News from around the UW System - Remarks to the Board of Regents (Dec 9, 2010)

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Board of Regents Meeting
Friday, December 9, 2010

"News from around the UW System" - Remarks to the Board of Regents

Kevin P. Reilly, President

University of Wisconsin System

  • Plenty of positive things have been happening at our institutions, of course, and at this time, I’d like to share some other news from around the UW System…

  • Starting right here at UW-Madison … I’m pleased to share the news that UW-Madison associate professor of soil science Teri Balser has been named the U.S. Professor of the Year.  Just four professors are selected nationally each year, one each from doctoral, masters, and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions and community colleges.  Balser is this year’s winner in the “doctoral and research universities” category.  The U.S. Professors of the Year program is sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Winners are selected for their impact on and involvement with undergraduates; a scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education in the school, community, and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former students.  As Dr. Balser herself puts it, "I love seeing students ask tough questions and get discussions going, watching them be really creative in their answers and think really deeply about what we're doing and how it's useful to them outside class.  I want them to learn things that they can use," she says. "That to me is success, when students leave the classroom and still want to learn more." Congratulations, Dr. Balser!
  • Dr. Balser is not the only faculty member at UW-Madison to garner high honors recently … Historian William Cronon has been elected President of the American Historical Association, a position considered one of the highest honors in the profession.  Dr. Cronon is a national leader in studying past human interaction with the natural world, and is the first environmental historian ever elected to lead the association. Congratulations, Dr. Cronon.
  • And that’s not all!  UW-Madison chemistry professor Bassam Shakhashiri has been voted President-elect of the American Chemical Society.  Dr. Shakhashiri, the first holder of the William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea, will serve on the ACS board of directors for a three-year term, beginning in January. The American Chemical Society is the largest scientific organization in the world, with more than 160,000 members from academia, government, and industry. Dr. Shakhashiri has been a member of ACS for 49 years and will become the third ACS president from UW-Madison.  Congratulations, Dr. Shakhashiri.
  • These are all terrific honors.  Hats off to Chancellor Biddy Martin and the UW-Madison campus community…

