UW-Platteville Chancellor's convocation
UW-Platteville Chancellor David Markee highlighted academic initiatives and stressed the importance of attracting a larger, more diverse student body during his convocation speech Sept. 2.
PLATTEVILLE - As University of Wisconsin-Platteville Chancellor David Markee kicked off the academic year with his annual convocation speech Tuesday, two themes seemed to take the center stage as the University's top official laid out the institution's accomplishments and goals.
Amid an affirmed national interest in the importance of diversity in higher education, UWP administrators will continue current programs and initiate new ones to attract more students near and far. And despite massive cuts in state funding, UWP officials are committed to serving students and to pursuing improvements to campus buildings and infrastructure.
Markee said the University must examine its facilities. Renovation projects are continuing on Williams Fieldhouse and Ullrich Hall. Improvements for Ottensman Hall, home of the University's revered engineering program, are in the planning phase.
"As we look to the decade ahead, we need to ask, 'what labs and resources will be needed to continue this great engineering program?' We need to determine how much we must change," Markee said. "That work has begun already and will continue throughout the year."
Construction is also underway at UWP's Pioneer Farm as the Agriculture Technology Center is almost complete. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for Oct. 10. A $1.1 million Living and Learning Center will be finished this fall, and the UWP Foundation is working with private donors to build the $1.8 million state-of-the-art Swine Center.
Construction projects are also on the horizon for the Ullsvik Center, Glenview Commons, the Dairy Center, Karrmann Library and Pioneer Tower.
As the University improves its facilities, partnerships are being forged to attract new students to UWP, help diversify the student population and give domestic students the chance to experience another culture.
"Our goal this year is to see if we can have 200 students study abroad," Markee said.
The Chancellor signed an agreement with the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Germany, in May to offer a joint international masters for computer science. Eight German students are studying at UWP this semester.
"I'm sure you'll have an opportunity to meet them on campus this fall," Markee said.
A partnership with the South-Central University for Nationalities in Wuhan, China, will give Chinese students the opportunity to study in the United States as they complete course work to earn a master's of science in education degree in English education. Invitations were issued to 30 students to come to UWP in January to complete one course of their program.
"Our hopes are that many of these students will be able to obtain the visas to study here," Markee said.
Sixty-two international students studied at UWP last year.
The distance education program continues to see increases in enrollment as well, with students enrolling from all over the country and abroad.
The implementation of a collaborative engineering program at UW-Fox Valley also increases the reach of the institution. A second full-time faculty member is being hired and construction has begun on a $400,000 lab there, fully supported by Fox Valley-area businesses, Markee said.
The proposed development of a similar collaborative at UW-Rock County was requested by businesses in that area, Markee said. The project has the support of UW System administration and both houses of the state legislature, but the final state budget did not provide funding for the program.
"It was a victim of the governor's veto pen right at the end," Markee said. Efforts will continue to secure funding.
Despite a loss of $171 million of state funding to the UW System over two years, and a $1.7 million hit to the UWP budget in that same period, UW-Platteville will continue to focus on students and the delivery of a high quality education. The UW System as a whole lost 650 positions over the next 2 years; UWP lost 19, Markee said.
"We're going to try to be as responsible as we can with the resources we have," Markee said.