MADISON – Recognizing the extraordinary talent and vital capacity of teachers within the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents on Friday (Sept. 5) honored the winners of the 12th annual Regents Teaching Excellence Awards.

“The Regents Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony makes sure that we do not take for granted the multifaceted resource we have in our faculty and instructional academic staff, which remain the cornerstones of our university system,” said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall.

The 2003 Regents Teaching Excellence Awards recognize outstanding career achievements by individuals and an exceptional commitment to teaching by academic departments or programs. The awards are administered by the Office of Professional and Instructional Development.

“As Regents, we can and must work to publicly honor and help make understood the intense labor and dedication that go into the act of teaching,” said Regent Danae Davis of Milwaukee, chair of the regent committee that selected the winners. “In our continual search for ways to encourage and reward good teaching, the awards we make today represent a small, but, I hope, significant, step in the right direction.”

Janna Cowen receives her 2003 teaching award from Regent Jesus Salas.

Janna Cowen receives her 2003 teaching award from Regent Jesus Salas.

Regent Jesus Salas of Milwaukee presented the first award to Janna Cowen, professor of economics at UW-River Falls, whom he noted has been called a “fond legend” on campus.

“Here is a teacher who, for 24 years, has made the clarification, illumination and practical application of the discipline to undergraduate students the calling of her life,” Salas said. “Her door is always open.”

Cowen thanked the regents for the award, and with her acceptance, said she was in effect “standing in” for the dozens of other excellent and deserving teachers at UW-River Falls.

“I find this very encouraging,” Cowen said. “I selected UW-River Falls 25 years ago when I was in the job market because they convinced me that they valued teaching. I could not have done it without a great deal of support from my campus and my department.”

Regent Charles Pruitt of Milwaukee presented a second award to Carole Vopat, professor of English and women’s studies at UW-Parkside. Again and again, he said, students write that Vopat’s teaching changed their lives.

Carole Vopat receives her 2003 teaching award from Regent Charles Pruitt.

Carole Vopat receives her 2003 teaching award from Regent Charles Pruitt.

“Her students do not just take a course from her,” Pruitt said. “They enter, struggle and eventually thrive and soar.”

In thanking the regents for the award, Vopat also said she appreciated the board’s commitment to quality teaching, even in the face of budget cuts, for the benefit of all students.

“I want to give them that fervor and passion I learned in college,” Vopat said. “I believe education makes us better and helps us to rise.”

The award for departmental excellence went to the Department of Geology and Geography at UW-Stevens Point, which Davis noted is recognized for innovative use of teaching technologies and cutting-edge curriculum.

“This is a department for whom experiential learning is not just a trendy catchphrase, but at the foundation of a discipline that is practical, hands-on, and active,” Davis said. “Their approach is holistic; their results are phenomenal.”

Department Chair Benjamin Ofori-Amoah and Professor David Ozsvath receive the 2003 teaching award on behalf of the UW-Stevens Point Department of Geology and Geography from Regent Danae Davis.

Department Chair Benjamin Ofori-Amoah and Professor David Ozsvath receive the 2003 teaching award on behalf of the UW-Stevens Point Department of Geology and Geography from Regent Danae Davis.

Department Chair Benjamin Ofori-Amoah and Professor David Ozsvath accepted the award on the behalf of the department, which, Ofori-Amoah joked, is so dedicated to students that faculty members would not leave class to attend Friday’s ceremony.

Ofori-Amoah thanked the regents for their hard work on behalf of all UW campuses, and thanked the department dean and UW-Stevens Point chancellor for so strongly supporting the department.

“This doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop asking (for support),” he said. “We’re got some great—and wild—ideas. There’s always room to evolve.”

Ofori-Amoah also thanked the department’s students, whom he said are the real reason for the excellence award.

Each winner received $5,000 for professional development.

Read profiles of the award winners

Regents review progress of “Charting A New Course” study

The full board received on Friday a written summary pdf of Thursday’s working group sessions as part of “Charting a New Course for the UW System”—the regents’ study of priorities for the university system in the next decade.

Several regents suggested that working group chairs should report to the full board on the second day of the regents’ monthly meetings to keep all members informed about the study’s progress. Regent President Toby Marcovich of Superior and Study Chair Regent Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids agreed that the board could consider alternative ways to present the summaries.

Read the working group summaries pdf

President Lyall welcomes new year and a fresh start

With the new academic year comes change on UW campuses, as well as a chance for fresh perspectives related to the operation of the university, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall said in remarks to the Board on Friday.

Lyall reminded the board that budget cuts have meant noticeable changes for students and employees on all UW campuses. Both internal and external members of the UW community will notice fewer courses, longer lines and slower services, and she asked for patience and understanding as campus business resumes.

Lyall also said that in addition to the $250 million reduction in state funding for the UW System over the next two years, the Department of Administration has not yet decided how to allocate additional cuts stemming from the Governor’s vetoes—which could add up to as much as another $20 million to the UW System cuts. In addition, Lyall noted that the UW might have to spend as much as $8 million more for increased health insurance costs; is still facing a $6 million shortfall in utility funds; and could lose up to $700,000 from the state to assist disabled students.

