2013 Platteville Journal Column

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January 8, 2013

By Mark Molesworth
Athletic director, UW–Platteville

Thank you to everyone in Platteville and the surrounding communities for your support of UW–Platteville athletics. Your support was helpful to our success this past fall and will be important throughout the rest of the winter season.

Last month, the men’s soccer team and football team finished with one of their best seasons in school history. The men’s soccer team made its second trip to the Division III NCAA Championship Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. Head coach Enzo Fuschino guided the Pioneers to a program best 15 wins and was named National Soccer Coaches Association of America North Region, Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference and Wisconsin State Coach of the Year. Forward Brandon Chmiel and midfielder Chris Brown, both seniors, and goalkeeper Ian Christensen and defender Michael Prudisch, both juniors, all earned NSCAA all-region, all-WIAC and all-state honors.

The football team finished the year 8–2, a record that hasn’t been matched since 1976. The team played in front of the largest crowds they’ve had in decades, with Pioneer Stadium recording more than 21,000 fans as the Pioneers rose to as high as 12th in the nation.

The Pioneers garnered a program record 15 all-conference honorees. Two Pioneers accomplished feats that haven’t been accomplished in decades. Defensive lineman Corey Marks became the third Pioneer to earn three-straight first team all-WIAC honors, while defensive back Ryan McWethy became the third Pioneer to earn American Coaches Association All-American honors and the first Pioneer since Mike Hintz in 1986.

Our student–athletes’ success starts in the classroom. They realize that academics are their first priority and understand the importance of studying and working hard, both inside and outside the classroom. In addition to this, student athletes are deeply committed to athletics and make time for strenuous training, practices and games.

These students’ engagement in athletics has helped them succeed at their academics. In fact, student–athletes have had a higher GPA than the general student body for 12 straight years. This past spring, 11 student–athletes were named to the Chancellor’s list by earning 4.0 GPAs. In addition, 181 student–athletes made the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Scholastic Honor Roll as well as the school’s Gabe Miller Academic Honor Roll for having a GPA above 3.00 during the 2011–12 school year.

The winter season is in full swing, with the men’s basketball team sitting second in the WIAC standings, women’s basketball team holding a perfect 3–0 record in the friendly confines of Bo Ryan Court, and the wrestling team getting its first conference win earlier this month against UW–Eau Claire.

All of UW–Platteville’s student athletes and coaches are appreciative of the support the Platteville community and the surrounding communities have shown at our athletic events. Your enthusiasm is instrumental in helping our athletes experience success.

You, the fans, help make every day a great day to be a Pioneer.

February 5, 2013

On Jan. 15, Gov. Scott Walker delivered the 2013 State of the State Address, “Bold Vision and Bright Hope for the Future.”

In his address, Walker laid out five priorities for the next two years, including creating jobs, developing the workforce, transforming education, reforming government and investing in infrastructure. I will touch on a number of ideas the governor spoke about and illustrate some of the important ways that UW–Platteville is helping move Wisconsin forward.

The governor stated that surveys and reports from employers throughout the state show a tremendous need for skilled workers in key career clusters and indicated that one of the things he will be stressing is training people for the workforce.

“While our number one priority is helping people create jobs, our next priority is filling those jobs with qualified workers.” He went on to say, “Moving forward, we need enough skilled workers ready to fill jobs open today — as well as those that will be open tomorrow and in the days to come.”

Producing a skilled workforce that meets the needs of local, regional, state and national employers is something UW–Platteville has been doing for almost 150 years, offering academic programs across a broad spectrum of disciplines from agriculture to biology, from business to criminal justice, from education to engineering.

While there are countless examples of how the university is helping develop Wisconsin’s workforce, let’s take a look at how UW–Platteville’s College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science is providing its students with the knowledge, skills and training they need in order to meet employers’ needs from the moment they are hired.

