At this time, I’d like to share some news from around the UW System …
- We can kick things off by noting that the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – known as WIAC – will be celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. Particularly at a time when the highest levels of college athletics seem to have been afflicted with such tumult, this Division III conference is, in the words of a glowing USA Today story last fall, a “resolute symbol of stability and success.” This morning, it is my pleasure to welcome Gary Karner, who has admirably held the position of Commissioner of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for 16 years. The centennial is a big deal, and Gary and his small staff are honoring the occasion in exuberant style. I was very pleased to attend the kick-off Centennial Banquet earlier this month, where more than 1,400 guests were on hand to celebrate and learn more about the most accomplished Division III conference in NCAA history. Here to tell us more about it is Gary Karner… o Gary Karner speaks…Thank you, Gary. Congratulations, and in its next 100 years, may WIAC continue to be a shining example of what college athletics can do for our student athletes.
- In other news, UW-Stout has received a $240,000 grant from the federal government to help small- and medium-size companies increase their use of technology and become more competitive. The U.S. Economic Development Administration grant will be distributed to the UW-Stout Discovery Center over the course of the next two years for applied research and technical assistance for entrepreneurs and existing small- and medium-size businesses. The goal is to accelerate the use of innovative technologies, increase product development and job creation, attract investment, and enhance regional competitiveness. Officials estimate that 20 projects would be paid for by the grant, creating some 60 jobs and leveraging $1.5 million in private investment. Congratulations to Chancellor Sorenson and the UW-Stout campus community…
- UW-Stevens Point recently learned that the U.S. Department of Education has reinstated funding for their Upward Bound program after a campus and community appeal of a decision to defund the program. Upward Bound prepares low-income, at-risk, and first-generation students for college. The Upward Bound program will be funded for five years at more than $414,000 per year, serving approximately 100 students a year from 10 school districts in central and northern Wisconsin. U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy, and UW-Stevens Point administration, as well as a grassroots effort by Upward Bound alumni, students, families, and staff, advocated for the funding.
- UW-Oshkosh is once again being nationally recognized and saluted for its strong commitment to environmental sustainability. The Sierra Club and Sierra Magazine released its annual “Coolest Schools” rankings, based on the “greenness” of participating universities. UW-Oshkosh was ranked 14th in the nation – a real tribute to its hard work in this area. Universities were evaluated in a broad range of categories, including energy supply, efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments, innovation, and other initiatives. As Provost and Vice Chancellor Lane Earns noted, “We have made the principle of living a sustainable life a core component of the academic experience here. Our faculty and staff help students see the actions they can take on campus and off to lessen our impact on the earth and encourage others to follow their lead.”
- The UW-Eau Claire Foundation is celebrating its acquisition of one of the nation’s largest collections of notes and recordings by many of the biggest names in jazz. Woody Herman, Count Basie, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Holman, Stan Kenton, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Henry Mancini, and Glenn Miller are among the jazz musicians whose original notes and recordings – many of which are autographed and one-of-a-kind – are in the collection. The collection has been named the John L. Buchholz Jazz Library after the UW-Eau Claire professor emeritus of English – and a longtime jazz musician and supporter of jazz studies.
- As we all know, much of the Upper Midwest has been suffering through severe drought conditions this summer. While it’s not possible to do anything about the actual lack of rainfall, there are still choices to be made about issues like herd management and minimizing crop losses, and UW’s Cooperative Extension is in the front lines to help. Its “Extension Responds – Drought 2012” website, which was launched in early July, offers a wealth of information for farmers, including buying and selling hay or forage, crop insurance, and livestock comfort during hot weather. Homeowners also could find there information on lawn and garden care, as well as human health issues in high heat. This site – which was touted by the Governor during his drought-damage tour – has proved very popular. From mid-July to mid-August, Google analytics reported over 8,000 site visitors and 17,000 page-views of the site. Another example of the Wisconsin Idea in action – addressing an old problem, drought, with a high tech web solution!
- Speaking of drought – not! – UW-Superior is very pleased to report that the campus is recovering nicely after a storm-of-the-century deluge delivered nine inches of rain to the area on June 19 and 20. Virtually every building on campus experienced some degree of flooding. The university library had 8 feet of water in its lower level, and the heating plant was flooded and inoperable. Thanks to hard work by university employees, assistance from UW System, and help from a professional disaster recovery contractor, UW-Superior reopened the day after the flood and has completed its summer classes and camps. The library staff continued serving patrons from a remote location until the building reopened on August 7. Just this week, one of three boilers at the heating plant resumed operations, which is sufficient to meet the campus’ immediate needs. Students returning to campus later this month are expected to encounter minimal disruption or inconvenience. As we will undoubtedly hear from Regent Whitburn when he reports on the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee’s discussion of this topic yesterday, high praise is due for Chancellor Wachter and her UW-Superior colleagues for their cool and competent crisis management and recovery.
- Boosted by national championships and strong playoff performances, the UW-Whitewater athletic program finished fifth in the 2011-2012 Directors’ Cup standings. The Warhawks’ 815.5 points is the most in school and WIAC history. No public university scored higher than UW-Whitewater. The Directors’ Cup, awarded annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, honors athletic success in men’s and women’s college sports in the United States. UW-Whitewater competes in the Division III category, which includes about 450 schools. Athletic Director Paul Plinske calls it “an incredible accomplishment,” and says Whitewater’s student athletes are “in a class all their own.” The Warhawks earned national championships this past year in both football and men’s basketball. They also placed in the top 12 or higher in NCAA competition in men’s indoor track, wrestling, women’s soccer, baseball, women’s tennis, and men’s outdoor track.
- Finally, UW-Milwaukee is proud to share the news that Bob Greenstreet, Dean of UWM’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning and former Interim Chancellor, was recently awarded the Freedom of the City of London. Greenstreet follows in the footsteps of his father, Joseph Greenstreet, a designer of World Fairs for the British government, in receiving this honor. The Freedom is one of the oldest surviving ceremonies in the United Kingdom and is believed to date back to the 13th century. Privileges accorded to recipients have historically included the right to walk around London with an unsheathed sword, the right to be hung with a silk – rather than hemp – noose should the occasion demand (notably treason or murder – or perhaps designing an ugly building!), and the right to herd sheep over London Bridge without paying a toll. In receiving this recognition, Dr. Greenstreet is in very good company. Former recipients of the Freedom honor include Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Luciano Pavarotti, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, Pitt the Elder (and Younger), J.K. Rowling, and Colin Firth. Congratulations, Dean Greenstreet!
That concludes my report for today.