On Jan. 29, Chancellor Gary L. Miller issued the following message to all UW-Green Bay faculty and staff:
I want to join President Cross in expressing deep disappointment with the suggestion by Governor Walker that university faculty and staff do not work as hard as they could. My nearly thirty years of experience in higher education has demonstrated to me that university faculty and staff are among the most hard working, committed and creative workers in America. Your role is one of the most unique and important in this country – to serve your community, to create knowledge and to shape the developing mind to discern truth, evaluate evidence, develop communication skills and to learn how to learn. It is work that requires great energy, continual study, deep commitment to learning and to those who learn and, importantly, a love of Wisconsin and its future. I want you to know I am deeply appreciative and admiring of your hard work and dedication. I cannot think of a better group of colleagues to have at my side as we manage the unprecedented budget reductions ahead of us. Thank you.
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller released the following invitation via e-mail to employees on Tuesday, January 27, 2015:
Excellence in academics is at the core of what we do as a university, and we will be emphasizing that commitment at the men’s basketball game on THURSDAY, February 5 at the Resch Center. We will be recognizing the many student-athletes who have earned a GPA of 3.5 or better in the spring or fall 2014 during a halftime ceremony.
To help honor these student-athletes and thank those who contribute to their academic success, I join Athletics Director Mary Ellen Gillespie and the entire Athletics Department in inviting you – UW-Green Bay faculty and staff – to attend the game as guests of the Athletics Department.
The Athletics Department will provide a ticket free of charge for you and a guest. Additional tickets can also be purchased for $10.
Our student-athletes’ success is made possible because of what you do for all of our students. That is why we will be recognizing all faculty and staff colleagues in attendance during a pre-game announcement prior to the national anthem.
Here are the details:
Green Bay Men’s Basketball vs. UW-Milwaukee
Thursday, February 5, 2015
7:00 p.m. at the Resch Center
(Tickets ordered by Monday, February 2, will be mailed via campus mail. Orders received after Monday, February 2, will be held at will call.)
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller released the following statement via e-mail to employees on Tuesday, January 27, 2015:
You have no doubt by now learned of the Governor’s proposal to reduce funding for the University of Wisconsin System by $300 million in the coming biennium. The Governor is also proposing to give the University considerably more flexibility in the future by placing it in a state authority. In the coming days we will learn more about the details of both proposals. For now, let me tell you what we know so far.
I attach a document developed by the UW System office that gives the details of the UW System autonomy plan as it is now conceived. I am also attaching communication from President Cross and Regent President Falbo. I encourage you to read these documents carefully. Creating a University Authority has many advantages for UWGB and I support it, as do the other Chancellors. Many details must be worked out before the proposed July 1, 2016 starting date.
Three key aspects of the plan are critically important. (1) Shared governance and tenure will be preserved and managed by the authority board as is the case in most other states. (2) Employees would remain in the Wisconsin Retirement System. (3) The authority would manage employee compensation plans.
The Governor’s proposed budget reduction of $300 million, if approved, represents an enormous challenge for a system still responding to six years of budget reductions. We do not yet know how the reduction will be allocated to the campuses or what processes we will have at our disposal to smooth the reductions over a period of years. However, the reductions will have a significant effect on UWGB and the way in which we do business. Responding to the reductions in the next several months will be a real test of our innovative spirit.
As I mentioned in my recent convocation speech, we will deploy shared governance, UPIC (the new University Planning and Innovation Council) and the university leadership at all levels in developing recommendations to manage the reductions. After the Governor’s speech next week, the Provost will issue a detailed schedule of our deliberations including important milestones (e.g., spring Regent’s meetings and the fiscal year end). The schedule will also include time for town-hall style meetings to encourage broad community discussion.
It is important to appreciate that our reduction strategy must place the university in the best position possible to grow and prosper in a new autonomous UW System. A budget reduction of this size cannot be accommodated with across-the-board cuts or adjustments at the margins. We will have to make very hard choices and undertake a reshaping of our strategy, operations and organization. We are at an important place in our history.
Thank you. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more about these proposals.
The prepared text of Chancellor Miller’s Mid-Year Convocation remarks is as follows:
Thank you and welcome to the Mid-Term Convocation of the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. And, most especially, welcome to the beginning of a new semester and exciting new year.
Let me begin by again congratulating those celebrating a service milestone with the University and add my congratulations to the others who have been honored this morning. Thank you for your great work!
