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Friday, May 6, 2005

"Good News" Remarks to the Board of Regents

Kevin P. Reilly, President

University of Wisconsin System

Thank you, President Marcovich. Good morning, everyone.

We open this morning with a presentation on advances in teaching math occurring here at UW-Stout. Please join me in welcoming our host, Chancellor Chuck Sorensen, who will introduce his colleagues.

[Presentation on Math Teaching and Learning Center]

I’d like to recognize two other individuals who are making innovative contributions to student life and learning here at UW-Stout — Professors Kristina Gorbatenko-Roth and Lynn Murel, who have collaborated on multiple research endeavors since January 2004. The initial impetus for their work was twofold: Dr. Murel noticed an increasing trend in ‘abnormal cholesterol’ levels in UW-Stout college students, and was concerned about the lack of research about this trend for this age group, as well as the underlying public health concern it suggested. As luck would have it, Dr. Gorbatenko needed an applied health psychology research project for her Masters in Applied Psychology graduate students. The two met and now they have more potential projects, I’m told, than time!

Their team plans to present their first project on cholesterol levels next month at the American College Health Association annual meeting. Their noteworthy research is among the first regarding cholesterol norms specifically targeted to college-age students. They hope to collaborate with other departments in the near future to increase the sample size and to generalize their findings to other colleges and universities across the country.

Their research also has direct implications here at UW-Stout. With the assistance of an undergraduate technical writing student, they’ve launched a public health mass communication campaign to increase awareness of high cholesterol risk among UW-Stout’s college aged males. During the last year, they have also worked with Masters of Science in Applied Psychology graduate students to formally evaluate Student Health Services – a commendable project that will improve health services on this campus while giving UW-Stout students “hands-on” experience to increase their research, analysis, and communication skills.

I’d like to invite Professors Gorbatenko-Roth and Murel to share a few brief remarks about their work. …

I think this project is a great example of how creativity and collaboration across some of the usual silos can help us fulfill all parts of this university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

Right here in this room, we see another example of how these commitments come together. A partnership between UW-Stout’s Vocational Rehabilitation Institute and Spectrum Industries Inc., of Chippewa Falls, is helping to meet the needs of persons with disabilities through updated technology. UW-Stout researchers were part of a team that helped create this high-tech electronic lectern, which you seen next to the traditional lectern, able to “bring the work surface to the user, not the user to the work surface.” Jeff Annis is going to give us a demonstration of the ADApt Lectern, as it is called, as it exceeds federal accessibility standards.

[Demonstration of ADApt Lectern]

UW-Stout is also giving students applied experience through a new academic program in Bioinformatics, a field that uses tools and techniques in mathematics, computer sciences and biology to cure diseases, create new crops, and help answer fundamental questions about biology. This program is one of just a half dozen or so Bioinformatics degrees in the nation, and is UW-Stout’s answer to the call from employers who say they want workers trained in both math and science. I’d like to recognize Associate Professor Diane Christie for her role in giving these graduates the training and skills they’ll need to succeed in the knowledge economy.

We have with us today a UW graduate who’s already meeting with success in the knowledge economy. I’m pleased to introduce to you, perhaps for the last time in her official capacity, United Council President Stephanie Hilton. Stephanie is coming to the end of her term as leader of the United Council of UW Students after serving as a strong, articulate advocate for students in her year-long term as president and two years of service as a UC staff member. I’m pleased that she will be putting her knowledge and experience to good use right here in Wisconsin in her new professional endeavor, which I hope she’ll tell you more about. Stephanie has asked to share a few reflections with us as she helps United Council transition to new leadership. Stephanie, thanks for making the trip here today.

[United Council presentation]

Thank you, Stephanie, and congratulations, Beau and Guillermo. We look forward to working with both of you. Thank you for updating us on these changes.

