Campus Update

The UW-Green Bay Chancellor’s Office emailed the following from Chancellor Michael Alexander to the UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff on Friday, July 24, 2020.

Dear UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff,

In advance of our next Coffee Break on Monday, I would like to update you on three things.

  1. You may have read the news that Governor Evers has announced a $250 million state budget lapse or one-time cut for this fiscal year. We do not know the exact amount that the UW System will be expected to contribute to this total, but it is encouraging to see that this is a lapse and not a permanent budget cut at this time. In addition, we have more time to deal with this cut than we did with the lapse in the spring, which only gave us a few months for which to find the money. The latest cut will give us 11 months to absorb the impact. We are not through the woods yet, but we are in a good position to be able to manage this lapse. Once details emerge on UW-Green Bay’s portion of the lapse, we will work with area and division leaders to minimize its impact as much as we can.
  2. The Health, Safety, and Risk Group of the Re-Opening Taskforce will release a document to area and division leaders today that describes in great detail our plans for the fall. Each area will need to respond by August 1 to the guidelines that we have set forth based on recently released UW System Guidelines, Brown County Health, Prevea Health, the American College Health Association, and Johns Hopkins University guidance to make sure each area of the University can open safely and responsibly. After August 1, University and specific area plans will be shared with all faculty, staff, and students leading up to the start of the semester. Additionally, we have created an Office of COVID Response, which will fully mobilize our communication and response efforts to the pandemic leading into the fall. More to come on this in the weeks ahead.
  3. In order to be fully transparent, I want to update you on our approach for administrative support for the Cabinet moving forward. Paula Marcec, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, has announced her plans to retire after 17 years at UW-Green Bay in September of 2021. Paula’s departure is one we must prepare for due to her immense institutional knowledge and tremendous service to the institution. We have two other administrative positions that are currently vacant. One of these positions will not be replaced. In her final year, Paula will transition from her current position to one that now serves the administrative needs of the entire Cabinet. Ben Joniaux, Chief of Staff, will transition to a new job description completely focused on external and government affairs for the University. This will provide much needed support to our Advancement and Communications offices as well as all of our community engagement efforts across the campus. He will also now serve the entire Cabinet and not just the Chancellor’s Office. We will search for a new Cabinet Liaison for Internal Affairs in the coming weeks with the remaining open position. This new position will work specifically on project management and support of our academic staff to move forward the countless efforts happening across campus to improve our University. The position will primarily work in support of the Office of the Provost, Business and Finance, and Student Affairs to further align our efforts for student success. These changes will create financial savings, ensure we continue to put all of our efforts behind realizing our mission, and remove individual support for the Cabinet, including myself. We must all work together to realize our goals and removing the hierarchical way we often organize our staff is a goal I would like us to push towards.

Kate, Sheryl, and I look forward to talking with everyone on Monday morning. Have a nice weekend.


Michael Alexander

UW-Green Bay Council of Trustees Update

The UW-Green Bay Chancellor’s Office emailed the following from Chancellor Michael Alexander to the UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We are very fortunate to have a Council of Trustees (COT) that supports UW-Green Bay in important ways.  The group had a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss important changes to its structure and work for the future.  The changes are summarized below.

  1. The leadership structure of the COT has been changed to allow for a clear leadership transition sequence.  The executive committee will now be made up of a chair, past chair, vice chair (future chair), and secretary (future vice chair).  We have benefited for a long time from the tremendous leadership and support of Craig Dickman, Current Chair, and Lou LeCalsey, Past Chair.  I am thrilled to announce that Dr. Tina Sauerhammer Dean has accepted our invitation to become the next Vice Chair and that Cordero Barkely has agreed to be the next Secretary of the COT. Craig, Tina and Cordero are all distinguished alumni, who will be tremendous in their roles.
  2. The COT structure has been changed to include standing committees of Advocacy and Athletics.  In addition, each year the COT will decide on Impact Initiatives to work on.  This year, they will include Health, Mental Health, and Wellness; Social Justice; and Economic Resilience.  These committees are in alignment with our mission and will serve to connect the work we are doing as a University to the broader community and connect the community back to us.