And, to those of you in the community who serve on the Council of Trustees and the other important university boards, please know how deeply grateful we are for you commitment to UWGB and your service to this great community. We are glad you could join us today.
It is a great honor for me to be Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. I have spent the past semester visiting with many of you, learning about your achievements and your commitment to our students and to this university. I have spent time with student leaders and enjoyed Phoenix athletics. I have studied our organization and our history. I have attempted to understand the tunnels. I have tried to connect myself to this great community by meeting with as many political and business leaders as possible, exploring service opportunities and attending meetings of where leaders grapple with this community’s greatest challenges and most important opportunities. Georgia and I rarely miss a Packers game. I have immersed myself in the work of the UW System, meeting Regents and chancellors and the great staff at the system office.
I am so excited about this place and its future. The power we have to create our future through innovation, to transform the lives of many more students in this region by inviting them to join the extraordinary learning community and to change this place to improve the human condition are limited only by our imagination.
It is a great privilege to be your partner in this wonderful journey.
I would like to do the following in my comments today:
Bring you up to date on a number of important activities and initiatives of the past semester and look forward to how we expect those to play out in the coming months.
Review the situation with the state budget as I understand it at the present time.
Talk a bit about how we will respond to the budget situation.
Comment on two other state higher education issues you might hear about in the paper.
End with quick look ahead to an exciting semester and beyond.
Review of activities and initiatives
Earlier, I introduced Dr. Stephen Fritz our new Provost. I am very excited about having Dr. Fritz with us of the next several years as we work through an important transitional period at UWGB and in higher education in Wisconsin. I am deeply grateful to the faculty leadership for their support of this increasingly common approach of asking a seasoned executive to join an institution to secure a thoughtful and transparent transition.
Stephen and I have already become close colleagues. He is committed to faculty and students. He is committed to shared governance and the importance of transparency. He is deeply committed to the liberal arts traditions that form the foundation of this university. And, he brings the breadth of experience that will serve us well in the coming years. It is my hope that he will expand our ability in senior administration to have access to your voices and your collaboration. I have asked the Provost to fully optimize our shared governance structure as we move forward with the new vision of UWGB. He has my full confidence.
For a number of years, the university leadership has been concerned about enrollment. This was an important topic in the discussions we had last year when I was being considered for this position. I spoke about our enrollment challenge in my first convocation speech and in my installation remarks and I have briefed the Council of Trustees twice on the issue. I promised we would begin addressing this issue in my first semester and I want to report on our activities so far.
Most everyone knows enrollment directly affects the bottom line. One of the first things we did early last semester was to develop, circulate and discuss clear analytical models of the effects of enrollment on budget. I want to thank Kelly Franz, Vice Chancellor for Business and Fiance, and his great colleagues most especially Dick Anderson for their work on this. These models for the basis for enrollment goals we developed for this year.
As we initiated discussions about enrollment early last semester and discussed the budget implications with various groups, it became clear that this university accepted enrollment as a commonwealth obligation. Nearly everyone who joined our discussion of enrollment asked how they could help.
So, on Saturday November 1 we convened the majority of the university leadership for an Enrollment Summit. The goal of the Summit was to create a plan to dramatically increase enrollment for the fall 2015. We asked Jennifer Jones to lead the effort which is now in operation. The plan has three phases. Phase I – Increase the size of the traditional freshman class; Phase II – Increase the number of transfer students; Phase III (concurrent with Phases I and II) – increase yield rate. In addition, Jen and her group is cataloging best-practices, building community networks and developing operational procedures to allow us to include the best parts of this initiative in future enrollment activities.
I am extremely excited about the progress of this effort to date. What is most exciting is the response we have received from the Green Bay community about our higher profile and our willingness to attempt new kinds of engagements with the local schools. These new efforts very intentionally address the changing demography of the area which is essential if we are to grow and meet the needs of this community. Our new enrollment efforts have also attracted additional philanthropic giving and more interest in our signature Phuture Phoenix program.
We have much to do with enrollment. We will continue to look at our processes in that area. I encourage all of you to work closely with the Provost as he works with university leaders to regain our enrollment edge in this region.
In a memo to the community in September of last year, I formally initiated a process called Invent the Future of Green Bay. The goal of this process is to use the transition of a new Chancellor to take stock of our university, to think deeply about some of our most precious values, to consider some of the most difficult questions before us and to mine innovations to be used for the future. And, in so doing help us develop a powerful future narrative for UWGB.
