GREEN BAY—The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay makes unique and crucial contributions to Northeastern Wisconsin, and should grow to continue to meet the changing needs of the region’s workforce and economy, community leaders and alumni testified Friday.

“The Wisconsin Idea is alive, and well, and ever-more important to Northeastern Wisconsin,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard.

Several community, business and industry leaders in the Green Bay-area urged members of the UW System Board of Regents on Friday (April 7) to invest in growing the university for the future. The presentation took place during the second day of Regent meetings on the UW-Green Bay campus.

Susan Finco, who said she is a UW alumna, a contributor, and a trustee, said that the community values the “creative side” of what UW-Green Bay and its graduates have to offer. She said she contributes her time and money to the campus because she sees it as an investment in the future.

“When you talk about an ideas economy, a knowledge economy – I see it every day,” she said. “I can’t emphasize strongly enough how much I believe this metropolitan area benefits from having a strong regional university nearby.”

Larry Ferguson, president and CEO of Schreiber Foods, a $3 billion company located in Green Bay, said UW-Green Bay is helping the region adapt to major changes in the area’s business and industry. For example, surprising to some, India is now the world’s largest producers of milk, he said.

“That requires change,” he said. “It is imperative that we have the opportunity to grow UWGB.”

Paul Linzmeyer, president of Bay Towel Linen and Uniform Rental, said the community must make it a priority to be welcoming and inclusive as the region’s population becomes more diverse. He said UW-Green Bay is playing an important role in helping everyone achieve aspirations to have a high quality of life.

“Quite frankly, in our community today, that quality of life is not assured,” he said.

Linzmeyer, a UW-Green Bay graduate and past chair of the Chamber of Commerce, said he moved back to Green Bay after seeing negative impacts of state legislation, known as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, where he was living in Colorado.

“I brought my children and grandchildren back here because of the possibility of them experiencing the Wisconsin Idea that I experienced,” Linzmeyer said.

Paul Jadin, president of the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, said that for many years, the private sector drove the regional economy. Now, more business and industry leaders are adapting through regional cooperation, and understand that education, in particular, higher education, will drive job growth in high-tech, high-knowledge sectors.

Further, by educating more students at UW-Green Bay, he said, the campus can help reverse “brain drain” as more graduates stay to live and work in the area.

“There is a sense of urgency here,” Jadin said. “We, and you, and the Governor and everyone else in Madison has to recognize the need to grow this institution and grow the New North.”

Jeffrey Rafn, president of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, said the campus is the largest source of transfers for UW-Green Bay. Within the next three years, he said he expects to have more than 600 students enrolled in a program that allows students to take one year of classes at the technical college, and then transfer to UW-Green Bay to complete their degrees.

“If that space isn’t available, we will have let them down,” Rafn said. “We can’t afford to do that. We must have a larger UW-Green Bay.”

Rafn pledged to work with university leaders to help gain state support for the UW System, and urged the Board to invest some of the resources available in growing the campus.

William Gollnick, chief of staff for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and a UW-Green Bay alumnus, said that in today’s economy, a higher education is no longer considered a luxury. He noted that UW-Green Bay educates students from the Oneida and Menominee Nations, other tribes, as well as other students who will understand more about the many people who live in the region.

“UWGB needs to be open and accessible to the growing population of this region,” Gollnick said. “As a partner in our socio-economic fabric, we are greatly strengthened.”

Diane Ford, a UW-Green Bay alumna and trustee, and now vice president and controller for Wisconsin Public Service Resource Corp., said that Green Bay employers often lament that there are not enough graduates and interns to go around. She credited the campus’s unique teaching and learning style with preparing graduates to excel in the workforce.

“It fits with how we want our employees to approach issues in our company, and allows them to come up with solutions.”

Because of the many ties between the campus and the community, the people of Green Bay do claim ownership of the campus, she said.

“There is a solution,” she said. “I hope you will recognize it, and allow us to grow this university.”

The community’s commitment to the campus is evident in UW-Green Bay’s new capital campaign, Shepard said. That campaign has a goal of $25 million, which Shepard said he expects the campus can easily exceed.

