A fitting tribute for a great leader; Election Day coming; campus forum on the budget

The campus is still talking about the wonderful tribute to the late Chancellor Emeritus Charles W. Sorensen that took place Monday as we marked the renaming of Millennium Hall as Sorensen Hall.

We were privileged to host Chancellor Sorensen’s wife, Toni-Poll Sorensen, their three daughters, his two sisters and many other family members as we laughed, cried, told stories and recognized the tremendous accomplishments over 26 years by this campus leader.

During my remarks, I tried to summarize those accomplishments: the Baldrige award, the eStout program, a massive building program and the polytechnic designation. But the most important point I made was the example I found in Chancellor Sorensen of the great role model his life was for how education can radically improve a person’s future. He came from a humble upbringing, and education led him to the chancellor’s office. That is a great example for all of us in higher education.

I also want to thank everyone who helped organize the ceremony. It was a very fitting event for a tremendous leader. Lots more on the event is available here and on the UW-Stout Facebook page.

Sorensen Hall Dedication

Voting is putting democracy into action

I wrote last week about the importance of encouraging our students to register to vote, and this week I got to put those words into action. I sat at a voter registration table in the Memorial Student Center and helped students fill out their registration forms, which they can take with them when they vote Tuesday, Nov. 6.

I also will be at the registration table at noon on Election Day.

I have made a video for a student group, Stout Votes!, explaining what is needed for a student to register to vote. In the video, I discuss the importance of voting. I quoted John F. Kennedy, who once said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” I truly believe our right to vote should be exercised by everyone, and in the process we can make a difference.

Louis Dearborn L’Amour, an American novelist and short-story writer, once said: “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”

In other words, our democracy reflects how well we exercise the terrific rights and privileges afforded to us. Perhaps President Franklin D. Roosevelt summed it up best when he stated: “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials but the voters of this country.”

We have the power to make a difference. I hope you join me Tuesday, Nov. 6, to cast your vote as one of the most important ways we contribute to our democracy.


Forum helps explain budget situation

As most people know, we have seen our enrollment decline for the last two years, which has budget ramifications. Those effects are too complex to go into detail here, which is why we held a 90-minute forum Wednesday to discuss our budget, what is being done to boost our enrollment and what actions might be necessary to meet our fiscal challenges.

I want to assure everyone, as I said at the forum, that no massive budget or position reductions are being planned and that there are preliminary indications that our enrollment problem may be easing.

Vice Chancellor Phil Lyons did a great job of organizing the forum and putting together a presentation that lays out the challenges and possible solutions. Provost Patrick Guilfoile also explained well the enrollment challenges and our efforts to address them.

You can watch the forum here.