I am extremely excited about this initiative. Hundreds of faculty and staff are involved. The workgroup leadership has been outstanding. In my brief time in some of the workgroups I witnessed thoughtful, open and courageous discussions. The Steering Committee has applied an excellent structure and great leadership to this process. I want to thank all of you who are participating in this program.
Invent the Future of Green Bay was designed to end in the spring semester. The Steering Committee will work with the working group leaders to summarize discussions and identify themes and ideas for the future. We will then take some time as a community to learn about these ideas and engage in a broader discussion. I am very confident that what we will have then is a deep catalog of innovations upon which we can draw as we shape our future. I am confident the key elements of our future narrative will emerge.
Also in September of last year I released the design for a new planning process for the university. The new planning process is more forward looking with planning for the next biennium beginning in July 2017 to begin this fall even as we react to the budget imperatives of the approaching biennium. The process is designed to focus our attention on key strategic initiatives from our broad strategic plan and to help us understand the environment within which we plan and the key assumptions we must accept as we build our budgets and plan new programs for the future.
The new planning process is intended to be transparent and to work in collaboration with shared governance. The key feature of the new process is the University Planning and Innovation Committee. The UPIC is populated by some of the university’s best and most strategic thinkers nominated from the various shared governance organizations. The role of the group is to learn as much about the university as possible, work with us to understand the forces that affect our university and help us make the hard choices we will need to make to continue to grow in an increasingly resource-poor environment.
We have met with the UPIC and worked on a draft of an ambitious curriculum for the spring semester. They will learn about our budgets, the regulatory environment, the competitive environment, our enrollment strategy, our athletic program and all of the other major components of this complicated university. They will spend some time thinking about new ways to operate and make recommendations about where to focus our strategy. They will interact freely with the shared governance groups. This new planning structure will take us out of an episodic approach to planning and place us in the strategic position to build partnerships, anticipate needs, and grow enrollment.
As the UPIC gets up and running we will build a web page to track its activities and give everyone on campus a window to their activities. I encourage all of you to interact freely with UPIC members to learn about their work and offer your advice on the important issues they will consider.
We have worked on many other activities during the past semester. We continue to work with our community partners to understand how the university can have a meaningful presence in down town Green Bay. We have engaged the UW system economic development apparatus to look for new ways we can help sustain and growing and vibrant economy in this region. I have become very active in the New Era higher education consortium in the region. This is the group that successfully helped develop the Engineering Technology program we are starting next semester. The same group is working very actively to develop an academic program in Data Analytics, a project many of you are involved with. I have become involved with the local Chamber of Commerce, the New North Consortium, Achieve Brown County and other organizations working to improve health, education and the economy in the region. With the assistance of many of you we are reaching out to our alumni all across the country but specifically in this region to get their advice and their support. It has been a fantastic half year. I am very excited to be with you in this New Year.
Budget situation and our response
Let me turn now to more sobering comments, beginning with some comments about the State of Wisconsin budget.
To remind you where we are in the state budget process, the Governor is assembling his budget and will release it in a speech on February 3. As is customary I will represent UWGB at that address. The Governor’s budget will then be taken up by the Joint Finance Committee of the Legislature beginning the biennial process of shaping a budget for the Governor to sign or veto wholly or in part.
It is important to remember that at this point we do not have any concrete information on what to expect in the Governor’s budget. It has become well known, however, that the state budget is projected to have a significant shortfall. This is a deficit that must be covered.
Because of this shortfall, it is very likely the university system will be required to sustain another budget reduction in the coming biennium. The exact amount of reduction for the system and for us is yet to be determined. It is my expectation it will be mid-February at the earliest before we have a clear indication of the size of the budget reductions for UWGB. But, I believe it is prudent to initiate a strong, transparent and inclusive budget reduction and reallocation process at this time. I want to take a moment to outline how we will approach this activity.
The Provost will organize the development of recommendations for budget reductions in a transparent process employing the advice and wisdom of the shared governance bodies, the deans and other senior leaders and students. The University Planning and Innovation Committee (UPIC) will serve as the main vetting group for recommendations emerging from the Provost’s process prior to their submission to the Cabinet and the Chancellor for final determination. The Provost and I and other members of the Cabinet will regularly meet with the University Committee and other campus groups. We will hold regular town-hall type meetings to communicate activities of the budget reduction activities, answer questions and get ideas.
