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

“Let’s start with UW-La Crosse.  Later today, UW-La Crosse will officially receive the “2009 U.S. Department of Commerce Export Award for International Student Recruiting and Program Development.” In the last 10 years, UW-La Crosse has strategically increased its international student numbers as part of efforts to create a global campus and community – a goal that is shared across the UW System.  In fall 2009, UW-La Crosse’s international student population included 437 students from 45 countries.  That’s up from 129 students back in 2002, so there has been significant and impressive growth in this area.  By 2012, it is projected that international student enrollment at UW-La Crosse will reach nearly 700.  I should point out that this international study is not a one-way venture.  In 2008-09, more than 500 La Crosse students took advantage of opportunities to study abroad.  So, in recognition of the fine work that’s being done at UW-La Crosse in international student recruiting and program development, the Department of Commerce Export Award will be officially presented this afternoon in a ceremony at the Pyle Center. I understand that a busload of people from UW-La Crosse have made the trip to be part of the presentation and share in the good news.  Congratulations to Chancellor Gow and his colleagues on this prestigious award!

“UW-Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden announced last week that the university’s capital campaign, the Campaign for UW-Green Bay, will conclude this month having raised more than $30 million.  Particularly noteworthy in these challenging economic times, the campaignexceeded its goal by $5 million. There were six separate gifts of $1 million or more, and two dozen gifts of $100,000 or more.  In all, there were more than 2,500 gifts from individuals, families, companies, and foundations, alumni and non-alumni, UW-Green Bay employees, retirees, and community supporters.  It all adds up to a significant demonstration of support for a strong public university.  The impact and benefits of this campaign will be varied and widespread, including the doubling of the scholarship endowment and the creation of more than 50 new named scholarships, the creation or expansion of four named professorships, support for construction of a new student events center, and even the addition of a campus bell tower.  Congratulations to Chancellor Harden and rest of the folks at UW-Green Bay.

“Meanwhile, UW-Whitewater business students seeking internships with new Wisconsin companies will get a boost from a recently-announced state program.  The $90,000 Entrepreneurial Assistance program will provide grants to support paid internships for students at UW-Whitewater and other state colleges and universities. Expected to start as early as next semester, the program will place three to five UW-Whitewater interns a semester with newly created Wisconsin businesses. The program will allow students to work directly with entrepreneurial companies, and give them real-world, hands-on experience. As we emphasized during our discussion of the Research to Jobs initiative, these kinds of opportunities are vital in developing Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial culture, and preparing our students for their role in creating the jobs of the future.

“The flu is on many people’s minds these days, but the talk at UW-Madison is not just about getting the H1N1 shot.  UW-Madison recently received a five-year, $9.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to identify virus mutations that would serve as early warnings of potential pandemic influenza viruses.  Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine is the principal investigator on the project, which brings together an international team of scientists in a quest to find a more reliable method of identifying influenza threats to human health. As Dr. Kawaoka notes, “Millions of lives might be saved if intervention methods – such as social distancing, antiviral compound distribution, and vaccine development and production – could be implemented early.”  Congratulations to Chancellor Biddy Martin, Dr. Kawaoka, and their UW-Madison colleagues…

“The Athletics Department at UW-Stout has been honored by the NCAA for its overall diversity efforts.  Established in 2005, the Diversity in Athletics Award annually highlights athletics departments that excel in diversity. Recipients are recognized in six categories – diversity strategy, gender diversity of employees, racial diversity of employees, value and attitudinal diversity, gender equity, and overall diversity.  This is the first time that a Division II university has received this award.  Congratulations to UW-Stout’s athletics director Joe Harlan and Chancellor Chuck Sorensen. As Joe Harlan says: “It’s a diverse world out there, and actively recruiting for our 18 varsity sports programs allows us to reach a really wide group of potential students who may be interested in UW-Stout.”  I should point out that in addition to recognizing UW-Stout’s overall diversity efforts, UW-Platteville also was recognized in the gender equity category.