The mission of the College of EMS is to provide students with an undergraduate educational experience that prepares them to meet the governmental, industrial, educational, and business needs of regional and state employers in the science, engineering, and mathematics fields – and doing so in a way that is accessible and affordable to a wide range of students.

We have always been very successful in accomplishing this, as evidenced by the many employers who contact Dean Bill Hudson looking for STEM graduates, especially in the engineering fields. He states that employers realize that our graduates possess the problem-solving, technical and creative skills needed for innovation that leads to new products and increases the competitiveness of existing product lines.

Because so many employers are looking for students in the STEM fields, retaining students in these fields of study is essential. Two of our goals are to ensure that students are well-advised about careers in STEM fields and that they have the support services they need in order to be successful. To help in this effort, the university recently received a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support student retention and recruitment.

The university is focused on providing an educational environment that supports existing business and industry as well as new and evolving industry. Faculty members look at innovative ways to teach students while also listening to the input of community leaders in business and industry to ensure that the content of academic programming is meeting the needs of employers.

To further aid in this effort, the College of EMS has an advisory board that allows us to understand trends within business, industry, government, education and industry and then link our EMS graduates with employers. Comprised of past graduates, representatives from local companies, and others who have knowledge of the pulse of the economy and area employment needs, advisory board members are instrumental in providing the College of EMS with technical guidance for the content of its programming — thus ensuring that UW–Platteville graduates have the knowledge and skills they need to work at an optimal level their very first day on the job.

The governor also spoke about the creation of new businesses here in Wisconsin, saying “… most new jobs are going to come from new businesses created here or from small businesses growing in our state. We need to help them tap into the capital they need to make investments that will lead to more jobs.”

The university has a long history of commitment to entrepreneurship and recently launched an entrepreneurship minor designed to complement all majors, with 50 percent of its curriculum hands-on learning. We are confident that this minor will be a catalyst on campus and in the region for building the capacity for social, cultural and economic creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

In addition, the university is developing sponsored programs and other entrepreneurial activities as well as forming closer connections with business and industry, especially in southwestern Wisconsin and in the Tri-States. We recognize that actively seeking out opportunities to collaborate strengthens not only the university, but the entire community and our region of the state.

For example, partnerships we have with area businesses and industry have led to state-of-the-art technology and resources being integrated into the university’s curriculum and helped professors ensure that courses remain relevant, challenging and current. As we combine resources and expertise to work together on innovative and creative projects, we can have a strong impact on local and regional economies.

Some examples of projects that our engineering students are involved in include: Senior design projects with WiSys, John Deere, IBM and 3M; Engineers Without Borders’ outreach to build an elementary school in Ghana; facilities design projects for the university’s engineering hall; community-based service learning projects through the university’s Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement program; partnerships with many area companies, including American Foundry Society, Neenah Foundry, MGA and Lactalis USA, to name just a few.

Many of our engineering graduates are directly benefiting the economic development of the local, regional and state economy by working for professional engineering companies, and are involved in the design of Wisconsin’s infrastructure, power distribution, and mechanical designs. Many others are working for international companies, including John Deere, Oshkosh Corp., Kimberly–Clark, IBM, and regional companies such as Alliant Energy, all of whom play key roles in the strengthening of our economy.

With national projections showing the growing need for engineers, UW–Platteville has enhanced its partnership with UW Colleges with the Collaborative Engineering Program. The College of EMS is committed to moving forward on refining the structure to grow the program, supporting more students and industries across the state. It is critical for us to ensure that the program provides an outstanding educational experience for students while also remaining cost effective.

The governor also spoke about working with the University of Wisconsin System on a new flexible degree program called UW FlexOption to help adults earn degrees in targeted fields. This is something that we have been doing for a long time. Now in their 35th year, UW–Platteville’s Distance Education programs and services meet the needs of students who want to complete a degree but find it difficult to do so in a traditional classroom setting because of work and/or family obligations. Graduating over 1,000 students in a variety of disciplines, Distance Education serves students from all 72 counties in Wisconsin, all 50 states and 42 countries.

