The year ahead for UW-Green Bay

by Thomas Harden | October 1, 2009

We were delighted to welcome back David Ward, former interim chancellor, who attended the faculty/staff kickoff gathering.

We were delighted to welcome back David Ward, former interim chancellor, who attended the faculty/staff kickoff gathering.

It will be months or perhaps even years before I’m no longer introduced as UW-Green Bay’s “new chancellor,” but until then I wear the title proudly. My wife, Cathy, and I thank you for your warm welcome.

Having met many of you at various back-to-school and community events, I have learned much. In my remarks at the recent Faculty and Staff Convocation, I was able to share some of that feedback. I also used the occasion to relate some of my own early observations to the 400 or so faculty, staff and guests in attendance.

It is a year of challenges, change and transition. There was some laughter when I used the descriptor “F-word” to refer to furloughs, but the fallout is sobering. After years of belt tightening there’s no longer a question as to whether we can somehow negate the impact of budget cuts and fully maintain services. We can’t. We will close campus on four weekdays, Nov. 27, Dec. 28, Jan. 15 and May 28. I have also advised students that appointments and office visits could be complicated as schedules are disrupted by additional, state-mandated unpaid leave. We need to restore these lost services, hours and earnings when the economy rebounds.

Things cycle, but public funding will not come back the way it left. It left fast. It will be slow in returning, and when it does, it will be earmarked for targeted initiatives. Across higher education, public expectations are rising. Degree completion. Access. Cost containment. Job development. Economic development.  As I said in my remarks to campus, I sense UW-Green Bay is doing some great things, but we need to position ourselves as leaders, all the while holding firm to to what we truly believe is important.

Diversity will be one such priority. We want all our students to advance and graduate and perpetuate that cycle of success in our broader community. We need to grow this University. I was asked, “Do you support the Growth Agenda.” I do, and the current economic environment will delay progress but not prevent it. We will seek ways to maximize the effectiveness of our organizational structure, and work to identify and share our institutional vision. I am hearing consistently that, through the years (UW-Green Bay opened precisely 40 years ago this month) innovation, engagement and sustainability have remained very important here.

I am optimistic we will emerge a stronger institution. I believe we are on the precipice of some great things coming to, and coming out of, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

— Thomas Harden