“In other news from the western front, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation celebrated its 50thanniversary in October.  Over the past 50 years, the foundation has provided generous financial support of the university and its mission.  As Foundation board president Casey Sylla put it, “We are pleased to have been such an integral partner in the university’s success and look forward to the next 50 years of providing financial resources and value.” In fall 2007, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation celebrated the success of its Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence campaign, which raised nearly $53 million. So we wish UW-Eau Claire congratulations on this happy milestone …

“UW-Extension recently announced that fall 2009 course enrollments for the new online degree in Sustainable Management are nearly double what was originally anticipated. This degree is a collaborative effort between UW-Extension and four UW campuses: UW-Parkside, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, and UW-Superior.  UW-Extension had forecast 90 individual course enrollments in the Sustainable Management program that started this fall.  Instead, there were 166 individual course enrollments – and those numbers are predicted to jump again this spring.  Dean David Schejbal notes that Wisconsin is the first major university system to offer undergraduate students this online option for a degree. With green jobs a centerpiece of the economic recovery plan, this is another example of our institutions meeting demand in a forward-looking field of study, and providing a delivery method that expands access.  Good work!

“Sharing expertise is something that faculty members around the UW System are fairly accustomed to doing, and UW-Milwaukee economist Scott Adams in no exception.  People often ask him questions about the job market, health insurance, and other aspects of the American economy. But he never imagined that he would be providing that information to the U.S. President during the worst economic crisis in 80 years.  Adams, an associate professor at UW-Milwaukee, recently ended his one-year term as one of nine senior economists on the President’s Council on Economic Advisers in Washington, D.C.  He is the first UW-Milwaukee professor to serve on this prestigious council.  In that position, he summarized a variety of economic issues of the day and interpreted data for use by senior White House officials. Dr. Adams is now back on campus, and I’m sure he has some interesting tales to tell.  Perhaps there’s a book contract in his future…!

“We have other good news from UW-Green Bay.  Human development and psychology Professor Regan Gurung was recognized last month as the Wisconsin Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  The award honors undergraduate teachers who excel as educators and influence the lives and careers of their students. Dr. Gurung has been a faculty member since 1999.   We’re proud of this recognition for Professor Gurung, and what it says about the importance of undergraduate teaching at UW-Green Bay and throughout the UW System.

“We’ve been talking a lot at this meeting about affordability, among other things.  A program at UW-Oshkosh has good news to share that is very much in keeping with this theme.  The Cooperative Academic Partnership Program – or CAPP – gives high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn college credits while they are still in high school – and at half the cost of UW-Oshkosh per-credit tuition.  The way it works is that qualified students may enroll in select college courses taught by university-approved high school instructors. In other words, students get a chance to experiment with the academic rigor of university course work while remaining with their high school peers.  The good news is that, this past July, UW-Oshkosh’s CAPP program earned the distinction of becoming the first nationally accredited program of its kind in Wisconsin by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. Earning that national accreditation means that each high school that participates in CAPP must be consistent with university-level teaching and evaluation – a standard not easily attained.  The 18-month accreditation process included review of faculty practices, approval of curriculum, and an evaluation of the program’s impact.  The benefits to students go beyond just earning college credits.  These CAPP students are also eligible for a UW-Oshkosh TitanCard, which grants them access to Polk Library and computer labs at the university.  As of fall 2009, we know that about 2,500 high school students statewide are working for college credit through a variety of programs.  More than 1,100 of those – or just under half – are students enrolled through UWO’s CAPP program.  Congratulations to Chancellor Rick Wells and his colleagues at UW-Oshkosh.

“UW-Parkside recently got front-page coverage in the Kenosha News for its energy-saving efforts.  The campus reports that it is saving as much as $97,000 in annual energy costs with the installation of a solar electric generating system and a switch to more efficient lighting. The campus installed solar panels at three locations, converting the sun’s energy into more than 34,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity.  A lighting makeover and the use of compact fluorescent bulbs is saving 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually —  or enough electricity to power 125 Wisconsin homes for a year. Kudos to Chancellor Debbie Ford and the Parkside community.

“Finally, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced last week the formation of a partnership with Special Olympics Wisconsin.  The purpose of the partnership is to bring the immeasurable energy and commitment of the nearly 5,000 student athletes who compete annually in WIAC to benefit the nearly 80 Special Olympics events and activities held across the state each year.  Student-athletes from each of the nine WIAC institutions will work closely with Special Olympics offices in their respective areas to assist with local training programs, competitions, and fundraising activities. This partnership is the latest in a series of conference-wide initiatives undertaken by the student-athletes of WIAC over the past 10 years.  These efforts have included supporting local food pantries and organ-donor campaigns and, more recently, the “Dig for the Cure” campaign sponsored by the WIAC women’s volleyball teams.  This effort resulted in the donation of nearly $34,000 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research.  This is a wonderful collaboration, and shows yet another way that people at our institutions are stepping forward to benefit the people of this state.”

Related: Read December 11 (day 2) news summary