Thanks to Tony Werner and Ben Joniaux for their work in support of this new structure.  It is vital that we connect the work we do to the communities we serve.  I am grateful to work with a Council of Trustees that is fighting for us, is fully supportive of our mission, and is willing to put time and resources behind making our University and, therefore, our region, a better place.


Michael Alexander

Open letter to the communities of Green Bay, Manitowoc, Marinette and Sheboygan

Dear UW-Green Bay Students, Faculty and Staff:

At a meeting with campus leadership on Tuesday, I was asked if we were considering how to move forward as a campus after the pandemic.  It was an excellent question and one that I have not done a good enough job articulating an answer for over the last few months.  Like all of you, I have been focused on UW-Green Bay’s careful response and planning related to the immediate crisis. We have learned over the last four months that conditions can shift quickly and new guidance appears almost daily, which can make long range planning a challenge. I want to thank our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community for being patient and understanding while we navigate these difficult times.  Our enrollment is up 875 students this summer over last year and our faculty and staff are working through the summer in order to be ready for any version of teaching we need to provide in the fall.  We are positioned well to deal with whatever challenges emerge in the coming year, but it is not enough.  We must do much more.

In the spur of the moment, I answered the question about our future with the first thing that came to my mind.  I believe our long-term vision is the same vision that will guide our university and region in the coming year.  To begin with, we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Our students deal with a fear of the unknown all the time.   Most felt this way prior to the pandemic and those who did not, likely do now.  Prior to the pandemic, I believed an education helped a student contribute to making a positive difference in their region, country, and world.  Now, I believe education must also prepare students to generate constructive dialogue that will help heal and rebuild our communities.

We must stop spending all of our time worrying about the mode of delivery for our courses.  For what feels like my entire career, and certainly over the last four months, we have been debating whether or not to teach in person or online.  It has presented as a binary choice when it does not have be.  The debate has gone on while more and more students need an education that can provide the benefits of both.  We need instruction that honors the fact that a large portion of our students need flexible hours to learn.  They lead complex lives.  Many desire the in-person experience with the flexibility of an online course.  Providing this kind of education is our answer now and it is also our answer in the future.  The first step in providing access to education is ensuring that our classes are actually accessible given the realities of modern life.

We must fully commit to solving the racial achievement gap (the disparity in academic achievement between black and white students) in our state, which is one of the worst in the country.  While it pains me to say that, we must face this reality head-on and finally fully dedicate ourselves to addressing it. Our community cannot grow together unless we level the educational playing field.  There are massive inequities in our region that are exacerbated by uneven access to education.  This problem has been building since higher education started in this country.  Achievement gaps in education lead to inequities in opportunities and further widen socioeconomic disparities in our region.  Only our actions will determine whether we are truly committed to solving this injustice. This is urgent.

We must fully commit to teaching all who desire an education at any age and with any background.  Universities have often boasted about the academic profile of their student body.  I do not care what the academic profile is of our incoming class.  I only care if each student feels like their life has been enriched by an experience with us.  It is not our place to choose who we teach.  It is our mission to teach all who want to be taught.  There are many universities that will fight over a student with a 4.0 GPA and high SAT score.  I do not begrudge that student or the university that seeks to teach them, but we must fight for the student who has had to struggle, who has potential that is yet to be realized, and who wants to make a difference in their community.  Our region needed that student to have an education prior to the pandemic.  Now it is essential that our University nurtures local students into the leaders of tomorrow.

We must stop assuming that all students go to college to get a degree and do so between the ages of 18-22.  We needed to set this assumption aside prior to the pandemic and it has become even more important to do so now.  Education should be a lifelong pursuit and one that may not always follow a straight line.  Most students expect an affordable education and during the pandemic may not be willing or able to travel far from home to get one.  As education continues to grow in cost, it is becoming a more and more attractive decision for students to stay local for large parts of their educational experience.  We will welcome students at any point in their career to use education to improve their career or broaden their view of the world.

We must change the narrative around the cost of an education.  Our tuition is under $8,000 per year for a Wisconsin resident.  An elite university education can cost upwards of $50,000 per year.  Regardless of the university students choose, it should be viewed as an investment they make in themselves.  Student debt matters when it inhibits a person’s ability to fulfill their potential.  Worse yet is student debt without the completion of one’s educational goals.  We must support students to persist in their education.  We must encourage them to stay on course and finish what they have started. We must be a leader in helping first generation college students successfully navigate the experience.  The narrative on the cost of education and rising debt was broken before the pandemic.  We now have a chance to reset the educational value proposition in the coming year and beyond.