  • The College of Nursing at UW-Oshkosh recently marked its 40th anniversary.  As it turns out, they had something more to celebrate than four decades of excellence … Just the day before the anniversary event, the College learned that its undergraduate and graduate programs had received the maximum 10-year re-accreditation – the highest honor given by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.  “An accredited institution truly provides students, faculty, alumni, and the healthcare community with the highest quality of nursing education,” said Dean Rosemary Smith. UWO’s College of Nursing has seen tremendous growth in recent years, through providing innovative program options such as the Accelerated BSN that allows individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree to earn a BSN in 12 months.  In its first 40 years, the College of Nursing graduated 5,000 BSN students. It will now take less than 20 years to graduate the next 5,000 … For more bragging rights, the College also has a 100 percent pass rate on its family nurse practitioner exam, a record that’s been maintained since 1999.  Congratulations to Dean Smith, Chancellor Rick Wells, and their UWO colleagues.
  • We also have news from UW Colleges.  A team of five scholars from UW Colleges has been chosen to participate in a national study to determine how to update the two-year Associate of Arts and Sciences degree to keep it valuable to students in a rapidly changing world.  UW Colleges is one of 32 institutions chosen out of 140 applicants to serve on the national group sponsored by the Association of American Colleges & Universities. Provost Greg Lampe reports that the study will look at how teaching and learning are changing because of technology and demographic shifts, and what students will need to know tomorrow to be effective citizens.  This is an important study, and it’s a tribute to our institutions that Wisconsin’s voice will be part of this national effort. Congratulations to interim Chancellor Marv Van Kekerix and his UW Colleges colleagues.
  • From UW-Milwaukee, we hear that physicist Xavier Siemens has been awarded two prestigious grants from the National Science Foundation, both related to his work in the international effort to detect gravitational waves.  In case you wondered, gravitational waves are ripples in space-time produced when massive objects in space move violently. The direct detection of these gravitational waves will simultaneously test our understanding of fundamental physics and provide a new means to study the universe. In addition to receiving a $500,000 Early Career Development Award, the NSF’s most prestigious award for young researchers, Siemens also is a senior investigator on a $6.5-million grant from NSF’s Partnerships for International Research and Education.  Congratulations to Dr. Siemens, interim Chancellor Lovell, and the UW-Milwaukee campus community.
  • While we’re talking about making a mark, I’m pleased to share with you that Wisconsin Public Television – a service of the Educational Communications Board and UW-Extension – was honored with three Emmy Awards last month from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  WPT was honored for two programs related to Vietnam Veterans and also for news reporting on allegedly fraudulent childcare providers in Wisconsin.  The three-part Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories – which this Board is familiar with – was honored for “Outstanding Achievement for Documentary Programs-Historic Significance.”  Meanwhile, the LZ Lambeau Tribute Ceremony was awarded “Outstanding Achievement for Special Events Programs-Edited.” This Board has had the privilege of seeing parts of both these programs, and I think we’d all agree the honors are well deserved. Congratulations to James Steinbach, director of television, and the many others involved in these special productions.
  • You all know that I have considerable interest in poetry … so it should come as small surprise that this next item of news caught my attention.  Not long ago, Gov. Jim Doyle named Bruce Dethlefsen (DEAF-loof-sen) of Westfield as Wisconsin’s new poet laureate.  Mr. Dethlefsen is a graduate of the UW-La Crosse and earned his master’s degree from UW-Oshkosh. His most recent collection of poems is "Breather" (Fireweed Press, 2009). Garrison Keillor chose two poems from that collection, "When Somebody Calls After Ten P.M." and "Suicide Aside," for his program "The Writer's Almanac."
  • UW-Stout recently celebrated the grand opening of its state-of-the-art Jarvis Hall.  The $43.2 million building is home to UW Stout’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  Chancellor Chuck Sorenson called it (QUOTE) “a very, very happy day at UW-Stout. This is perhaps the most important and significant building in the history of this campus …” The building has nearly 160,000 square feet of new and renovated space, with state-of-the-art labs and classrooms.  In other kudos for the building, Focus on Energy has presented UW-Stout with more than $78,000 in incentive grants to recognize the energy-saving measures instituted as part of the project. Congratulations to Chancellor Sorenson and the UW-Stout campus community.
  • I am also pleased to share the news that at the recent annual Conference for Women Engineers, UW-Platteville received recognition for the highest retention rate of women in engineering in the nation, at 77.8 percent!  Starting in the fall of 2009, the university’s Society of Women Engineers started hosting a welcome for new members, and that has continued each semester.  Mentoring relationships and building a personal community experience are key to this success, according to society leaders. One member pointed out that she’d made it a goal last year to know the names of everyone who walked into the Mentor Center. That kind of attention is apparently paying off. Congratulations to Chancellor Dennis Shields and the folks at UW-Platteville.
  • Last month, the fourth Wisconsin Idea Forum took place, hosted this time by UW-Milwaukee.  As its name suggests, the Wisconsin Idea Forum is the Wisconsin Idea in action, tapping into the UW’s longstanding tradition of leveraging our resources to benefit the citizens of Wisconsin. Topics addressed in previous forums have included alcohol abuse, financial aid policy issues, and building sustainable communities. In Milwaukee, the subject was water – very appropriate, given that UW-M is fast becoming a major hub in addressing water issues both in the state and beyond.  Several Regents were in attendance for at least part of the forum – Regent President Pruitt, and Regent Jessica Schwalenberg. I’m told it was a very successful, constructive meeting of minds, with discussions ranging from groundwater issues to aging infrastructure to climate change.  Hats off to interim Chancellor Mike Lovell, Mark Harris, acting Dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences; and the rest of the team there at UW-Milwaukee.
  • UW-Oshkosh hosted the seventh annual New North Summit last week, where about 700 leaders from throughout northeastern Wisconsin got together to foster collaboration, share success stories, and map out a game plan for the continued prosperity of the region.  You will recall we had a presentation from New North leaders at our October Board meeting in Oshkosh.  Featured speakers included Governor-elect Scott Walker and Mark Murphy, president and CEO of the Green Bay Packers. By all accounts, this summit was very productive, so kudos to Chancellor Wells and the UW-Oshkosh community.
  • Yesterday (Dec. 8), in case you hadn’t heard, Gov. Jim Doyle declared it to be “James Huff Stout Remembrance Day,” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the death of the founder of UW-Stout.  For a quick history refresher, James Huff Stout, an executive in his father’s lumber company, had an early vision for higher education that introduced manual training and domestic science.  This eventually led to the founding, in 1891, of the institution that would become known as UW-Stout.  More than a century later, UW-Stout continues to prepare its graduates for successful careers and fulfilling lives as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. James Stout, by the way, was a member of the Wisconsin State Senate from 1894 to 1910, and also served as a member of the UW Board of Regents. Congratulations to Chancellor Sorenson and the UW-Stout community.
  • Finally, some sporting news.  We’re going to talk some football – but not, for the moment, anything involving the color red!  Instead, we’d like to give a “shout-out” to the defending Division III national champion UW-Whitewater Warhawks, who are moving ever closer to taking that title again. The undefeated Warhawks, riding a 28-game winning streak, are meeting the Wesley College Wolverines on Saturday in the semifinal matchup, being played at Wesley’s home field in Dover, Delaware.  I know you can’t “count your chickens” too soon, but the ‘Hawks haven’t lost a road game against a Division III opponent in more than six years… so that certainly bodes well! The winner of Saturday’s game then will go up against either Mount Union of Ohio or Minnesota’s Bethel University in the national championship Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on Dec. 18 in Salem, Virginia.  We wish all the best to Head Coach Lance Leipold (LIE-poled), Chancellor Telfer, and the Warhawks, and we’ll be following the action closely.

  • Of course, there is another gridiron matchup that has generated a little interest around here recently – and that definitely involves a rush on anything and everything red!  Yes, Bucky and the Wisconsin Badgers – along with hordes of their faithful fans – are headed to Pasadena in a few weeks to represent the Big Ten in the 97th annual Rose Bowl game.  There, as most of us probably know, the Badgers will tangle with the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.  For the Badgers, this is their sixth appearance in the Rose Bowl, and their first since 2000. To Coach Bret Bielema, Chancellor Martin, and the rest of the team, I can only say … “Go Big Red!”

  • That’s it for my news today.  Back to you, President Pruitt.

Related: Read December 9 (day 1) news summary