Monthly Archives: October 2017

UW-Stout was on grand display last week 

Two events last Thursday and Friday helped spread the message of the tremendous ways UW-Stout contributes to the economy and the workforce of northern Wisconsin and the entire state.

Todd Wanek gives an inspiring Cabot Executive in Residence presentation 

On Thursday I had the privilege of welcoming alumnus Todd Wanek back to campus as part of the Cabot Executive in Residence program. Todd is president and CEO of Ashley Furniture in Arcadia, and he spent a large part of his presentation talking about what his industrial technology (now engineering technology) degree 30 years ago meant to him and how UW-Stout is poised to help Ashley remain in the forefront of the furniture business.

The ballrooms were packed in the Memorial Student Center, and Todd certainly didn’t disappoint the crowd with his presentation, which emphasized the company’s need to stay ahead of the competition by harnessing existing and emerging technology. He also emphasized that Ashley Furniture’s success will depend on continuing to find the right talent for the future.


During a tour that I helped lead, Todd and his father, Ron Wanek, Ashley founder and board chairman, were especially interested in how UW-Stout can help Ashley employ robotics in their plants.

Todd Wanek was a perfect example of the kind of speaker we seek for the Cabot program, now in its 33rd year. It is named in honor of Arthur R. Cabot, a successful pet products manufacturer. His son, Scott Cabot, earned a bachelor’s degree from UW-Stout in 1978 and a master’s in 1979. More information on Todd Wanek’s presentation is available here.


Bob’s Cervenka’s life and vision celebrated on Friday 

On Friday the campus celebrated the life and accomplishments of Robert F. Cervenka when we dedicated the new School of Engineering in his name. Bob, the plastics pioneer who founded Phillips Plastics, and his wife, Debbie Cervenka, have been incredibly generous to UW-Stout over the years.

Inclement weather prevented Debbie from joining us for the ceremony, but she watched via livestream from the Memorial Student Center. Debbie prepared some fantastic remarks, read by a close family friend, that showed how valuable UW-Stout and our graduates were to Phillips Plastics as Bob was building the business.

Although the Cervenkas eventually sold Phillips Plastics, the Robert F. Cervenka School of Engineering will stand forever as a reminder of Bob and Debbie’s lifetime of contributions to UW-Stout. You can watch the event here.  More information on the ceremony is available here.


Football team on three-game winning streak 

Finally, I want to once again congratulate our outstanding football team, led by Coach Clayt Birmingham, for its convincing win Saturday night over UW-Eau Claire. That is three wins in a row for the Blue Devils, who face a tough UW-La Crosse squad Saturday on the road.

I unfortunately had to be out of town on Saturday so I couldn’t attend the game at Carson Park in Eau Claire, but I didn’t even have to check on the score myself because so many alumni and other fans contacted me after the game with the happy news! More information on the game and the team is available here.



Two major celebrations planned this week; first Free Speech Week events were a success

Two major events are being held this week on campus, and I would like to invite the entire campus community to attend. Both events involve celebrating incredible supporters of UW-Stout’s efforts to produce students who will have immediate success in the workplace.

Cabot speaker features Ashley Furniture president  

The first event is the annual Cabot Executive in Residence program on Thursday. This year’s speaker is Todd Wanek, president and CEO of Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. in Arcadia. Todd, a UW-Stout alumnus, will speak on “Leadership and Innovation in Changing Times” from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. Thursday in the ballrooms of the Memorial Student Center.

I’ve gotten to know Todd and his father, Ashley founder Ron Wanek, very well over my time as chancellor and even traveled to Germany last spring with Ashley officials to visit advanced manufacturing facilities. I am honored that Todd and Ron are taking time out of their busy schedules to participate in the Cabot program this year.

This is the 33rd year of the Cabot Executive in Residence program, which is named in honor of Arthur R. Cabot, a successful pet products manufacturer. His son, Scott Cabot, is a personal friend of mine who earned a bachelor’s degree from UW-Stout in 1978 and a master’s in 1979.  More information is available here.



Bob Cervenka to be remembered at School of Engineering dedication

The second event has been in the planning stages for months. On Friday, we will officially dedicate the Robert F. Cervenka School of Engineering. The campus community is invited to a ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. Friday in the student center ballrooms.

The late Bob Cervenka was the founder of Phillips Plastics. He and his widow, Debbie, have been major financial supporters of UW-Stout for a long time, and naming our new engineering school after Bob is a great way to keep his memory and passion for UW-Stout alive for generations to come.

Debbie Cervenka will speak at the ceremony, along with UW System Regent Mark Tyler, STEMM Dean Chuck Bomar, Vice Chancellor Mark Parsons and myself. Refreshments also will be served.  More details are available here.



Campus Free Speech Week a success 

The first week of programming by the new Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation, directed by Tim Shiell, went very well last week. I was honored to be asked to participate in the first session that discussed campus free speech issues, including a recent policy adopted by the Board of Regents. I was joined on the panel by Regent Tim Higgins and Capital Times newspaper Associate Editor John Nichols.

