Busy time: Board of Regents, a celebration and meeting student athletes of color

Regents adopt UW-Stout post tenure review policy

I’m happy to report that the UW System Board of Regents today unanimously approved a post-tenure review policy for UW-Stout. I want to thank the chair of the Faculty Senate, Nelu Ghenciu, the entire Faculty Senate, Provost Patrick Guilfoile and his staff and everyone else who was involved in the development of this important policy. We needed to establish this policy as part of the conversion of tenure procedures from state law to Board of Regents policy. The full policy is available here.

During the Regents’ Education Committee discussion of this policy, Regent Margaret Farrow was very complimentary. She called it “very clear and very understandable” that perfectly reflected the nature of Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. In his remarks to the Education Committee, Provost Guilfoile said he appreciated the cooperation of the Faculty Senate in working on this policy, and I want to echo that sentiment.

A great celebration of Baldrige and polytechnic developments

A19A8819Two major developments in the history of UW-Stout have anniversaries in March, and I was happy to participate in a celebration of those anniversaries on Tuesday, March 7.  Fifteen years ago, a contingent from UW-Stout, led by Chancellor Emeritus Charles W. Sorensen, went to Washington, D.C., to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award from former President George W. Bush.  I was privileged to have been part of that contingent as dean of the former College of Technology, Engineering and Management.

Ten years ago, on March 9, 2007, the Board of Regents unanimously voted to designate UW-Stout as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. The history behind these developments and their impacts were explored thoroughly in the well-attended ceremony in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.

Although I was at UW-Stout while both ideas were debated and pursued, I still learned a lot about how these developments came to fruition.

Our undergraduate employment rate keeps going up

meyerwalkerI used the occasion of the Baldrige/polytechnic celebration to announce, with great pleasure, that our employment rate for 2015-16 graduates is an amazing 97.4 percent. When I returned to UW-Stout as chancellor in August 2014, the rate was 97 percent. I just hoped that we would be able to maintain the percent in the future.

I should have known better! We actually increased that employment rate to 97.1 percent in 2013-14 to 97.3 percent in 2014-15 and then 97.4 percent in 2015-16.

The median salary for our graduates increased as well, from $40,000 in 2014-15 to $42,500 in 2015-16, and 85 percent of our graduates were working in fields related to their major, up from 83.3 percent.

I was happy that Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch could join us on Tuesday, and she applauded the increase in our employment rate.

I then traveled to Madison to participate with the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment conference on Wednesday and shared this great news with Gov. Scott Walker. Kleefisch and Walker have been great marketers for UW-Stout in that they frequently mention our employment rate as a goal for other universities to achieve. I said at the event Tuesday, and I want to reiterate, that we have achieved this employment rate through the hard work, innovation and dedication of a lot of people all across the campus. Thank you for your good work.

Adviser providing support for student athletes of color

Recently I had the great privilege of meeting with our student athletes of color. This group is convened on a regular basis by Michael Bond, a Multicultural Student Services adviser and 2015 graduate of UW-Stout in vocational rehabilitation counseling. A

As a UW-Stout student and athlete of color, Michael started 10 games as a defensive back for our football team in 2013 and 2014 and was named to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athlete Conference All-Sportsmanship team. He is pursuing his master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and regularly meets with student athletes of color to provide them a forum to discuss issues, address challenges and gain a sense of belonging on campus.

His efforts are paying off as nearly every athlete attending the meeting asserted how important Michael’s work has been in helping them adjust to college life, establish focus as a student and athlete and feel welcome on campus.

While at the meeting, I had a chance to describe my role as chancellor as well as a few of my past experiences with athletics as a student (a long time ago)! The meeting also gave me a chance to discuss the importance of supporting diversity at UW-Stout as well as describe some of the actions we are taking to encourage inclusiveness across campus.

One important action we are taking is the deployment of the Intercultural Development Inventory. The IDI assesses intercultural competence — the ability to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities. Intercultural competence has been identified as a critical skill required in today’s global economy, and the IDI assessment can be used to help develop this capability.

As I shared at the meeting, we are encouraging staff and students to use the IDI to develop this critical skill set. In doing so we also believe that we will build a more inclusive campus environment.

I really enjoyed our interaction and discussions at the meeting and quickly developed an appreciation for how impactful this group has been for our student athletes of color. Thank you for your great work Michael Bond!!

Spreading the word about our career and technical education

I was happy to spend Thursday, March 9, in Wisconsin Dells, at the annual conference of the Wisconsin Technology Education Association. I recognized many of the people at the conference as either former students, which made me feel a little old, or colleagues in the area of technical education.

