Report by President Ray Cross to the Board of Regents

UW-Madison researchers partnered with UCLA to confirm a 3½ billion-year-old piece of rock contained the oldest fossils ever found. Geoscience Professor John Valley led the study of the Western Australia fossil – and the results confirmed this is the earliest direct evidence of life on Earth.

Riley Garbe first visited UW-Green Bay as a fifth-grader on a Phuture Phoenix field trip. Years later, he joined UW-Green Bay on a scholarship – and the story of his challenging childhood during Riley’s commencement speech inspired a local organization to offer $20,000 in total scholarships in Riley’s honor at the Freedom high school he attended.

Eau Claire Police Department officers frequently experience lower-back on the job.  A kinesiology research team at UW-Eau Claire is helping determine whether load-bearing vests would provide a new, safe way for officers to carry their heavy equipment.

A UW-Extension partnership to support business growth in Waukesha is off to a healthy start. The Wisconsin Small Business Development Network and the Waukesha County Center for Growth served 93 clients, generating five new ventures and $471,000 in capital investment in its first year.

One hundred UW Colleges students recently attended a Leadership Conference in Wisconsin Dells.  The workshops and training at the Glacier Canyon Conference Center featured topics such as leadership skills and improving group dynamics – all necessary skills in today’s workforce.

Economics students at UW-Whitewater competed against some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including Harvard and Princeton, at the College Fed Challenge in Washington, D.C. UW-Whitewater is the first Wisconsin university to advance to this national event, which tests students’ knowledge of economic and monetary policy.

Aquatic invasive species are expensive to control and devastating to the Great Lakes and our Wisconsin environment. UW-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute just launched the Great Waters Research Collaborative to examine the effectiveness of various tools used to protect our waters.

UW-Stout’s McNair Scholars Program has been renewed for five years by the U.S. Department of Education. The program helps first-generation, limited-income, and underrepresented students earn their bachelor’s degree and pursue graduate school.

Students majoring in Computing and New Media Technologies at UW-Stevens Point develop IT skills, work on needed projects, and become valuable student-employees for Sentry Insurance. This often leads to full-time employment at Sentry’s IT Co-op, the area’s largest employer.

UW-River Falls is celebrating the first year of its “Assistance Dog Education Program and Training” program.  Students who participate in this for-credit internship work with local non-profit organizations to help train assistance dogs for persons with physical disabilities, diabetes, and autism.

In 2017, UW-Parkside graduated 8% more students than in 2016.  In the past seven years, more students have graduated from UW-Parkside than during any other seven-year period in the university’s history. This run of record graduating classes helps fill the talent pipeline.

The director of UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Farm received an Outstanding Adviser Award from Alpha Gamma Rho.  This national professional fraternity helps develop agricultural leaders, and Professor of Agribusiness Charles Steiner was nominated for the award by the local chapter he advises.

UW-Oshkosh made history at its midyear commencement as it awarded its first doctorates in educational leadership and policy with superintendent licensure. Family and friends joined the campus community to celebrate the 1,200 students earning undergraduate and graduate degrees.

UW-Milwaukee research scientists in Antarctica drew worldwide attention when they discovered 260 million-year-old fossil forests near the South Pole. Erik Gulbranson and John Isbell generated more than 75 stories from news outlets including National Geographic, CNN, and the BBC. The research is shedding light on modern-day climate change.

UW-La Crosse students are active in community outreach. An economics class partnered with city leaders to research ideas on investing $1 million in economic development. In another example, radiation therapy students made blankets for cancer patients at Gundersen Health System.