I want to take this opportunity to say farewell and best wishes to United Council’s outgoing president, Maggie Brown, who has led United Council through a difficult but productive budget period and helped to make student needs and priorities clear as we develop UW budgets; I’ve enjoyed working with her and her staff. And “hello” to Jeff Pertl, the new United Council president – we look forward to working with him and his staff in the next academic year.

Introduction of Barbara Emil

It is my pleasure to introduce the new dean of Outreach and E-Learning Extension and director of UW Learning Innovations, Dr. Barbara Emil. Barbara, please stand and be recognized.

Barbara represents a real “brain gain” for Wisconsin, arriving here from the University of South Florida where she served both as dean and as executive director of the Florida Virtual Campus. In these roles, she provided leadership for a statewide distance learning unit that served 39 post-secondary community colleges and universities. Barbara previously directed academic conferences and professional programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for eight years. She holds a Ph.D. in education from Southern Illinois University, focusing her research on curriculum instruction and online learning.

Perhaps best of all, given our new attention to securing more federal resources, Barbara was instrumental in securing a five-year, $2.75 million federal grant to increase access to education using new technology.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Barbara Emil to Wisconsin, and to the UW System.

Measuring our results…

As we approach the end of the academic year, I want to take a moment to put some things in perspective. This month, UW institutions are graduating nearly 25,000 capable, eager, and enthusiastic seniors, launching them into a world of change in which they will contribute in many ways.

This year’s graduating class are the first UW students who applied for admission on-line; they were the first to use our new systemwide integrated library system; over their educational career they have moved from PCs to laptops to Palm Pilots; in high school they used to get their music from tapes and CDs; now they listen to music on the internet and use Napster to create their own music.

When the Class of 2002 was entering grade school, the most popular college majors were in the arts & sciences; as they complete their college careers, the most popular majors are the life sciences, business, and education.

Over the past four years, the Class of 2002 has watched the “graying of the faculty” as hundreds of valued senior faculty and staff retired, and they’ve seen the arrival of hundreds of younger professionals, some not much older than their students.

The probability that members of the Class of 2002 will die from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and many other afflictions has been measurably reduced by recent university breakthroughs in stem cell research.

Service learning has become more important as students have increased the hours of volunteer time they invest in campus, community, and worldwide work projects. The Class of 2002 has seen the nation’s sense of security shaken; some students have had friends called up from reserve units to help protect our airports or to serve in Afghanistan. The idea of “service” has taken on new meaning and significance.

It is hard to imagine a more exciting future or a more challenging set of opportunities for our graduates. We need to remind ourselves, amid the more mundane struggles over budgets and politics, . . . this is what we do best! And this is why our universities are such critical assets for Wisconsin’s future.

Good News

This is the season when UW faculty receive national recognition for their professional contributions. I want especially to mention the following:

  • UW-Colleges: Professor Jeff Kleiman who teaches at UW-Marshfield has received a Fulbright grant to spend next school year at the University of Lodz in Poland researching the Holocaust and post-WWII Europe. Professor Kleiman follows Julie Tharp from the same campus who received a Fulbright grant last year to study in Singapore.
  • UW-Madison: Professors John Doebly (genetics) and Willi Haeberli (physics) have been named fellows of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, bringing to 46 the total number of NAS members on the Madison campus. Two other Madison faculty: Virginia Sapiro (political science) and Yi-Fu Tuan (geography) have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The American Academy was founded in 1780 and is the most prestigious society for the arts and humanities.
  • UW-Superior: Professor David Beran has been selected to receive the 2002 Math Association of America Distinguished Teaching Award – Superior’s second winner in the past five years.
  • UW-Madison faculty have five recipients of Guggenheim awards for next year. The winners are: Professors Noel Carroll (philosophy), Lea Jacobs (communication arts), Matthew Turner (geography), Lee Palmer Wandel (history), and Karl Zimmerer (geography). Madison is one of only three universities including UCLA and Columbia that received as many as five awards.

Regent De Simone has been given the Phi Delta Kappa Distinguished Leadership in Education award which was presented at the annual banquet last week at the Kenosha Country Club. Phi Delta Kappa is an international honorary society that recognizes educators for outstanding service to education by spotlighting significant issues in teaching and research and by providing scholarships. and funding for special projects. Congratulations!

Two U.S. Cabinet Secretaries visited UW campuses this month:

  • Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta spoke at UW-Milwaukee on April 25 and presented funding to the Midwest Regional Transportation Center, a consortium of UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, Marquette University, Northwestern University, the University of Cincinnati, Richard Daley Junior College in Chicago, and Lac Court Orielles College in Hayward.
  • Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson visited Madison last week and awarded $800,000 to WARF to help make UW-patented stem cell lines more widely available for university research.

I also want to note that UW-Eau Claire formally kicked off its $35 million Capital Campaign last week with announcement of a $4.5 million lead gift and great faculty and student enthusiasm. I wish all the best to Chancellor Mash as he and his staff work to achieve this important goal. UW institutions are increasingly shared and supported by many stakeholders, each of whom depends on the others to contribute to the ongoing success of its mission. Alumni and private donors are generous in supporting higher education, and they expect the state to do its share as well. Don–we look forward to your success with this campaign.

I want you to know that the UW System continues to be a leader — and long-distance survivor — in distance learning. This month, Sun Microsystems has designated the UW System’s on-line learning utility known as “dot.edu” as a “Sun Center of Excellence.” Located at UW-Milwaukee, “dot.edu” currently has 126,000 students taking more than 10,000 courses within Wisconsin, in Wisconsin state government, the Technical Colleges, and at Milwaukee Public Schools. The benefits of being named a “Center of Excellence” include visibility as a world leader in on-line programming and access to favorable pricing on Sun products. The UW System joins Cornell University and Wayne State University as only the third academic center of excellence in the country.

You’ll be interested to learn about the new Milwaukee Idea Economic Development Fellows program which is designed to offer returning Peace Corps and other public service volunteers a chance to combine graduate study at UW-Milwaukee with work on community economic development projects. Supported by a grant from the Helen Bader Foundation, this is a creative and imaginative way to harness talent and experience to civic needs and dreams.

Finally, we will all miss Dr. Adolf Gundersen’s wisdom and leadership of the UW System. Dr. Gundersen died ten days ago after a long and distinguished career as a physician, researcher, educator, and UW Regent. He was a strong supporter of the Allied Health Consortium that has put La Crosse on the map for collaboration in training and provision of health care services. The close association that he and Judy Kuipers started a decade ago is being carried on today by Chancellor Hastad and the Gundersen family and clinics. We’ll miss Dr. Gundersen, greatly.