In this context, she said, the “Charting A New Course” study will be even more critical in helping the UW System determine whether priorities should be shifted in the future.

For another take on “fresh perspectives,” Lyall noted the new edition of the “Mindset List” produced each year by Beloit College. She said the list is a reminder that today’s students see things with different cultural references.

For example, this year’s list notes that to freshmen, “Garrison Keillor has always been live on public radio and Lawrence Welk has always been dead” and “Paul Newman has always made salad dressing.”

Lyall also reported on some of the many activities by UW campuses, faculty, and staff over the summer. They include:

  • UW-Parkside received ten-year accreditation from the North Central Association, the major regional accrediting agency. Lyall noted that this is a major achievement for the campus, and reflects Chancellor Jack Keating’s leadership in helping UW-Parkside become more engaged with the Racine-Kenosha communities.
  • In July, UW-Whitewater Chancellor Jack Miller’s study on Literacy Rankings for American Cities hit the press and attracted great interest around the country. Miller’s study used statistical data to construct 13 different measures of city literacy on which he ranked all cities with greater than 250,000 population. Lyall said the study offered a new and different perspective on how communities both reflect and attract people to the knowledge economy.
  • UW-Extension’s Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program was recognized for its excellence by the Kellogg Foundation as part of its 20th anniversary celebration. The program seeks to broaden knowledge and perspective on policy issues including the environment, global economics, and demographic change.
  • UW-Madison Police Chief Sue Riseling received national recognition from the International Association of Chiefs of Police as the “individual who demonstrates exemplary performance in the investigation and/or prevention of civil rights crimes, the enforcement of civil rights statutes, and education efforts regarding civil rights issues.” The association is the largest in the world (18,000 members in 110 countries), and Riseling’s award is the only one of the year, Lyall said.
  • UW-Stout was cited in the July issue of University Business magazine for its use of technology to streamline refunds of financial aid to students. By using a debit card system, UW-Stout has greatly simplified the processing of financial aid, and could serve as an example of a “best practice” for other campuses to follow.
  • UW-Whitewater’s Wisconsin Innovation Service Center, which Lyall said has a long track record of assisting entrepreneurs in starting new businesses in Wisconsin, will host “Ideas to Profits,” a conference focused on finding opportunities for existing manufacturers to harness new innovations. The conference is sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and will be held on the Whitewater campus Oct. 3-4, 2003.

Board says farewell to Chancellor Zimpher

Photo of UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Nancy Zimpher

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher bids farewell

With an extended standing ovation to reflect its gratitude, the Board of Regents on Friday thanked departing Chancellor Nancy Zimpher with a resolution of appreciation for her tireless efforts at UW-Milwaukee.

In presenting the resolution, Regent Jose Olivieri of Milwaukee said Zimpher’s efforts have resulted in a stronger UW-Milwaukee in all facets of campus and community life.

“It is up to all of us to now build on that foundation,” Olivieri said. “There is a lot left for us to work with.”

Zimpher thanked board members, fellow chancellors and President Lyall for their support during her five years as chancellor and for giving her the tools she needed to excel.

“Much of what I learned about being a chancellor I learned right here in this room,” Zimpher said. “Your persistence has been of benefit to me and of great benefit to UWM.”

Zimpher said as she begins her new position as president at the University of Cincinnati, she will take with her several lessons learned during her time in Wisconsin, chiefly the importance of vision and collective action.

In full, she said, her lessons learned are best summed up through a statement from the book, “All I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”: “No matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

Read the Resolution of Appreciation for Chancellor Zimpher pdf

Regents adjust salary ranges for senior executives

In accordance with state statutes, the Board of Regents made its annual adjustment of salary ranges for UW senior executives earlier this week in a teleconference meeting. No pay raises were approved.

At Friday’s meeting, Regent Nino Amato of Madison raised concerns about the process that led to the teleconference meeting to adjust the salary ranges.

A fact sheet with more details is available.

In other business, the board approved the following resolutions:

  • Formal appointment of Virginia Helm as interim chancellor at UW-Stevens Point;
  • Acceptance of the 2002 Report on Undergraduate Drop Rates, as mandated by board policy and state statute.
  • Appointment of Dr. Susan Goelzer to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Oversight and Advisory Committee.
  • Adjustments in faculty and staff base salaries to recognize competitive factors, as allowed by state law;
  • Adjustment of segregated fees at UW-Barron County and UW-Richland;
  • Construction of an upper-campus parking lot at UW-Eau Claire and a lighting project at the university’s Bollinger Fields;
  • Construction of a mechanical engineering renovation and addition project at UW-Madison;
  • Authority to negotiate with Prism Development to redevelop the Kenilworth Facility at UW-Milwaukee;
  • Construction of a baseball grandstand and support building at UW-Oshkosh through a land use agreement; and
  • Construction of phase two of the Upham Hall renovation and addition at UW-Whitewater.


The Board of Regents will hold its next meeting on Thursday, Oct. 9, and Friday, Oct. 10 on the UW-Oshkosh campus.