I believe we need to do more as an institution to raise the profile of our career and technical education undergraduate and graduate programs. We are a leader in this area, and we need to build on that success, so that is why I valued my time at the WTEA conference.


Baldrige/Polytechnic event March 7; volunteers fight hunger; enrollment plan discussed

Two seminal events in the history of UW-Stout — winning the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award and being designated Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University – will be celebrated Tuesday, March 7. I would like to invite the entire campus to join us for this special event beginning at 9 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.

We have put together a great program to look at the impact of the winning the Baldrige and officially becoming a polytechnic university. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch will attend to read a proclamation from the governor, a UW System representative will attend and we’ll have remembrances from Chancellor Emeritus Sorensen.

We also are planning to make a major announcement concerning our 2015-16 employment rate for recent graduates and the economic impact of UW-Stout on the regional economy.

Refreshments will be served.

Look for further information this week in your email and in UW-Stout Today and Campus Life Today.

Joining the effort to fight kids’ hunger


I was happy to join our international students and others from campus at last Wednesday’s Kids Against Hunger event organized by two Menomonie Rotary Clubs. Our group packed more than 2,000 meals, and everyone who participated packed more than 45,000 meals, which consisted of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and 21 essential vitamins and minerals.

The meals will be distributed in the Chippewa Valley and across the world.

Other groups participating in the event at the Stout Ale House included University Marketing and the Stout Student Association. A WEAU-TV story is available here.

A good start on an enrollment plan

I want to thank everyone who took the time to participate in the various sessions held by the consultants working for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, who have been asked for recommendations on how to implement a Strategic Enrollment Management Plan at UW-Stout.

I was impressed by the consultants’ thoroughness and knowledge as they conducted their briefings and look forward to their recommendations.

After a few years of growth, it appears that we will be severely challenged to maintain our present enrollment level in fall 2017. That fact adds even more urgency to the need to develop a campuswide enrollment management plan and to implement it as quickly as possible.

Alumnus speaks up on state budget; campus busy with legislator visit, Career Conference, ‘Stout Proud’ film


Joseph Pregont, President and CEO of Prent Corp.

I wanted to share with you a column that ran in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel written by a great friend and supporter of UW-Stout, Joseph Pregont, the president and CEO of Prent Corporation in Janesville who graduated from here in 1981 and was the 2011 Cabot Executive in Residence. This 2,000-employee company has dozens of UW-Stout graduates in its workforce.

In the column, Joe supports Gov. Walker’s 2017-19 state budget proposal that calls for increased funding for the UW System, as well as salary increases for UW employees. I believe this column will have a significant impact on our advocacy efforts for the UW budget, and I want to publicly thank Joe for adding his voice to our supporters. We also are working with other employers in Wisconsin to join our advocacy efforts.

Rep. Stafsholt holds listening session on campus

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UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer, left, with Rep. Rob Stafsholt.

Speaking of advocacy, I had the privilege Tuesday afternoon of introducing state Rep. Rob Stafsholt before his listening session in the Memorial Student Center. I thanked Rob for holding his meeting on campus and had a chance to explain our thoughts on Gov. Walker’s 2017-19 state budget.

The meeting was well-attended, and the speakers included members of the Stout Student Association leadership.

The Leader-Telegram covered the meeting; the story is available on their website.

Career Conference a great experience

I don’t think I could ever spend too much time at the two Career Conferences held on campus, in the fall and again in late winter. I enjoyed walking around the conference Tuesday in Johnson Fieldhouse Multipurpose Room speaking to the employers who were looking to hire Cooperative Education students as well as permanent employees and to students who were seeking those positions.

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There are many UW-Stout alumni in the employer booths, and I even ran into a couple of former students I remembered having in class some years ago. The employers seemed pleased with the quality and the quantity of the students they were attracting to their booths.

Career Services does a great job organizing this event. More information is available on their website.

Alumni Association film truly thrilling

I still am marveling at the tremendous “Stout Proud” video produced for the Alumni Association that premiered last Friday during Stout Proud Day in the Memorial Student Center. The video was made by two recent alumni, Christopher Bartlett and R.T. Vrieze, who co-own Knorth Studios in Eau Claire.

More than 55,000 people have seen this video since it was posted Friday on our Facebook page. I encourage everyone who hasn’t seen the video to watch it.

I’d also like to thank Christopher and R.T. for the time they spent producing the video and everyone at the Alumni Association who worked on the project.

