Commencement time already? Holiday reception, military ball enjoyable, inspiring

Is it just me, or did that semester seem to fly by?  It is hard to believe that we will be holding our commencement ceremonies Saturday already. I want to take this opportunity to encourage as many of our faculty and staff as possible to attend the ceremonies to wish our graduates well as they begin the next phase of their lives. I also want to thank our students, faculty and staff for a tremendous semester; your hard work and dedication is unmatched in the UW System, and I am proud to call you my colleagues.  Next week’s blog will have a full report on commencement, including a text of my address.  This year’s address also will include something that has never been tried before.  I’m not going to say anything more because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.  You can read more on our commencement exercises here.

Spring Commencement

Holiday reception a time to catch up 

Speaking of the holidays, I sure enjoyed spending last Tuesday afternoon with many friends, old and new, at the annual holiday reception my office sponsors in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.  My wife Debbie and I enjoyed fantastic food, catered by Dining Services, along with music, under the direction of Aaron M. Durst, and the annual holiday giving tree.  A photo album of the event is available here.

Chancellor's Holiday Reception

 Military Ball an inspiring event 

Then at the end of the week Debbie and I had the privilege of attending the annual Reserve Officers Training Corp Military Ball in the Great Hall, sponsored by the Northwoods Army ROTC Battalion.  The ball recognizes the cadets who will be graduating this year, as well as their achievements.  The battalion consists of cadets from UW-Stout, UW-River Falls, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point.  The speaker was retired Lt. Col. Scott Bolstad, who was in charge of the UW-Stout ROTC program before leaving to join the staff of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.  I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with Scott and he gave an inspirational address to the cadets and the audience.  Scott did an outstanding job establishing our ROTC program during the years I served as dean of the former College of Technology, Engineering and Management.  He established an excellent program that now enjoys solid leadership under Lt. Col. Jessen Johnson.

Regents act after SSA resolution on performance metrics 

Finally, I would like to commend the Stout Student Association, under the leadership of President Alex Vernon, for their initiative in asking the UW System Board of Regents last week to amend a set of metrics the UW System will use to allocate $26.25 million in performance-based funding approved by the Legislature in the 2017-19 state budget.  The SSA asked the Regents to include a metric for post-graduation employment in the allocation proposal. The board then amended its original resolution and asked UW System administrators “to develop means to appropriately measure the job placement rate for each University of Wisconsin institution, gather that data on job placement rates for each institution and then evaluate the quality of the data.”  The resolution further states that a decision should be made by 2020 on “the utility of such data in outcomes-based funding models.”   The SSA should be very proud of its efforts on this and other system-wide issues this semester.  Officials in Madison are listening!