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Office of theChancellor

Chancellor’s remarks: Convocation 2016

Chancellor Gary L. Miller addressed about 500 UW-Green Bay faculty, staff and community members Aug. 24, offering remarks during the University’s annual 2016 Fall Convocation.

The prepared text of his speech is as follows:

It is a great pleasure to welcome you here this morning as we kick off the second half of the first century of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  Georgia is here with me this morning.  We are deeply honored to be with you here at this most important time in the history of this great institution.

Let me begin by acknowledging some important guests with us today.

Dr. Lou LeCalsey chair of our Council of Trustees is here.  You will remember that Lou was the recipient of the Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree at our spring commencement.  This is a fitting recognition for someone who has given so much of himself to this university for nearly the entire 50 years existence of the institution.

We are also joined today by Dr. Ginny Rieopelle, Vice Chair of the Council of Trustees and another long-time servant of the University.

I want to ask the other members of the Council of Trustees who are with us today to stand and be recognized.

The support of the Council of Trustees is absolutely essential to our success.  Dr. LeCalsey and I have committed to organizing substantive discussions between the COT and members of the faculty, staff and students of the University in order to build on the collective power we have in Green Bay.

Another special person joins us today.  Marge Weidner, wife of the founding Chancellor of UWGB is here.  Marge, thank you for being here with us and for all you do for UWGB and this community.

We were just introduced to new members of the faculty and staff.  It is always very exciting for Georgia and me to welcome new faculty and staff to the university.  Your energy and creativity will change this place for the better.  We look forward to getting to know you.

The Provost also just introduced the deans of the new colleges.  It is very exciting to have this cohort of experienced leaders join the senior leadership team.  As they have begun their work this summer it has been obvious that the level of excitement and innovation they bring to their position is already paying benefits for the university.  The tempo around our consideration of student success, new programs, enrollment, faculty development, fund raising and community partnerships has increased dramatically in the past several months as the deans and the Provost plan for the coming year.  It is easy to see that once these leaders have the benefit of the wisdom of our extraordinary faculty and staff great things will happen at UWGB.

We are joined by two new student leaders this morning.  Mr. Nick Austin begin his term as President of the Student Government Association.  Mr. Dylan Tripp will serve as Vice President of that organization.  Congratulations to both of you.  I look forward to working closely with you on a variety of important issues affecting students.

[Introduce others if appropriate]

Of course, the most important event on our horizon is the arrival of our new and continuing students and the beginning of classes.  It is at this time each year when we are reminded of the great honor and obligation we have to teach and discovery and shape the perspectives of students of all ages.  There can be no greater calling than to transform the lives of students by encouraging them to Learn More, Do More and Be More.

This is a very important year for UWGB and the UW System. Perhaps even more important than the last two. Many of the challenges we will face together this year are not just strategic or tactical.  They are challenges relating to our values and purpose.  There is a great deal a stake:

  • Our biennial budget negotiations which began in earnest last week are not just about getting more money for the university. They are also about the nature of the social obligation to support public higher education in Wisconsin.
  • Our work to increase enrollment is not just about the bottom line. It is about how we will provide access to the college degree in an urban area with one of the lowest college attainment rates in the country.
  • Our work to expand business partnerships is not just about political clout. It is about giving our students an advantage in a highly dynamic career ecosystem.
  • Our work to nurture and sustain a campus climate that is not just tolerant but welcoming to the great diversity of people and ideas is not simply an obligation. It is a special opportunity to embrace every dimension of what is good in this region and this country.

As I told the Board of Regents last April, we are in a very real sense re-arguing the case for a public comprehensive university in this city.

There will be many opportunities in the coming months to work together on these important challenges.  We will soon announce the first university business meeting where we will review our enrollment and financial picture.  We hope this will become an annual event.

The UPIC has begun work to integrate the Invent the Future results and the new UW System 2020 Forward strategic framework approved last week with our current strategic plan to develop priorities for the coming years.

And, of course, we will need your help in supporting the higher education investment proposal approved last week by the Board of Regents.

But, today is for celebration. There is much to celebrate.

The UWGB experience is transformational.

