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Dec 10, 2004

"Good News" Remarks to the Board of Regents

Kevin P. Reilly, President

University of Wisconsin System


Thank you, President Marcovich. Good morning, everyone. To open my report today, I’d like to turn to UW-Madison Provost Peter Spear, who will introduce a final presentation from our host campus. Peter…

[PRESENTATION]

Thank you to all. In the past, we did very little to cultivate the next generation of “customers,” and I think you can see that has changed.

Today, I’m very proud to single out one among our 160,000 students for whom higher education has indeed been a life-changing experience. Please join me in heartily congratulating Chauncy Harris Jr., a UW-Eau Claire student chosen as one of 32 Americans named a 2005 Rhodes Scholar. Chauncy is a senior geography and history major, and the very first Rhodes Scholar to be elected from UW-Eau Claire!

Chauncy is a hometown boy and graduate of Eau Claire Memorial High School. He has won numerous academic awards, is a leader in multiple campus organizations, is an Eagle Scout, and for two years, served as a missionary in the Mediterranean. Chauncy will graduate in August, and then continue his studies under the Rhodes Scholar program at Oxford University.

All of us at UW System are proud of Chauncy’s individual accomplishment, and we take pride knowing that Chauncy credits UW-Eau Claire for preparing him for the Rhodes program. He says Eau Claire’s strong curriculum, research opportunities and accessible faculty allowed him to, (quote) “go beyond the work and experiences that are typical of college.”

As a Rhodes Scholar from Wisconsin, Chauncy is in some fine company. In addition to his own great uncle, who was a Rhodes Scholar in 1934-36, Chauncy also joins the likes of several UW-Madison alumni, including UW-Madison professor William Cronon, Aaron Olver and Jamie Wall of the state Department of Commerce, and Senator Russ Feingold.

Please join me in a round of congratulations to Chauncy Harris.

Unfortunately, Chauncy could not be with us today – in true Rhodes Scholar fashion, he did not want to miss two classes just prior to final exams! His chancellor, Don Mash, is here, and I’ll ask him to add his own points of pride. Don . . .

I met with many other outstanding students last weekend during United Council’s General Assembly at the UW-Marathon County campus. While I continue to talk with the Governor and our legislators about the issues most important to this board and the university, I was pleased to have the chance to talk with students about many of the concerns we share. The assembly brought together student government leaders representing 23 of our campuses, and we discussed in depth the need to restore faculty positions, maintain access, rebuild our maintenance-starved infrastructure; replenish and support our libraries; hold down tuition increases; and provide the quality of services in advising, health, safety and career counseling that students pay for, and expect.

The students were also pleased to hear that you planned to address the Inclusivity Initiative at this month’s meeting, which we did yesterday. Diversity and a welcoming campus climate remain top priorities for our students, and they will closely follow our work on Plan 2008 and the Inclusivity Initiative into the New Year. I want to thank them again for inviting me to their assembly.

Holiday cheer came early this year for many of our UW campuses after Congress passed its FY ‘05 Omnibus bill.

I’m pleased to report that the spending bill includes $22 million for university projects to advance programs in nursing, manufacturing and workforce development, teaching and youth services, aging and health care, agriculture and the environment. Specific awards to UW institutions, while too numerous to mention, are included in your packets. I’m sure we’ll hear a great deal more about the innovations and progress this funding makes possible, and the profound impact it has on higher education in Wisconsin. Our thanks to all the members of our Wisconsin federal delegation for advocating on our behalf.

We’ve also seen other major developments to support innovation and progress in Wisconsin since this board last met. In addition to the Governor’s initiative to invest $750 million to further the state’s lead in national biosciences research, I was pleased to join Governor Doyle last week as we moved around the state to announce the creation of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network.

As I mentioned during our presentation on COBE yesterday, the Wisconsin Department of Commerce has pledged $1 million in support for this partnership among the UW System and UW-Extension’s Small Business Development centers, the Wisconsin Technical College System, the WiSys Technology Foundation, and the Agricultural Innovation Center. The network will harness Wisconsin’s economic development resources and business expertise to serve entrepreneurs and small-business owners across the state. Four new regional centers will be located at UW-Eau Claire, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, and the Northeast Technical College in Green Bay, which as we heard yesterday, as some wonderful partnerships developing with UW-Green Bay.

This week’s timely report card from the Washington-D.C. Center for Enterprise Development says Wisconsin is right on track in helping to develop small businesses, and in many cases, outperforms other states.

The center gave Wisconsin an “A” for performance and a “B” for business vitality, marks that speak directly to the state and university resources we already have in place helping small businesses thrive. The report notes that we have a good quality of life and a strong education system, but gives us a “C” in development capacity, saying we can do more to improve employment, launch new businesses and attract more private research and development investments.

I say the report is timely because those are precisely the kinds of things the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network will encourage. The network, with Commerce Department support, can be a catalyst for economic growth, helping our small business and entrepreneurs take their innovative ideas to market. Coupled with the Wisconsin Peerspectives Network, a unique opportunity coordinated by our Small Business Development Center, in partnership with the Dept. of Commerce and the Edward Lowe Foundation in Michigan, which provides CEOs, presidents, and business owners with timely insights from experienced peers, With these kinds of activities, Wisconsin is positioned to get straight A’s in next year’s report card!

We are pleased, and grateful, that the Governor has turned to the UW System to help make much of this happen, and I hope our efforts will help Wisconsin business owners and entrepreneurs to grow and prosper.

