Author Archives: University of Wisconsin-Stout

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The University of Wisconsin-Stout, in west-central Wisconsin, is one of the Midwest's premiere polytechnic universities. UW-Stout - inspiring innovation!

Congratulations to the winners of Tuesday’s elections; student voter turnout was impressive

Like most Wisconsin residents, I woke up this morning to learn that Tony Evers, a member of the UW System Board of Regents and state schools superintendent, had squeaked out a victory in his gubernatorial race.

I have gotten to know Gov.-elect Evers well during my four-plus years as chancellor, as well as during my six years as president of the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. I would like to publicly congratulate Gov.-elect Evers on his win and assure him that I and my administration will do everything possible to help him make a successful transition to the governor’s office and to achieve the higher education agenda he lays out.

I also would like to congratulate those who won legislative elections in western Wisconsin, including state Rep. Rob Stafsholt, who represents UW-Stout. I have developed a good working relationship with Rep. Stafsholt during his first term in the Assembly and look forward to working closely with him, and all our local legislators, during the 2019-21 legislative session.

We are heading into a budget year, which means that a lot of our time will be devoted to working with the new governor and legislators to ensure they are aware of our priorities.

Board of Regents

Impressive voter turnout by UW-Stout students

Maybe the biggest winner Tuesday in Wisconsin, however, was the electorate. Nearly 2.7 million people voted Tuesday, a record for a midterm election in Wisconsin.

In Menomonie, voting increased 22.4 percent in Wards 5 and 7, which are dominated by UW-Stout students who vote in the Memorial Student Center. In the 2014 midterm election, 589 votes were cast for governor, and that increased to 721 this year.

IMG_1097A group of students and dedicated faculty members worked tirelessly to increase student voter turnout this year, and it worked. I even got in the act by helping register students to vote on two occasions.

I want to thank and congratulate the Stout Votes! group and everyone who helped increase student voter participation this year. Voting really is democracy in action!



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.


Ceremony on Monday to honor late chancellor; Cabot program featured Subaru exec; vote and help students vote Nov. 6

The campus will take time Monday morning to honor the life, accomplishments and lasting legacy of the late Chancellor Emeritus Charles W. Sorensen. We will hold a renaming ceremony in the atrium of Sorensen (formerly Millennium) Hall beginning at 10 a.m., and I really hope that as many students, faculty and staff as possible attend.

Those who will speak include Chancellor Sorensen’s wife, Toni Poll-Sorensen, Regent Mark Tyler, former state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, former Dean John Murphy, vice chancellors Lyons and Parsons, Julie Zack from my office, myself and communications director Doug Mell, who will be master of ceremonies. A reception will follow.

Those who can’t attend can watch via livestream here.  More information is available here.

Sorensen Hall Signs Installed


Another successful year for the Cabot Executive in Residence

For 34 years, UW-Stout students, faculty and staff have benefited from the Cabot Executive in Residence program, which brings experts from business and industry to campus to share their experiences, advice and good humor.

I was privileged to introduce this year’s executive, Denise Coogan, before her address Wednesday in the ballrooms of the Memorial Student Center. I also spent time with Denise at other events.

As manager of Environmental Partnerships for Subaru of America, she described her leadership of the zero landfill effort at the company’s Indiana manufacturing plant. Amazingly, since 2004 the plant has sent no waste to landfills, and Denise described how the initiative was conceived and what steps were necessary to implement and maintain the effort.

She then described her subsequent efforts to bring the zero landfill effort to three national parks.

The Cabot executive program is named in honor of Arthur R. Cabot, a successful pet products manufacturer. His son, Scott Cabot, attended UW-Stout with me and earned a bachelor’s degree from UW-Stout in 1978 and a master’s in 1979.


Please help students register to vote

Nothing is more important to the health and future of our democracy than voting. That is why I am asking everyone at UW-Stout to register to vote and do what they can to encourage our students to do the same.

As public employees, we obviously cannot participate in partisan political activities while at work. But we can, and should, encourage our students to register to vote and to go to the polls. UW-Stout’s Student Life Services has developed a very useful website that answers the questions a student may have about how to register and where to vote.

I feel so strongly about this effort that I will be working at the voter registration table in the Memorial Student Center from 2 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, and from noon to 1 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Free Speech Week a success, with Cabot event coming up; renovations at Price Commons are looking good

Free speech and civil discourse were treated to a full airing at UW-Stout this week with the successful series of forums sponsored by the Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation during its annual Free Speech Week.