A couple of other quick Good News items…

  • First, as some of you may have learned yesterday during her talk to the Education Committee, a UW-Eau Claire associate professor of computer science has won a national award for academic advising. Dr. Susan Harrison is one of 10 faculty advisers in the nation to receive the National Academic Advising Association's 2005 Outstanding Advising Award, which recognizes Susan’s exceptional efforts to provide academic advising to students. In addition to her teaching and advising responsibilities, she’s also served for eight years as chair of the University Senate at UW-Eau Claire. Sue, congratulations on your well-deserved award, and thank you for your shared governance service.
  • Congratulations also go to Hazel Symonette, a senior policy and planning analyst at UW-Madison, and a former member of System’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, now called Academic Diversity and Development. Hazel was recently honored with a public service award from the Black Caucus of the American Association of Higher Education for her work as a trend setter in higher education. The award particularly noted the contributions Hazel made during her time with System Administration. In November, Hazel was also the first-ever honoree to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award from Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation, an interest group of the American Evaluation Association. Hazel’s expertise in evaluation and assessment is a valuable asset in the continued systemwide work on Plan 2008.

Finally, I’d like to close today by recognizing a very exciting development in the Fox Valley that shows how the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System are collaborating to meet their commitments to access and efficiency.

It’s an impressive new initiative to expand the reach of higher education. UW-Fox Valley and Fox Valley Technical College are collaborating to offer general education courses for students in the Chilton and Clintonville regions, southeast and northwest of Appleton, respectively.

Beginning this fall, students will be able to take UW-Fox and FVTC courses at the technical college’s Chilton and Clintonville regional centers, via the Internet, or over interactive television networks. The courses will apply toward a UW Colleges Associate of Arts and Science degree, or an Associate of Applied Science degree from a Wisconsin technical college.

This partnership makes it possible for people living in the Chilton and Clintonville areas to access UW Colleges’ courses, financial aid, and student support services without having to leave their home communities — a particular advantage for working adults and place-bound students.

Like the UW Colleges, this partnership is, as UW-Richland Professor Jerry Bower wrote in his 2001 history of the University of Wisconsin Colleges, The Wisconsin Idea at Work.

Indeed, I believe this collaboration represents great news for Wisconsin citizens and communities. It is a perfect match to our strategic goals to help increase the percentage of Wisconsin residents who have baccalaureate degrees, which will help raise per capita incomes and the state’s tax base. It is a cost-effective way to increase access to higher education, while fully leveraging the very limited resources these campuses do have.

Perhaps most importantly, this program is a model for the kind of innovation that can result from combining the resources in the UW System with those of our sister institutions. We hear Wisconsin residents and employers when they tell us what they want and need from higher education in Wisconsin, and there’s abundant proof that we are responding directly.

The proof is in the efforts of UW-Fox Dean Jim Perry, FVTC president David Buettner, and their staffs who created this expanded curriculum, and are spreading the word to residents of Chilton and Clintonville.

The proof is also in the efforts of UW-Platteville, UW-Fox Valley, and UW-Rock County, which have worked together to create joint mechanical engineering programs that serve local students and, ultimately, employers.

The proof is in programs like UWM College Connection, which since 1998, has enabled students at many UW Colleges campuses to complete a UW-Milwaukee bachelor’s degree without leaving their home communities. The proof is in the 70 baccalaureate degrees currently offered on our 13 two-year campuses.

The proof is in the work of the Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion, through which the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System worked together to propose ideas that can ultimately improve Wisconsin’s economy.

And the proof is right here at UW-Stout, which continues to work with UW-River Falls and UW-Eau Claire in an initiative they call Synergy. Together, they’re building public-private partnerships toward strengthening economic and workforce development efforts here in Western Wisconsin.

The proof is that in our 30 years, the UW System has changed, has adapted, and has improved for the benefit of students and Wisconsin communities. We know what kinds of partnerships Wisconsin needs to move forward in a changing economy. My sincere thanks and appreciation to all those at UW-Fox and Fox Valley Technical College who made theirs another impressive entry on our growing list of contributions. I can only imagine what we’ll come up with next!

President Marcovich, that concludes my report.