Consultants, brought in to work with area businesses to create an updated strategic plan for the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the necessity to grow and expand UW-Green Bay at a roll-out event on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Noting that economic development has changed over the years and that talent is the new currency, the plan puts an enormous emphasis on the expansion of public education in Northeast Wisconsin, with specific focus on UW-Green Bay.
Chancellor Miller spoke at the event, sharing with business leaders the University’s support for the plan and optimism for the future.
Chancellor Miller’s remarks
I am extremely excited to be here this morning and to be part of an extraordinary community-wide effort to articulate a clear framework of economic growth and prosperity in Green Bay and Brown County.
It is also a great honor to represent my colleagues Dr. Jeff Rafn, President of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Dr. Tom Kunkel, President of St. Norbert’s College, Dr. Matthew Hunsaker, Dean of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Dr. Connie Boerst, President of Bellin College. Together we represent nearly 20,000 undergraduate and pre-professional students. Our goal is to graduate all of these students and to retain them in this area in good jobs. We are all about workforce and talent development. It is important to acknowledge the leadership of Laurie Radke, Peter Zaehringer, Mark Higgins, members of the Chamber Board, and, of course, John Karras and his colleagues from Tip Strategies. Thank you for your leadership.
Before I comment on the Plan and Initiatives 4 and 5, permit me to make a brief observation as a relative new-comer to this great community. I have never lived and worked in a place presented with more extraordinary game-changing opportunities than we have before us in this community. Nor have I ever seen a more committed group of business and community leaders. The eleven Initiatives presented in this report do not represent a simple wish list. In each Initiative there are specific actions and significant community leadership in place to attain the major goals. If these goals are met—and I believe they will be—this region will be transformed in a way that will make it one of the most attractive places in the country to live and work.
Now, a few comments about the report. This report contains three very important messages for the higher education sector in Green Bay.
The first message is a strong declaration that the future economic prosperity of this region depends on our ability to develop, recruit and retain high-skilled talent and that goal absolutely depends on our higher education institutions. This clear affirmation of the essential role higher education plays in sustaining the commonwealth is what the community founders of UWGB believed 50 years ago. This is most welcome and, frankly, rarely heard these days. Thank you.
The second message is the community expectation that we will intensify the collaboration among the higher education institutions in the area with a renewed focus on innovation and talent development. We strongly agree.
The third is a message to UWGB. It is one of the most extraordinary and unique communications I have ever seen a community extend to a public university. In a direct and caring way the community is saying to the University it fought so hard to establish fifty years ago: “We need you to change.”
The report is clear:
“…the role of UWGB needs to be elevated.”
“Green Bay needs a large, growing university with a broader range of programs (especially engineering, science and technology programs) and a greater emphasis on research and technology commercialization.”
Indeed, the report is very specific about what is needed:
“Re-mission UWGB to be a larger, more R&D-focused, broader-reaching university. Its long-term trajectory should place it on a track to become a significantly larger institution with more research and technology, similar to what UW-Milwaukee has become.”
I want you to know at UWGB and throughout the higher education sector here we have heard the message loud and clear. We are taking action now to move forward the goals of the strategic plan.
- UWGB, NWTC and the Green Bay Area Public Schools have launched TurboCharge, a program to prime the talent pipeline by offering every high school senior in the Green Bay Area Public schools at least 15 hours of college credit before graduating from high school.
- We are moving ahead vigorously to win approval for a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at UWGB—something this community has wanted for 30 years. We will need your help for this. There will be start up costs. We will be calling everyone in this room asking for your support. Please open your doors and see us.
- UWGB, Brown County and The Einstein Project have partnered to raise the funds to make the new STEM Innovation Center a reality on the UWGB campus.
- Working with our County partners we are moving the concept of the Phoenix Innovation Park, a 63 acre high-tech, innovation development on the UWGB campus.
- Working with partners we are very actively planning a presence in downtown Green Bay inside the emerging innovation district there.
- Jeff Rafn at NWTC and I along with our chief academic officers have signed a charter committing ourselves to a significantly enhanced partnership between our institutions. This effort called “Crossing the Bridge” is well under way with several reciprocal meetings of key administrators and faculty. The effort has resulted in joint programming between all four of UWGB’s colleges and NWTC.
- In a recent memo to the faculty and staff at UWGB I announced the University would begin a process this fall to reexamine the select mission statement of UWGB. This process has the full support of our Council of Trustees.
My colleagues and I enthusiastically endorse the new strategic plan. We are committed to doing our part to achieve the goals of the plan. We know we have much more to do. We are deeply appreciative of this community for its support of higher education. We promise to undertake the kind of self-reflection and change you have recommended.
Thank you. Go Phoenix! Go Packers!