I had the privilege of moderating a very interesting, and lively, panel that included a former biology professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., Bret Weinstein, who challenged a day of racial segregation and faced backlash, including having to hold classes off campus because university police could not guarantee his safety. The other panelists were Damon Sajnani, of UW-Madison African Cultural Studies, and John Sharpless, co-director of the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy at UW-Madison.

Student Free Speech in the UW was another topic on Tuesday at a panel that included Jim Manley, senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute, co-author of a model policy used by the regents; Coltan Schoenike, who is studying for a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at UW-Stout and opposed the policy’s adoption; and Casey Mattox, senior fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, who influences free speech policy and practice at a think tank. Doug Mell, UW-Stout executive director of University Communications and External Relations, moderated the session.

Other session topics included Debating Hate Speech and the First Amendment; and Free Speech and Originalist Jurisprudence.

I want to commend the center and director Timothy Shiell for excellent Free Speech Week activities and showing everyone that civil discourse about weighty and controversial issues is still possible in our society and on our campus. 

Free Speech

Price Commons renovations impressive

I toured the renovations underway at Merle M. Price Commons, and they were very impressive. The first floor is being completely redone, including a new layout and an updated look to better serve our students and staff.

The work, which began in May and is expected to be completed in December 2019, includes upgrading the fire suppression, mechanical and electrical systems; renovating all four main entrances and patio; adding new exterior windows and sills; and remodeling offices and areas including SLS Tech, University Dining Administration, the Qube, Mini-Mart, and the Glass Lounge.

Price Commons is open during the renovations, which is important because the main dining hall, renovated previously, is on the second floor.

I want to thank Malinda Hebert, Student Centers assistant director, and our Facilities Management staff for arranging the tour. I look forward to another tour when the project is completed. More information on the renovation is available here.


Please attend Cabot Executive in Residence address

I also want to encourage everyone to attend the 2018 Cabot Executive in Residence address from 10:10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, in the student center ballrooms. The address is by Denise Coogan, of Subaru of America.

Coogan, a champion of sustainability, women’s leadership and cultural sensitivity, also will be engaging with faculty, staff and students in numerous activities, classes and meetings from Tuesday through Thursday.

Faculty are encouraged to invite students to participate.

Denise Coogan Photo


Homecoming weekend another great experience; new video production major approved


Few things bring a bigger smile to my face than interacting with our alumni. That’s why homecoming weekend is one of my favorite events on campus.

Granted, this year’s weather was a little on the chilly side, but my wife, Debbie, and I enjoyed ourselves immensely Saturday at all the activities: the Blue Devil Run/Walk, great parade, tailgate in the football stadium parking lot and, of course, the game.

Even though the Blue Devils ended up losing to UW-La Crosse in overtime, it was a great game and I’m proud of how our team played and fought to the very end.

I would like to thank our Homecoming Committee, Blue Devil Productions, the Alumni Association, Athletics, Urec and everyone else who planned events and put in many hours of effort to make homecoming a success.

The staff at University Communications did a great job in documenting the weeklong celebration; if you haven’t already, I would recommend you check out their photos and video from homecoming on our UW-Stout Facebook page.


Video production major gets UW System approval

During last week’s UW System Board of Regents meeting at UW-Parkside, UW-Stout received approval for our 50th undergraduate major. The Regents unanimously approved a Bachelor of Science degree in video production, a natural outgrowth of our successful photography and video minor.

Graduates of this degree will have the knowledge and skills they need to create and edit still photography and video projects. The degree fills an increasing demand for video content by business and industry.

Provost Patrick Guilfoile told the Regents’ Education Committee last week that “In keeping with UW-Stout’s career focus, this program is not aimed at film and video as fine art but rather as a communication medium for business, nonprofits and other entities wishing to reach an audience through visual means.”

Provost Guilfoile and I also had the chance to address the full board on what UW-Stout has submitted to the UW System as our “capacity building” initiatives for 2019-21. These initiatives are part of the system’s proposed 2019-21 budget that the regents approved earlier this year. Our proposals are intended to build capacity in our engineering programs; information technology and computer science programs; biochemistry, molecular biology and industrial chemistry programs; and Career Services office.

Free Speech Week events Oct. 15-18

I’d also like to encourage as many people as possible to attend Free Speech Week events beginning Monday, Oct. 15, sponsored by the UW-Stout Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation.

I will participate in a panel discussion Oct. 15. Other events are scheduled through Thursday of that week.

