history

On Saturday afternoon I also stopped by a book-signing event featuring our own Jerry Poling, the assistant communications director who has authored an incredible history of UW-Stout’s first 125 years entitled “An Idea Comes of Age: UW-Stout, 1891-2016.” The book signing was in front of the campus Stoutfitters apparel and bookstore on the lower level of the Memorial Student Center, which has the book in stock.

We also are planning a book club event on consecutive Tuesdays, April 25 and May 2, that I will attend if possible. The book is the first full-length history of UW-Stout, chronicling 125 years from its founding by James Huff Stout as Stout Manual Training School to eventually becoming a full-fledged university and part of the UW System. It’s also available online at the Seattle Book Company, on Amazon, at Bookends on Main in Menomonie and at Volume One’s Local Store in Eau Claire.

People can register for the book club here.

Regents approve Bowman Hall repairs

At the UW System Board of Regents meeting last week, an important capital project to repair the exterior of Bowman Hall was approved, moving the issue next to the Legislature’s State Building Commission.

The project, costing nearly $9 million, will repair and restore the exterior masonry on the building, constructed in 1897, as well as conduct structural repairs on the clock tower. Windows and doorways also will be replaced with more historically accurate ones.

This is an important building in the history of our campus, and I thank the regents for their approval. We will be working with our legislative delegation to receive final approval at the Building Commission, tentatively scheduled in June.

Legislators, regents meet on campus to discuss budget; athletes shine

 

We had the privilege of hosting an important meeting on campus Friday when eight western Wisconsin legislators and three members of the UW System Board of Regents gathered for an annual lunch meeting that I co-host each year with the chancellors of UW-River Falls and UW-Eau Claire.

We rotate the location of the lunch among the three campuses. This meeting took on a special urgency because the debate over the proposed 2017-19 state budget is beginning to heat up. In fact, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf attended just hours after the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee began its review of the UW System budget.

I had the chance to give the legislators and regents some campus updates concerning our new employment rate for recent graduates of 97.4 percent and our new economic impact study. I also stressed that my top priority for this budget is to secure compensation increases for our faculty and staff. While we have been able to make some headway on this issue through internal reallocations, it is imperative that the Legislature appropriates funds for general pay increases as well. I will have a chance to address the Joint Finance Committee on April 18 in Spooner and will make the same case there as well.

We will keep the campus apprised of the budget debate as it continues, and the latest news and documents are available here. I also had the chance to brief the legislators and regents on our recently completed economic impact study that clearly demonstrates the value of investing in UW-Stout. That report can be viewed here.

UW-Stout in national gymnastics spotlight

It isn’t often that UW-Stout has the chance to host a national athletic tournament, so I was happy to spend a lot of time Friday and Saturday attending the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championship in Johnson Fieldhouse.

I am pleased to report that the Blue Devils certainly took advantage of hosting the championship by posting the squad’s best finish in more than 30 years, placing fifth. A number of our gymnasts had outstanding competitions, including Kaylee Jondahl, of Elk River, Minn., who earned three All-America honors during the weekend, bringing her career total to eight.

I was inspired by the excitement, dedication and athleticism I witnessed. I also saw what excellent ambassadors we have in the student athletes who make up the UW-Stout gymnastics team.

It is also worth noting that Erin Sullivan, associate athletic director, was named administrator of the year for the Western Region of the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women. Congratulations to Coach Becky Beaulieu, her assistant coaches and the entire team. Many UW-Stout staff members worked hard to make this event a resounding success, and I am grateful for their effective efforts. More information on the championship is available here.

Outstanding UW-Stout scholar athletes honored

Speaking of outstanding student athletes, I helped hand out awards last week to 21 senior scholar athletes and 129 underclassmen scholar athletes at the Memorial Student Center. The scholar athlete award is given to those who have a cumulative 3.50 grade point average in the semester preceding their final season of eligibility.

I was joined at the ceremony by Provost Patrick Guilfoile, Vice Chancellor Phil Lyons and Athletic Director Duey Naatz.

Naatz reported that at the end of 2016 spring semester more than 285 student athletes had a GPA of 3.0 or more, and the cumulative GPA of all student athletes was a record 3.251, a tremendous achievement.  More information and the names of the honored student athletes is available here.

New UW-Stout police chief sworn in

One of the duties of a chancellor is to swear in members of our Department of Police and Parking Services. Last week I swore in just the second campus police chief as Jason Spetz took over for veteran Chief Lisa Walter.

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Jason has almost nine years of experience with the campus police department and extensive experience in law enforcement and other public service. Chief Walter did a great job in bringing modern police practices to UW-Stout, and I am confident that Chief Spetz will build on that tradition. I also swore in a new officer, Chase Becherer. More information is available here.

Summit helps campuses offer digital textbooks

Keeping the cost of attending college as affordable as possible is an important topic, and UW-Stout last week hosted a free summit on providing affordable digital textbooks and other resources.

About half of our textbooks today are digital books, and the summit was intended to help other campuses develop a comprehensive digital program.

I had the opportunity of welcoming the summit attendees to UW-Stout, and I want to thank Bob Butterfield, our Instructional Resources Service director, for helping to organize the summit. More information is available here.