Working with the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance, the Provost will engage the university in a process that will not only accomplish the required reductions but, more importantly, rethink, reinvent and reorganize a renewed university. The future of this university turns on the resolve, optimism and the deep commitment to learning that has sustained us for nearly five decades. The coming round of reductions will not diminish this university or alter our course to greatness. I am committed to finding the opportunities in this and exploiting them for the good of the university, our students and this community.
In the meantime, I want you to know we are not sitting idly by. We are engaged in intensive conversations with policy makers and those working with the Governor on his budget. We have provided a detailed briefing regarding the state budget situation and its possible effect on the university to our Council of Trustees, which, as you know, includes some of the most influential people in the state. The Council has an Advocacy Committee whose role is to speak to policy makers on our behalf regarding important public policy issues affecting Green Bay. We have briefed that group separately and they have organized themselves to very actively press the point of the importance of investing in higher education for the future of the Wisconsin economy. We are not alone in our belief that higher education is the future to prosperity in this state.
Shared governance and system flexibility
I want to briefly mention two other important state policy discussions that affect us: (1) shared governance and tenure; (2) system flexibility and possible autonomy.
Our system of shared governance whereby faculty and staff are included in the university decision-making process is a time-honored tradition in American higher education and one of the reasons the enterprise is so respected around the world. Likewise, the institution of tenure remains the preeminent guarantee of unfettered discovery and scholarship. Both of these institutions are strongly supported by me, by the President of the system and by the Board of Regents. These institutions are part of the higher education systems in all 50 states and continue to survive attempts to dissolve or alter primarily because, ultimately, they are understood as essential to the great capacity of American higher education.
In Wisconsin, the provision of shared governance and tenure reside in state statute. Chapter 36, which provides the operational framework for the university system contains these provisions. There is no other state in which this is the case. In all other states, the provisions of shared governance and tenure reside in the administrative rules of the governing board (Regents, etc.).
There is a determination to have the provisions of shared governance and tenure removed from state statute and the authority for both transferred to the Board of Regents. President Cross met with faculty leaders to discuss the likelihood of this happening several weeks ago. Steve Meyer attended that meeting and briefed the UC the next day.
While such a move is not optimal, it is my strong conviction and that of the President and the Board of Regents that such a move would not diminish shared governance or threaten tenure. Too much support exists for both institutions and experience from other states suggest this is unlikely. I am committed to both shared governance and tenure. I will be happy to visit with faculty groups who wish more information on this.
In addition to activity related to shared governance and tenure, you may have heard of efforts to secure more flexibility for the University System. This is something the system has fought to achieve for nearly 40 years. There is a hope the system could succeed in achieving significant additional flexibility during this legislative session. To be sure, there are many, many details to be worked out. I don’t want to go into those now. Rather, I want to make several points about this and invite you to seek me out for more information if you like.
This is not like the 2011 attempt of UW Madison to secede from the system. The new ideas involve the entire system.
While it might appear to be so, this move toward more flexibility is not a trade for drastic budget cuts. The fact is, the state budget is in extremely bad shape. System flexibility will likely not help that much in the short run. However, more flexibility does give us hope for system recovery and growth managed more by the Board of Regents than by legislative intervention.
This is not a new idea. Some form of autonomy like that being discussed is present in most state systems.
I am a strong supporter of placing the system on a more business-like footing with more flexibility as are all of the other Chancellors in the system and the members of the Board of Regents. It is a long needed reform of higher education in Wisconsin. I encourage you to learn as much about these discussions as possible before taking a public position on the proposal.
The future is ours
I have talked about the great powers we have to create our future through innovation, to transform the lives of students and others we contact and to ensure our place has a strong economy and a healthy environment for all people.
We have other great powers, the powers of personal character so evident in what each of you do every day for our students, our community and, importantly, each other. We have the powers of optimism, courage, humility, and determination. We can count on these powers in the coming weeks.
Next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. The excitement of this celebration. The thrill of designing a future for this university. The possibility of even greater things to come. These are the things I think about every day. What a journey we have before us!!
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller sent the following message via e-mail to employees on Tuesday, January 13, 2015:
In November 2014, we began an initiative to focus on recruiting more local students to UWGB. November and December were busy months for those who work in, and volunteered with, the Enrollment Drive. A volunteer phone team made thousands of phone calls encouraging freshmen to apply to UWGB. Application teams went into the high schools to help students fill out applications. We sent thousands of emails and postcards, and hosted over 300 students for on campus visits. All of these efforts are paying off. We are currently seeing a 16% increase compared to last year’s freshmen applications, and a 12% increase in admissions. This is great work.