School visit with admissions counselors provides insight

This week I also had the opportunity to join Erin Konsela and Joan Ebnet on an admissions visit to Centennial High School in Circle Pines, Minn. The visit gave me insight into the broad range of questions that our admissions counselors field, as well as gain hands-on knowledge of how user-friendly (or in some situations unfriendly) our online UW System application form is for prospective students.


I was impressed with how customer-oriented Erin and Joan were and how incredibly successful the visit was with respect to helping Centennial students apply to UW-Stout.

I’d like to recognize the entire admissions staff for its efforts to help steer prospective students toward UW-Stout as we try to meet enrollment challenges. I’m very impressed and grateful for these efforts.

I was also very encouraged by the positive response that prospective students had to our new Blue Devil Guarantee.  The guarantee lets prospective students know up front what scholarship support they qualify for given factors including their academic performance and ACT scores.


Homecoming 2018 full of exciting events

Homecoming began back in March 1917 when Stout Institute officials decided to invite alumni to the fledgling campus to celebrate a historic day: the dedication of the new, four-story brick Domestic Science Building constructed just east of the Manual Training Building.

Now, 101 years after the opening of what we now know as Harvey Hall, I’d like to invite our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to participate in the wide range of activities planned for this week. The full homecoming schedule is available here.

There are so many things to do it’s hard to pick out a few, like the Soapbox Derby put on by Blue Devil Productions, the Blue Devil Run/Walk organized by Urec and the 11 a.m. homecoming parade, organized by the Homecoming Committee.

Soap Box Derby

Of course, there’s the final main event — the 2 p.m. football game against UW-La Crosse. I hope you can help me cheer on our Blue Devils as they pursue elevating their record to 4-1.

I’d also like to recommend you take a look at the magnificent and inspiring homecoming video put together by Rachel Hallgrimson, our social media coordinator.

A lot of people have put in hours and hours of hard work to make our centennial homecoming a success. As a proud UW-Stout graduate, I always look forward to this special week and express my gratitude to everyone who has worked to make homecoming a Stout Proud day!

Career Conference sets another employer attendance record

One of the hardest things I have to do each semester is trying to navigate my way around the two career conferences that our Career Services office puts on. Each year it gets a little more crowded as more employers sign up to recruit our students, either for co-ops or full-time positions.

For the Fall Career Conference that ended Wednesday, a record 420 companies filled the Multipurpose Room of the Sports and Fitness Center.

It’s also hard for me to get around because I keep running into alumni sent back by their employers to recruit students to follow in their footsteps. Some of these alumni, I hate to admit, were in classes I taught while a faculty member. Others I interact with either through the Alumni Association, our program advisory committees or elsewhere.

All of them, however, spend time telling me how much they enjoyed their time at UW-Stout and how well-prepared they were when they left for that important first job. It’s great to hear these wonderful stories.

Furthermore, some recruiters I met are UW-Stout students. They have a job waiting for them upon graduation because of a successful co-op experience and are recruiting while finishing their degree.

My only regret, frankly, is that we don’t have even more students for these employers to interview. I hope that our new recruiting efforts will help address that concern.

Fall Career Conference

Glad to see Foxconn recruiting at the conference 

I also was very pleased to see representatives of Foxconn Technology attend the career conference for the first time. Foxconn has announced plans to hire up to 13,000 people over the next five years in southeastern Wisconsin to staff and support a planned $10 billion flat-screen manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant. Foxconn also plans to open an innovation center in Eau Claire.

I know some people question the wisdom of the incentives the state has offered Foxconn, but I believe our institution has a lot to offer Foxconn. The company’s attendance at the career conference was a great step in our efforts to build a meaningful relationship.

Fall Career Conference

Congratulations to Career Services for another successful conference 

I would like to congratulate Director Bryan Barts and his Career Services staff for continuing to grow the career conferences and for making them such a success. Many, many employers said it simply is the best one they attend.

Read more about the career conference here and see photos on the UW-Stout Facebook page and a video.

Former Gov. Thompson still a fan of UW-Stout 

Last Friday I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend of UW-Stout: former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Gov. Thompson visited UW-Stout often when he was in office and came to appreciate the special place that we hold in the UW System.

Now Gov. Thompson has taken over as chair of the UW System Business Council, and we had a chance to talk after the council’s meeting in Madison. I can assure you he still remains a big fan of UW-Stout and even expressed a desire to take time out of his busy schedule to visit campus again. We are working on the details of that visit now.

Read more about Gov. Thompson and the Business Council here.