In addition, the governor spoke about his desire to continue to improve education, particularly in reading. Again, this is something that UW–Platteville has always been actively engaged in. This past fall, we launched the Campus Read program, an initiative designed to engage the university campus and community members in a shared reading activity that facilitated discussion and learning, helped students relate to larger social issues and broaden their understanding of different people, cultures and eras. The book that was chosen for this program was read by students in all First Year Experience classes, in many English freshman composition classes, some communication and gender studies classes and classes across other disciplines.

UW–Platteville has outstanding faculty and staff who consistently achieve above and beyond what is expected, with many receiving awards for excellence in teaching, research, service, teamwork and other academic achievements. Though recent data shows that UW System employee salaries are 17 percent behind comparable universities, our professors remain with the UW System because they like working in the UW System and like teaching at UW–Platteville. They also firmly believe in the mission of the university and are deeply committed to educating their students.

While the governor has clearly laid out his expectations for the future growth of this state, it is reassuring to know that we have had these same high expectations for UW–Platteville for almost 150 years and will continue to be instrumental in helping move Wisconsin forward.

March 5, 2013

In case you were wondering what a chancellor does with some leisure time, I offer the following with, hopefully, a point.

In late December, the MLB Network reran a Ken Burns documentary series that was originally run on PBS. You may be familiar with Burns’ other documentary series on the Civil War. The Burns baseball documentary is a wonderful recapturing of the rich history of baseball, starting with its roots in the 1800s and running through 1994, when the documentary was produced. It describes the stories of the characters that were instrumental in causing baseball to grow from a local phenomenon to town team competitions to its corporate presence today. It is a great story of how baseball came to be known as America’s National Pastime.

The documentary’s producers explored the history, memories and myths of baseball. For me, the series made clear that baseball was more than America’s National Pastime; it was a metaphor for the American Story, including the story of immigration, race, labor and management struggles, the role of women and class and wealth, and more.

With its recounting not only of the unending array of players, entrepreneurs, managers and hangers-on who played for or developed the teams and leagues but also of public figures like judges and mayors, the documentary revealed that baseball’s past and present cast of characters included personalities that ranged from scalawags and ne’er-do-wells to heroes of that uniquely American sort.

The players were gifted athletes who possessed all the greatness and flaws of our 21st century athletes. The owners were, at times, skinflints and union-busters, and at other times pragmatists and innovators. The fans were loyal and often unruly and raucous. The fortunes of the teams caused great joy in victory and poignant sorrow in defeat. Fans experienced moments or periods of winning and/or long seasons of losing with year after year of futility (something I know well as a longstanding Cubs fan). It also spoke of the angst felt in communities like Brooklyn when franchises moved to other environs.

Burns’ documentary gives an overarching, comprehensive look at the history of baseball in the context of the times, through financial calamities, world wars, and social upheavals.

I was particularly moved as I watched the retelling of the story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey and how these two remarkable men desegregated major league baseball. The series romanticized the story of baseball but also reflected on its flaws, including social injustice, making clear that the journey was not and is not all good or all bad. It just was what it was and is what it is, in the context of American history.

So what is my point? My point is that as we reflect on the past and look forward to the future, we need to keep a keen sense of perspective. We Americans have faced daunting challenges in the past and overcome them. Taking a broader view, the challenges that lie before us now, while similar to the challenges of the past, are unique to this period of time in our history. As such, our responses will need to be, in some ways, similar to our responses in the past, but with a different twist.

Slowly, our country and state are climbing out of an economic crisis that has impacted each of us individually, our local economy and our university. This crisis has challenged us and for many, continues to present difficulties. Through our own efforts, we have survived in decent shape. We have evolved and moved forward, hopefully with a vision for better things in the future.

For the university, we have done this by growing. We acknowledge that this growth has presented challenges to our community and our university. By working together as a university community with the Platteville community and its leadership, I believe we are in a better place as we move forward. As this year begins and I reflect on the past few years and look forward to the next ones, I see the opportunity for more good things to happen.

