Report by President Kevin P. Reilly to the Board of Regents

At this time, I’d like to share some news from around the UW System …

  • UW-Oshkosh is pleased to report that its College of Nursing undergraduate students continue to excel when it comes to the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses – or NCLEX – which measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licensed, entry-level nurse. In fact, UW-Oshkosh nursing students have a 96 percent first-time pass rate – the highest in the UW System, and also well above the national average of 89 percent. Leaders in the nursing school say the program is focused on instilling three key qualities in students: a high level of engagement, a capacity to learn, and the ability to work in clinical settings. The end result is when these nurses achieve their degrees and hit the workforce, they are ready to go. Congratulations to the nursing program, Chancellor Rick Wells, and the UW-Oshkosh campus.
  • UW-Stout recently released the results of a new survey that indicates stricter measures the campus introduced three years ago to reduce alcohol abuse among its students appear to be working. The average number of alcoholic beverages consumed by drinkers is down, as are the number of underage drinking citations, and the number of students disciplined by the Dean of Students office. Just as important, the percentage of students who are abstaining from alcohol is increasing, as is the percentage of students who say they are aware of the drug and alcohol regulations. The campus’s plan included holding more Friday classes, boosting the disciplinary measures taken by the Dean of Students office for alcohol-related offenses, and working with community partners to curb the availability of alcohol off campus, including cracking down on large house parties. UW-Stout lost six students in alcohol-related incidents over a two-year span, so this initiative is something personal. As Chancellor Sorensen noted, the war over risky alcohol use hasn’t been won – but he believes they have taken important new steps in that direction.
  • A four-member team from UW-River Falls has earned a first-place award in the 12th annual National Dairy Challenge held in Fort Wayne, Ind.  Dairy Challenge participants had to put their textbook knowledge to the ultimate test – consulting for an actual dairy. In a field of 128 students from 32 universities, each team was assigned to an operating dairy where they were to analyze and provide recommendations to improve profitability – all without any aid of coaches or the Internet. Their recommendations encompassed the areas of nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing, and financial management. On the third day of the event, teams presented their recommendations to the farm owners and were evaluated by a panel of judges including dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists, and industry personnel. Congratulations to Chancellor Van Galen, the winning team members, and the UW-River Falls campus.
  • Bassam Shakhashiri, a chemistry professor and William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea at UW-Madison, has received the 2013 Carl Sagan Award for Public Understanding of Science. Named for the astronomer whose enthusiasm and broad scientific knowledge helped inspire a generation to look at science as a fascinating discipline that makes a different in the real world, the Sagan Award was made by the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, which has more than 1.4 million members. Dr. Shakhashiri is the immediate past president of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. Long known for his standing-room-only Christmas chemistry demonstrations, his recent efforts include the American Chemical Society Climate Science Toolkit, which encourages scientists to communicate the objective scientific facts about climate change. Congratulations to Dr. Shkhashiri, Chancellor David Ward, and UW-Madison.
  • When it comes to collegiate marketing, UW-Whitewater has become a real powerhouse. Earlier this spring, the university’s American Marketing Association chapter was named the International Chapter of the Year at the annual conference in New Orleans. What’s even more impressive, this is the eighth time since 2001 that the UW-Whitewater organization has claimed the honor. Hats off to Chancellor Telfer and the UW-Whitewater campus.
  • From UW-Stevens Point, we have news that proves the old adage, “necessity is the mother of invention.” In this case, it started with the visual arts students in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, who required a special art paper to handle the inks and processes they use. Trouble is, that special art paper is expensive. Fortunately, the university is also home to the fastest student-run pilot paper plant in the country, which is used for classes in the Department of Paper Science and Engineering, as well as for paper development and production runs by the university’s Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (or WIST). In a three-way collaboration that also happened to provide a great hands-on learning opportunity, an economical, 100% cotton paper was developed that so successfully met the needs of the arts students that the group decided to put its RiverPoint art paper on the market through WIST. Now, sales of that paper are supporting research and education at UW-Stevens Point. Kudos to Chancellor Patterson and the UW-Stevens Point campus community.
  • UW-Eau Claire shares the news that the Ronald Satz Award for Student Advocacy – which is presented each year to an individual in recognition of his or her outstanding service to the UW-Eau Claire student body – was presented this year to both Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet and Dean of Students Brian Carlisle. The award, which has been presented annually since 2006, is in remembrance of Dr. Ronald Satz, who was an engaged member of the campus community for 22 years. He served in a number of faculty and administrative positions, including as provost and vice chancellor from 1999-2005. Dr. Satz passed away in 2006 after a long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Congratulations to Chancellor Bousquet and Dr. Carlisle.
  • Five UW-Parkside pre-med students have been selected for a new program to address the growing need for physicians in the state’s underrepresented urban and rural areas. The Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health program – also known as RUSCH – was created by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to address a shortage of doctors in underserved Wisconsin communities. As explained by Dr. Bryan Lewis, UW-Parkside’s assistant to the dean for health-related professions, the medical school wanted to create programs at the undergraduate level that would make students aware of the growing need for quality health care in these underserved urban and rural areas. The medical school approached Chancellor Debbie Ford last fall to see if Parkside would be interested in participating. The students will spend 8-10 weeks this summer assisting UW School of Medicine faculty with research. Then in summer of 2014, they will participate in an 8- to 10-week internship in southeastern Wisconsin. I should point out that close to 90 percent of UW-Parkside pre-med students who apply to medical school are accepted – which is very impressive, indeed, especially when you consider that the national average is just under 40 percent accepted. So, congratulations to Chancellor Ford and the UW-Parkside campus community.
  • Robert Greenstreet, Dean of UW-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning, announced last month that UWM has received a $500,000 gift to support the Historic Preservation Institute, which is housed within the School. Philanthropists David and Julia Uihlein (ee-LINE) made the donation to UWM to enhance the work of the Institute, which advances building preservation and heritage protection through academic coursework and community preservation activities. Dean Greenstreet says this transformational gift will vastly expand the institute’s capacity to address key Milwaukee preservation challenges. By funding students and interns who will work directly with the City’s Historic Preservation office, the effectiveness and profile of that office will be elevated. By providing direct services in the research and evaluation of building development projects, the Institute will be a high-profile contributor connecting planned development to the preservation community. The gift will help fund a graduate level historic preservation design studio, which will focus on the challenges of retaining key historic buildings and neighborhoods in Milwaukee.  David Uihlein is the President of Uihlein-Wilson Architects, an architectural practice that is well known for its award winning preservation work. Congratulations to Chancellor Lovell, the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and the UW-Milwaukee community.

That concludes my report for today.

See April’s “News from Around the UW System”