A hectic and inspiring week before commencement

The week before graduation always has a frenetic feel to it, and this week was no exception. While the constant motion can be a bit tiring, I come away energized by the privilege of meeting so many exceptional students, faculty and staff.

McNair scholars go on to graduate studies 

On Monday I attended a special event for the McNair scholars who are graduating from this federally sponsored program, which aims to help first-generation and underrepresented students prepare for graduate studies.

Those attending the luncheon heard inspiring stories about students who will be attending medical school and graduate school to achieve their lofty dreams.

I want to thank Sarah Wynn, the McNair program director at UW-Stout, and her staff for running an excellent program and putting on a fantastic concluding event. mcnairphoto

Athletic Department gives out honors 

On Tuesday night I had the privilege of attending Athletics’ annual Senior Honors Night in the Memorial Student Center, where 84 seniors were honored.

Football offensive lineman Caleb Adams was honored as the male athlete of the year and basketball player Bailey Diersen as the female athlete of the year. Gymnastics Assistant Coach Seth Helland received the assistant coach of the year award.

Jessica DuVal received the WMG Humanitarian Award sponsored by the Waznik Moseler Group, which recognizes student-athletes who put sports into proper perspective, who encompass teamwork, campus and community in their everyday lives and put others ahead of themselves.

Gymnast Shadae Boone received the play of the year award, the gymnastics team was named the team of the year and the volleyball team received the game performance award.

I was very surprised and honored to receive an award of thanks from Athletic Director Duey Naatz.  UW-Stout Seniors Honor Night 2019

Leadership awards bring back memories 

On Wednesday night I joined my friend and fellow alumnus Scott Cabot at the UW-Stout Leadership Awards ceremony in the MSC. I gave a welcome and talked about my undergraduate days at UW-Stout.

Many students were recognized with awards, but the one that always holds a special place in my heart is the Samuel E. Wood Medallion Award. I received the medallion 40-some years ago during my undergraduate days at UW-Stout. The award honors the life and accomplishments of Sam Wood, who I knew as UW-Stout’s dean of students and adviser to the Stout Student Association. (With Sam’s help, I was able to work with the former state Elections Board to make it easier for students to register to vote.)

The medallion reminds me to try to lead like Sam Wood and to honor the “code of leadership” that signifies the medallion honorees.SamWood winners

Bestow the stole 

Last week I participated in the annual Bestow the Stole event sponsored by the Honors College. Each graduate receives a stole to wear during their respective commencement exercises.

I always take time to thank everyone who has helped these exceptional students get to this point of their academic careers, including their parents and other family members and their faculty mentors. I want to thank professors Chris Ferguson and Tom Pearson for their work with the Honors College. More on the Honors College is available here.

Commencement is Saturday 

On Saturday, I give my final commencement address as chancellor during three ceremonies in Johnson Fieldhouse. We will publish the text of the speech next week in this blog, but as a preview I discuss some of the life lessons I have learned in my personal and professional journey and do a little looking back on my time at UW-Stout, which will always be a special place for me and my family.

I certainly hope that as many faculty and staff as possible can attend one of the three ceremonies. More information is available here.

Willie Johnson assumes role of vice chancellor of Advancement and Alumni Relations 

I was pleased on Wednesday to welcome our newest administrator, Willie Johnson, who took over as vice chancellor of Advancement and Alumni Relations. Willie has been in higher education as a fundraiser since 1982, and I am sure that he will fit in well with the excellent staff that former Vice Chancellor Mark Parsons brought to the Louis Smith Tainter House.

If you see Willie on campus please introduce yourself and make him feel welcome.Willie_Johnson