I know we have gotten to this good place through the combined efforts of everyone in this community. We have disagreed at times and, like in the history of baseball, there have been some bumpy times. We have, however, made great progress in the last decade. I am thankful to all university faculty and staff members for their hard work and positive attitudes. I am grateful for the leadership of past chancellors. I am also thankful for the leadership shown by the Common Council and other community leaders during these times. I am convinced that these same good traits will lead to good outcomes for our community in the future.

Let’s continue to make every day a great day to be a Pioneer.

April 2, 2013

In light of current economic challenges, it is clear that two of our state’s top priorities are the economy and jobs.

In this type of economy, it is essential to identify the things that are working well and preserve them. To help show the positive impact UW–Platteville and other UW System institutions are having on the economy, UW System recently launched a Knowledge Powers Wisconsin campaign.

The campaign’s website, www.uwpowerwi.com, illustrates that UW–Platteville and other UW System institutions, students, and graduates are having a positive impact on the economic development of their communities and are improving Wisconsin’s competitive edge in the global marketplace by powering economic growth in agriculture, energy, engineering, healthcare, human resources, manufacturing, security, technology, online learning, and many other areas.

UW–Platteville clearly stands out as one of the leading higher education institutions in the state in many areas, some of which are science, technology, engineering, mathematics, agriculture, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, and business. We will release an economic impact study in the near future that will illustrate, in dollar figures, how well we are contributing to the economic development of the region.

The university’s outstanding faculty as well as partnerships and connections that they have formed with businesses and industries in Platteville and the broader region have helped us create outstanding opportunities for our students to become actively involved in experiential learning activities that make them more marketable.

To highlight just a few examples:

  • Students from all disciplines are conducting research under the mentorship of faculty and staff at our new Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors, a student–faculty collaborative effort. Students’ finest academic and creative achievements are showcased in an online journal. Students retain full ownership of their research manuscripts and have the opportunity to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals.
     
  • Microsystems and nanotechnology engineering students are using state-of-the-art equipment in our Nanocharacterization and Materials Fabrication Laboratory to learn how to make and measure nanoscale materials. This hands-on experience allows them to learn skills that could someday allow them to contribute to overcoming critical challenges in renewable energy, water purification, and new ways to fight disease.
     
  • Biogeography students are analyzing tree-ring samples to discover changes in our ecosystem and then work to restore the native communities of plants and other life to the landscape.
     
  • Engineering students experienced outstanding success in hands-on student design contests, including projects in designing concrete canoes, steel bridges, and high-powered rockets as well as machine and manufacturing facilities.
     
  • Students in a biological investigations class worked on a lake water clarity project to convert farmland, wetlands, forest, prairie and a man-made pond back to a natural state.
     
  • Government students had the opportunity to talk about issues with state Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) during his visit to our campus in March. I also spoke with students in Prof. Adrienne Jones’ Introduction to Government class about race-conscious admissions. I was impressed with their knowledge, curiosity, and engaging conversations about this topic.
     
  • Fine arts students have the opportunity to perform in music and theater events in front of community members and school children of all ages. Students also have the chance to practice and perform on a newly purchased Steinway “D” concert grand piano.
     
  • Industrial studies students are working with a state of the art injection molder to shape plastic, metal, or ceramic material through injection into a closed mold in our Center for Plastics Processing Technology Center. The injection molder was donated to the Center by Wisconsin Tool and Mold Company, Inc. The Center is an educational partnership between industry and the university, using plastics processing equipment that is designed and provided by leading manufacturers. The Center, a laboratory worth more than $1 million, is one of the best-equipped facilities in the upper Midwest. It has the capability to complete projects from testing new materials to plant layout to prototype production.

