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May 7, 2004

Contact: Linda Weimer
(608) 262-0766

UW System honors 100 ‘Wisconsin Idea Fellows’ for public service to state

MADISON—The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has named 100 faculty and staff from across the state as 2004-05 “Wisconsin Idea Fellows” in recognition of public service contributions to their communities and the state and to help further job creation in Wisconsin.

In announcing the inauguration of the fellows program, Board of Regents President Toby Marcovich of Superior noted that public service has been a hallmark of the University of Wisconsin since its inception.

“Throughout the state’s history, our university faculty and staff have been dedicated public servants,” Marcovich said. “From the earliest county agents who helped farmers grow more productive crops, to today’s cutting-edge research faculty who are spinning off new Wisconsin companies, virtually every one of our employees helps in some way to improve the quality of life in the state.”

The Wisconsin Idea Fellows program will serve two purposes, noted Regent Roger Axtell of Janesville, who introduced a resolution designating the fellows.

“This is an opportunity for the president and the board to recognize people who make extraordinary public service contributions to the state,” Axtell said. “And, just as important, it’s a means of calling the attention of the public, government and business leaders to these UW experts who can serve as resources for them to help achieve job growth.”

Axtell said he was “overwhelmed” when he first looked over the list of honorees and saw the extent of their expertise and contributions: “It’s great to shine a light on these 100 people, and with 29,000 employees in the UW System, we are only looking at the tip of the iceberg.”

The fellows were nominated by the president and chancellors of the UW System’s 15 institutions. The president and the board intend to award the designation to 100 new Wisconsin Idea Fellows each year. The designation (“fellow” is an honorary title in higher education applying to both men and women) is purely honorary and carries no additional salary or stipend.

The program grew out of input from local community leaders who held meetings with Regents, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall and campus Chancellors around the state as part of last year’s “Engage Wisconsin” program.

“Civic leaders and local business owners asked especially for better information on the UW faculty and staff who could aid them in stimulating economic development across the state, addressing workforce needs and solving community problems in the areas of health, environment, education and public policy. This list of Wisconsin Idea Fellows is a start in that direction,” said Axtell, who worked alongside Regents Mark Bradley of Wausau, Peggy Rosenzweig of Wauwatosa and Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids; UW-Extension Chancellor Kevin Reilly, Stevens Point-area businessman Bob Williams; and UW System Vice President Linda Weimer to plan the program.

“Many of these newly designated ‘Fellows’ can help provide ideas and support to stimulate high-wage job growth and promote economic development at the local level in agriculture, manufacturing, the environment and technology,” Lyall said. “These are important goals of Governor Doyle’s ‘Grow Wisconsin’ program and the university is actively participating in that effort.”

As examples of how these fellows already have contributed, Lyall pointed to honorees like Jan Gallagher of UW-La Crosse and UW-Extension, who advises businesses in seven western Wisconsin counties; Larry Cox, who directs the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship at UW-Madison; and William Gregory, dean of the Engineering School at UW-Milwaukee, who, with his son, just launched a new company, NovaScan, which will develop products to improve detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.

Equally important, Axtell said, is the grassroots public service work done by honorees like Tom Schnaubelt, who is spearheading public-service/learning programs at campuses throughout the state; Sharon Chappy, who has developed an online accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program at UW-Oshkosh; Vickie Richmond Hawkins, who directs continuing education at UW-Marathon County; and Thomas Franklin of UW-Stout, who is helping to revitalize downtown Eau Claire.

“This is our opportunity to thank UW employees for the valuable teaching, research and outreach they do, often on their own time, for communities across the state,” Lyall said.


View the full list of the 2004-05 Wisconsin Idea Fellows