But, our work is not done. We are now shifting our focus, led by Jen Jones, to ensure that we see as many freshmen as possible enroll in our great institution. We are also finding creative ways to encourage more transfer students to apply and enroll for the fall of 2015. Jen is collecting and implementing ideas with the help of people all around campus. I encourage you to reach out to her to see how you might be able to help. I appreciate all the efforts so many of the campus community members have already put forth towards recruitment. I look forward to celebrating with you as we achieve our goals.
The Chancellor’s office invites the UW-Green Bay campus community to reconvene after winter break and kick off the spring semester with the annual UW-Green Bay Mid-Year Faculty and Staff Convocation on Thursday, January 22, 2015.
Date: Thursday, January 22 Time: 10:30 a.m. program followed by lunch Location: Phoenix Room, University Union RSVP: by January 16 to Paula Marcec firstname.lastname@example.org
Recognition of Length of Service Anniversaries
Awarding of the Austin E. Cofrin Endowed Chair to David J. Radosevich
WLUK, Fox 11 education reporter Kelly Schlicht covered the Friday, Nov. 14 installation of UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller, focusing her coverage on his message for the future of UW-Green Bay. You can watch her report here.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette covered the installation ceremony for UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller Friday, Nov. 14, producing a story, video and photo gallery on the day’s event. You can see all three by clicking here.
Good afternoon. Welcome to this celebration of the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay.
One of the joys of an occasion such as this is the gathering together of people who represent the history of this great institution along with those who will ensure its future. Thank you all for coming.
I am most grateful to have President Ray Cross with us this afternoon and thank him for his kind remarks and his trust in me. I am excited about President Cross’ leadership because like the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay, he is an innovator in a time of great change.
The University of Wisconsin—Green Bay is a relatively young university. There are many people here today who worked directly with our founder Dr. Ed Weidner, in honor of whom this wonderful facility is named. Dr. Weidner’s wife Marge is with us this afternoon and I wish to acknowledge her today.
We are very fortunate to have three of my predecessors with us today. These creative and pioneering leaders set the university on a trajectory of excellence and continue their support from afar. I want to thank Chancellors Tom Harden, Bruce Shepard and Mark Perkins for their great leadership of this university and for being here to celebrate with us today.
The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents is an extraordinarily committed group of volunteer citizens who love the university and Wisconsin. I am extremely grateful and pleased to be joined here today by the Board President Michael Falbo, Vice President Regina Millner and Regents Tim Higgins and Margaret Farrow. It is indeed a great honor to have you with us today. Thank you President Falbo for your kind comments.
I am deeply appreciative to the students, alumni, faculty and supporters who brought greetings this afternoon. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming years.
To be a public college president or chancellor is a great honor and privilege. But, since there are only about 680 public universities in the country, it can also be rather lonely. So, I am very grateful for the large number of University of Wisconsin Chancellors in attendance this afternoon. This is a supportive group of wise and experienced colleagues. Thank you!
I am also grateful for the Deans and Presidents of the UW Colleges and the Technical Colleges, and private universities and the many representatives of universities from around the country who joined the processing this afternoon. What a tribute to precious traditions of the American Academy.
There are no great universities without great faculty and staff and we are blessed with extraordinary faculty and staff at UWGB. Many of them are here this afternoon and it important we thank them for their work and, most especially, for their dedication to our students and to our community.
Among the faculty and staff is the group that organized this event. Some of those colleagues are participating in the ceremony today. I want to express my deep gratitude to Jeanne Stangel and the installation committee for their extraordinary work to make this such a special day for the University.
We also enjoy the company of many UWGB students, alumni and community supporters today. To have representatives of all these groups gathered with us is testimony to the importance of our work together in Green Bay and the region.
Long before this country or the State of Wisconsin existed there were nations of people who occupied this land and all of the lands of North America. The people of the First Nations continue to live here. The histories of these people have merged with ours and so must our future. Diana Morris joins the procession representing the College of the Menomonee Nation. We are especially honored today to have Chairwoman Christina Danforth of the Oneida Nation. It is indeed a great honor to share this celebration with you this afternoon.
The University is extremely fortunate to have the support of a highly engaged Council of Trustees who give freely of their time to provide counsel to me and the university leadership, assist us in raising funds for the university, govern our foundation and, importantly, advocate for the university and its programs. The chair of the Council of Trustees is Mr. Lou LeCalsey who is participating in the ceremony this afternoon. Thank you Lou.
