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

  • The much awaited US News & World Report rankings are out, and again the UW System shows itself to be a national leader in educational excellence. UW-Madison ranked as the 13th best national public university, and 9 more UW campuses placed in the top 25 of public regional institutions. Congratulations to all.
  • UW-Platteville is opening a new scholarship program to support students from underrepresented communities entering the STEM field. Supported by over 600,000 dollars from the National Science Foundation, the Platteville program will issue scholarships, fund high-impact practices and service learning, and support internships and undergraduate research – all in the STEM fields. This program is a great example of serving both our mission of access and equity as well as providing the high-impact talent that Wisconsin’s economy needs.
  • For the second year in a row, UW-La Crosse has received a national award honoring universities with an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UW-L received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. UW-L is the only higher education institution in Wisconsin to receive the award.
  • UW-River Falls physics Professors Jim Madsen and Suruj Seunarine received two grants from the National Science Foundation totaling over half a million dollars. Both grants are linked to the IceCube telescope, a subatomic particle detector at the South Pole. This research promises to teach us about dark matter and dark energy, which makes up 95% of the universe, but that we know nearly nothing about. Fascinating stuff.
  • At UW-Stout, two professors are teaming up to save lives with an unlikely hero – cling wrap. Professors Joongmin Shin and Naveen Chikthimmah, through a WiSys Technology Advancement grant, are developing treated cling wrap which could prevent food spoilage as well as deadly foodborne illnesses like listeria. This research could prove to have a huge impact for Wisconsin’s 51-billion-dollar food industry.
  • The Materials Science Center at UW-Eau Claire continues to grow through over half a million dollars in grant funding in the last few months. Grants from the WiSys Technology Foundation, American Chemical Society, and over $460,000 from the National Science Foundation have funded a brand new 3-D imaging laser scanning microscope and added capacity for faculty-student research. In addition to bringing more students into the high demand STEM field, the work of Professor Liz Glogowski and her students hope to produce new “smart” polymers which will improve oil recovery.
  • A recent graduate from UW-Whitewater has won an international competition to develop a new wastewater treatment plan for the city of Guelph, Ontario. Whitewater student Chesten Kesselhon entered the competition before graduating this May from the integrated science-business major and found a job with a firm expanding water access across the world.
  • UW-Milwaukee held the grand opening for the new freshwater sciences building last month. The impressive facility promises to cement UWM’s already growing reputation as the center of freshwater research and learning. I had a chance to tour the facility, and I have to tell you, it’s remarkable. Kudos to Chancellor Mone, Dean Garmin and their teams.
  • UW Colleges and Lawrence University, the private liberal arts college in Appleton, recently put ink to an historic partnership that will ease transfers between the institutions. The agreement provides for specialized advising, registration, financial information, and orientation opportunities for UW Colleges transfers. Congratulations to Lawrence President Mark Burstein, interim Chancellor Aaron Brower, and everyone at the UW Colleges.
  • UW-Oshkosh’s AeroInnovate program, which helps get aerospace businesses off the ground, recently claimed a national award for leadership and business collaboration at the University Economic Development Association annual meeting in New Mexico. In its short seven-year history, AeroInnovate has already collaborated with the city of Oshkosh’s industrial development corporation to break ground on a new aviation business accelerator and has become a key partner with WEDC in developing Wisconsin’s aerospace industry.
  • From humble beginnings at UW-Stevens Point as a walk-on, pitcher Jordan Zimmerman has reached new heights. Drafted in the second round of the 2007 Major League Baseball draft by the Washington Nationals, Jordan already reached a major milestone when he was named to the 2013 All-Star Game. Then on Sept. 28, Jordan threw the first no-hitter in Washington Nationals history! For those who might not be aware of how rare this is, consider that in the 2,430 games played each season, just two pitchers, on average, will throw a no-hitter. Talk about Pointer pride!
  • For the fifth year in a row, our northern-most UW System campus was declared a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, in recognition of the university’s efforts to assist military personnel, veterans and their family members in completing a college education. UW-Superior provides a veterans benefits coordinator to ease the transition for vets and also created a Veteran and Nontraditional Student office last year. Kudos to UW-Superior for honoring our men and women in service.
  • For the second consecutive year, UW-Parkside saw its freshmen retention rate top 70 percent. Last year’s retention rate for first-year students was 73.8%. This marks the highest retention rate for Parkside in 25 years. Noting a difficulty with incoming students math skills, Parkside adopted an innovative competency-based approach in proving skills, as well as creating alternative pathways to admissions through partnerships with technical colleges. Congratulations to Chancellor Ford.
  • And finally in news from UW-Extension, Wisconsin Public Radio Director Mike Crane has been elected to the National Public Radio Board of Directors, which oversees the direction of the national network. Wisconsin is truly well-represented in the public broadcasting world. You may recall that Malcolm Brett, WPR’s Director of Broadcasting and Media Innovations, also began serving as the Vice Chair of the PBS National Board just last year.

That concludes my report on System news.

See the August “News from Around the UW System