"News from around the UW System" - Remarks to the Board of Regents
Kevin P. Reilly, President, University of Wisconsin System
Board of Regents Meeting
Friday, February 10, 2012
At this time, I’d like to share with you some news from around the UW System.
- First, on behalf
of the UW System, I’d like to extend our condolences to the family and friends
of Edwin Young, who passed away on Jan. 2 at the age of 94. Dr. Young
served as Chancellor of UW-Madison during the tumultuous Vietnam War era, and
also served as President of the UW System from 1977 to 1980. Dr. Young helped shape
Wisconsin’s public university at a pivotal moment in our proud history. Having
served as the UW-Madison chancellor, he worked diligently to ensure that
individual universities and colleges retained maximum operational freedom
within a unified statewide system. We would do well to keep that goal in mind,
as we work today to preserve a world-class UW System that serves 180,000
students and all Wisconsin citizens. Known for his folksy Maine accent and dry
humor, he also had a canny political mind, and he will be missed.
- A new report from
our Office of Policy Analysis and Research (OPAR) shows that the number of students
transferring into or within the UW System in 2010-11 reached 17,209. UW-Milwaukee
was the most frequent destination, with more than 2, 500 transfer students,
followed by UW-Madison, UW Colleges, and UW-Oshkosh. .. Almost one-third of new
degree-seeking undergraduates were transfer students. .. Some other interesting
facts… 28% of new transfers were from out-of-state institutions, 25% from the
Wisconsin Technical College System, and 7% from Wisconsin private institutions.
… Also, new transfers were more likely than new freshmen to be non-traditional
aged students. .. and half of new transfers were first-generation college
students. We continue to work on making transfer a smoother, more efficient
process for our students. There is work yet to be done. At the same time, we
can all be proud – the Board of Regents, the System Administration, and the
institutions – of the major improvements we have made in transfer policy and
practice in recent years. More and more of our students are “voting with their
feet” to take coursework at more than one campus – including Regent Pointer, I
should note! – and we have a central role in ensuring that this decision on
their part is an enhancement of their undergraduate experience.
- We have news from UW-Madison … Professor Jae “Jim” Park, a professor of civil and
environmental engineering and a native of South Korea, has received South
Korea’s Order of Service Merit in recognition of his volunteer consulting for a
multi-billion-dollar river restoration project in that country. The Order of
Service Merit is among the highest honors in Korea, and is comparable to the U.S.
Congressional Gold Medal. Dr. Park, who is an expert in biological processes
for removing toxic compounds in waste-treatment processes and the environment,
gives new meaning to burning the midnight oil. As recounted in a Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel story, Dr. Park’s second workday would often begin as his
UW colleagues were going to sleep. When it’s nighttime in Madison, it’s daytime
in South Korea, and Dr. Park would talk with engineers and the presidential
office overseeing the project by email and Internet telephone. He also made
appeals on national television there and wrote many articles for Korean
journals about the value of river restoration. All of this, incidentally, was on
a volunteer basis. Students in Dr. Park’s UW-Madison classrooms also reaped the
benefits of this work, hearing about his first-hand experiences with a major
river restoration project.
- From UW-Oshkosh,
we have some news that’s “hot off the press.” Earlier this week, it was
announced that UW-Oshkosh has become only the 25th institution in
both the United States and Canada – and the first in Wisconsin – to earn a Gold
rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher
Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).
This is a huge accomplishment. While UW-Oshkosh has been repeatedly honored
with listings among Princeton University’s “Guide to Green Colleges” and the
Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools,” the rigorous and all-encompassing STARS
assessment process is the strongest, most quantifiable validation of
UW-Oshkosh’s sustainability practices yet. Congratulations to Chancellor Rick
Wells and the UW-Oshkosh campus community on this honor. I should also note
that UW-Green Bay and UW-River Falls each earned Silver STARS ratings this past
year. Hats off to those campuses as well.
- Several of our
campuses are celebrating the opening of new -- or newly improved – facilities.
Late last month, UW-Stout officially opened the doors on its newly renovated
Memorial Student Center after nearly eight years of studying, researching,
planning, designing, and construction. The new center features new and improved
lounge and meeting space, a variety of dining options, a new outdoor
amphitheater, and an involvement center for student organizations. UW-Stout
students, it should be pointed out, were closely involved in every stage of the
renovation process. As Chancellor Sorenson put it, “We have taken a building
that badly needed updating and made it into a fantastic facility that will
serve our campus for many years to come.” There will be a grand opening
celebration on April 18. Congratulations to the entire UW-Stout community on
this new addition.
- Last month also
marked the official debut of “The Rita,” UW-Parkside’s new Rita Tallent
Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities. I was fortunate enough to
attend the grand opening, and I can tell you that it is truly an impressive
addition to the campus, with its theaters, gallery, studios, and classrooms.
