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“Good News” Remarks to the Board of Regents (May 5, 2006)

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May 5, 2006

"Good News" Remarks to the Board of Regents

Kevin P. Reilly, President

University of Wisconsin System

Thank you, Regent Walsh. Let mention a few Good News items from around the system.

First up, 238 students representing every UW campus are at UW-Stout this morning for the 7th annual UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.

The students are sharing their research and artistic expressions with state citizens as part of Research Week at UW-Stout. Like at our "Posters in the Rotunda event last month, the presentations address a wide variety of issues that can benefit the state. Many UW students also participated in the recent National Conference on Undergraduate Research, held at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, including 19 from UW-River Falls and 27 from UW-La Crosse.

The Wisconsin PK-16 Leadership Council has honored a UW program that is giving back to the community with the 2006 Promising Practices Award.

The award went to a collaborative reading program in UW-Superior's Teacher Education Department. This collaboration allows UW-Superior students who are preparing to become teachers to serve as tutors at Northern Lights Elementary School for student reading and language arts lessons.

As you know, Regent Burmaster, Wisconsin Technical College System President Dan Clancy, and Rolf Wegenke, president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, join me on the PK-16 Council.

UW-Extension has earned the University Continuing Education Association 2006 Recognition of Excellence Award for Innovations in Outreach and Engagement.

The national award recognizes UW-Extension's Diversity Program Development Initiative as a, quote, "effective and replicable way," unquote, to reach a diverse and underserved audience. The initiative provides one-year grants of up to $10,000 to UW System campus-based continuing-education divisions to work with community partners in providing new programs and services that reach racially and ethnically diverse audiences. Since the program began six years ago, the initiative has awarded 27 grants.

Congratulations to UW-Extension on this well-deserved honor for an outstanding program that fits with our systemwide diversity goals.

Dean Jim Veninga of UW-Marathon County reports that the campus has received a $3.2-million-dollar Congressionally directed grant to support the campus's planned expansion. The $6.8-million-dollar project would allow the campus to grow its services to the state through a 350-seat theatre, outreach offices connecting the campus to the wider community, Wisconsin Public Radio studios, and a proposed Institute for Public Policy and Service. That Institute will focus on internships and public service, faculty research, and nonpartisan public dialogue on important issues. Meanwhile, a $3-million-dollar county-funded science lab renovation is set to start in January on the Marathon Campus

UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources Dean Christine Thomas has been named to the 11-member national Sporting Conservation Advisory Committee by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Our congratulations to Christine - who we know is a good sports - and our thanks for sharing university expertise far beyond the boundaries of the state!

UW-Milwaukee hosted Governor Doyle and the Milwaukee community this week for the grand opening of the Pavilion at UWM. The new academic, athletic and recreation facility is distinctive for its use of glass "walls," which allow users to view nearby Downer Woods and the campus, and at the same time, save energy.

The Pavilion's features include state-of-the-art academic facilities for the UWM College of Health Sciences; a student fitness center, athletic department offices, and a running track that is elevated above another gym area and uses natural light.

I'll close today with an impressive list of recent "firsts" from our UW institutions.

Let's start by officially welcoming the first chancellor of both UW Colleges and UW-Extension, Dr. David Wilson. His official start was May 1st, and this is, of course, his first "official" Regent meeting. Welcome, David.

Wisconsin patients may be among those to benefit from the discoveries of UW-La Crosse researchers - the first-ever researchers from the campus to receive a patent. Chemistry professor Aaron Monte, Microbiology professor Marc Rott, and Leah DeFoe were honored last month for their patent of anti-infective agents derived from the Native American plant, Comptonia Peregrina.

Shortly after we left Green Bay last month, UW-Green Bay and Brown County UW-Extension were among the co-hosts of the first Leadership Summit on Diversity, attended by nearly 200 community members. The event emphasized that inclusiveness must be a top priority if the region is to thrive during economic and demographic transitions. Bruce Shepard reports that co-hosting the event was one of his proudest moments as Chancellor. Thanks for your work there, Bruce.

UW-Whitewater has, once again, ranked No. 1 on the Certified Public Accountant exam - a rank it's held for more than a decade. The ranking reflects the percent of undergraduate students achieving first-time pass rates on the national exam. So at tax time next year, the heck with H&R Block, I'm going to see Chancellor Saunders.

UW-Oshkosh was the first Wisconsin campus, and the 10th campus nationwide to join the Environmental Protection Agency's renewable energy initiative in 2003, and now, UW-Oshkosh leads the state in renewable energy use. Since the first of the year, the university has purchased 11 percent of its electricity from Wisconsin Public Service, through the utility's "NatureWise" renewable energy program, which uses a mix of wind energy and biomass energy from a dairy farm and landfill in northeastern Wisconsin. Nationally, UW-Oshkosh ranks 23rd among all U.S. colleges and universities using renewable energy.

Richard Davidson, a first-rate UW-Madison professor of psychology and psychiatry, was honored this week by TIME magazine as one of 100 the most influential people of 2006. Dr. Davidson has devoted his career to understanding how the brain regulates human emotions. His studies of how psychological and social factors influence physical health really took off in the 1990s, when he worked with the Dalai Lama to investigate the effects of meditation on the brain.

UW-River Falls has signed a first-ever agreement with Unidad Academica Campesina-Carmen Pampa of Bolivia, launching a cultural and academic exchange program between the two universities. Known as "Project Bolivia," the partnership offers degrees in agriculture, veterinary medicine, nursing, teacher training and eco-tourism, all strong matches to UW-RF's academic strengths.

And today, let me send my best wishes to the students and their families who will be celebrating their graduations across the UW System in the next couple of weeks. We expect to graduate more than 30,000 of them, all prepared to contribute to the vitality and quality of life in this state. These graduates are the university's greatest contributions to the state, and they have worked hard to make it to the commencement stage. Our congratulations to all of these soon-to-be-alumni!

On a final note, this Board may recall that it recently approved the awarding of an honorary degree by UW-Parkside to Mr. Ron Turano. Chancelllor Keating informs me that Mr. Turano has been elected to the Senate in Italy, one of five international member of that body. So congratulations to him, and to UW-Parkside for honoring his accomplishments.

Mr. President, that concludes my remarks.


Related: Read May 5 (day 2) news summary