Initial budget reaction positive; Stout Proud Day to feature video made by alumni

Our first analysis of Gov. Walker’s budget


The dust is settling in the wake of Gov. Walker’s release last Wednesday of the 2017-19 state budget.  Our analysis of the budget is continuing, but I am pleased to say that the initial reaction of legislators for the increased UW System funding of more than $100 million appears to be positive.

Most of the legislative scrutiny so far seems to be concerning the governor’s proposal to move state employees to a self-insurance plan as well as his $35 million proposal to cut the cost of tuition in 2018-19. While both of these proposals would have a dramatic impact on UW-Stout, there didn’t seem to be much opposition at all to the increased funding, which we so badly need.

There also doesn’t appear to be opposition to the governor’s proposal to increase salaries in 2018-19.  Maintaining these back-to-back 2 percent increases (in September 2018 and May 2019) is a top priority of mine. There are potentially problematic parts of the proposal, including a massive increase in the number of undergraduate programs for which we offer three-year contracts and a requirement to monitor faculty and staff workloads.

Furthermore, we will have to work closely with the Legislature to ensure the metrics adopted for the $42.5 million in performance-based funding makes sense for UW-Stout. I had a chance to discuss this issue with the governor last Tuesday, and he indicated a willingness to work with the Board of Regents to make sure the metrics work for all types of institutions.

Much more on the state budget, including all the budget documents, is available here.

Show your UW-Stout pride Friday, Feb. 17


I’d like to remind students, faculty and staff that Friday, Feb. 17, is Stout Proud Day, a day to bring people together to celebrate not only how wonderful our university is but also to remember Wawa (pronounced “Wava”) Thorson. She was a proud UW-Stout alumna and created the Kolbenschlag Endowed Memorial Scholarship in 1996 to honor her supportive parents and her UW-Stout spirit.

With her passing in 2012, Wawa asked that her estate gift left to the university be honored through celebration of her birthday. This year’s Stout Proud Day will feature the work of two of our successful alumni, Chris Bartlett and R.T. Vrieze, who created a video emphasizing what it means to be “Stout.” Learn more here.

They have done a tremendous job, and we wanted to share this video with everyone before releasing it on social media. We will have three showings, at 1:00, 1:45 and 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, in Ballroom B of the Memorial Student Center, along with popcorn, root beer and cake in honor of Wawa.

Governor’s state budget proposal appears to be ‘positive step’ for UW-Stout, UW System


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Gov. Walker will release his 2017-19 state budget later today, but I thought it important to inform the campus that at least initially the budget is a very positive step for UW-Stout and the UW System.

We will know much more after we have a chance to review the budget details and assess its impact on our campus.

However, it is good news that the governor is proposing additional revenue for the UW System and even apparently the funding for pay increases.

I had a chance to meet with the governor in Eau Claire Tuesday afternoon and indicated to him that we would use this additional investment in the UW System to continue to produce the kind of graduates who are highly sought-after by business and industry.

The governor in his remarks noted our outstanding record in securing work experiences for our students before they graduate, as well as the employment success of our graduates.

Again, we will have more to say about the governor’s budget once all the details are known.

You can see some of the latest news coverage of the state budget on our state budget website.

Work on state budget to begin; visits from officials, trip to Madison highlight week; welcome to new CIO

Get ready for the state budget process to begin

July 1 might seem like a long way off, but it’s when the new state budget will take effect — and the process is about to kick into high gear. Gov. Walker will release his 2017-19 proposal at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, which will then be reviewed and amended by the Joint Finance Committee and the full Legislature for 4½ months before taking effect July 1.

In contrast to previous budgets, I go into this debate with guarded optimism that UW-Stout and the rest of the UW System will emerge with additional resources with which we can fulfill our mission to prepare students for rewarding careers after graduation. The governor has spoken about increasing funding for the UW System and tying it to performance measures, which is a good sign. He also has indicated that he wants to cut the cost of tuition at UW institutions, with the state picking up the costs.

We will be very interested in seeing the details of these and other proposals and will get the details to campus as soon as possible after the governor’s address Wednesday evening.

Chippewa Valley Rally a satisfying experience

The governor, along with Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, spoke last Wednesday to the 23rd annual Chippewa Valley Rally, sponsored by the chambers of commerce in Menomonie, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. It was a tremendous opportunity to visit with legislators from across the state and talk about the upcoming budget.