Shepard said UW-Green Bay strives to prepare students to fill roles in careers that will develop in the future, and to solve societal problems not year recognized. He mentioned a group he called the “Phoenix 500,” a collection of alumni in leading business and industry roles across the nation.

“The value of that special approach can be found in the success of our alumni,” Shepard said.

As for the needs of the region, Shepard said: “Green Bay’s University of Wisconsin must respond.”

Regent Judy Crain of Green Bay said the successes and challenges of the UW-Green Bay campus are felt “deeply and widely” in the community.

“I am proud to be a part of it,” she said.

Regent President David Walsh of Madison complimented all the presenters, and said it was one of the best presentations he has heard about the value of a UW campus to its local community.

Board advances Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on UW-Madison campus

UW-Madison will move forward to create the publicly funded Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and the adjoining Morgridge Institute for Research, a private, not-for-profit research institute, following Board action on Friday.

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, as they will be known, will be funded by the largest gift in the university’s history, a $50 million private gift from John and Tashia Morgridge; as well as a $50 million matching gift from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), and $50 million provided by the state of Wisconsin.

The Board approved a resolution granting authority for UW-Madison to exchange land with WARF, and to request a waiver that would allow WARF to construct the facilities.

Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of WARF, said that when the Morgridge family agreed to donate $50 million to fund the private research institute, WARF trustees did not hesitate to provide a matching gift. The trustees recognize that universities engage in intense competition for federal grant funding, he said.

The Institutes for Discovery will help Wisconsin remain competitive by taking the “best of the public, and the best of the private” to create the Midwest’s first world-class research center, Gulbrandsen said.

“Something needs to be done to keep us at the top,” Gulbrandsen said. “That something is going to be the Institutes for Discovery. We expect that the science at the two institutes is going to be very collaborative.”

Funding from the state of Wisconsin will only be used at the public Institute for Discovery, Gulbrandsen said. That center will also rely on some private and federal funds. The Morgridge center will be on private land, and funded by private funds, federal grants, and WARF contributions.

In response to concerns from Regents, Gulbrandsen and Fish reiterated that all partners involved with the Institute are committed to serving the public mission of the university, while remaining flexible and responsive through the private part of the center. They also confirmed that WiCell, a private entity that assists the UW-Madison campus in its stem-cell research, will remain separate from the institute. The project is expected to be complete by 2009.

Beth Donley, general counsel for WARF, said the collaborative hub will allow researchers to interact in a unique setting and that it will support multi-disciplinary hiring and research study. She also explained that in conjunction with the donations, a seed-grant program will begin to immediately fund new cross-disciplinary research investigations.

Alan Fish, UW-Madison associate vice chancellor, noted that the Institute will be designed and located to foster ongoing, cross-campus collaborations. He noted that the building will also include retail space as a way to contribute to the area’s “urban vitality,” and that WARF will follow the state process in constructing the project.

View a presentation on the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery pdf

In other business, the Board approved resolutions that:

  • Accepted the 2004-2005 Minority and Disadvantaged Student Annual Report outlining the System’s pre-college, recruitment and retention plan for multicultural and economically disadvantaged students;
    Approved the UW System Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment;
  • Endorsed the efforts of UW System campuses after hearing reports on national, state and single-institution efforts against sexual assault;
  • Approved a resolution to rename the UW-Milwaukee School of Business Administration to the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business, honoring the Milwaukee business leader and philanthropist. Lubar, a former member of the UW Board of Regents, recently pledged the largest single donation in UW-Milwaukee history, $10 million, to the institution;
  • Tabled a motion to approve a UW-Milwaukee charter school contract with the Academy of Milwaukee, Inc., to establish the Academy of Milwaukee; and
  • Approved a request to the Trustees of the William F. Vilas Trust for $8,722,145 for fiscal July 2006 through June 2007 to support undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, research professorships and various other awards, an allotment for a Microbial Sciences Building for the BioStar program at UW-Madison, and research professorships and a series of music events at UW-Milwaukee;
  • Approved the Design Report and Authority to Construct the Chadbourne Residence Hall at UW-Madison;
  • Leased space at the University Research Park on behalf of the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine for the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, which will house lab space for UW-Madison Professor Yoshi Kawaoka and his ground-breaking influenza virus research;
  • Conveyed the Hanson Forest property (1,028 acres in Ashland County) to the United States Forest Service;
  • Executed an agreement to install exterior flood lights at the Engelmann Soccer Field at UW-Milwaukee;
  • Granted authority to construct the Student Union Expansion Project as well as the third central chiller installation project at UW-Parkside.
  • Granted authority to Construct Various Facility Maintenance and Repair Projects at six campuses throughout the System;
  • Granted authority to construct the Engineering Learning Center project at UW-Madison.

