Academic Staff Awards

Each year, the Board of Regents recognizes outstanding contributions by two academic staff from our campuses. Academic staff are the professionals who carry responsibilities in admissions, financial aid, advising and counseling, research operations, safety, and a host of other functions without which our institutions could not deliver quality education.

The Regents Awards are an important way of recognizing the essential value that these employees bring to our students. The winners were selected from campus nominations by a committee consisting of Regents Axtell, Brandes, and Jones.

Regent Brandes, would you please make the awards…

We spent some time yesterday discussing our challenge of cutting $250 million from our base budget in the coming biennium. I recently came across a piece of history that helps to put this in both an educational and an historical context:

In 1905, Andrew Carnegie sold the U.S. Steel Company to J. P. Morgan for $250 million–and he used that money to construct more than 65 public libraries in communities large- and small all across the country. Many of those libraries exist today and many millions of citizens have started their own education in those centers of learning and wisdom.

Harry Truman read his way through his local Carnegie library when he was unable to go to college; Dwight Eisenhower and many others also recall their reliance on the library to propel them forward in their careers. Today’s Carnegie libraries still serve millions of small town, rural, and inner city residents thirsty for knowledge and the world beyond their own.

This is why Carnegie had inscribed over the door of each library: “Who enters a library enters the best society in the world.”

$250 million today doesn’t go quite as far, but it does represent the state investment in educational opportunities for more than 30,000 Wisconsin students attending a UW institution.

We know why the state is asking us to do this–but we should not lose sight of the cost. And we should challenge ourselves and our state to commit to reinvest these dollars–as Carnegie did–for a future that can last a lifetime.

Good News…

Wisconsin Public Television gets Cronkite Award

Wisconsin Public Television has won the Annenberg Walter Cronkite Award for political journalism for its “Wisconsin Vote” effort which provided in-depth coverage of Wisconsin’s fall 2002 political campaigns. Wisconsin Vote is a partnership of: Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio, the Wisconsin State Journal, and Wood Communications which sponsored the “We The People” series of issue discussions designed to inform voters on how their choices might affect their lives. When we hear so much criticism of political campaigns, it’s a pleasure to have this national recognition for a civic job well done.

Tax Assistance at Hand

April is tax month, and UW-Milwaukee’s business students are once again providing help to low-income taxpayers in preparing their state and federal returns. BUS 410 is a service-learning course that gives students credit for assisting taxpayers in timely filing. The students will not prepare business returns. UW-Milwaukee has a well-respected Tax Program supported by the accounting industry and this service provides hands-on experience for those students.

Carnegie Foundation Honors UW Faculty and System

Professor William Cerbin, UW-La Crosse, has been selected as a Carnegie Lead Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He is one of only two in the nation. These Lead Scholars will provide guidance for a new cohort of faculty from across the country who gather during the summer to develop course portfolios, new teaching materials, and assessment techniques. The UW System has also been named a Leadership Cluster in the next stage of CASTL campus programs and will be working to disseminate and encourage new teaching techniques throughout the System. Carnegie Vice President Pat Hutchings, who directs the national CASTL program, will be here next month to make a presentation to the Education Committee.

Sloan and UW-Extension Look at On-line Learning

On April 28 and 29, UW-Extension will host a national conference on the “Economics of On-line Learning” at the Fluno Center. The conference is sponsored by the Sloan Foundation and will bring together on-line learning faculty from more than 25 universities to assess their experiences–both successes and failures–in on-line learning to date and to discuss what steps are necessary to scale up this delivery mode at feasible cost. I’m very pleased that Sloan Foundation, a leader in this field, is looking to Wisconsin to host this important educational policy conversation.

UW-Eau Claire Student Gets National Recognition

A former participant in UW-Eau Claire’s Upward Bound program will receive a State TRIO Achievers Award during a ceremony later this month. Pao Yang, now known as Philip Yang, joined UW-Eau Claire’s Upward Bound program when he was an eighth grader who could barely speak English. When his family made its way to Wisconsin from a refugee camp in Thailand, no one in the family could read or write. With the help of Upward Bound and a lot of hard work, Yang went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees and he now works as an academic advisor at UW-Whitewater, assisting other students to parallel his own success story. Yang will receive his award next week.

UW-Milwaukee Architecture Professor Makes Senior Centers Better

Architecture Professor Uriel Cohen specializes in designing environments for the elderly, especially persons suffering from dementia and other cognitive impairments. The Alaska Commission on Aging asked Cohen, co-director of UW-Milwaukee’s Institute on Aging and the Environment (IAE), to evaluate and suggest ways to improve the environmental effectiveness of each of the state’s 12 senior day-care centers. Cohen’s research indicates that some of the most meaningful programs and environments for the elderly are those that make productive use of the residents’ unique cultural assets or lifestyles. In this case, Cohen recommended that funding be used for certain features in rural day-care centers, such as a place to process fish, a smokehouse, appropriate kitchen work spaces, a sauna, and other community-specific solutions. The use of culture-specific programming can be applied to any aging group, Cohen says.