Wisconsin Ideas
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Cover Story:

UW-Stout wins national Malcolm Baldrige Award

Vol. 18. No. 3
Spring 2002

Editor's Note

 News Briefs
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Cover Story
 UW-Stout wins national
 Baldrige Award

 UW-Stout Chancellor
 Charles Sorensen

Special Report
 Wisconsin Economic
 Summit II

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 Colleges Minority
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Engineering Program
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Featured Photo

Final Ideas

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, The Quest for Excellence, University of Wisconsin-Stout, 2001 Recipient


UW-Stout first university to win national Malcolm Baldrige award

By Jennifer Klement

Bowman Hall
The bells of UW-Stout's historic Bowman Hall (left) rang wildly on Dec. 4 to celebrate the university's selection as the first institution of higher education to be awarded the Malcolm Baldrige Award.
UW-Stout/Marty Springer (3).

The determining call from Washington D.C. came at 3:20 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30.

A ring from U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans would signify that UW-Stout won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. A buzz from Harry Hertz, director of the Baldrige National Quality Program, would mean that the university would need to apply again.

As Secretary Linda Wagner transferred the call, she whispered, "It is the right office!"

Still recovering from knee surgery, Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen struggled into his office to accept the good news: UW-Stout had become the first university to receive the prestigious Baldrige Award, considered America's highest honor for performance excellence and quality achievement.

"I talked to the (Commerce) Secretary for about four minutes or so. I was in a very euphoric state," Sorensen says.

Since the Menomonie-based campus could not officially announce its success until the U.S. Department of Commerce made a public announcement, Sorensen eagerly rushed to assemble the other members of the UW-Stout Baldrige team: Jan Jordan, assistant to the chancellor; and Julie Furst Bowe, associate vice chancellor.

UW-Stout and UW System officials traveled to Washington, D.C., on Thursday (March 7) to receive the Malcolm Baldrige Award, the nation's top honor for performance excellence and quality improvement. UW-Stout is the first university ever to win the award from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Pictured at the ceremony are (from left) U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans; UW-Stout Associate Vice Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe; UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen; President George W. Bush; and U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. UW-Stout/Marty Springer

More information

"I think we were all trying to absorb the simple fact that we had accomplished what no other university in the nation had done," Sorensen says.

When White House officials announced the Baldrige recipients on that following Tuesday, Dec. 4, the bells of UW-Stout's historic Bowman Hall rang wildly to celebrate the university's achievement.

"This award is among the highest levels of recognition any university in the country can achieve," Sorensen says. "This is a marvelous tribute to our university; and to our students, faculty and staff. It is truly one of the greatest events in the history of this institution."

President George W. Bush presented the award to UW-Stout officials during a ceremony in Washington D.C. on March 7. UW-Stout attendees will include students, faculty, staff, administrators, political leaders, alumni representatives and friends of the university.

Students in construction laboratory

Hands on, minds on learning sets UW-Stout apart. For the past three years, approximately 30 percent of group instruction has taken place in a laboratory-including this construction laboratory-where students combine theory, practice and experimentation. UW Stout/Marty Springer (2)

UW-Stout, known for its specialized career-oriented majors, applied for the Baldrige award the past three years and received a site visit twice. To apply, organizations must submit a report detailing their achievements and improvements in seven key areas.

"I believe we won the award because we were able to verify everything included in our application," says Furst Bowe. "And, in many areas, we are able to serve as a role model for best practices in higher education."