During the coming year we will celebrate these transformations.  We will do this through short videos each telling an individual story of how the work of one or several of our faculty and staff fundamentally changed their lives and the lives of a student or group of students with whom they have interacted.  We want to capture and show to the world how your work enriches you and how in many cases it makes the most important difference in someone else’s life.

Let me show you an example of one of these videos.

See Video

We plan to produce two or three of these a month as we build a large catalog of important stories of transformation.  We will show them widely and as often as we can.  Of course, they will be available on our website for you to use.

We need your help in identifying these stories.  Please contact Janet Bonkowski or someone in the Office of Marketing and Communications with your ideas.  Thank you for your support of this project.

Just think about what we did as an institution in one year.

  • In nine months, beginning last summer, the faculty and staff leadership of this university developed, discussed and won Board of Regents approval for a sweeping reorganization of the university. To grasp the enormous challenge we face, reflect deeply on our processes, conceive a bold solution and, in some cases, have the courage to suspend disbelief, to move forward with this organization removes all doubt of the power of the innovative spirit that is part of the DNA of this university. As I told the Board of Regents last February, I have never been prouder to be part of a university.
  • On the strength of the work of hundreds of people in this room and with the support of many in the community, last year we celebrated the first 50 years of this institution in glorious fashion with numerous events on campus and in the community culminating in a grand celebration in the Kress Event Center.
  • While engaged in that work, we organized a three day meeting of the Board of Regents on campus and used that opportunity to make the case forcefully that UWGB is not just another comprehensive university. We are the central partner in an internationally recognized, diverse and economically complex major urban center the success of which is key to the future of Wisconsin.
  • As if all that were not enough, this past spring on incredibly short notice we hosted two major political events on campus. The work of our Communications team and the work of our Police Department were extraordinary in these events.
  • And, most importantly, drawing on the resolve, creativity and sheer determination of many, many people, this university began the hard process of vastly reshaping its enrollment philosophy and strategy with the goal of vastly increasing access to the college degree in this region. We have a long way to go but it appears we have turned the corner on enrollment.  Let me give you a preview of our enrollment picture:
    • After three consecutive years of enrollment decline, total enrollment projections have been up all summer.
    • The new freshman class is projected to be 11% higher than last year and our largest since 2012.
    • 14% of new freshman come from non-white backgrounds.
    • This freshman class comes from recruitment efforts in 347 high schools across the U.S.
    • The freshman class includes 60 new student athletes from 11 states with a cumulative GPA of 3.46. This is significantly higher than the rest of the freshman class at 3.33.
    • 80% of the freshman class will live on campus
    • Our masters programs doubled in enrollment last year and continue to grow.
    • Our engineering technology program is three times larger than last fall and continues to grow.
    • Majors in the fine and performing arts are up 10%; computer science 35%; Psychology 11%; Accounting 6%; Social Work 14%. People are attracted to great programs.  All we have to do is tell our story.

I have worked in higher education for nearly 30 years.  I have never seen an institution accomplish as much in such a short period of time.  I am honored by your commitment.

One of the most important aspects of this university is its work in the community and its potential for even more partnerships.

