Congratulations to football team on historic win; busy start to semester

First, I would like to congratulate Coach Clayt Birmingham and the Blue Devil football team for its historic 25-22 victory Saturday over St. Thomas. There have been a lot of memorable and significant games played in Don and Nona Williams Stadium, but few could rival this contest.

2017 UW-Stout Football vs. St. Thomas

I was incredibly proud of our student athletes and the way they fought back time and time against adversity to pull out the win. I couldn’t attend the game because of a previous engagement, but I was able to listen to the radio broadcast, and it certainly was thrilling.

The win earned the Blue Devils a 25th ranking in the latest Top 25 poll. You can read about the game here and the ranking here. The Blue Devils have a bye this week and open WIAC competition Sept. 30 at UW-Platteville.

Garding Against Cancer a memorable event

Keeping with the sports theme, I was privileged to participate in a fantastic fundraising event last Thursday sponsored by UW-Madison men’s basketball coach Greg Gard and his wife, Michelle. It was part of their foundation, Garding Against Cancer, which raises money across the state for cancer research.

I provided a welcome at the luncheon in the Memorial Student Center, where I talked about my sister, who has battled cancer. Coach Gard has lost his father to brain cancer, and that led to the establishment of the foundation.

UW-Stout Cross Country Head and Shoulder shots

The Gards announced that more than $27,000 would be donated locally to help with the cancer fight. I had several interactions with Coach Gard and his wife and found them to be very down to earth and personable.

As part of this effort, the Badgers will play the Blue Devils in an exhibition basketball game Sunday, Nov. 5, at the Kohl Center. A news story about the event is available here.

Finance committee moves up two pay raises

This information was included in the UW-Stout Today daily email publication, but it is worth repeating:

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, in approving the 2017-19 state budget, has moved up the schedule for two, 2 percent (on average) pay increases to July 1, 2018, and Jan. 1, 2019. We have advocated strongly with our legislators for earlier increases, and so I was pleased with this development.

Of course, we will continue our efforts to close the pay disparities between our employees and their peers at institutions in other states. The Legislature is scheduled to vote on the budget soon and send it to Gov. Walker, who has vowed to sign it into law before Sept. 22. Follow UW-Stout Today for details.

Another way to contribute to hurricane relief

Following the Hurricane Harvey devastation in southeast Texas, I included an appeal for donations to national relief organizations in a previous blog post. Now, following the landfall of Hurricane Irma in Florida, donations are even more important. You can find those organizations in the Sept. 1 blog.

However, I’d like to mention a relatively new fundraising effort to help the victims of both hurricanes initiated by a group called One America Appeal. This campaign features the five living presidents, and every dollar donated will help the victims recover. More information is available here.

An update on Knock and Talk

I blogged last week about the Knock and Talk program, sponsored by the Chancellor’s Coalition on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, that uses UW-Stout employees to have conversations with mainly older students about important issues as the academic year begins. I wanted to report that this year the program distributed 778 welcome bags to students at their residences, and the volunteers had about 250 personal contacts at open doors.

Some 17 faculty and staff volunteered that day to encourage the students to make good decisions and engage in safe practices in the year ahead. I’d really like to see that number increase next year. Please put Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, on your calendar now and donate a couple of hours to this effort.

UW System asks for DACA continuation

Finally, I’d like to bring to your attention a letter from UW System President Ray Cross, on behalf of the chancellors across the system, to members of our congressional delegation asking that Congress pass legislation to ensure the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  I was happy to endorse this letter because DACA is important to our continued efforts at UW-Stout to encourage a diverse and inclusive campus. The letter reads:

On behalf of the University of Wisconsin System chancellors and myself, we respectfully request that you pass legislation that will, at a minimum, swiftly ensure the continued protections provided by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Based on the recent announcement by the Executive Branch, that it will rescind the DACA program, and refer the matter to Congress for a legislative answer, it is critical that Congress find a solution that will advance protections for undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. as minors. These young people need clarity and certainty from our government to advance their lives and to continue to serve the economic needs of our country.

As we previously noted in a letter to President Trump, the UW System strongly urges continued support of the DACA program as a step in the right direction to eventually providing these young individuals with permanent residency in the United States of America.

In addition to extending provisional protection from deportation, DACA allows participants to stay, work, and study in the United States. It is widely acknowledged that DACA students make invaluable contributions, both economic and social, to university campuses and communities in Wisconsin and across the country.

The United States faces growing economic and demographic challenges. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce:

  • S. jobs requiring postsecondary education and training are expected to reach a new high of 65 percent in 2020.
  • By 2020, the United States is projected to face a shortage of three million workers with associate’s degrees, or higher, and five million workers with technical certificates and credentials.
  • Thirty-six million Americans have low basic skills that limit their earning power without further education and training.

As you know, Wisconsin’s workforce needs to reflect similar challenges. Our traditional population of college-going students is declining, and there is a projected shortage of workers in critical fields such as medicine, engineering, nursing and teaching. This projected gap affirms the need to ensure we utilize the talents, dedication and full potential of everyone in our great country.

We appreciate your consideration and thank you in advance for your support. We stand ready to work with you to find bipartisan consensus on a legislative solution with vital consequences for Wisconsin and the nation.


Ray Cross

UW System President