National task force work a privilege; cheers for CTE Summit, pay increases

Last week I was honored to be in Washington, D.C., to help the American Association of State Colleges and Universities with a major project. I was asked to participate on AASCU’s Task Force on University Partnerships, chaired by Richard Rush, president emeritus of California State University-Channel Islands in Camarillo, Calif. Doug Mell, UW-Stout’s executive director of Communications and External Relations, attended the meeting with me.

The task force will issue a report in the fall that is intended to be a guide for university chancellors and presidents, as well as other higher education leaders, on the best ways to form partnerships with external stakeholders, the benefits of partnerships and the potential pitfalls. Muriel Howard, AASCU president, told task force members that business leaders “are asking for our help” to build their workforces, and “we are going to have to go to the private sector for more resources.”

The evening before the task force met for the first time we had an incredible dinner conversation with former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, who was asked by AASCU to discuss his views on higher education and partnerships. This former Democratic presidential candidate still is full of enthusiasm and passion at 76 and stressed the importance of education in building and maintaining this nation’s middle class.

He repeated over and over that the keys to a successful economy are education, training and research and admonished us to be “obsessive” in our quest to preserve access to higher education for all Americans.

I also was happy to reconnect with Christina Hamilton, the former chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, who now works for Gephardt and who I got to know before Rep. Obey left office.

Serving on the task force is an incredible privilege and is important to me because I believe so strongly in the value of strong partnerships with many groups, including the private sector. We will share the task force’s report with the campus when it is published.

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CTE Summit a success

Kudos to our career and technical education faculty for putting together an outstanding CTE Summit Monday and Tuesday in Jarvis Hall Science Wing. The event attracted CTE educators and others interested in the field from around Wisconsin and beyond, and I was pleased to be part of it.

Participants reviewed actions that have taken place since the 2016 summit; discussed how to “groom talent” to meet the emerging challenges of the workplace; and discussed the future vision of CTE in Wisconsin.

The event also was an excellent chance to network with many in the CTE field.  More information is available here.

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Salary increases appreciated

I also wanted to take a minute to reiterate how much I appreciate the efforts of all our advocates, both on campus and externally, who helped make the case for increased salaries for our employees. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has approved two increases of 2 percent each for UW System employees, one that will take effect Sept. 1, 2018, and the second May 1, 2019.

While I certainly would have liked the increases to be larger and to take effect sooner, I appreciate the efforts of the governor and legislators to help us address the salary inequities that many of our employees find themselves in.

I also will do everything possible to try to find additional campus resources to provide supplemental increases, although we continue to face challenges in the enrollment area for 2017-18 that will make the job harder.

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