  • Nearly every member of our faculty and staff give of their time in this community.
  • The University continues to provide top quality entertainment in the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, one of the very best entertainment venues in the country. Last year:
    • 286 public and private events.
    • Total attendance 98,706; new record.
    • 15,580 preK to 12th grade students from 67 cities. Increase in 8%.
    • Kicks off another great season on October 15 with An Evening with Garrison Keillor.
  • Our Division I Athletic program, one of only 320 in the country and 4 in Wisconsin continues to be one of our biggest assets.
    • 85% of our national media comes from athletics.
    • The vast majority of our major academic donors are Phoenix Athletics supporters as well.
    • For the first time in 20 years, men’s basketball earned a spot in the NCAA tournament after winning 4 games in 4 days to take the Horizon League championship. What a great testament to first year coach Linc Darner.
    • For the 18th consecutive year, the women’s basketball team won the Horizon League tournament, which was hosted at UWGB. The women also went to the NCAA tournament.
    • Nordic Ski student athlete Matt Nichols earned a spot in the NCAA Nordic Ski Championship.
    • For the 33rd consecutive semester, UWGB student athletes earned a GPA greater than 3.0. 72 student athletes had a 4.0 gpa in the spring semester.
    • Last year the Phoenix Fund raised $1.2 million dollars in private support.
    • And just last week, former UW-Green Bay student athlete Megan Lukan earned a Bronze Medal at the Olympics.
  • We continue to reveal the possibility of higher education to large numbers of students in this area that do not think of college as part of their future.
    • The Phuture Phoenix program brought nearly 1500 5th graders to campus to experience college. A record number 120 UWGB faculty and staff and 250 UWGB student volunteers welcomed these students to campus and helped with the program.
    • This spring the Phuture Phoenix program hosted nearly 400 8th graders from Edison Middle school to campus.
    • Last year this extraordinary program provided a total of 6691 hours of tutoring in our partner schools.
    • Nearly 40 students from the Phuture Phoenix program will be attending UWGB this year with the help of Phuture Phoenix scholarships.
    • And, this year a graduation we had among our first college graduates from this program since its inception.
  • Right in the middle of our campus, the tallest building in the area is the Cofrin Library, one of our most important symbols of learning and discovery.
    • This past year the Cofrin Library was awarded the Board of Regents Award for Academic Staff Program Excellence and was acknowledged at the April BOR meeting on campus. Paula Gaynard had to postpone a long anticipated vacation to accept this award – which she did with great pleasure.  Congratulations!
    • Speaking of the Cofrin Library, the UW System budget proposal includes a request for $1.5 M to plan for the renovation of the Library so we can get that project moving after nearly 20 years of planning.

We have a beautiful campus with good facilities.  Every day and every night extraordinary people come to work at UWGB to clean, repair and solve problems to make our facilities work. What about those newly waxed floors!

Many have worked to have our facilities upgraded.

  • This summer the Studio Arts, Band and Vocal rooms were remodeled. One of the great enhancements of this refurbished facility is a new digital recording studio that will allow students to record their work to industry standards.
  • We signed a contract with a new food services provider Chartwells and they are renovating various dining facilities across campus. It is important to know that the new food services contract saves money for students.
  • The traditional student apartments received a $1.5 million face lift to make them more energy efficient and safer. And we renovated the common student lounges in six freshman and sophomore residence halls.
  • Last year we reduced our electric usage by 345,000 kilowatt hours from the previous year. Since 2008, the university has reduced electric usage by over 2.4 million kilowatt hours.  Folks, this is putting Eco U in action.
  • I know you will be very disappointed to learn that the time-tested and much beloved plastic water buckets in MAC hall are on their way out. Yes, we’ve received money to put a new roof on that hall to replace the original roof which has leaked since day one!

Let’s give a round of applause for Paul Pinkston and all the great colleagues who work in the physical plant department.

Last year, with your strong support I appointed Greg Davis as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  Greg has quickly distinguished himself among system provosts and articulated a strong and forward thinking vision for the university. His has a tough job.  I want to thank him here for his work.

His office is working with great success to put our vision of an urban serving university into practice:

  • He created the position of Director of Student Success and Engagement and had the wisdom to hire Denise Bartell to fill that post. This will become an increasingly important operation as we work to implement the system strategic priorities.
  • Under the leadership of Cliff Gaynard our preparations for our HLC accreditation visit moves ahead with great success.
  • Matt Dornbush has brought an important new perspective to our graduate and research programs and there is much to celebrate there:
    • Last year university faculty requested $18 million in extramural support for research. To date, $4.5 million has been funded.
    • Many commented that the 9 UWGB students who presented their research at the Posters in the Rotunda event at the capital were among the best in the system.
    • A new grant writer was hired to increase our grant capacity especially with large institutional grants.
    • A number of new graduate programs were deployed and others are in planning.

The work of faculty and staff in the academic programs is outstanding.

