Monthly Archives: August 2017

Engagement Sessions a great way to start a new academic year

Welcome to another academic year! I hope everyone had a great summer, and I look forward to working with you to make 2017-18 a tremendous success.

On Monday morning I addressed the campus at our annual Opening Day event, which included our Engagement Sessions. If you couldn’t attend that session, a video of it is available here.

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I want to thank everyone who took the time to attend the Engagement Sessions and offer your feedback on the two important topics we covered, Campus Climate and Strategic Enrollment Management.

I attended several of the small-group sessions and was very impressed by the passion and insight I heard from the participants. I want to assure everyone that the breadth of the feedback we receive will be carefully considered by the Strategic Planning Group and my Cabinet as we chart future actions on these topics.

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I would especially like to thank everyone who helped make these sessions a success, including the facilitators and note-takers who kept the discussions on track and recorded the comments. It takes a lot of planning and execution to make this important day happen, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

A fantastic trip into the wilderness

While I genuinely enjoy serving as your chancellor — it really is my dream job — I also treasure my time away.  This summer I had the tremendous opportunity to spend time in Quetico Provincial Park in Canada, where I canoed, camped and fished with family and friends.

Going into the wilderness is the one time I can really disconnect from the demands that come with all the technology we now use to do our jobs. It gives me a chance to reconnect with the family and friends who are important to me, as well as renew my appreciation for all that nature has to offer.

To top it off, we had tremendous fishing success!

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University Communications produced a great video in which I talk about my trip into the Quetico, along with Provost Patrick Guilfoile’s hiking adventure in the Cascade Mountains. The video is available here.

Weekly blogs will provide campus updates

For those of you new to campus — and I had the opportunity to meet a number of you during last week’s employee orientation sessions — I will use this blog to give you weekly updates on significant developments and other news affecting UW-Stout. It is one of the main ways I try to communicate on a regular basis with our students, faculty and staff, and I hope you find it informative and useful.

Again, welcome to the new academic year and I hope it is a great one!

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Hate speech is not welcome at UW-Stout

First of all, let me welcome faculty and staff to the official start of the new academic year. I hope that the 2017-18 year is exciting and rewarding. I will be talking about the new academic year in more detail during my welcome address at 8:15 a.m. Monday, Aug. 28, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center, followed by the Engagement Sessions.

But today I would like to address some potential questions and concerns you might have following the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va. It is hard for me to put into words the emotions I felt as the events unfolded: horror, rage, sadness and resolve. I say resolve because I came away from that incident with an increased awareness that, as an institution of higher learning, we must re-commit ourselves to at least three core values.

Becoming an even more inclusive campus: As chancellor, I know that it is important for me to work every day to ensure that our students, faculty and staff believe they are on a campus that values them for who they are, no matter their sex or sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity or national origin, range of abilities, socio-economic status or political perspective. Everyone should feel welcome at UW-Stout. In fact, one of our official values is: “The nobility of spirit, a diversity of people, respect and inclusion for all.”

Valuing freedom of expressing: We also need to ensure that everyone feels comfortable expressing their points of view on the issues of the day. This goes hand-in-hand with fostering an inclusive campus. Informed debate over important concepts and ideas helps make a university strong and ensures that UW-Stout students are prepared for success in a complex society. For example, I believe that our new Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovations will help us advance civil and rational debate on important civil liberty issues guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

Ensuring that UW-Stout remains safe: At the end of the day, this is the No. 1 responsibility of a chancellor. Nothing else will matter if our campus is not a safe place to learn, work and visit. Therefore, I can assure you that I will do everything in my power, working with our campus police, student affairs and other offices to head off the potential for violence that wracked Charlottesville. Perpetrators of hate and violence will not be welcome at UW-Stout.

One final thought: As I was growing up, I can remember my parents often celebrating the many freedoms that we enjoy in this great country. Free expression is one of these coveted freedoms. But I can also remember my parents cautioning me that with every freedom comes great responsibility. For example, while we have the right to speak our minds, that freedom comes with the responsibility to do so respectfully. Free expression at a university allows us to openly debate even the most controversial issues of the day. But we have the obligation to engage in those debates civilly. Uncivil discourse, hate speech and even threats and acts of violence have no place in our forums of debate. I hope you agree and together that we exercise our right of free speech in a responsible manner.

I am sure that we will have the chance to discuss these issues in more depth as the academic year continues.

Thank you for all you do for our students and have a great year!