Many thanks for a great Pathways Forward campaign kickoff

Our celebration Friday of the announcement of the public phase of our Pathways Forward comprehensive campaign was a tremendous success. I have received many, many positive comments about the numerous events and activities, and the media attention was exceptional.

The amount of excitement, dedication and passion I felt for our campaign – from our faculty and staff and our generous benefactors – was incredible and very heart-warming. I certainly think that our campaign’s public phase is off to a great start.

If you were unable to watch the news conference Friday, see it here. If you couldn’t attend or view the late afternoon event in Harvey Hall Theatre, watch it here.

Putting on an event like this takes an incredible amount of hard work, and it would be impossible for me to name everyone who played a role in making the public phase launch successful. Vice Chancellor Mark Parsons did a great job of thanking people Friday afternoon, and I echo his sentiments. Certainly, the University Advancement staff put in hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in planning this event, as well as marketing, communications, the conference and events staff in the Memorial Student Center, dining, facilities and grounds, the three colleges – especially College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences, which hosted the afternoon event – faculty and staff across campus who so enthusiastically hosted open houses and tours of our facilities, my office staff, parking, etc., etc.

I know I have neglected to name every contributor, but all of your efforts are truly appreciated.

As most people are aware, our campaign is off to such a great start that we have raised the unofficial – or aspirational – goal to $40 million, while the official goal remains at $35 million. We have raised more than $30 million so far.

Our campaign’s success is an indication of how our benefactors value your work at UW-Stout as well as the contributions our graduates provide to employers. We should all be very proud of that success.

I will use this blog and other methods to keep the campus updated on the progress of the campaign, which runs through June 30, 2020.

See photos and videos from the events at the UW-Stout Facebook page.


The political season is upon us

It is hard to avoid the fact that we are in the middle of an intense political season. At UW-Stout, we work very hard to ensure that as many candidates as possible are made aware of the value of UW-Stout in preparing our students for successful careers and the challenges we face in meeting that responsibility.

We invite candidates from all parties to campus, and I meet personally with all of those who accept. So far five candidates have visited, and more are scheduled.

I believe this helps us immensely after the election when those candidates take office because they have a better understanding of UW-Stout and the UW System as a whole, particularly our most recent budget request.

I also would like to remind our campus community of the UW System rules and advice for engaging in political activity.


Academic year starts with new guaranteed scholarship program; Pathways Forward kickoff Friday

I hope the new academic year is off to a great start for everyone on campus. It’s always invigorating when the students return and the pace picks up.

I want to inform you about a major new initiative we are rolling out that is aimed at making attending UW-Stout even more affordable. Under the Blue Devil Guarantee program, any freshman who enrolls and meets certain GPA and ACT/SAT standards will be eligible for scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. The scholarships are renewable for a second year as well.

Even though the economy continues to improve, we are well aware that some students find they cannot afford a UW-Stout education or graduate with too much debt. While this program isn’t a panacea, I’m convinced that it will play a significant role in helping students attend UW-Stout.

We also hope that a byproduct of this scholarship program will be aiding our efforts to increase enrollment.

I want to thank everyone who worked so hard in putting this program together and ensuring that our prospective students are aware of what we are offering.  A news release about the program is available here.  More details are available here.


Please attend Pathways Forward events Friday

I also want to remind everyone about a major event for the Stout University Foundation on Friday. We are rolling out the public phase of our Pathways Forward comprehensive campaign, and we want to invite the campus to join the celebration.

We will be kicking the day off with tours and demonstrations across campus from 1 to 4 p.m. This is a great opportunity for you to see what others are doing to improve the student experience on campus. A map with locations and times can be found here.

Our kickoff opening address and celebration will begin at 4:15 p.m. in Harvey Hall Theatre, with appetizers, beverages and music to follow.

I hope you can be part of this historic time for UW-Stout.



Here’s wishing everyone the best in a new academic year

With another academic year arriving, I want to wish all of our students, faculty and staff the best year possible.

As a UW-Stout graduate, I know how special it is to start a new school year, either getting to know new people or getting reacquainted with old friends, along with getting into the rhythm of classes, lab set-ups, organizations, etc.

As a former UW-Stout faculty member, I also remember well the experience of getting ready to face a new wave of students.