It is an almost unimaginable personal joy for me today to be joined by so many family and friends.
My wife Georgia is here. She and I have committed ourselves to a partnership of love and exploration and the joy of life together in service and in the company of good people. She brings significant experience to Green Bay as a business woman, a community organizer and an advocate for those less fortunate than ourselves. She is a person of unmatched compassion, wisdom and creativity. She is my partner in this journey. No one could be more blessed with a life partner than me. Georgia, I love you so much.
Our three children are with us today. Our oldest Rosemary and her husband Brannon Stegall, our Son Brad Nix and his wife Sarah and our son William Miller. We are so proud of you. We love all of you.
I want to send greetings to Georgia’s mother Rosemary Nix who is unable to be here today and thank her for her support. I wish to say the names of my parents, the late Leon and Isabel Miller of Dayton, Virginia and Georgia’s father the late Dr. J. Elmer Nix of Jackson, Mississippi in order to remind me of their great love for me, their support and their pride in my accomplishments and to remind us all of the importance of those who came before us.
I told a group recently that one of the signals that Georgia and I had fallen quickly in love with Green Bay is the great joy we have felt over the past several weeks as we learned that some of our dearest friends would join us for today’s event. To be able to share this wonderful community and to introduce our friends to our new friends in Green Bay is a great honor.
You will easily know our friends from North Carolina and elsewhere. They are the ones shivering in the cold without proper attire. These friends have joined Georgia and the family in [indicate section]. I want to welcome:
Max and Lynn Allen
Eric and Jean Rosenberg
Mary and Dean Gornto
The love and support you demonstrate by being here is without measure. Georgia and I are deeply grateful. We love you all.
Next September, the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to share dinner with Marge Weidner, the wife of our our founding Chancellor Ed Weidner. We talked about the early history of the university. She was the third employee of the university so she was there from the beginning. The question I asked her was why in the world Ed would leave a promising career at the University of Kentucky to come to Green Bay to start this university?
After all, at the time he accepted the position, there was no faculty, no curriculum, no strategy, and no operational foundation of any kind. Local support for a new university in Green Bay was very strong but there was suspicion and uncertainty beyond the city limits. Appleton really wanted the university, the Governor was lukewarm on the idea of another university, the other state universities were suspicious. There are some in the room who may recall at the time Dr. Weidner arrived, folks in town had still not even settled on a location for the campus.
What was Ed thinking?
When I asked this question of Marge, she just smiled and said, “Ed loved a challenge.”
She and I know there was more to it than that. The 1960s were a time of great challenge and change in America. I believe Dr. Weidner understood better than most the powers universities have in navigating times of change, in fostering the American dream and, most importantly, in creating solutions to complex problems.
The founders understood the University could bring real solutions to real human challenges. It could do this by teaching its students to actively seek connections, to consider more ideas rather than fewer, to manage uncertainty rather than fear it, and to always remember there is rarely one answer. They designed a new university to apply this approach to the challenges of their time. Their unique approach stands today as one of the most important innovations in higher education. Imagine. An entire university organized around the idea that a college education was about solving great problems. I believe this founding principle is even more relevant and important today. It will serve as the foundation of our future.
We celebrate today during another time of great change, a global change that is already affecting Green Bay and will shape our future as an institution and a state. As an institution we must respond to the forces of our time. We must prepare our students to respond. And, we must take a leadership role in shaping the way Green Bay and this region, our community, meets the needs of the people who live here as we support the prosperity and growth of this state.
Our responsibility is great. Here is my vision for how the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay will meet the challenges of our time.
I believe our future rests on our embrace and application of three great powers — The Powers of the Phoenix — in a time of great change: the Power of Innovation, the Power to Transform Lives, and the Power of Place.
Power of Innovation
The first of the Powers of the Phoenix is the Power of Innovation.
The mascot of the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay is the mythical Phoenix, a long-lived bird that is periodically reborn or regenerated. What a fitting symbol for the rebirth and renewal in a world where changing technology and knowledge affect everything about how we teach, learn and work.
Consider the world in which we live:
Over 2.4 Billion people use the internet.
Currently, the number of internet connections and mobile devices exceeds the population of the planet.
If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest on Earth.
Every minute, collectively we upload 24 hours of video to YouTube.
Every day we:
download 22 million hours of TV shows and movies
19 million hours of music.