  • The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences under the leadership of Dean Scott Furlong:
    • It is important to remember that Dean Furlong and his colleagues initiated the Engineering Technology program and the Medical College of Wisconsin partnership prior to the establishment of the four colleges. This is extremely important work and we thank Scott for his leadership.
    • A new on-line program in Psychology was deployed.
    • We received accreditation approval from the National Association of Schools of Arts and Design.
    • The Summit on the National Assessment of Psychology (SNAP) was hosted on campus. This national meeting brought the best scholars in the field to UWGB.  Psychology also hosted the Excellence in Psychology Instruction Conference (EPIC) for local area high school teachers.
    • Forty-one of their students presented original research at the Midwest Psychology Association meeting in Chicago.
    • Once again, the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Community Foundation and the United Way have contracted with UWGB Center for Public Affairs to conduct the community Life Study. This work is foundational to our communities work to solve social and educational challenges in the area.
    • UWGB musicians sang with Barry Manilow during his concert at the Resch Center. Theatre, Dance and Music also presented numerous student concerts and performances including the presentation of It’s a Wonderful Life on the Weidner main stage.
    • Last year we celebrated the 30th year of the Historical Lecture Series created and organized by Harvey Kaye. Speakers included Richard Brookheiser (The National Review) who will return to UWGB in October.  And John Fugelsang (host of Tell Me Everything).
    • And we should not leave the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences without celebrating the work of Dr. Sawa Senszaki who was given the Future 15 Young Professional Award, a community acknowledgement of service and leadership. Congratulations!
  • The College of Health Education and Social Welfare under the leadership of Dean Susan Gallagher-Lepak:
    • This year the college will launch a solo Masters of Social Work program after several years of partnership with other universities in the system. Enrollment in the first cohort exceeded expectations.
    • The MSW program received initial accreditation from the Council on Social Work Accreditation. The program received a perfect score in the process.
    • The Social Work Department launched a new on-line training program for member counties that provides certification for Comprehensive Community Services.
    • A new Nursing 1-2-1 program starts this fall with an enrollment of 24 students in the first cohort. This is a partnership with NWTC.
    • Approval was granted for an collaborative on-line Masters of Science program in Health and Wellness Management to begin this fall with Parkside, Stevens Point, River Falls and Superior.
    • The Education Department implemented a new articulation agreement with NWTC to allow students who have completed the Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education to transfer easily to UWGB.
    • Education recently received a Wisconsin Early Childhood Association grant to develop an on-line Bachelor of Science program.
    • The Education Department is busy building our first doctoral program in First Nations Studies.
  • College of Science and Technology under the leadership of Dean John Katers.
    • I have already mentioned the great enrollment numbers for Engineering Technology and our partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin.
    • EMBI along with the Center for Public Affairs was awarded a $450,000 grant from Great Lakes Higher Education to support student internships over the next three years.
    • As part of the 50th year anniversary, EMBI honored UWGB founding faculty members in environmental sciences at the annual Earth Caretaker Awards ceremony
    • The UWGB Biodiversity Center continues to thrive. Last year the Center employed 41 undergraduate and graduate students conducting hands-on research projects supporting a total of $300,000 in grant funding.  Scientists in the Center continue to publish ground breaking work with collaborators around the world including the University of Minnesota, the Smithsonian Institute, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and universities from every continent except Antarctica.  Congratulations to Bob Howe and his great team!
    • The Natural and Applied Science faculty continue to lead the university in extramural funding for research receiving a number of large grant awards last year. One of these was a $200,000 award From NEW Water-Great Lakes Restoration Funds to Kevin Fermanich, Patrick Forsythe and others.
    • The College experienced significant growth in its on-line collanorative MS program in Sustainable Management and Data Science
    • For the second year in a row all Human Biology majors that applied for dietetic internships were accepted.
  • The Cofrin School of Business under the leadership of Dean Doug Hensler:
    • The School developed a new emphasis in Supply Chain Management which is of high interest to a number of large companies in the community.
    • Four new faculty members were recruited to the School to replace retirements. These new members bring exceptional records of research, teaching and service.
    • The College has been extremely active in recruitment efforts participating in events in a number of high schools and technical colleges.
    • Our partnership with the local company InitiativeOne continues to grow under the leadership of David Radosevich. Our work with InitiativeOne places us as a business partner in their growing Sports Division which provides transition education to professional athletes.
    • The Cofrin School held an extremely successful Business Week event this year which included participation and sponsorship by most of the leading companies in the area.