The discussion, held in Micheels Hall, was lively to say the least, with fantastic participation by the students, faculty, staff and public who attended.

The center is intended to bring exactly these kinds of issues to campus so they can be discussed in a civil and rational manner.

Other events were held throughout the week. Topics included Controversial Campus Speakers; Freedom of Creative Expression; Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis meets the KKK; Free Speech in the Classroom; Three Perspectives on Confederate Monuments, Flags and Symbolism; and a high school First Amendment workshop.

Tim is already planning for additional events this academic year, and I hope you take the time to attend.


Another great homecoming celebration; Paul Hoffman, SVRI recognition; Free Speech Week events

Another homecoming celebration is history, and I couldn’t be happier with the events and enthusiasm displayed last week on campus.

I would like to thank our Homecoming Committee, Blue Devil Productions, the Alumni Association, Athletics, Urec and everyone else who planned events and put in many hours of effort to make homecoming a success.

I had the privilege of helping lead the Saturday morning parade, along with the new Stout Ambassadors, and it was a treat to see all the children and adults lining the route on a somewhat chilly but sunny Saturday morning. (I’ll be sure to have candy to throw to the crowd next year!) The tailgate party in the football parking lot before the game gave people a chance to socialize as well.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Coach Clayt Birmingham and the entire Blue Devil football team for the gutty victory over UW-River Falls in very challenging conditions. It was a perfect way to cap a very successful homecoming week.

Homecoming Football Game

The staff at University Communications did a great job in documenting the weeklong celebration; if you haven’t already, I would recommend you check out their photos and video from homecoming on our UW-Stout Facebook page.

A fitting recognition for the founder of Stout Technology and Business Park

Before Saturday’s homecoming events, I was proud to participate in a ceremony at the Stout Technology and Business Park honoring the late Paul Hoffman, founder of the department of rehabilitation and counseling and the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute.


Hoffman was asked by Chancellor Emeritus Sorensen to bring community and campus leaders together to find the best use for land that was donated to Stout University Foundation. The technology park grew out of those discussions.

I told the attendees that because of Hoffman’s vision the tech park now hosts 48 businesses with more than 2,400 employees.

As a new faculty member, I got to know Paul, and I told the gathering that he was a true gentleman who cared deeply for his colleagues.


Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute celebrates 50 years

Speaking of the SVRI, the institute celebrated its 50th anniversary during homecoming week with a full schedule of events Thursday through Saturday. The anniversary was dedicated to Hoffman’s work and brought back to campus many of the retired faculty members who have worked with SVRI throughout the years.

A very inspirational keynote address Friday featured Loretta Claiborne, an international Special Olympian and six-time gold medalist.

The celebration brought attention once again to the incredible history of SVRI and the breadth of services and innovation in vocational rehabilitation it has produced at UW-Stout and across the nation.

Celebrate Free Speech Week at UW-Stout

I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to attend the free speech events being sponsored this week by the UW-Stout Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation as part of Free Speech Week. I will participate in a panel discussion tonight; other events are scheduled each day this week. The schedule can be found here.


Homecoming 2017 is here; Regents’ meeting on campus is a success

In March 1917, Stout Institute officials decided to invite alumni back to the fledgling campus to celebrate a historic day: the dedication of the brand new, four-story brick Domestic Science Building constructed just east of the Manual Training Building. So, 100 years ago, to celebrate the opening of what we now know as Harvey Hall, UW-Stout’s homecoming celebration was born.

With this historical tidbit in mind, I’d like to invite our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to participate in the wide range of activities planned for this week. The full homecoming schedule is available here.

There are so many things to do it’s hard to pick out a few, like the Soapbox Derby put on Blue Devil Productions, the Blue Devil Run/Walk organized by Urec, the 50th anniversary celebration of the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute and the homecoming parade, organized by the Homecoming Committee. Of course, there’s the final event — the 2 p.m. football game against UW-River Falls.

A lot of people have put in hours and hours of hard work to make our centennial homecoming a success. As a proud UW-Stout graduate, I always look forward to this special week.

Homecoming Parade 2016

UW Regents enjoy UW-Stout’s hospitality

We bade a fond farewell to the UW System Board of Regents Friday morning, which wrapped up its monthly meeting in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. There was a lot of traditional media and social media coverage of the meeting, so I won’t go into the details. I’d recommend anyone looking for a recap to visit the UW-Stout Facebook page as well as the UW-Stout News page.

Mostly, I would like to thank the dozens of students and employees who helped make the two-day meeting a success. I can’t tell you how many compliments I received from Regents and UW staff for our planning and hospitality.

I’d also like to single out the students, faculty members and staff who attended the Friday morning session to protest a freedom of expression resolution the board was debating and eventually passed. Although we were on opposite sides of that issue, the protest was respectful.

I’d also like to congratulate Stout Student Association spokesperson Coltan Schoenike for successfully addressing the Regents. Coltan did a fantastic job and made me #StoutProud.


Student government essential to shared governance

On Saturday, I was privileged to welcome a meeting of representatives of UW System student governments who met in the Great Hall. I took the opportunity to talk about the role I played 40 years ago as a member of the Stout Student Association and how I learned from that experience what a crucial role our students play in the shared governance structure, which is still important on campus today.

