Speaking of news, I’d like to share some news from around the UW System…

  • First, I’d like to remind the Board of a special event coming up – the “Civility in Everyday Life Workshop.”  UW-Oshkosh is preparing to host this special UW System conference on Feb. 24 and 25.  Our thanks to Chancellor Rick Wells and his team for all their good work in pulling things together.  The conference provides a forum for leadership teams from our UW institutions to discuss the practical meaning of civility on our campuses and in the wider society. We look forward to a very productive meeting, and I’d like to extend an invitation to members of this Board to attend the conference. You’ll find more information about the event in your packets. Or, I’m sure Chancellor Wells would be happy to answer your questions about it.
  • In other news, UW-Madison engineering physics professor Douglass Henderson has been named by President Barack Obama as one of 15 recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, the highest federal award for mentoring in the country.  More specifically, the award recognizes Dr. Henderson’s efforts in establishing and growing the Graduate Engineering Research Scholars program in the UW-Madison College of Engineering, a program which is designed to offer students a support network of peers, faculty, and staff.  At the time Dr. Henderson established this program in 1999, the number of minority graduate students enrolled in Ph.D. programs at the UW-Madison College of Engineering had decreased nearly to zero. The program now has steady participation of more than 50 Ph.D. students, and since its inception has enabled 33 underrepresented students to graduate with Ph.D. degrees.  He has also built on the success of this model by working with colleagues to expand the program to other parts of the campus.  Dr. Henderson received the award at the White House on Jan. 27. Congratulations to Dr. Henderson, Chancellor Martin, and their UW-Madison colleagues on this honor.
  • In other news from UW-Madison…. James Thomson, director of regenerative biology at the Morgridge Institute for Research and a UW-Madison researcher since 1994, is this year’s co-winner of the prestigious King Faisal International Prize in Medicine. Thomson is scheduled to receive the prize, which was established in 1977, from the king of Saudi Arabia during a March ceremony in the country’s capital of Riyadh.  Dr. Thomson now is among 57 scientists who have been selected for the Faisal Prize in Medicine during the past 33 years.  Congratulations to Dr. Thomson, and Chancellor Martin.
  • UW-La Crosse recently received a 1.7-million dollar gift from the Theodore A. and Lillian C. George Trust and Estate – the largest estate gift in the school’s history. The gift will generate approximately $65,000 in new scholarships for students each year beginning in the fall of 2012.  Al Trapp, president of the UW-L Foundation, says (QUOTE) “This unexpected generous gift comes at an ideal time as we look to expand our scholarship program that helps so many needy and deserving UW-L students. The gift is a great example of how people can have such a lasting impact on an institution they love.” Lillian Clark George earned a degree in teaching from UW-La Crosse in 1935. The lifetime member of the UW-L Alumni Association was a regular donor to the foundation, and this latest gift will have an ongoing impact for years to come.  Congratulations to Chancellor Joe Gow and the UW-La Crosse community …
  • We’ve been hearing and talking a lot about on-line opportunities in recent months. With another example of how this option is expanding educational opportunities for a broader cut of the state’s population, UW-River Falls is launching a new series of business courses taught entirely online.  Sponsored by the campus’ Small Business Development Center, the certificate courses are designed for people with no previous formal business education.  Four courses are currently being offered to provide a basic understanding of business principles: Basic Marketing Skills, Basic Finance, Basic Human Resource Management, and Basic Business Law. Students who complete all four courses will qualify for a certificate designating them as a “Small Business Specialist I.”  Hats off to Steve DeWald, director of the Small Business Development Center, Chancellor Dean Van Galen, and all their UW-River Falls colleagues …
  • I am also pleased to share news that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded UW-Madison a $10-million grant as part of efforts to preserve and enhance the humanities at public research universities that have records of scholarly and educational excellence. The grant, which will be matched by the state, is intended to support and sustain strength in core areas, hire new faculty, and support postdoctoral and graduate students. Chancellor Biddy Martin says, (QUOTE) “The funding will allow us to strengthen fields that are essential to the education of our students and to the body of scholarship that preserves and reinvents culture.” (END QUOTE)  More than half of UW-Madison students took a course in the humanities in the last year, and more than 60 departments, centers, libraries, and programs offer learning, research, and study abroad opportunities in the humanities.  Congratulations to Chancellor Martin and the UW-Madison campus community.