The partnerships and connections that we have with business and industry in Platteville and the broader region have also helped our students become employed quickly upon graduation in high growth, high-demand fields. UW–Platteville plays a critical role in the economic development of the state by linking its graduates to job opportunities in all levels of high-demand fields ranging from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to criminal justice, business, agriculture, education and the arts. Our graduates are highly marketable and in demand by employers and we continue to see increases in opportunities for all of our graduates.

As UW–Platteville moves forward, we remain committed to playing a strong role in the economic development of our region and state by educating and training a highly skilled workforce that meets the needs of local, regional, and state employers. This will help stimulate economic activity and growth, strengthen our communities, and support business and industry. All of us — community members and leaders in business, industry, government, and education — working together can have a great impact on the economic development of this region, and prove that knowledge truly does power Wisconsin.

May 1, 2013

On April 17, I had the opportunity to see 14 of our UW–Platteville students and their faculty advisors in the state Capitol in Madison.

Our students, along with more than 100 other UW System undergraduate students, presented their innovative research to state legislators, leaders and other dignitaries at the 10th annual UW System Posters in the Rotunda.

State Rep. Travis Tranel (R–Cuba City) and Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) were among the first legislators to meet and talk with the student researchers.

Our students’ research covered a wide variety of topics. I was impressed by the complexity and comprehensiveness of the students’ research as well as their in-depth knowledge about the research topics and their ability to clearly articulate the research process. I was also impressed with the students’ communication and presentation skills while communicating with the leaders of our state.

Posters in the Rotunda is an example of a high impact practice that UW–Platteville provides its students. High impact practices are hands-on, experiential education and training opportunities, conducted both inside and outside the classroom, that prepare students to enter the workforce and pursue their careers. Our connections with the community, industry, government, non-profit agencies, UW System and the international community help us create outstanding engagement opportunities for our students.

This event was beneficial in two main ways. First, our students invested a large quantity of time in their projects and research, and being able to present at the Capitol further enriched their work. Second, it is very important for our state legislators to see what UW–Platteville’s educational experience is all about. They were able to see this, on a personal level, through the eyes of our students. It was exhilarating to see how enthusiastic the students were to present their research. It reminds us again that what we are doing at UW–Platteville is so important.

On April 11–13, 16 UW–Platteville students had the opportunity to present their research as part of the 27th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research held at UW–La Crosse. At the conference, students met peers and faculty from throughout the country who were working in similar research fields, learned how different types of research are conducted, and explored graduate school and employment opportunities. This national conference, organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research based in Washington, D.C., is the largest symposium of its type in our country, bringing together 3,000 undergraduate students from all fields and disciplines.

On our own campus, we had the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement poster day on April 24 and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors presentations on April 29.

As part of a recent collaboration between UW–Platteville and Madison College biology programs, 10 of our students traveled to Madison College, one of the top biotechnology and biochemistry schools in the United States, for a workshop on stem cells. While there, students had the opportunity to work with cutting edge stem cell research technology and learn various techniques and methods for studying stem cells. Dr. Esther Ofulue, professor of biology at UW–Platteville, said that this experience gave students the opportunity to use high tech research equipment, make connections in the research industry, and get a sense of this field and doing state-of-the-art research.

To further provide our students and faculty with the opportunity to collaborate on undergraduate research, UW–Platteville recently created the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors. Here, students from all disciplines conduct research, under the mentorship of faculty and staff. Future plans include an online research journal, funding for undergraduate research, awards for student scholarships, a campus-wide symposium to see how the research process affects critical and reflective thinking, intrapersonal and interpersonal development, and much more.

There are many other examples of high impact practices at our university that are opportunities for our students to engage more fully in their education, such as our international and study abroad programs; living and learning communities in our residence halls; service learning projects on campus and in the community; our new entrepreneurship minor; our launch lab that connects students with people and resources so that they can bring their entrepreneurial ideas to the next stage; business and project idea competitions; intensive student advising; and first-year experience programs. There are also a myriad of opportunities for all students, regardless of major or minor, to be actively involved in theater, music, and art.