Every month, 2.4 billion searches are issued on Google. Each of these is a question of some kind.
More units of new information will be created this year than in the previous 5000 years.
4000 new books are published every day.
New technical information doubles roughly every two years.
So, students just beginning their university studies can expect one-half of the information they learn in their first year to be outdated by the time they reach their third year.
As the writer and public intellectual Thomas Friedman declared, we live in a “Gutenberg moment.” For the first time in history, nearly everyone can generate content and publish it to a global audience.
Technology is rapidly changing the world of work. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the American learner will have between 10 and 14 jobs by the time they are 38. And many of these jobs have not yet been invented and will use technology that currently does not exist. The top 10 in-demand technology jobs in 2013 did not exist in 2004.
We are living in an interdependent world and a growing innovation economy. To prosper in this world, our students must be entrepreneurs in their careers. They must exhibit extraordinary creativity, collaborative abilities and flexibility. They must not fear the world and its complexity. They must embrace it. Like the Phoenix, they must periodically reinvent themselves. UWGB was designed to give students these abilities.
But, the Power of Innovation requires exercise and practice. To teach our students to be innovative, we must be innovative. To lead in a time of great change, we must examine ourselves fearlessly and with a willingness to reinvent and redeploy. This requires us to turn a critical eye to the very innovations that set this university on its journey 50 years ago.
I believe we must:
Ask ourselves whether we have right array of academic programs to provide our students the view of the world they will need to live and work in the innovation economy?
Examine carefully whether we are being as creative as we can be in the way in which we deliver our programs of learning in a time when everyone has access to information.
Determine whether we are organized in a way that allows us to capture innovations from the private sector and apply them to our learning programs, recognize and nurture the organic creativity from within the university, and to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among our students?
And, I believe we must ask what, exactly, are the skills that will allow our students to lead in the innovation economy, how can we ensure they receive these skills during their time with us, and how we will demonstrate to the world these skills have been obtained.
Our consideration of these questions has already begun with the Invent the Future of Green Bay process and the establishment of a new university-wide planning and innovation structure. I applaud our faculty and staff for their great courage and determination in considering these important questions of our time.
The Power of Innovation is a shared power. We need partners to be innovative.
We must asked our Regents to understand and appreciate our unique history and approach and the distinctive features of this region and its importance to the state’s economy, and to support and guide us as we take the risks necessary to help build a bright future for Wisconsin through creative regional solutions.
We will ask our partners in business to help us invent new models for our future. As learners, we must be open to what the private sector can teach us.
We must reach out more purposefully to our colleagues in the Technical Colleges and the UW Colleges with an invitation to try different approaches to learning and work for the future.
The Power of Innovation is our birthright at UWGB. It must be part of our future.
The Power to Transform Lives
The second great Powers of the Phoenix is the Power to Transform Lives.
The single most important attribute of prosperity in America is a college degree. Holders of the college degree enjoy substantially greater lifetime earnings, more opportunities for advancement, better health, provide more service to their communities and participate more actively in the democracy.
What is it about the college experience that provides these benefits? It is the personal transformation that comes from hard intellectual work in collaboration with inspiring accomplished faculty. This is a transformation that comes from struggling with and understanding ideas different than your own, experiencing the lives of other humans, learning the great power of music and literature, learning how to make a case, tell a story, write with persuasion, collaborate, think deeply and speak another language. It is the power of knowing the real answer is in how you ask the question. This is one of the most unique opportunities in the world — the American undergraduate experience. No enterprise in the world is better at preparing people for work and citizenship than American public higher education. This is the transformation we cherish today at UWGB. We have always cherished this.
The opportunity for us to transform lives is enormous.
Today, more than 60 percent of the students who join us at University of Wisconsin—Green Bay come from families with no tradition in higher education. We serve over 600 adults who wish to complete a degree or gain a certification. We count among our number over 300 veterans and members of their families who have served their country and are now ready to take advantage of the great transformation that is American higher education.
To welcome these students into our learning community, to discover their dreams and to help those dreams come true by collaborating with them to secure an education and then a fulfilling career is the most precious honor and privilege we could have.
Because of our embrace of the complexity of knowledge, our students leave here with an incredible capacity to take on the most important and most complex challenges of our time. The success of our graduates at securing employment — over 80 percent do so within months of graduation — and moving rapidly into positions of responsibility, demonstrate the great value of our approach. It is the way of the future.