There is much, much more to say.  Let me end with this.

One of the most special opportunities Georgia and I have is to be with students in a wide variety of settings on campus and in the community. The majority of our students are the first in their family to go to college.  They represent the future of this region.  They understand the promise of the college degree in today’s world.

What we see are thoughtful, creative and optimistic people.  They understand the world is complex.  They understand solutions to today’s great challenges are not simple.  They are strong communicators and deep thinkers.  They don’t take their education for granted because they struggled to get it.  They do not know this nor do they care but they are the interdisciplinary thinkers and doers that we dare to wish for at UWGB.

These are your students. Be proud of them.  Celebrate them.  Because of you, they have learned more than we can imagine, they will do more than we can imagine and they have become more than we can imagine.

Thank you all!

Go Phoenix!!

Mid-Year Convocation

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller e-mailed the following message to faculty and staff on Tuesday, January 12, 2016.


I hope each of you had a wonderful winter break.  Welcome back to campus to begin the spring semester.

I wanted to let you know that we will not be convening for a Mid-Year Convocation this year.   We are currently planning a concluding 50th year anniversary celebration for the campus this spring..

We are making plans to recognize service milestones and retirements in another format.

Thank you.


Gary L. Miller

2015 Fall Convocation

UWGB Fall Confocation Aug 26., 2015

The Fall 2015 Employee Convocation kicks off the academic year at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 26, in the University Union’s Phoenix Room.

Date:  Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Phoenix Room, University Union

  • Introduction of new faculty and staff
  • Introduction of Named Professorship recipient
  • Presentation of Founders Association Awards for Excellence
  • Remarks by Chancellor Gary L. Miller
  • Lunch in Leona Cloud Commons

R.S.V.P.: RSVP by August 21 to Geno McKenna,

Mid-Year Convocation remarks

Jan. 22, 2015

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! Click here to read more »

Chancellor’s remarks: Convocation 2014

Chancellor Gary L. Miller addressed some 500 UW-Green Bay faculty and staff members Aug. 27, offering remarks during the University’s annual fall Convocation.


The prepared text of his speech is as follows:

Good Morning. Cliff, thank you for that kind introduction. Welcome all of you to the opening convocation of the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.

I want to pause here to snap a picture of the crowd so I can tweet about this event.

[Snap picture with cell phone].

I am very actively recruiting new followers for my handle @UWGBChancellor. So, please go to your Twitter account and follow me!

Also, I will very much appreciate your immediate response to my brief remarks here today. To do this, please go to the Chancellor’s web page where you will find a link to a one-question survey which simply asks about your reaction to my remarks. This is NOT a gimmick. I want to hear what you think. I will read every comment. Thank you for doing this.

Let me begin by welcoming all of the new staff and faculty who have been introduced this morning. I had an opportunity to interact briefly with some of you at Shorewood Golf Course last week and yesterday at the new faculty orientation. I am impressed by the great talent and creativity you bring to UW-Green Bay. You are the future of this university and we look forward to seeing how you will change us for the better. Welcome!

This is my first convocation and I am extremely excited to be here with you to celebrate the university, reflect on our successes and, importantly, to look ahead to the opportunities and challenges that await us in the new academic year and beyond.

I am joined here today by my wife Georgia who is sitting over there [indicate her location]. I am extremely fortunate to have been blessed with such a fantastic partner. Georgia will bring to the Green Bay community deep experience as a business woman, community organizer, and social advocate. She is a person of unmatched compassion, wisdom and creativity. I hope all of you will have an opportunity to work with her in the coming years.

This convocation is a unique opportunity for both of us for two reasons. First, it is a great opportunity for us to meet you. Georgia and I plan to stay around after the ceremony for as long as possible in order to meet as many of you as possible. I hope you will have the time to introduce yourself to us after the event.

It is also an opportunity for us to thank you for the extraordinary warmth with which you have welcomed us to the university and to the Green Bay community. I do not believe I have ever moved to a city where it felt like home more quickly than in this move to Green Bay. Thank you all!