Conducting undergraduate research is a high impact practice that enables our students to develop critical and reflective thinking skills, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, practical competence, and a sense of civic engagement and social responsibility that they need to succeed following graduation.

UW–Platteville remains committed to using innovative ways to prepare our students for the workforce and for life while also listening to the input of community leaders in business and industry to ensure that the content of our academic programming is meeting their needs.

Every day is a great day to be a Pioneer.

June 12, 2013

On May 11, UW–Platteville held its 190th commencement, the largest commencement ceremony in the university’s history.

UW–Platteville had 1,081 degree candidates from our three colleges — the College of Business, Industry, Life Sciences and Agriculture; College of Liberal Arts and Education; and College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science.

Whether the students’ degrees were earned in the areas of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics or in the areas of criminal justice, business, agriculture, education or the arts, their education is the foundation they can build upon to accomplish great things in our communities and in the workforce.

UW–Platteville has been a leader in providing exceptional education for almost 150 years. Our continual pursuit of excellence drives all that we do, pushing us to remain on the cutting edge of innovation so that these graduates — and those who follow them — have the knowledge, skills and expertise they need to excel in the diverse, international workforce they enter upon graduation.

UW–Platteville has not only educated and trained its graduates to become members of the workforce — it has educated and trained them to become the future leaders in our communities, our businesses, and our industries.

The university has longstanding partnerships with such companies as John Deere, MGA, Neenah Foundry, Lactalis USA, WiSys, IBM, and 3M. Companies such as Kohler Co., Integrys Energy Group, Growmark Inc.; CNH America LLC; Colony Brands, Epic, Frito-Lay, Rite-Hite Corp., Organic Valley/Cropp Cooperative, and Southwest Health Center regularly attend our career fairs to find highly skilled employees from a variety of fields to fill positions at their companies.

Thanks to these partnerships and others that the university has formed with business, industry, education, and government in Platteville and the broader region as well as the high level of interest employers show in our graduates, I am confident that our new graduates will become employed quickly in high growth fields.

By linking our graduates to job opportunities in a wide variety of fields ranging from STEM to criminal justice to agriculture, education, and the arts, we are playing an important role in the economic development of the state. As these new graduates become employed in their chosen careers, they will have a direct impact on powering the economic growth in our local communities and state. As productive, working members of our communities, they will help improve the state’s economy by meeting workforce needs which, in turn, will improve the quality of life in the state for all of us.

If community leaders in business and industry are looking for graduates in certain career areas, I encourage you to contact our Career Center at 342-1183. We will do everything we can to meet your employment needs.

Graduations are some of the most visible examples of the impact that UW–Platteville has on students and the community. Another less visible, but just as important, example is the economic impact that the university has on the region and state. UW–Platteville’s 2013 Economic Impact Study results are in, and the documented impact is significant.

The study shows that the education the university provides each year to its students increases their combined expected lifetime earnings more than $600 million, with over $157 million in productive potential accruing to southwest Wisconsin and $380 million in productive potential accruing to Wisconsin. For the region and state, survey results showed that in 2011–12, UW–Platteville’s economic impact was an estimated $275 million in southwest Wisconsin and an estimated $394 million in the state.

Due to the university’s continued growth in students and staff — our student population has grown 56 percent in the past 13 years — the university’s economic impact has grown considerably since the 2008 Economic Impact Study. To illustrate, during 2007–08, the university’s combined, direct and induced contributions were estimated to have totaled about $168.4 million to the economy of southwest Wisconsin.

These figures show that the university is playing an increasingly important role in the economic health and growth of the region. The university’s impact is the direct result of the millions of dollars that UW–Platteville employees, students, and visitors spend on goods and services in southwest Wisconsin as well as the millions of dollars the university spends for supplies, capital equipment, and building construction in the region which, in turn, provide income for businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations that then re-spend or reinvest their income in southwest Wisconsin for wages, salaries, merchandise, and services, thereby benefiting others in the region.