A few other good news items:

  • UW-Stout’s School of Education is part of a national effort to interest more students in technology and engineering careers. The National Science Foundation awarded the school a five-year, $500,000 grant to work as part of the $10 million National Center for Engineering and Technology Education. The effort will produce Ph.D. graduates who can train future high-school technology and engineering teachers. UW-Stout certainly is a natural for this effort, since it is the university that turns out the most technology-education graduates in the nation! The campus will collaborate with the University of Minnesota, several area high schools, and the campus Department of Technology, Engineering and Management in this exciting project.

The project adds to the contributions in a new report about UW-Stout’s economic impact in northwestern Wisconsin. A study conducted for the campus by NorthStar Economics found that UW-Stout contributes $344 million to the state economy each year, and campus activities provide more than 7,200 jobs statewide! As the report notes, education is the second-fastest growing economic cluster in the nation, and the economic impact of the UW-Stout campus, and its employees, students and visitors clearly make a difference for the area communities and for the whole state.

  • Perennial Division III champions, the UW-Stevens Point Pointers, and the UW-Platteville Pioneers, gave men’s basketball fans more reasons to cheer last month. The teams posted strong showings in their first-ever contests against Division I teams, matchups made possible by Badgers coach Bo Ryan and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference commissioner Gary Karner. The two helped to change a NCAA rule that prohibited exhibition games between Division I and Division III teams. The Stevens Point team played the Marquette Golden Eagles before a considerably larger than usual crowd at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, and the Pioneers took on the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center. This rule change gives our players and coaches an even more exciting experience on the court and puts UW basketball on a bigger stage, giving fans additional ways to show their UW System pride. Congratulations to all involved in this exciting change!
  • Good things are in store for UW-Oshkosh athletics as well, thanks to a history-making gift from the founders of J. J. Keller & Associates of Neenah. Thanks go to Jack and Ethel Keller, who donated $1 million toward the remodeling of Titan Stadium. The gift is the largest in the campus’ 133 years, and recognizes the hundreds of J.J. Keller associates who have graduated from UW-Oshkosh over the years. Titan Stadium will be renamed J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium, part of the $5.7 million Oshkosh Sports Complex for UW-Oshkosh, the Oshkosh Area School District and Unified Catholic Schools.
  • The generous people of Northeastern Wisconsin have also helped UW-Green Bay reach fundraising success for its Sports and Events Center project. Chancellor Shepard reports that the campus has raised a record $7.9 million in private gifts and pledges, surpassing the $7.5 million it had agreed to raise to secure matching funds from the state. The project is a great example of cooperation among students, who voted to pay segregated fees for the center, the state, and private donors in the area. Congratulations to all those who worked as part of this very successful campaign!
  • Wisconsin Public Radio reports record-breaking news of its own. The network raised 1 million, 29-thousand dollars during its fall membership drive — the first time that listeners have contributed more than $1 million! Pardon the pun, but this speaks volumes about the strong affinity between WPR and its listeners, a connection that benefits from public radio ’s roots in the university.
  • The holidays are almost here, but flu season leaves many feeling decidedly less cheery. Governor Doyle has made more flu vaccine available, and UW-La Crosse microbiologist Bernadette Taylor could help make sure there’s enough to go around for everyone! Taylor and Dr. Brian Allen of the Student Health Center at UW-La Crosse are investigating the effects of small, intradermal doses of flu vaccine. By more carefully directing these smaller doses into the body, they may be able to maximize the supply of vaccine, providing more immunizations for the public. I’m sure there are many folks across the country watching to see how their research turns out.
  • Our own University Relations team will accept two awards next week from District Five of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. The first award is for the innovative "e-Clipsheet," an e-mail collection of daily news stories that saves reams of paper while helping us all keep up on UW System news. The second award recognizes the work behind the Wisconsin Economic Summits, the four annual events the UW System has hosted to promote economic development in Wisconsin. I understand that UW-Eau Claire’s Office of Communication has also won several prizes for their publications. The prizes will be awarded at the CASE V conference in Chicago next week. Congratulations to Vice President Linda Weimer, her staff, and UW-Eau Claire for these achievements. And a special kudos to Brad Quarberg, UW-La Crosse associate director of university relations, who is serving this year as CASE V conference chair.
  • Congratulations also go to Kenneth Grieb, a UW-Oshkosh professor of History and International Studies, who was named by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation as Professor of the Year. The national program recognizes excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring, and winners are recognized as dedicated to both students and their disciplines. We are fortunate to have Professor Grieb as one of our own.
  • Another one of our own has milestone ahead — hearty congratulations to Regent Burmaster, who will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree later this month during commencement exercises at Edgewood College.

At this our December meeting, we all look forward to enjoying the holiday season with our families and friends. We have many wonderful things to celebrate, and even more to look forward to in the New Year. To get you in the mood, I’ll sign off today with a passage of friendship and holiday spirit from Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, “The Traveler”:

Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire
To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire;
Blest that abode, where want and pain repair,
And every stranger finds a ready chair;
Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crowned,
Where all the ruddy family around
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail,
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale;
Or press the bashful stranger to his food,
And learn the luxury of doing good.

The University of Wisconsin has done good, is doing good, and will do good in the New Year. Our fervent hope is that we do well in the state budget process that begins in earnest early in 2005 in the interest of the common good.

Happy holidays to all.

President Marcovich, that concludes my report.