Later in these remarks and in the months and years to come, I will talk about the new realities of university-community partnerships, realities that call upon public universities to engage with their communities in novel and innovative ways. The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay was born of a determined community that wanted a university in the state’s third largest city. We are fortunate to enjoy the support of many community leaders. A number of these have accepted appointments on the Chancellors Council of Trustees, The University Foundation Board, the Alumni Association Board, The Founders Board, the Phoenix Fund Board, University Village Housing, Inc. and the Retiree Association. Representatives of those groups are with us this morning and have been acknowledged.   I want to add my welcome to these community colleagues and thank you on behalf of the entire university for your belief in this place and your commitment to our success.

[Please join me in a round of applause to show our appreciation to these great volunteers]

One of the most unique – some would say mysterious – features of universities is our governance structure. Because we value knowledge and understanding above all else, we are deliberately reflective and inclusive in the way in which we develop strategy and make decisions. We are fortunate to have four highly engaged governance bodies at Green Bay and each of them has representatives here today. I would like to ask members of the Faculty Senate, the Academic Staff Committee, the University Staff Committee, and the Student Government Association to stand so we can thank you for your great work on behalf of the university.

[Lead applause to thank members of these groups]

I want to pledge to these campus leaders and to the rest of you here today my deep belief in and commitment to the university governance traditions. Being inclusive and transparent is essential if we are to move forward together and I will always appreciate reminders from you if we stray from that imperative.

I also want to say to you that being reflective and collaborative cannot mean inaction nor should it appease our fear of the unknown. The real power in reflection and deliberation is in making sound and sometimes difficult choices. As I will emphasize in the coming months, whether we like it or not, we are at a point where we have to make some choices in public higher education. That we do this with great collegiality and a spirit of excitement about the future is our goal.

There are no great universities without great faculty and staff. Ultimately, whatever we do at Green Bay will depend on the creativity and commitment of the people who work at the university. And, so, it is exciting and fitting that we use this convocation to celebrate the work of some of our faculty. I want to add my congratulations to the recipients of the named professorships who were introduced earlier in this program. These are national leaders in their field and we celebrate their achievements here today and count on their leadership going forward. We also celebrate the great generosity of the donors who made these awards possible. I would like to ask those individuals to stand once more to be recognized.

[Lead applause for named professors]

It is also important to recognize and thank those campus leaders who have been presented the Founders Association Awards for Excellence. These awards are strong testament to a deep commitment to excellence. Would these awardees please stand once again so we can thank you.

[Lead applause for SOFAS award winners].

The transition of a new chancellor is an opportunity for the university to pause and think about where it has been and where it might go. It can be – I hope it will be – a precious and special time. It can also be a bit unsettling and I want you to know I recognize that. Any transition in leadership will bring change. Change is both inevitable and very hard. The way in which we embrace it together is a measure of our character.

In a way, during these first few weeks as Chancellor, I am like a consultant. I meet with people and read about what the university is doing and plans to do. The conclusions I make about the university strategy and operations at this early stage are based mostly on my own experience and my understanding of the environment in which the university operates.   I don’t yet have the deep network of relationships inside and outside the university that will be required for me to provide the kind of leadership you expect. And, frankly, I am not even sure at this point how to get back to my office once this event is over.

So, for the coming weeks, I will continue my education about the university and the community while getting to know as many of you as possible. I will need your help in this. Indeed, you have already provided me an enormous gift with your responses to the short set of questions in the survey I sent to the campus and community several weeks ago. I received those responses last week and I have been reading them closely and will continue to study them in the coming weeks. It is important that you know what is being said by your colleagues about the university and, so, I will be arranging times with various groups of you to provide a more formal summary of your thinking. There are some interesting and important patterns in your responses that will help us in our work together in inventing the future of UWGB. A number of these patterns expose areas of concern and uncertainty that will require our attention. Many of your comments contained suggestions for how to address challenges and opportunities and all of these must be considered. There will be time to tackle those later. What I want to mention today are the positive themes:

  • The affection for this university both on campus and in the community is deep.
  • The expectations for this university are extremely high.
  • Despite the difficulties of recent years which have dampened morale, optimism still shows through.
  • People on this campus like and respect one another.
  • Our commitment to our students is extraordinary.
  • And, importantly, there is a widespread desire to be innovative in a time of great change.