I want everyone to know that I appreciate every student who has chosen UW-Stout for their education and for all the hard work and dedication I see every day from faculty and staff.  We have issues to address in the new year, including a decline in enrollment, but I know that our incredible campus community is equal to the challenge. Go Blue Devils!


Thanks for another great Move-in Day

I also want to thank everyone who helped with our extraordinarily organized and executed Move-in Day at the residence halls on Sunday. I had a prior commitment and was unable to attend this year, but I have witnessed many in the past.

It takes a lot of planning and hard work to get our students moved in efficiently, and I know that parents and others were singing the praises of how well this year’s day went.

A video from this year’s Move-in Day can be found here.


Two special events planned for September, October

This semester also will feature two exciting and important events.

On Friday, Sept. 14, we will hold a series of events to announce the public phase of our Pathways Forward comprehensive campaign. This campaign has a goal of raising at least $35 million for three important areas of focus: student experience, learning environments and program innovation.

As I noted in my address to faculty and staff last week, we have made incredible progress toward meeting this fundraising goal, but we will need everyone on campus to help push us over the finish line.

The kickoff includes tours and demonstrations across campus, a news conference and a late afternoon event in Harvey Hall Theatre, to be followed by music in the Clock Tower Plaza.


On Oct. 29, we would like the campus to join us in a ceremony remembering the life and accomplishments of the late Chancellor Emeritus Charles W. Sorensen, who passed away Feb. 23 in Florida. This event will be in the newly renamed Sorensen Hall, the former Millennium Hall. The UW System Board of Regents approved the renaming on Aug. 23.

The event will begin at 10 a.m., and we are working on the details, which will be shared with the campus as soon as they are finalized. A news release on the renaming can be found here.

Details on these events and others coming up during the fall semester can be found here.

Please help foster a welcoming environment on campus

Over the weekend I learned of a sign that was posted on a rental property on Broadway Street that was demeaning toward men. Our dean of students asked the tenants to remove the sign, but they refused. The university obviously has no authority to force the tenants to remove the sign. I want to emphasize that it is the responsibility of every member of the UW-Stout community to be considerate of others and to do everything possible to foster a welcoming environment. I have been a strong advocate of free expression; however, I also strongly believe that every right comes with significant responsibilities. With a new academic year ahead, I hope you carefully weigh the effect your words and actions may have on others.

City Council thanked for decision not to transfer Rehab license


I would like to thank the Menomonie City Council for Friday’s action that denied a request to transfer the liquor license of the Rehab bar in downtown Menomonie to the agent for three taverns in Eau Claire.  Council members said that the transfer wouldn’t achieve the goal of helping reduce the incidence of high risk alcohol consumption and related problems downtown.   

I had sent a letter to council members opposing the proposed transfer, saying I was concerned that the transfer would “perpetuate the current high-risk drinking culture that exists at the Rehab.”   

The action means that the Rehab officially lost its liquor license on Sunday, July 1.   

I indicated in my letter that letting the liquor license expire would “allow the council to carefully consider all applicants’ business plans – especially those based on responsible beverage services — that may be a better fit for the new direction we hope to see in downtown Menomonie.”   

The Leader-Telegram story on the City Council meeting can be found here. The Dunn County News story can be found here. 

A new proposal for the Rehab

I would like to update the campus and the community on a new development in the situation involving the Rehab bar in downtown Menomonie. Today the Leader-Telegram reported that the owner of the Rehab has proposed transferring his liquor license to an Eau Claire entity that operates bars there. That story can be found here.  Here is my full statement that was sent to the newspaper in response to a request for comment:

“We were pleased when the Menomonie City Council on June 11, voted not to renew the liquor license for the Rehab tavern in downtown Menomonie. That action by the City Council sent a strong signal to the community that it wanted a new direction for its downtown – one that was not centered on encouraging high risk drinking among young people. Therefore, we are concerned with the current proposal to transfer the Rehab’s license to an Eau Claire group that is associated with establishments there that target college students with drink specials. We fear this transfer could perpetuate the current high-risk drinking culture that exists at the Rehab. We believe a better option would be denying this transfer to allow the council to carefully consider all applicants’ business plans – including responsible beverage services — that may be a better fit for the new direction we hope to see in downtown Menomonie.”