In addition to the spending in southwest Wisconsin, the study showed that the university has a direct impact on employment in the area, creating an estimated 4,300 jobs in the region and 5,900 jobs statewide.

UW–Platteville will continue to play a critical role in the economic development of our region and state. We are greatly appreciative of the strong relationships that we have formed with business, industry, education, and government in Platteville and in the surrounding region. We look forward to working with them even more closely in the future, which will strengthen our communities, our region, and our state.

Every day is a great day to be a Pioneer!

July 16, 2013

By Robert G. Cramer

Gov. Scott Walker signed the state’s 2013–15 biennial budget on June 30.

The budget is a wide ranging financial and policy plan for state government including UW–Platteville. It includes several very positive items for the university and our students and it presents some significant challenges for us.

First, the positives. Undergraduate resident tuition is frozen. This provides much-needed relief for UW–Platteville students who have seen annual tuition increases of 5.5 percent. Employees will receive a 1 percent pay raise in 2013–14 and another 1 percent in 2014–15. This is long overdue, as many of our employees have not had raises since 2008. Funding is provided to purchase Bridgeway Commons, the new residence hall and dining facility constructed by the UW–Platteville Real Estate Foundation.

The budget’s challenges are significant but not insurmountable. The net impact of the many funding decisions in the budget are a cut of about $1.4 million for UW–Platteville in 2013–14 and $1.7 million each year thereafter. The 1 percent pay raise is welcome, but does little to remedy the fact that UW–Platteville faculty are paid significantly less than faculty at comparable institutions. The university is committed to investing additional monies to provide larger pay increases. This will help our employees, and it will help the community and region, as people have more to spend on discretionary items such as dining out, purchasing new vehicles, and buying clothes.

Finally, the budget does not include the proposed renovation of Boebel Hall. This is a critical project for the university to provide modern laboratory facilities for many of our students and faculty. We will continue to advocate for funding to renovate this building.

It is important to place my observations into perspective. In 2001–02, UW–Platteville received about 40 percent of its budget from state funds. For 2013–14, we expect the comparable figure to be less than 20 percent. While we appreciate the state support, the reduction does force us to be more creative and entrepreneurial to ensure the same cutting-edge education for our students.

Not only does UW–Platteville offer Wisconsin residents a high-quality accessible education, but the university is also an important part of the economy of Southwest Wisconsin and the entire state. A recent economic study estimated the 2011–12 regional impact of the university at more than $285 million and identified more than 4,300 jobs (university and private) that are a result of UW-Platteville. These are tangible and real results of our students, faculty and other employees living, learning and working in this region. Through our focus on diligent and prudent financial planning, UW–Platteville will continue to achieve academic excellence and promote opportunities for success and growth, not only to our students, but also to the Platteville community.

September 11, 2013

As we begin the 2013–14 academic year, I am reminded again that the world we live in is rapidly getting smaller.

The global borders are shrinking and intellectual capital is a prized possession around the world. At UW–Platteville, we strive to offer the best education in various specialties, at an affordable price, not only to United States students, but also to students from points across the globe.

This year we welcomed 92 degree-seeking and exchange international students from locales such as Saudi Arabia, Germany, The Netherlands, South Korea and Brazil, among others. Those numbers have increased during the past few years. There are 32 international students studying through our online program this year, an increase from 21 in 2006–07.

The inclusion of international students on campus enhances our diversity, as well as diversity in the community. These students also gain the experience of living and learning in Southwest Wisconsin.

Students from Brazil are on campus thanks to a working partnership we have secured with the Brazilian government. Through the Scientific Mobility Program, Brazil is working to enhance its economy with intellectual capital. The program’s goal is to have 100,000 Brazilian undergraduate students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics and one year studying abroad, with 75 percent of those students studying in the United States. The Brazilian government and sponsors cover the costs of these students studying in the United States, including at UW–Platteville.

The first Brazilian students arrived on campus last year.