What I get from this is a great sense of optimism about the possibilities here. We don’t know the path, we can’t yet predict the changes we will make but we know that there is a very strong commitment to this place, to each other and to the power of innovation and creativity, which we must always remember is part of the DNA of UW Green Bay.

At this early stage in my tenure here I am not prepared to express the broad vision of the future of this great university. On November 14, we will convene for a formal installation of the Chancellor. At that event I will express a more definitive narrative of the future of this university. This will be a consensus narrative that will leverage our strengths and look to the future. It will reveal some choices we will have to make and reflect how we will invest our resources for the coming decade.

To be prepared to express this narrative, we will have to engage in the following activities in the coming months. We must:

  • Reexamine our strategy with an investment mindset. Where do we commit limited resources?
  • Begin the process of deep reflection about the academic program portfolio. This is the most important imperative of the contemporary public university and it is one of the most difficult things to do. But, it must be done in order to ensure we have the best array of programs for the future our students will face.
  • Reexamine the connection between our program philosophy and the success of our graduates in the new interdependent global workplace.
  • Examine our organizational structure to determine where we can nurture a culture of the commonwealth that will leverage the resources we have for the benefit of the entire university.
  • Understand our enrollment strategy within the new demographic and competitive realities. An important goal is to make enrollment an institution-wide responsibility.
  • Link our budget processes directly with strategy through a more transparent and inclusive budget process.
  • Build on the community engagement traditions and academic strengths of the university to develop partnerships in the community that create jobs and nurture the economy.
  • Understand how to present ourselves to the outside world in a way that captures the excitement we feel in our work, the imagination of potential students of all ages and the expectations of the Green Bay community.
  • And, most importantly, create a culture of innovation whereby managed risk is embraced and new ideas are given a chance to thrive.

We will be working with great vigor in the coming weeks to organize ourselves to conduct these activities, which, in some cases, will require most of the year and more. This work will require extraordinary effort on the part of all of us. The tempo of our activities will be higher than normal. There will be more than the usual number of working groups and committees. I ask for your support in this and I promise you ice cream at the end!!

I want to emphasize here that these activities cannot divert our attention from a number of important continuing and fundamental challenges of the university.

  • The compensation levels for faculty and staff at the university are not commensurate with those of peer institutions around the country and not acceptable to me. We must continue to work on this issue because, as I emphasized in the beginning of these remarks, our greatest asset is our human capital.
  • Like any long standing university system, there are inequities in the funding levels among institutions that are the result of hundreds of individual decisions over the years. I will continue to address these legacy issues with the system and the state and, indeed, have already begun to do so with the help of our very committed Council of Trustees.
  • We must continue to examine our facilities and work with our friends and the system to provide the very best venues for our faculty, staff and students.

Let me conclude my remarks today by telling you why I believe this is such a wonderful opportunity and why I wanted to come here.

I have committed my entire work life to American higher education. Since World War II, no enterprise on Earth has been more successful at preparing creative and engaged citizens. The rise of the American meritocracy and the ascendancy of the United States after WWII can be attributed in large measure to access to public higher education. Until 15 or 20 years ago most Americans believed in the commonwealth value of higher education. That is, the benefit of colleges and universities accrued both to the recipient of the degree and to society at large.

This is no longer the case. State divestment in public higher education over the past two decades has tracked a change in attitudes about colleges and universities. Today, most Americans believe that only the degree recipient benefits from higher education. Thus, state investment is less important.

This shift in attitudes has affected all of public higher education but most especially comprehensive universities like Green Bay, where our survival has been dependent on state subsidy and an access imperative. It is important for all of us to understand – even as we grieve our loss – we are no longer primarily a state-subsidized entity. We are essentially a private enterprise competing in a competitive market within a dense regulatory bubble. Our obligation to the State of Wisconsin must never waiver. But our best chance to contribute is to act more like a private university. This is why our community partnerships and our enrollment strategy are so important.

What we are about in our time is inventing a new way to Engage in Public Life as an institution. It is fitting in this transformative time that this is our Common Theme for the year: Engaging in Public Life. There has never been a time in public higher education when understanding how to do this has been more important.