  • You’re probably aware that President Obama visited Manitowoc the day after delivering his State of the Union speech last month. And you may have also heard that his visit included a stop at Orion Energy Systems, Inc., a Manitowoc-based company that manufactures energy efficient lighting and renewable solar technology. What you may not have heard about is the connection between Orion Energy Systems and UW-Extension.  Orion Energy Systems has been a client of UW-Extension’s Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network, which, along with Wisconsin Small Business Development Centers, helps entrepreneurs create new businesses and grow existing businesses by providing training; information about financial, technology, and other resources;  one-on-one business counseling; and networking opportunities. Mike Potts, the company’s president and chief operating officer, says, (QUOTE) “The Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network helped our company explore opportunities for research and development funding. That kind of assistance is a valuable resource for Wisconsin businesses.” (END QUOTE)  Just another example of how UW-Extension and its Division of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development are helping to support the Growth Agenda message of growing and retaining jobs! Congratulations to Chancellor Ray Cross, and his UW-Extension colleagues.
  • Wisconsin is no stranger to leading by example. Now, the American Institute of Physics is tapping the physics and astronomy department at UW-Eau Claire and the physics department at UW-La Crosse for site visits this fall, based on their records for graduating relatively large numbers of physics majors –and having them find employment quickly after graduation.  Both UW institutions have ranked among the country’s top producers of physics majors in recent years, and the American Institute of Physics is hoping to learn from them more about effective practices to prepare more physics undergraduates, in terms of both numbers and diversity, for careers in the STEM fields.  Kudos to Chancellors Brian Levin-Stankevich and Joe Gow, and their colleagues.
  • I’m pleased to share the news that UW-Milwaukee has received a $2.6-million gift from Lynde Uihlein to support a new Center for Water Policy. The gift will fund an endowed chair and director for the planned center, which will be part of the new UWM graduate-level School of Freshwater Sciences.  The Center is designed to provide world-class interdisciplinary solutions for problems related to the protection and restoration of our freshwater resources.  It will also further position Milwaukee and the region as a national and international hub of water policy and technology innovation. In making the gift, Uihlein  – a UWM alumna – said, (QUOTE) “I cannot think of a more important issue in our community, in our state, and around the world than the sustainable use and management of water. My hope is that the Center for Water Policy will contribute substantially to that mission…” (END QUOTE) Congratulations to Chancellor Mike Lovell and the UW-Milwaukee campus community.
  • UW-Platteville has partnered with UW-Madison and the College of the Menominee Nation in Keshena to bring a grant from the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program to campus. The grant, funded through the National Science Foundation, helps to bring American Indian students to larger universities, and encourages them to become more active in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs on campus.  For its part, UW-Platteville will use its grant funds to help advise and support students’ development during and after completion of a two-year pre-engineering program at the College of the Menominee Nation.  UW-Platteville also will have a liaison in Keshena to begin building relationships with interested students to help them successfully make the transition to a new curriculum and campus life. In other reach-out efforts, UW-Platteville’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program recently forged agreements with Northcentral Technical College in Wausau and Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire. These agreements will allow students at these two technical schools to transfer specific credits towards a four-year degree. Hats off to Chancellor Dennis Shields and his colleagues for these new initiatives.
  • Finally, I’d like to note a big milestone in the career of our Chancellor at UW-Stout.  This past week, Chancellor Charles W. Sorenson officially became the longest serving head of UW-Stout.  In fact, there have only been seven leaders of that institution, dating back to 1891. The previous record-holder was Burton E. Nelson, who served from 1923-45. During Chancellor Sorenson’s time at UW-Stout, enrollment has grown 32 percent to a record 9,339 in September 2010. The number of academic majors has nearly doubled to 40.  And he has overseen 11 major building and remodeling projects, including the new Jarvis Hall Science Wing and Millennium Hall.  He has led the effort to create a digital campus culture through the innovative e-Scholar laptop program, and he helped to establish the Stout Technology Park. Under Chancellor Sorenson, the Board of Regents designated UW-Stout as “Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University,” and in 2001, UW-Stout became the first recipient in higher education of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  Chuck, congratulations!

That concludes my report for today.

Related: Read February 11 (day 2) news summary