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.