Furst Bowe outlines how UW-Stout's achievements fit the Baldrige categories for academic organizations:

  • Leadership: The collaborative Chancellor's Advisory Council, which includes representation from students, faculty, staff and administration, was formed to guide decision-making.
  • Strategic planning: UW-Stout implemented a comprehensive annual planning process that aligns campus priorities with resource allocation.
  • Student, stakeholder and market focus: UW-Stout conducts numerous surveys to determine expectations and satisfaction levels, including the ACT Student Opinion Survey and the National Survey of Student Engagement, as well as annual surveys of alumni, employers and the UW System Board of Regents.
  • Information and analysis: UW-Stout implemented Datatel, an integrated information system that provides faculty and staff with widespread access to data. Committees, councils and taskforces base their decisions on this information.
  • Faculty and staff focus: UW-Stout faculty and staff are involved in committees, councils and taskforces that cut across departments, colleges and divisions. Involvement may be in standing committees, such as the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, or in special taskforces, such as the Women's Equality Initiative Steering Committee.
  • Process management: UW-Stout has implemented systems to design, implement and review academic programs and support services.
  • Organizational performance results: UW-Stout tracks progress on key student indicators, such as retention rates, placement rates and student satisfaction. Trends are also determined from maintained financial results and employee information. Comparisons are made to peer institutions, other UW comprehensive universities and external agencies when appropriate.
UW-Stout students using laptops
Toting laptop computers to class will soon be as common as carrying books for students at UW-Stout, which has always been known for its innovative spirit. UW-Stout is Wisconsin's first public university to require laptops for its students.

Winning the Baldrige award has impressed not only faculty and staff but also UW-Stout's student body, which numbers approximately 8,000.

Mike Bombaci, vice president of the Stout Student Association, the university's student government, says the award will attract more students and recruiters, lead to more grants, and generate additional partnerships with business and industry.

"They will be impressed by what is going on here and with what the students and the university has to offer," says Bombaci, a senior majoring in packaging.

Furst Bowe agrees: "Winning this award has elevated the status of our campus and provided greater visibility for our academic programs."

"The award is a validation of our mission," Sorensen says.

Jennifer Klement is an associate university relations specialist at UW-Stout.


Malcolm Baldrige Award
The Malcolm Baldrige Award honors America's highest achievement in performance excellence and quality achievement.

About the Malcolm Baldrige Award
Named after the 26th secretary of commerce, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness of American businesses.

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, The Quest for Excellence, University of Wisconsin-Stout, 2001 Recipient

In conjunction with the private sector, the National Institute of Standards and Technology designed and manages the program and honor process for the award. Five awards are given in each year for manufacturing, service, small business and, added in 1999, education and health care. The Baldrige award program, its criteria and award recipients are imitated and admired worldwide.

For links to information about the Baldrige National Quality Program and more details about UW-Stout's receipt of the award, visit http://www. uwstout.edu/mba/.

About the University of Wisconsin-Stout
Involvement and innovation typify a way of life for more than 8,000 students attending University of Wisconsin-Stout. Since its founding in 1891 as the Stout Manual Training School, students from around the world have been drawn to the UW-Stout campus by an outstanding curriculum, a faculty with a record of concerned service to students, and facilities that are among the finest anywhere. Founded as an experiment in education, and the only UW System institution named after an individual (James Huff Stout), UW-Stout attracted national attention from the beginning.

Millennium Hall
UW-Stout's Millennium Hall serves as the electronic hub of the western Wisconsin campus, bringing all of the university's information technology components together in a single location.
UW-Stout/Marty Springer.

Traditionally, UW-Stout's programs have prepared students for productive careers in business, industry, technology, education, human development, and art and design. A combination of course work in the humanities, social and natural sciences, as well as work in career fields, is a key part of an educational plan that produces graduates who live, think and work creatively.

The success of UW-Stout's approach to education can be measured by the growth of the university and its high employment record.

To those who know it well, the UW-Stout campus is a place of beauty, history and character. It is a place to learn and grow - to gain an appreciation and respect for the past and a new perspective for the future.



Select Mission of UW-Stout
University of Wisconsin-Stout, as a special mission institution, serves a unique role in the University of Wisconsin System. UW-Stout is characterized by a distinctive array of programs leading to professional careers focused on the needs of society. These programs are presented through an approach to learning that involves combining theory, practice and experimentation. Extending this special mission into the future requires that instruction, research and public service programs be adapted and modified.




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