“News from Around the UW System”

News Archive by Year

April 13, 2012
Report by President Kevin P. Reilly to the Board of Regents

At this time, I’d like to share some news from around the UW System …

  • We often talk about being responsive to the workforce needs of the state. A new online program being offered by a consortium of four UW campuses and coordinated by UW-Extension is a great example of doing just that. Starting this fall, the new online Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology will provide students with the opportunity to earn a degree in one of the fastest growing professions – health information. Students can receive their degrees through UW-Green Bay, UW-Parkside, and UW-Stevens Point. UW-La Crosse will also contribute courses. According to Dan McCarty, academic director at UW-Stevens Point, this collaboration recognizes and responds to the state’s need to grow its pool of IT professionals.  According to Bureau of Labor statistics, employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase 20 percent by 2018 – much faster than the overall average – so this is a very timely addition. 

  • The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the innovative 330,000-square-foot public/private facility that opened just over a year ago on the UW-Madison campus, has been named the 2012 Laboratory of the Year.  The international competition, sponsored annually by R&D Magazine since 1966, is judged by a panel of industry experts to recognize the highest standards in architecture, laboratory design and “push-the-envelope” concepts in science buildings.  The unique facility which houses the twin research institutes – the private, nonprofit Morgridge Institute for Research and UW-Madison’s public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery – features architecture that’s designed to encourage human interaction and foster new interdisciplinary research collaborations.  The facility was made possible due to the generosity of UW-Madison graduates John and Tashia Morgridge whose funding was matched by the state of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the private nonprofit patent and licensing organization for UW–Madison. Congratulations to Chancellor Ward and the UW-Madison campus community.

  • For the fifth time since 2006, UW- Eau Claire has been recognized for its outstanding community service programs by a federal agency charged with fostering an ethic of volunteerism and service in America. UW-Eau Claire was among about 500 public and private colleges, universities, and professional schools named to the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Launched in 2006, this honor roll is the most prestigious federal recognition a higher education institution can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement.  The program is designed to increase public awareness of the contributions that college students are making within their communities and across the country through volunteer service. As Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich has noted, (QUOTE) "Our service learning, integrated in large part into our curriculum, is truly unique, and it makes our university an essential support for the community agencies and organizations that serve the Chippewa Valley."

  • UW-Stout is reporting an unexpected benefit of some long ago car-pooling. Two UW-Stout alumni recently contributed more than $1 million in scholarship funds to the institution they say launched them into a successful business – and brought them together as a couple. Brian Jennerjahn, a 1964 graduate, and his wife, the former Ruth Hopfensperger, first connected while sharing rides back and forth between the university and their hometowns in the Fox Valley.  Explaining why they were interested in making the donation, Brian credits the very practical education he received at Stout. “Everything I was taught, I would put to use in my career,” he said. Brian went on to launch his own business, Jennerjahn Machine, in Matthews, Ind.  The company, which began as a two-person operation – with Brian designing and building the machines, and Ruth acting as bookkeeper and "gofer" for parts – now produces machines that are used in countries around the world, including China, the United Arab Emirates, and South Africa.  The couple said that their UW-Stout education contributed a lot to their success, and they wanted to extend that opportunity to others.  Congratulations to Chancellor Sorenson and the UW-Stout community.

  • New statistics from the U.S. National Science Foundation show that scholars at UW-Madison continue to be among the nation’s most successful at securing support for their research. Research expenditures at UW-Madison for fiscal year 2010 topped out at slightly more than $1 billion, an increase of about $15 million from the previous year. That ranks UW-Madison third among all U.S. universities. It trails only Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan. This is no flash in the pan, either. UW-Madison has consistently ranked among the top five universities reporting research expenditures since NSF began collecting statistics more than 20 years ago. As UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate School Dean Martin Cadwallader noted, (QUOTE) “We still see growth, which is a big positive in an environment that continues to be extremely competitive.”

  • UW-La Crosse reports that its new academic building, Centennial Hall, has been selected by the Wisconsin State Department of Facilities as its Best Project of 2011. Gov. Scott Walker recently recognized the building’s architect, River Architects, with the award at the State Building Commission. The honor salutes the firm for its outstanding work as part of the design team for the $40-million project. Centennial Hall, which opened in August 2011, is the university’s largest academic building. It’s expected to receive at least a silver rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED), which recognizes features to save annual operating costs and conserve energy. The hall is the first built predominantly with state funding on campus since 1974. Acknowledging the award, Chancellor Joe Gow said, “This award helps to solidify the building as the heart and soul of our academic programs during the university’s second century.”