But, we cannot ration our power to transform lives. The need for access to the opportunity at UWGB is immense in the increasingly diverse Green Bay community. Nor can we assume the simple beauty of learning, the most precious of life skills, is enough to sustain our graduates in their lives after leaving our campus.
It is my strong view that leading comprehensive universities like UWGB must work both to increase access to the college degree and to a life of fulfilling work. To do this we must focus on the following in the coming years:
UWGB must work with great intensity and commitment to nurture pathways of access to the college degree, particularly in our region. Our Phuture Phoenix program is an opportunity for us to transform the lives of hundreds of underserved students in our region. I believe we should build on the success of this program and joining with our partners set as a goal to achieve within the decade of creating the means to provide every qualified local student some financial support to enjoy the transformations awaiting them at UWGB.
I believe we should commit ourselves to establishing the necessary agreements and joint recruitment structures that will provide every college-eligible student entering our Technical Colleges and UW Colleges in our region an efficient and welcoming pathway to the transformation awaiting them at UWGB. I have already initiated these discussions with our partners in the region.
Where appropriate, we must expand our professional programs and establish new graduate programs that meet critical workforce or social needs of our region. And, we must be prepared to reshape existing high-demand professional programs to allow them to grow.
We must continue to embrace the needs of the many adult students in our region who wish to complete a degree or earn a certificate.
As an institution we must share responsibility along with our colleagues in K-12 and the university system for providing cradle-to-career avenues for every student. We are a member of this community and we must support all citizens in that community no matter what their means or circumstances.
Using the Power of Innovation, we should work to become a leader in developing new business models for making college affordable for every qualified student in this region.
And, very importantly, we must embrace the imperative of career as a central part of the contemporary arts and sciences academic experience, not only by encouraging work and internship experiences, but also by actively engaging in discussions and providing direct training about contemporary work life and career in our earliest interactions with our students. Knowledge is universally accessible and the world of work is changing rapidly and will continue to change. Our innovations must include ways to teach students about the connection between the two.
To do all this we will have to grow. We will also have to adopt a coordinated, open and vigorous leadership role in all of the complex questions of education and the human condition in our region.
The Power to Transform Lives is a very special power. It will be part of our future.
The Power of Place
The final of the three Powers of the Phoenix is the Power of Place.
This is Green Bay, Wisconsin. This is our place.
Our place is big and complex and like no other place in the world. It is a breathtakingly beautiful, dynamic, broad-shouldered place with a strong and welcoming spirit. A place where people believe in the American dream. A place with special potential and special needs.
The UWGB of the future will embrace Green Bay and this region. We will look outward. We must:
Organize ourselves for partnerships with business, government and the nonprofit sector that add value. This must include new relationships and programs that anticipate the needs of a changing innovation economy in this region.
Related to this, we must directly support entrepreneurism and commerce through novel arrangements with the private sector and, where appropriate, execute bold initiatives that support business and build opportunities for students and faculty. We must become a leader in developing the talent for the innovation economy.
Grow and extend our music and arts programs to every part of this community. There is no real understanding of the human experience or solutions to human problems without a deep and abiding appreciation of human expression in art, music, literature and the oral traditions. If we embrace the arts, we embrace our humanity. If we embrace the arts, we engage in the deepest form of learning.
Support our Division I athletics program in order to celebrate competition, connect to this community and bring recognition to our university.
Be open to the possibility of extending our physical presence in some way to a vibrant and growing down town Green Bay. I am especially pleased that Mayor Schmitt is with us today. I want to congratulate him on his vision for a vibrant downtown Green Bay and pledge our support to that great vision.
I believe the physical distance between this beautiful campus and the center of this wonderful city can be made irrelevant if this university commits itself to a vigorous, organized, institution-wide program of partnership and leadership in education, economic development and community vitality.
Georgia and I spend a great deal of time thinking about our future in Green Bay. We think about what this region and this city can be and how we can serve this community. And, of course, we think about the future of our university. We do this because this is our home. This is the Power of Place. It is the love of home. It is the love of our home.
I believe our future rests on our embrace and application of three great powers — Powers of the UWGB Phoenix. The Power of Innovation, the Power to Transform Lives and the Power of Place. These powers are within us. They are part of the UWGB heritage. We cannot apply these powers if we are afraid. We have to have the courage to ask hard questions and make difficult choices. We must do this with optimism and joy and, most of all, with love and respect for each other.
Ed Weidner would have loved this time. And, so do I!