Remarks by UW System President Kevin P. Reilly
Posters in the Rotunda Event, State Capitol
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Hello, everyone, and good afternoon. I’m Kevin Reilly, president
of the University of Wisconsin System. It is my pleasure to welcome
all of you to this year’s “Posters in the Rotunda:
A Celebration of Undergraduate Research.” We are delighted
to be joined, today, by members of the Board of Regents, university
leaders from around the state, legislators and their staffs, and,
of course, our gifted students and faculty.
I’d like to begin by acknowledging the state legislators
who have joined us this afternoon. Thank you all for coming here
today. We value your support for our undergraduate researchers,
and for quality public higher education in Wisconsin.
We gather here today painfully aware of the terrible tragedy that
took place on the Virginia Tech campus this past Monday. We all
want our campuses to be safe havens where young people can expand
their horizons and deepen their humanity.
The violence in Virginia is a reminder of how important that work
I’d ask you all to join me in a moment of silence for the
students, faculty, staff, and families at Virginia Tech struggling
to deal with their grief.
A positive reaction to what happened in Virginia is for us to
celebrate the accomplishments of our UW students represented in
their posters all around this beautiful Rotunda.
I hope you had an opportunity to look at these wonderful projects
this morning. These dedicated undergraduates are proof-positive
that there are talented UW System students who go above and beyond
in their college careers. If today’s celebration shows
us anything, it is that if we can give them the right resources
and support, UW System undergraduates are capable of extraordinary
These students now have solid foundations for their futures. Their
enthusiasm, dedication, and willingness to work to achieve success
as undergraduates will no doubt serve them well in their post-college
With the help of their faculty mentors, the undergraduates here
today investigated dozens of scientific and social topics. Jeremy
Smet from UW-Fond du Lac, for example, used Geographic Information
Systems to map the top ten cities at risk from natural disasters.
Amanda Jeske from UW-Green Bay studied the “Educating Healthy
Kids Project” in Appleton, Wisconsin, which is designed to
increase knowledge about healthy eating and physical activity among
children and young adults. And UW-River Falls students Kyle Thompson
and Da Vis Linder used new techniques to design a video game, learning
how to develop such games rapidly and efficiently. Now who says
video games make our kids unmotivated?
What these projects show most of all is the capacity for smart,
dedicated, hard work among UW System students. Yes, these projects
took a great deal of time and energy, but just look at the final
The same thing could be said for this university system as a whole.
As budget season approaches, I ask our legislators in attendance
to consider the “final product” of a strong investment
in the UW System.
As many of you already know, this university is embarking on an
ambitious Growth Agenda for Wisconsin. Under this Growth Agenda,
we want to increase the number of four-year college degree-holders
in Wisconsin, attract more degree-holders from other states to
Wisconsin, and grow the number of knowledge-economy jobs in this
If the UW System is provided the necessary support to see this
Growth Agenda through, it can reassert itself as a primary source
of economic well-being for Wisconsin. Our highly educated graduates
can help Wisconsin attract knowledge economy industries to the
With a greater number of career options in this state for college
graduates, four-year degree-holders from elsewhere will be tempted
to move to Wisconsin, contributing to the “brain gain” we
hope to stimulate through this Growth Agenda.
Simply stated, if Wisconsin’s economy is to keep pace with
our neighbors, this state needs a re-investment in higher education
after years of large cuts. Promoting research, like the kind all
around us today, is a great way to do this. Academic research and
development creates more than 30,000 jobs and generates more than
$800 million for Wisconsin’s economy each year, according
to a report by the Wisconsin Technology Council. Our Growth Agenda
is one way to build on this momentum, and we ask you all to support
With that, I’d like to introduce Lieutenant Governor Barbara
Lawton, who has long been a supporter of higher education in Wisconsin.
She’s part of our momentum! She is also a UW alumna, with
a master’s degree in Spanish from UW-Madison. Please join
me in welcoming Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton…
Three legislators representing Western Wisconsin are also joining
us today to help congratulate our UW undergraduate researchers.
Senator Kathleen Vinehout is the Chair of the Senate Committee
on Agriculture and Higher Education. She represents the 31st Senate
District, which includes the UW-Eau Claire campus. Senator
Vinehout is also a former college educator herself.
State Representative Jeff Smith represents the 93rd Assembly District,
which also includes the UW-Eau Claire campus. Representative
Smith serves as a member of the Assembly Colleges & Universities
Both of these legislators represent UW-Eau Claire student Lori
Scardino, whom we’ll hear from in just a few moments.
Also joining us today is State Representative John Murtha. Representative
Murtha is from Baldwin, Wisconsin, and represents the 29th Assembly
District. His district includes the UW-Stout campus, which will
be hosting a Systemwide Undergraduate Research Symposium this Friday.
Looking around today, I’m reminded that this Capitol is
one of the most gorgeous buildings in the state, if not in the
entire country. The rotunda showcases works of art that lift the
human spirit. Today, however, it is the works of the superbly talented
UW System undergraduates that are lifting all our spirits.
Before I go, I’d like to encourage everyone here today to
talk to the students and faculty who put these outstanding projects
together. As you walk around, please think about how supporting
this university can provide tremendous benefits for the state as
a whole. I can’t emphasize enough how crucial an investment
in the UW System is to the future economic strength of Wisconsin.
We look forward to working with Governor Doyle and members of the
state Legislature to make sure that higher education remains accessible
to all of Wisconsin’s residents, and that this university
maintains the high-quality academic performance for which it is
known. You’ll see in the posters — and the faces —
of our students and faculty with us today that it is justly known
Thanks, again, to all of you for being here, and especially to
all of those involved in preparing for this event.
That concludes our program. Thanks for coming.