During the life of this partnership, enhanced with the participation of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, I have had the opportunity to travel to Brazil for tours and meetings with high-ranking education officials.
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities, with the support and collaboration of the United States Consulate in Brazil, led a delegation of university presidents and chancellors to Brazil.

The purpose of the trip was to begin the work of establishing working relationships with Brazilian universities both public and private, Brazilian governmental agencies that oversee post-secondary education that would lead to significant numbers of Brazilian students to spend a year studying at AASCU member institutions, foster faculty exchanges and other mutually beneficial activities.

The program is in the early stages, however I am confident as we move along the education Brazilian students receive alongside their UW–Platteville counterparts will provide global dividends for many years to come.

Through this experience, we can also show our international friends that “cada día es un gran día para ser un pionero” (“every day is a great day to be a Pioneer”).

October 22, 2013

The Inherent Opportunity of Disruption

There’s much discussion these days about disruption in higher education. Front and center in the conversation is the notion that innovations will displace established practices. The fear being that new ways of doing business will emerge through which either the old rules don’t apply or do in new and unexpected ways. At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, we have made it a priority to recognize the innovative nature of disruption and respond to emerging demands while retaining our core values. When stakeholders of a shared challenge collaborate and develop creative solutions, the end result can shift paradigms. It is clear, that at times, the best method to accomplish objectives is to deviate from established practices, thus using disruption as driver of innovative solutions.

A case in point - the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is the fastest growing campus in the UW System, which presented disruptive challenges for the campus and community regarding student housing. By developing new residence facilities we could not only create additional student housing, but also enhance our ability to fully engage students in academic and co-curricular activities which data indicates lead to increased retention, higher academic achievement and better graduation rates. The challenge at hand was how to construct two residence halls quicker than the established state practices allowed with limited resources.

We identified the essential players that needed to be part of the solution: The City of Platteville, the UW-Platteville Foundation, a builder/developer with the capacity to offer construction financing, entities that could provide the ultimate financing for the project(s), and our local state representatives. In addition, we also needed a non-profit entity to serve as a manager for the development of the project(s).

Our innovative response to this challenge was the formation of a Real Estate Foundation in partnership with the UW-Platteville Foundation, which is a relatively unique concept in the state of Wisconsin.  In the case of the first of the new residence halls (Rountree Commons), the university, the Real Estate Foundation, and the City of Platteville City Council worked together to develop the residence hall on property adjacent to campus. In regard to the newest residence hall (Bridgeway Commons) the university partnered with the state to construct the residence hall on campus property. We enlisted the support of our local elected representatives State Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) understanding that all parties had a shared vision of helping the university and the community meet its needs.

Through these varied collaborations, the result was the construction of two new residence halls in just over two years adding facilities for 1,000 students at significantly less cost than similar projects on campuses in Wisconsin and across the nation, which if pursued by traditional means could have taken 3-5 years or more to accomplish. Ultimately, by developing an innovative solution to a disruptive challenge, we fulfilled both the immediate and future needs of our university as well as that of our local economy.

There were collateral benefits associated with these projects as well. A major concern tied to the university’s exceptional growth was parking availability on campus and within the surrounding neighborhoods. Through the effort to construct our new residence halls, private developers also recognized and capitalized on the need to construct two new apartment buildings near campus (designed to house upper level students and those who work on or near campus). One of the benefits of higher density housing near the university is reduced traffic since residents tend to walk to campus as opposed to drive. To further reduce traffic congestion, the university sought student input and initiated a shuttle bus system to service both the campus and student housing. Even though the new residence halls were neither the primary motivation for the apartments nor the shuttle, the new innovative process of developing and building the residence halls created a catalyst for other advancements.

The point is that leaders harness the freedom to reinvent and pioneer the disruption, recognizing its inherent opportunity. Through the incorporation of innovative solutions to the disruption of university growth, both the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the surrounding communities not only continue to progressively evolve but also serve as a model for others to emulate. 

Dennis J. Shields
Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Platteville

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