Remarks by UW System President Kevin P. Reilly

Posters in the Rotunda Event, State Capitol

Thursday, April 25, 2006

Good afternoon. I’m Kevin Reilly, president of the University of Wisconsin System. It is an honor to welcome you to this year’s “Posters in the Rotunda, A Celebration of Undergraduate Research.” I’m pleased to be joined, today, by members of our Board of Regents, university leaders from around the state, legislators and their staffs, and, most importantly, our talented students and faculty.

Before I begin, I’d like to recognize the legislators who have joined us this afternoon. Would you raise your hands? (show of hands?) Thank you all for being here today. We appreciate your support for our undergraduate researchers and your commitment to quality public higher education in Wisconsin.

As you examine these remarkable research projects in the rotunda today, you’ll observe first-hand the world’s brightest young minds hard at work, enhanced, of course, by their UW education. I see students with a passion for learning so strong that, even in their undergraduate careers — and I want to emphasize they are all undergrads — they are motivated to take on significant research into the things that interest them. Best of all, I look at these projects, and I see a bright future for the state of Wisconsin. If these undergraduate students are already displaying such knowledge, enthusiasm, and ability, just imagine what they will be doing 5, 10, or 20 years from now!

Our students, along with their faculty mentors, are conducting research on a host of important social and scientific concerns. For example, a student at UW-Oshkosh investigated ways to eliminate bias in journalism, a very long-term project. A UW-Stevens Point student researcher is analyzing how universities are preparing for influenza pandemics on campus. Students at UW-La Crosse compared their campus’s city, where the economy relies heavily on environmentally related tourism, to a similar city in Ireland.

Represented in the undergraduate research here today are the three pillars of this university’s mission — teaching, research, and public service. While the outstanding teaching and research are clearly evident in the work of our students and their faculty mentors, so is the public service. That’s because all Wisconsin citizens can benefit from this research.

As Wisconsin strives to remain competitive in the growing knowledge economy, promoting research will be integral to the state’s future success. A report by the Wisconsin Technology Council estimated that academic research and development in this state creates more than 30,000 jobs, and generates more than $800 million for the economy each year! That’s more jobs than the construction industry in Wisconsin provides.

In the long-term, an investment in the UW System, and the faculty and undergraduate researchers here with us today, will result in a win-win partnership for the university and the state and its citizens.

It is now my great pleasure to introduce Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton. Since taking office, Lt. Governor Lawton has been a strong supporter of public higher education in Wisconsin, and has helped to advance the UW’s role in the Liberal Education and America’s Promise campaign. This is a national effort that emphasizes the value of a solid liberal arts and sciences education in the knowledge economy — the kind of education that is a springboard for the student research we celebrate today. Lt. Governor Lawton is also a UW alumna with a master’s degree in Spanish from UW-Madison. Please welcome Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton…

[Lt. Governor Lawton speaks]

Thank you, Lt. Governor Lawton for the inspiring words. On behalf of everyone in the UW System, and all our fellow citizens, I thank you for your efforts to support public higher education in Wisconsin.

Now, I’d like to introduce Dr. Tina Sauerhammer, a surgical resident at the UW Hospital. Tina is a graduate of UW-Green Bay, where she was selected as the outstanding graduating senior. She received her M.D. from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health in May 2003. Tina was named Miss Wisconsin that same year (it was a very good year!), and she was second runner-up in the Miss America competition. Today, Tina will share with you her insights about her own undergraduate research and how it helped prepare her for what looks to be a very promising future. Dr. Sauerhammer…

[Dr. Sauerhammer speaks]

Thank you, Tina. We wish you all the best, and we’re very proud to count you as a double UW alum! I would now like to welcome another UW alum, who definitely did not win the Miss Wisconsin title in 2003, Board of Regents President David Walsh. President Walsh…

[Regent Walsh speaks]

Thank you, Regent Walsh. I encourage everyone here today to stay and talk with our talented undergraduate researchers and their faculty mentors. And I ask you to think about the role their research can play in Wisconsin’s future. It’s clear that the whole state can reap numerous benefits by supporting our students and this university. I look forward to working with Governor Doyle and members of the state Legislature to ensure that the state invests in public higher education so that our sons and daughters in future will be able to follow in the footsteps of our young stars here today.

In closing, I’d like to again thank our students and faculty for coming today, and I commend everyone across the System who worked hard to make this terrific event possible.

Students, please know that the work you do does not go unnoticed. I am proud to say I am part of a university where undergraduates are capable of such accomplishments. Let’s give all of our talented student researchers a round of applause.

That concludes the formal part of the program.  Thanks for being with us for it.