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.

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