The generosity of the late Rita Tallent Picken, for whom the building is named,
not only helped with the bricks and mortar part of the project, but she also
provided endowed scholarships for students in the arts and humanities. This new
center is expected to be a bridge between UW-Parkside and the community,
enriching the lives of both the people on campus and throughout this entire
region with its academic and artistic programming. Congratulations to
Chancellor Ford and the UW-Parkside campus community.
- Speaking of new
construction, UW-Platteville’s Rountree Commons is making progress and
is on track to be complete for next school year. The six-story residence hall
is a necessary addition in light of the university’s growing enrollment and
will be home for over 600 students beginning in the fall.
- UW-Eau Claire is pleased to announce that in
coming months the UW-Eau Claire Foundation will receive its largest gift ever,
a $4.3-million gift from the estate of Lt. Col. George L. Simpson Jr., whose
father was one of UW-Eau Claire’s first faculty members, and whose mother was a
member of the university’s first graduating class in 1917. The current gift is
in addition to a $2-million gift made to the Foundation at the time of Mr.
Simpson’s death in 2003. In noting the university’s gratitude for such
generosity, Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich said Lt. Col. Simpson “clearly
found the university to be an important part of his life and ... now ensures
that it will continue to make a difference in the lives of its students for
years to come.”
- UW-Whitewater is also the benefactor of generous
donors. Two alumni, Quint and Rishy Studer (STOO-der),
recently provided $1 million for scholarships to Janesville high school
students who attend UW-Whitewater. The newly established Janesville Promise
Fund will award $50,000 annually to graduates of Craig and Parker high schools.
Chancellor Dick Telfer says the full impact of this gift is nearly impossible
to predict. “The students who receive the Janesville Promise Fund scholarship
will graduate and become leaders in the community,” he said, adding that southeastern
Wisconsin will benefit from the Studers’ generosity for many years.
- UW-Superior is pleased to announce that the Great
Lakes Maritime Research Institute has a new five-year agreement with the U.S.
Maritime Administration to study environmental issues facing the Great Lakes
maritime industry. Among its first tasks will be determining whether it is
economically feasible for steam-powered ships to switch from fuel oil to
natural gas to meet approaching federal emissions mandates. The Great Lakes Maritime
Research Institute is a consortium involving UW-Superior and the University of
Minnesota-Duluth, along with 10 affiliate universities around the Great Lakes.
Congratulations to Chancellor Wachter and the UW-Superior community.
- In other news
from UW-Madison, biochemist Judith Kimble has been chosen to be a member
of President Obama’s Committee on the National Medal of Science. As a committee
member, Kimble will help choose the next recipients of the honor, which is the
nation’s most prestigious science award. Dr. Kimble is the Vilas Professor of
Biochemistry at UW-Madison, and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute. She studies the molecular regulation of animal development, and has
made a number of key discoveries in the field, including finding the first stem
cell “niche,” the micro-environment that controls stem cell maintenance.
Congratulations to Chancellor David Ward, Dr. Kimble, and the UW-Madison
community on this honor.
- We also have news
from UW-Green Bay, where the women’s basketball team is staking its own
claim to Titletown lore. As you may have seen in a large New York Times spread recently, the Phoenix women’s basketball team is truly a force to be
reckoned with – and this despite competing against programs with 10 times their
budget. The Phoenix hit a bump in the road last night but still have the impressive record of 20-1, and this past weekend moved up
into the top 10 in both the Associated Press and the USA Today/ESPN coaches
poll. These rankings, I should point out, are the highest in program history.
As the article noted, the team’s run of 13 consecutive Horizon League
regular-season championships stands as the longest active streak of its kind in
the country. Since a loss more than a year ago at Marquette, the Phoenix are 45-1.
Senior guard Hannah Quilling, one of eight Phoenix players from Wisconsin, told
the New York Times, “Our mind-set is to keep that tradition going and be
that team that shocks people.” The Phoenix made it to the Round of 16 in last
year’s playoffs, and I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb in
predicting a return appearance. Definitely something to keep an eye on!
- In other sporting
news, the UW-La Crosse Water Ski and Wakeboard Team was named the 2011
Team of the Year by the National Collegiate Water Ski Association at the USA
Water Ski Awards in January. The UW-L team topped a field of 72 teams from
across the country – especially impressive, I’d say, given our somewhat shorter
open water training season! They do not train on ice boats! Congratulations to
Chancellor Gow and UW-La Crosse.
- Finally, the UW System eCampus hosted a college fair last month that, by almost any measure, has to be considered wildly successful. The first-ever College Fair via Twitter was a one-hour event geared to providing information and inspiration to adult returning students who are considering online degrees. As part of the event, a panel of experts tweeted about financial aid, the 100 online programs available throughout the UW System, and tips for adult students. Just how successful was this event? With more than 1,100 tweets generated using the UWCollege Fair hashtag, it’s estimated that as many as 100,000 people got the word about UW System’s eCampus. Not bad! Think about it this way: when was the last time you saw 100,000 people at a college fair?
Related: Read February 9 (day 1) news summary