  • As part of ongoing efforts to encourage increased student interest in the sciences, UW-River Falls recently hosted about 600 high school students from Wisconsin and Minnesota at the UW-River Falls “Border Battle” Science Olympiad Open Invitational Tournament.  The event, organized by physics Professor Earl Blodgett, featured 39 high school teams competing in 23 National Science Olympiad events. Unlike many other competitions, the international non-profit Science Olympiad mixes the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology together in one competition. Now in its 29th year, the Science Olympiad has become the largest team science and technology competition in North America. It should be noted that the competition also highlights UW-River Fall’s strength in the sciences, including its physics program, which in 2010 ranked fourth in the number of graduates compared to all comprehensive institutions across the nation.  Hats off to Chancellor Van Galen, and the UW-River Falls campus community.

  • You will recall at our last meeting, we honored UW-Green Bay’s First Nations Studies Program with a Regents Diversity Award.  I have a follow-up. Later this month, UW-Green Bay will present one of its Distinguished Alumni Awards to Maria Hinton, a 1979 graduate in Communication and the Arts. What is probably more remarkable is that Maria is 101 years of age – and will turn 102 in June. She is a revered tribal elder, who remains an active force in preserving Oneida stories, language and culture. Her keen memory was critical to the Oneida preserve-the-language movement, which UW-Green Bay has been closely involved in. One of Wisconsin’s last surviving native speakers, Maria grew up on old Seymour Road in a household that spoke only Oneida, learning English at the government school at age 10. After receiving her UW-Green Bay diploma she helped found the tribe’s Turtle Elementary School, and worked there well into her 90s. Only two years ago, Mrs. Hinton and Professor Cliff Abbott – who spoke at our last meeting – completed their invaluable, long-awaited recording of a spoken-word dictionary of Oneida, regarded as one of the world's most endangered languages.

  • Next week, UW-Whitewater will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Innovation Center at Whitewater University Technology Park. By all accounts, it’s had a very successful first year. The $5.7-million, 38,000-square-foot business incubator is apparently nearly 70 percent full. Robert Young, executive director of the technology park, recently told the Wisconsin State Journal  that most of the tenants being recruited are technology innovation-based companies … adding, (quote) “I’m looking for companies that are looking to take advantage of the resources we have at our university.”  The park and innovation center, which are collaborative projects of the city, Whitewater Community Development Authority, and UW-Whitewater, are an example of UW-Whitewater’s commitment to regional engagement, economic growth, and the Wisconsin Idea. 

  • While they’re into building, UW-Whitewater might also consider another project – expanding its trophy shelf! UW-Whitewater is proving to be a very formidable force in the world of college athletics these days.  In the past few months, the Warhawks have claimed national championship titles in men’s football, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, and gymnastics. I understand there were some real thrillers along the way. The men’s basketball team, for one, overcame an 18-point deficit to beat Cabrini College 63-60. That win, incidentally, makes UW-Whitewater the first school in Division III history to win a national basketball championship and football title in the same year.  Meanwhile, the women’s wheelchair basketball team also rallied when it really mattered. After having lost to University of Alabama twice earlier in the year, the Whitewater women came through when the championship was on the line, trouncing the Crimson Tide 63-34 to claim their first national championship. That same weekend, the men’s wheelchair basketball team routed University of Illinois 101-60 to defend its national title … and claim its 10th overall championship. And finally, in late March, the Whitewater gymnastics team tied The College at Brockport (in New York) for a share of the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association championship.  All in all, a very impressive run!  Congratulations to Chancellor Telfer and the UW-Whitewater campus community!

  • Speaking of athletic pursuits, UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell – well known for lacing up his sneakers – has accepted a friendly challenge from Concordia University President Patrick Ferry to see which university will field the largest team of faculty, students, and staff at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon next October. Under the “Claws vs. Paws Challenge,” the university team with the fastest team average at the end of the race will be declared the winner. Chancellor Lovell is Captain of Team Paws, which I understand includes about 100 runners! It sounds like pretty serious business. Group training runs are offered three times a day during the week, and there are also marathon seminars, clinics, and other support resources.  Many people claim that their best ideas come when they’re out pounding the pavement – so we’ll be expecting big things, Mike!

  • That concludes my report for today …