Great discussion with legislators, Regents; Civil Liberties Symposium coming up; golf partnership formed

I had the pleasure Monday of discussing UW-Stout and higher education issues in Wisconsin with a group of legislators from western Wisconsin and two UW System Board of Regents members during a lunch sponsored by UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls.

The annual event rotates among the three campuses, and this year it was held at the UW-Eau Claire Davies Center. The three chancellors highlighted developments and accomplishments on their campuses over the last year and drew attention to remaining challenges.

I took the opportunity to thank the legislators for approving a 4 percent pay increase for our employees in 2018-19, but I also emphasized the need for continued increases in our salary levels across all employee groups because our salaries lag behind our peers.

Attending were state senators Terry Moulton, a Republican who is retiring, and Democrat Janet Bewley, as well as four state representatives, Republicans Kathy Bernier, Rob Summerfield and Shannon Zimmerman and Democrat Dana Wachs. Regents President John Behling attended, as did newly appointed Regent Jason Plante from Eau Claire.

I appreciated UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt’s hospitality and the opportunity for a great discussion. The event will be hosted by UW-River Falls next year.


Symposium to highlight freedom of expression, civil discourse

There is a lot of talk these days on college campuses about freedom of expression. UW-Stout will be in the spotlight Wednesday and Thursday on this issue as our Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation holds its first Civil Liberties Symposium to encourage civil discourse on sensitive topics.

The center, led by Professor Tim Shiell, will sponsor eight sessions and three keynote speeches on campus. The aim of the symposium, as well as the center, is to bring people with a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints together to debate important topics in a civil manner.

This is a goal I fully support and, frankly, a quality I find lacking in society today. A list of speeches and sessions is available here.  More information on the event is available here. 

Partnership formed with local golf course

I was privileged last week to join Rajiv Lall, managing partner of the Tanglewood Greens golf course in Menomonie, to sign memorandums of understanding aimed at forming a mutually beneficial partnership between the campus and the golf course.

The agreement we signed says: “This is the beginning of a dialogue and not the end of the potential future outcomes.”

The areas where we and the golf course will explore projects include research, education, internships and work experience, events management and a “living laboratory” for soils analysis, turf management, etc.

The partnership will be very beneficial for our golf enterprise management bachelor’s program and other programs as well.

I want to thank Rajiv, who owns Vets Plus with his wife, Swati Lall, for cooperating so well with us on this endeavor. The Lalls have been generous supporters of UW-Stout in the past, and I welcome this new partnership.