I appreciate that rally organizers fully endorsed the UW System’s $42.5 million budget proposal as one of their “asks.” That sends a very powerful message to our elected officials about the business support for increased UW funding. The Leader-Telegram wrote a very nice editorial Sunday about this issue, which can be found on the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram website.

Rep. Quinn spends some quality time on campus

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I also had a very positive meeting Friday with state Rep. Romaine Quinn, a Republican from Chetek, who sits on the Assembly Colleges and University Committee. We had a great discussion about the issues important to UW-Stout, both fiscal and policy. I want to thank Rep. Quinn for the time he spent on campus.

It’s important that we establish strong relationships with our local legislators, especially those in a position to influence higher education legislation.

Advocacy plan rounds into shape

Finally, we are putting the finishing touches on our advocacy plan for the state budget, which leans heavily on our external stakeholders to talk to legislators on our behalf as the budget process continues. We have assembled a list of potential advocates and are talking to them about the degree to which they want to be involved. I think this will be a very effective approach in the weeks ahead.

Welcome aboard, CIO Traxler

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.43.27 AM.pngI want to officially welcome Suzanne Traxler to campus as our new chief information officer. She replaces Doug Wahl, who has retired, and comes to us with a wealth of experience in the IT field from a similar position at UW-Platteville.

I look forward to working with Suzanne on a variety of issues and to seeking her advice and counsel as a member of my Cabinet. Please take time to introduce yourself to Suzanne and make her feel welcome. A news release about her appointment is available on the UW-Stout News website.


Thanks to Lt. Gov. Kleefisch for visiting Fab Lab

I was privileged to spend Tuesday afternoon with Lt. Gov. Kleefisch in our Discovery Center Fab Lab as she, along with Mark Hogan, CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., announced a $60,000 contract for our Center for Innovation and Development.

We will match the $60,000, and the money will be used to help innovators take their ideas through a prototype to market. Details about the contract are available on the UW-Stout News website.

I was overwhelmed by the lieutenant governor’s warm words of praise for UW-Stout, highlighted by our 97.3 percent employment rate for recent graduates and our efforts to help businesses and industries solve their problems and become more efficient.



Ready for the new semester and a busy, important year ahead

Welcome to spring semester 2017


I’d like to welcome back our students, faculty and staff for the start of the spring 2017 academic semester. I hope everyone has a very successful and rewarding semester.

As I have noted previously, this year will be marked by a couple of major events. On Tuesday, March 7, we will hold a celebration of two very important anniversaries in UW-Stout’s history: the 10-year anniversary of UW-Stout being designated Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University and the 15-year anniversary of UW-Stout receiving the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The celebration will begin at 9 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and other dignitaries will attend. More details will be coming soon in an email.

Then on Thursday-Friday, Oct. 5-6, we will host the UW System Board of Regents. This will be a great opportunity to showcase the campus and to focus on student achievement. Details on this event will come later in the year.

You said …and we did


The academic year kicked off for faculty and staff with the always popular You Said…We Did event coordinated by our office of Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality.

This event is intended to celebrate the actions we have taken based on feedback we receive at the annual Engagement Sessions. It is an important part of our planning process — to show stakeholders that their opinions count and are acted on. You can watch the event on Livestream.

Chippewa Valley Rally to advocate for UW budget plan

Besides the beginning of a new semester, January marks the unofficial start of the state’s budget process. Gov. Walker will introduce his 2017-19 state budget in early to mid-February.

On Wednesday I will be joined by three others from UW-Stout in attending the 23rd annual Chippewa Valley Rally in the state Capitol. I am happy to report that the rally, sponsored by three chambers of commerce, Eau Claire, Menomonie and Chippewa Falls, will include a very strong “ask” of all legislators to support the 2017-19 state budget request submitted by the Board of Regents.

I can’t stress how important this is — to have business leaders, elected officials and others from the Chippewa Valley advocating strongly on our behalf in every legislative office in the Capitol. I will be making a presentation to rally participants before they go to the Capitol, explaining the UW budget request, and I will be expressing my appreciation that the chambers made this a top priority this year.

Dunn County Board supports pay increases for UW employees

On a related note, I want to thank the Dunn County Board of Supervisors for its support last week of the pay-plan proposal the Board of Regents has sent to the governor and the Legislature. The County Board approved a resolution that calls for full state funding of the proposal, which would allow employees to receive increases of an average of 2 percent a year in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

This resolution will help us make a case that higher salaries have important local support, and I want to thank County Board Chairman Steve Rasmussen and the entire board for their assistance.