I also learned crucial leadership, team-building, planning and accountability skills that I use daily as chancellor.

UW-Stout center sponsors discussion on free speech

Speaking of free speech, next week features a series of presentations and panels organized by our new Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation, headed up by Tim Shiell, as part of UW-Stout Free Speech Week.

I will participate in a panel, the first night, that Tim will moderate on perspectives of campus free speech. The panel will include Tim Higgins, a UW Regent, and John Nichols, associate editor of the Capital Times newspaper in Madison.

Other panels scheduled throughout the week will include UW-Stout faculty and staff and national experts. Visit this link to view the week’s itinerary.

Regents meeting allows UW-Stout to shine; Career Conference, applied math program anniversary  

Final preparations are being made for an exciting two days at UW-Stout. The campus hosts the UW System Board of Regents meeting Thursday and Friday in the Memorial Student Center. I sent an email to campus previously with an invitation to attend all or part of the meeting, but I wanted to remind everyone how important it is for UW-Stout to have the Regents, UW System staff and guests here for two days. It gives us a special opportunity to showcase everything that makes UW-Stout special.

I also want to take a minute to thank everyone who has worked so hard on this effort. It really does take dozens of people working very long hours to make this event a success. I can’t name everyone, but I would like to single out my senior special assistant, Kristi Krimpelbein, for pulling everyone together and making sure the details are taken care of.  Kristi has handled the planning and execution of these details with professionalism and grace, and I want to publicly thank her for her hard work.

My presentation to the Regents is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Great Hall; other administrators will give presentations to committees Thursday morning. The details on the meeting, including a link to the agenda, can be found here.

Career Conference busting at the seams

Anyone attending the Career Conference last Tuesday and Wednesday in the Multipurpose Room of the Johnson Fieldhouse saw for themselves what a success this event was, with a record number of employers vying for the opportunity to talk to our students and recent graduates about the co-op, internship and full-time job opportunities.

The conference attracted more than 400 employers, and with another one in the spring it’s one of the main reasons we have maintained an employment rate for recent graduates that exceeds 97 percent every year.

I love attending the conference and talking to many alumni who come back to recruit our students for positions in their companies. They all speak fondly of their years at UW-Stout and how much of a role their education played in their workplace success.

For the record, the conference attracted 413 employers that filled 450 booth spaces. More than 2,000 students attended, as well as 100 faculty and staff. Seventy of the employers were new to the event.

I’ve heard from several employers since the conference, expressing their gratitude for an absolutely “top shelf” experience. I would like to thank Bryan Barts, Career Services director, and his staff and student workers who made it a success.

Career Conference

Applied math and computer science program celebrates 50 years

I have always been interested in mathematics and graduated from UW-Stout with a mathematics teaching minor. I felt right at home Saturday as I helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of the undergraduate program in applied mathematics and computer science in the Memorial Student Center.

I was particularly happy to help recognize the efforts of Eino Maki, of Menomonie, who served for 25 years as the applied math program director. I had Eino as an (excellent) instructor and then worked with him as a faculty member and college dean; I have the utmost respect for his efforts.

I would like to thank Terry Mason and other UW-Stout faculty and staff who successfully organized this great event. I also want to thank a couple of alumni who helped plan the gala: Colleen Hartmon Bollom, a 1988 graduate who is a member of the Stout University Foundation board; and Eric Austvold, a 1989 graduate who was master of ceremonies.

Bridge to Hope’s Restaurant Tour a great event

On Sunday I was pleased to help facilitate the Bridge to Hope’s Restaurant Tour. The fundraiser allowed participants to tour five Menomonie establishments and sample food. Skoog’s Parkside, Silver Dollar, Lucette Woodfire Eatery, Duke and Dagger and Dean & Sue’s provided delicious food for tourists in support of this successful event.

Members of UW-Stout’s women’s basketball team as well as UW-Stout’s Outreach and Prevention Counseling Center helped facilitate activities at the restaurants.

Proceeds will help the Bridge to Hope’s efforts to offer assistance, shelter and resources to victims of domestic abuse.

If you’d like to donate to the “Bridge,” contact Naomi at 715-235-9074.

[Pictured with me at the Bridge to Hope fundraiser at The Silver Dollar are Kryshak Hazelton and Brianna Banks from our women’s basketball team.  Alexa DeMoe from our Outreach and Prevention Counseling Center was also on hand to assist with the fundraiser.]


Tripling down on providing hurricane relief

Many people are struggling in the wake of the devastating hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and now Maria. Previously, I appealed to you to support relief efforts if you are willing and able. My wife, Deb, and I are tripling down on our efforts to help through donations to ongoing relief activities, and I encourage you to consider helping as well.

As the images of destruction continue to come in from Puerto Rico and the surrounding islands, our hearts go out to those who have lost love ones and are attempting to put their lives back together.

Fortune magazine has published a comprehensive look at places to donate for Hurricane Maria relief. That review is available here. Thank you for considering my request.