This is an incredibly important issue for the campus and for the community. We will keep the campus updated as needed.

Rehab_Bar_01 - Copy

City Council’s nonrenewal of bar’s license was community effort, big step forward

The Menomonie City Council and Mayor Randy Knaack issued a strong statement Monday night about the need to address high-risk drinking behaviors by voting unanimously not to renew the license for the Rehab bar on Broadway Street. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram story on the meeting is available here.

I attended the four-hour hearing the council held on the nonrenewal and witnessed the high degree of emotions that hovered over this issue. I want to personally thank the mayor and each council member who devoted so much time to this issue and for taking a strong stand in favor of responsible alcohol service downtown.

Others who worked so hard on this issue deserve thanks as well, including members of the Chancellor’s Coalition on Alcohol and Drugs; Menomonie Police Chief Eric Atkinson and the entire department; UW-Stout Police Chief Jason Spetz and his department; our Dean of Students office; and members of Menomonie Cares. This issue required a united community effort, and Menomonie responded.

I also want to also thank the other bars, restaurants and businesses in downtown Menomonie and across the city that stepped up to lend their support to this nonrenewal. Their backing was very important to this successful outcome. In addition, I want to emphasize that I’m grateful to the majority of tavern owners who operate responsibly and exemplify sound and ethical business practices.

Looking forward, I hope that this action means we’re entering a new era in this community that has at its core the desire to nurture our young people. The Rehab owner had the temerity to tell the council Monday night that he placed “people over profits.” The facts of this case spoke otherwise. We now have a real chance to move forward from this situation and work together to address the scourge of high-risk alcohol use and its many consequences.


Letter to Menomonie City Council

I recently sent the following letter to Menomonie City Council members, Mayor Randy Knaack and City Administrator Lowell Prange regarding Rehab tavern in downtown Menomonie. The council will meet in special session at 6 p.m. Monday, June 11, to consider the nonrenewal of Rehab’s licenses. I plan to be at the meeting, at the Dunn County Government Center, 800 Wilson Ave., and I urge you to attend as well:


I am writing to emphasize how important it is, with regard to our efforts to address high-risk drinking among UW-Stout students, that the Menomonie City Council denies the pending license renewal requests filed by the Rehab tavern.

I understand that this is not a decision the council can take lightly: a denial will have financial implications for the owner of the establishment. However, this owner has shown a brazen disregard for any semblance of the duty he has to serve alcohol according to state and local laws, as well as to operate his establishment as a responsible business owner and member of the community.

Most of the attention concerning the Rehab has been focused on the night of April 12, 2018, when city, university and county officers issued more than 50 citations to people who were under age and drinking in the bar. I have referred to this incident as “revolting,” and it truly was. However, also revolting are Rehab’s constant attempts to encourage high-risk drinking just to increase the bar’s bottom line.

Consider, for example, the 10th annual Intervention Fest the bar hosted Saturday, April 21, just two weeks shy of graduation. This event began at 10 a.m., according to the bar’s Facebook page, and was intended to encourage all patrons “to get wet, wild and wrecked with us all day.” The bar also posted photos of patrons who started lining up at 9 a.m. for what it called its “biggest party ever.”

Additionally, to encourage UW-Stout students to drink to excess the night before our advisement day, the bar posted on its Facebook page that it was offering a $10 “all you can drink” special. One student responded that it was his “favorite holiday from school.” Yes, because of this we are exploring alternatives to advisement day.

Finally, the Rehab is well known for its “Thirsty Thursday” specials that include “drink for free.” Unconscionable specials like these put pressure on other responsible owners and promote a race to the bottom.

As I have stated publicly, UW-Stout knows it has a problem with too many of its students engaging in high-risk drinking activities. We have an aggressive plan, sponsored by our Dean of Students office and managed by the Chancellor’s Coalition on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, to address this serious issue.

But we can’t do it ourselves. We need our community partners to join with us in this effort to effect a change that will help improve the quality of life in Menomonie, making the city safer and more attractive to new residents and new students.

Please make a strong statement that you are willing to be part of the solution by not renewing these liquor licenses.


Bob Meyer