Our community has rightly demanded that UW-Green Bay grow to support the economy, culture, education, and health of our region.  Now and after the pandemic, we will need leaders to help us move forward. It is our job to prepare them.  We fiercely believe that all students who want a university education should have access to it.  Our mission is to provide that education, and the rapid growth of our University in recent years shows we are fighting to support students to reach their educational goals.  I ask our entire community to join us in the fight to create a more equitable community and one prepared to meet the challenges of the future.

I am unable to predict exactly what will happen with education in the coming months.  However, I know we are resilient. As the Phoenix, we are up for the challenge that lies ahead. We will rise into the unknown together.


Michael Alexander

International Students

The UW-Green Bay Office of the Chancellor emailed the following from Chancellor Michael Alexander to the UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff,

Yesterday the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released new guidance concerning international students studying on F-1 visas.

As we understand the regulations, international students will be able to maintain their immigration status provided that they enroll in at least one face-to-face course this fall. However, if UW-Green Bay is forced to move entirely online for any reason, immigration will require all international students to depart the United States or transfer to other U.S. institutions offering face-to-face classes. Read more from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

To be clear, we value international students and their contributions to our University community. We do not support any policy that prevents any of our students from accessing an education at UW-Green Bay.

Our Office of International Education immediately began reviewing the order and is actively working with individual students on their status and class schedules to ensure their individual education plan is not impeded.


Michael Alexander

Coffee Break Follow-Up

The UW-Green Bay Office of the Chancellor emailed the following from Chancellor Michael Alexander to the UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

Dear UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff,

It was nice to be with everyone at the Coffee Break on Monday.  There were a few questions that we were unable to address in the session that are responded to below.

Building Door Access:

Starting today, July 1, most of the main entry doors into all of the academic buildings and concourse tunnel system will be open. We ask that you stay outside as much as possible and walk outside to your office building instead of taking the concourse tunnel system. There will not be any check-in stations at these entrances, but follow the policy (pdf) that was sent out earlier this month regarding workplace expectations. Studio Arts will unlock the loading dock door, door between TH and SA, and north door leading to the parking lot. Theatre Hall will unlock two doors on the plaza level. Mary Ann Cofrin Hall will unlock the main door on the north, the east, and the southwest. Also be aware that as of July 1, all University employees and visitors are required to wear face coverings in all public spaces or spaces potentially occupied by multiple people (hallways, lobbies, restrooms, etc.). Please see the Phoenix Forward: Return to Campus Plan (pdf) for more details. As more information is made available, there may be updates to access or hours that will be communicated with the campus. Supervisors should work with staff to identify a preferred entrance for your specific operational area which is closest to the office location.

FMLA / COVID-19 Leave:

Through August 31, 2020, the University continues to encourage employees who can perform their duties remotely to continue to do so. Employees who are asked to return to the office setting, but cannot do so due to a COVID-19 related condition; a CDC recognized condition that creates a specific vulnerability; or has a member of their immediate household that has a condition which makes them vulnerable to COVID-19 infection should contact Human Resources to discussion options including use of any additional COVID-19 Leave, FMLA or other facilitations of work environment.

Air ventilation:

All of the University’s air handlers currently provide a code minimum of 7 cubic feet per minute per person (CFM) or 15 CFM per person based on when the unit was installed and commissioned. This means that most University spaces in each building are completely changing the volume of air between 3–7 times per hour. Effective social distancing measures, personal protective equipment, personal hygiene, and daily operational cleaning are still the most effective method for preventing the rapid spread of this virus.

We will be planning another Coffee Break on July 27 at 8:30, please stay tuned for additional details. In the meantime, thank you for being patient as we work in a rapidly changing environment and do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance in any way.


Michael Alexander

Missed Monday’s ‘Coffee Break’? You can watch a recording

Thank you to all who joined the Coffee Break Q&A on Monday, June 29. Because of technical issues, this recording begins a few minutes into the Chancellor’s opening remarks. All introductory comments were discussed more thoroughly during the Question and Answer session.