In closed session, the Board took the following actions:

  • Voted to dismiss Lewis Keith Cohen, a professor of Comparative Literature at UW-Madison, from UW employment. (Read a statement from President Walsh)
  • Approved a salary adjustment for Rob Jeter, UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball coach. As allowed by state statute, the Board voted to adjust Jeter’s salary to $350,000, effective June 1, 2006, and to $400,000, effective June 1, 2007, to recognize competitive factors.
  • Voted to rename the UW-Milwaukee Business Administration building “Lubar Hall.”
  • Took disciplinary action against UW-Parkside Associate Professor Xun Wang, including demotion and reduction in salary.

Board honors Regent Gracz for service to state

Regents on Friday honored Regent Gregory Gracz, who leaves the Board this month after seven years of service. Regent Gerard Randall of Milwaukee introduced Gracz as “one of the true workhorses of this war.”

Randall noted that Gracz consistently worked to build consensus among his fellow Regents, and was a “quiet but forceful” advocate for students as chair of the Physical Planning and Funding Committee. Randall also noted that Gracz helped that committee gain its reputation as one of the Board’s most efficient working groups.

“Time was spent doing the do-able, not bemoaning the impossible,” Randall said of Gracz’s leadership.

Gracz said he learned a great deal from his fellow Regents. “I want to thank you for all you’ve given to me,” Gracz said. “I wish you luck in the future. You have a very big job ahead of you.”

During a brief report to the Board, Regent President David G. Walsh of Madison updated Regents about his appearance before legislators at a hearing last week which focused on the proposed Taxpayer’s Protection Amendment. Walsh said the conversation took on a different tone than previous discussions about the proposed amendment as it followed the announcement of major donations for the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery on the UW-Madison campus.

“These kinds of public-private partnerships aren’t going to continue unless the state of Wisconsin continues its investment in the University of Wisconsin System,” Walsh said. “It was a good hearing because we talked about something different, and they realized that TPA has the potential for a terribly negative impact on [such partnerships].”

Regent Michael Spector of Milwaukee updated the Board about the progress of the Committee Regarding Faculty/Academic Staff Disciplinary Process. He noted that the committee would soon hear input he gathered from faculty during a recent trip to UW-Parkside, and that the Board would be asked to consider action on a Regent disciplinary policy in June. That action is being delayed by one month to allow UW-Madison faculty and other groups more time to submit input, he said.

As part of his “Good News” report to the Board, UW System President Kevin P. Reilly highlighted the work of the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, headquartered at UW-Green Bay and directed by Professor Aileen Yingst. The Consortium, which includes 26 colleges, universities and institutes in Wisconsin, including several UW campuses, works with students in science, math, and technology fields by supporting aerospace research, scholarships and outreach projects.

In addition, Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler of Oshkosh, a UW-Green Bay alumna, presented the Board’s resolution of appreciation to the campus. The resolution noted UW-Green Bay’s outstanding development of a campus master plan, the inspirational education philosophy of “Connecting learning to life,” and the importance of the campus’s proposed agenda for expansion and growth.


The UW System Board of Regents will hold its next meeting May 4-5, 2006, on the UW-Madison campus.

Related: Read April 6 (day 1) news summary