But the loss of state support is not the only challenge we face. Indeed, I do not believe it is the biggest challenge.

We are at what Tom Friedman calls a “Gutenberg moment” in education. Nearly anyone in the world can create content and publish that content for a global audience. Learning is a more or less continuous process having very little real connection to the physical structures of the university. Just today over 1 billion searches will be issued on Google – each of those searches is a question of some kind. Before the sun sets today somewhere around 250 million emails will have been sent, 100 million tweets will have been issued and about 36 million hours of video will have been uploaded to YouTube (about the same as 176,000 full length Hollywood movies.) I expect some of you are engaged in one or more of those activities at this very moment! Massive, virtual, global social networks and gigantic data bases trace and record the billions of human communications and transactions that occur each minute.

Overlaying this technology revolution are some pretty important global social changes that have a direct effect on the lives of our graduates whether they stay in Green Bay or travel the world. We are experiencing a massive growth in the global middle class, much of it occurring in Asia and very little occurring in this country. Wealth and income inequality is rapidly expanding even in developed countries. Today the wealthiest 85 people in the world own more wealth than the bottom half the world’s population – 3.5 billion people.

We are also experiencing a dramatic increase in global urbanization. In the last U.S. census over 60% of the nation’s largest cities experienced population growth in the city core. Importantly, this growth was about equally distributed between young people and those nearing retirement. At the same time, suburbs are becoming increasingly more diversified as preferred locations for many emerging minority populations in the US. This past year was the first year in the history of the US where Caucasian students were a minority in public high schools.

Within their lifetimes, our students will also face unprecedented change in the global climate. The debate about the extent to which humans are responsible for the current accelerating pace of climate change notwithstanding, there is widespread agreement that the climate is changing and the change will reshape the distribution of water and agriculture throughout the world, affect human migration patterns, initiate new disease cycles, change energy dynamics and, through these, affect the global economy. The outlook here need not necessarily be negative. But, this will certainly affect the commerce, employment and the imperatives and responsibilities of citizenship in coming generations and this is something we must be aware of as we prepare our students for their lives beyond college. There are few universities in the country better prepared to take on this important obligation to the future.

The explosion of technology, global social and demographic changes and changes in our climate are altering the work world for our graduates. The high wage, middle skill jobs that fueled the growth of the middle class after WWII have all but disappeared in America. Entry level positions now require sets of skills formerly expected of mid-management. Current estimates are that 70% of the new jobs in the New North will require at least a bachelor’s degree. But employers are telling us they can’t find graduates with the right set of skills for many of these entry level positions.

Graduates today can expect to have as many as 7 to 10 different jobs by the time they are middle aged. Most of those jobs have not yet been invented and the technology required to do those jobs has not yet emerged. The idea that there is a one-to-one correspondence between an academic major and a job no longer holds and this is also becoming true in some of the professions.

What other university in the country is better able to prepare students to enter a world that requires extraordinary levels of creativity, the ability to quickly range intellectually across different disciplines, the capacity to work collaboratively and with great adaptability all focused on solving real problems to improve the human condition, advance commerce and sustain the ecosystem than the University of Wisconsin Green Bay? I believe there are very few. This is why I wanted to be at Green Bay with you. This is why I am so excited to be here today!

I do not come here with all the answers. I come here with a deep commitment to the transforming power of higher education for both individuals and society. As your Chancellor, I will demonstrate that passion by listening with great intensity, asking lots of questions and with your advice making the hard decisions that will be required to grow this university’s ability to affect real change in Wisconsin and the country.

Thank you for your attention this morning and….

Go Phoenix!!

2014 Fall Convocation

The Fall 2014 Employee Convocation kicks off the academic year at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 27, in the University Union’s Phoenix Room.

Date:  Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Phoenix Room, University Union

  • Introduction of new faculty and staff
  • Introduction of Named Professorship recipients
  • Presentation of Founders Association Awards for Excellence
  • Remarks by Chancellor Gary L. Miller
  • Lunch in Leona Cloud Commons

R.S.V.P.: RSVP by August 22 to Paula Marcec,