Bridge to Hope a ‘vital’ asset; fall enrollment decline is concerning

Recently I was pleased visit the Bridge to Hope’s open house. Bridge to Hope offers assistance, shelter and other resources to victims of domestic abuse. This vital community asset is moving to a new facility at 2110 Fourth Ave. N. in Menomonie.

Unfortunately, the need for Bridge to Hope resources is growing rapidly, and this move will allow it to expand its shelter from three rooms to 10.

Bridge to Hope is raising funds to pay for the facility. Contact Naomi, 715-235-9074, to donate. My wife, Debbie, who is board chair for Bridge to Hope, and I are both donors and view the new facility as an important community resource.

The organization also is offering an Over the Bridge Restaurant Tour from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1. Food samplings from five restaurants are included in the $30 “passport.” Call the organization for more information and where to purchase tickets.

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Preliminary enrollment report shows a decline

Few things are more important to the vitality of an educational institution than enrollment. Healthy institutions generally show steady, but managed, growth. That is why I am concerned about our most recent enrollment report that showed, after three years of enrollment records, we are facing a decline for 2017-18.

We submitted a preliminary report to UW System that showed a headcount of 9,335, compared to last year’s preliminary headcount of 9,545. The final enrollment figure will be posted by UW System later this year and usually is higher than our preliminary number. For example, last year our final number was 9,619.

We showed a decline in just about every category, including new freshmen, transfer students and continuing students. The one bright spot was our graduate students, which went up by 61.

I have spoken about the importance of enrollment before and how working on admissions is everyone’s responsibility. I also am pleased with my initial discussions with Aaron Aure, our new executive director of Enrollment and Retention Services, who is working with others across campus on our new strategic enrollment management plan.

You only need to look at other campuses in the UW System that have suffered chronic enrollment decreases to see what long-term problems result from those declines. I am adamant that we take immediate steps to reverse our decline this year and continue our steady, but managed, growth.

Gov. Walker issues vetoes, signs budget

I wanted to make sure you saw the news last week that Gov. Walker signed the 2017-19 state budget, after issuing a number of partial vetoes, some of which will affect UW campuses. One of those vetoes took away the ability of campuses to pick the individual metrics that will determine the amount of the $26.5 million in new funding included in an outcomes-based model that will judge us on our performance in four areas. UW System will determine our metrics, we hope after consulting with the campuses.

The other veto gives the authority to the state Department of Workforce Development, rather than the UW System, to determine what high demand fields will qualify for support under a new $5 million Innovation Fund for 2017-18. UW System has tentatively decided that those fields would be health care and engineering, and we hoped to qualify for a portion of the $5 million.

I am pleased that the governor left intact the legislative decision to move the two 2-percent pay increases to July 1, 2018, and Jan. 1, 2019.

More information on the 2017-19 state budget is available at the UW-Stout state budget website.

Manufacturing Advantage Conference

Manufacturing Advantage Conference a successful event

For 10 years, UW-Stout has offered manufacturers from Wisconsin and the Midwest an opportunity to come to campus for two days and hear from experts on ways they can improve their operations, as well as network with other manufacturers.

I was pleased to participate in the conference this year, held last Tuesday and Wednesday in the Memorial Student Center. The event is hosted by the UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center, and I’d like to thank the center’s director, Larry Blackledge, and everyone else who worked so hard to put together a successful 10-year-anniversary conference.

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