Great musical performances bring joy to holiday season; Regents back pay increase

The holiday season is certainly upon us, and I wanted to say publicly what an enjoyable time my wife, Debbie, and I had on Friday as the Symphonic Singers and Chamber Choir presented their annual holiday program, this year entitled Silent Night, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

The program was conducted by Jerry Hui and accompanied by pianist Michaela Gifford. The theme commemorated the centennial of World War I and featured music from the United Kingdom, France and Germany composed during the war.

The program was very well choreographed, and we especially enjoyed the inclusion of the memories from WWI veterans. Deans Bob Salt and Maria Alm also excelled in their readings during the performance.

The event also marked the bicentennial of the composition of the carol “Silent Night.”

I want to compliment everyone who had a hand in this great performance.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Stout Symphonic Band winter concert on Dec. 2. Although I was unable to attend, I have heard many comments from those who attended about the exceptional program that Aaron M. Durst and the performers staged in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.

I truly wish I had gotten to hear the Tower Saxophone Quartet and the newly formed polka band as well.

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Holiday reception was a great success

Keeping with the holiday theme, I want to thank everyone who attended the Chancellor’s Holiday Reception last week. I was happy to see the Great Hall packed with students and employees who took some time to celebrate the holiday season and socialize with each other.

The event was a reminder to me of the great students, faculty and staff I have the privilege of working with at UW-Stout.

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Regents approved proposed pay package

In the last blog, I described a proposed pay package that the Board of Regents would consider when they met last week at UW-La Crosse. I am happy to report that the Regents approved that proposal, which will now be sent to the state Department of Administration for possible inclusion in the 2019-21 state budget that Gov.-elect Tony Evers will submit to the Legislature in February.

The proposal calls for a 3 percent increase for all UW employees on July 1, 2019, and another 3 percent increase on July 1, 2020. It also calls for the state to fully fund the increases, rather than each campus picking up 30 percent, as has been the case.

As most people know, Gov.-elect Evers is a Regent, but he did not vote on the package. However, many people believe that he will look favorably on this proposal. We will be doing everything we can to convince our local legislators that this package is incredibly important to our ability to keep and retain quality faculty and staff.