Chancellor Shields delivers convocation address

Chancellor delivering convocation address

University of Wisconsin-Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields shared his intentions for the upcoming year at the annual all-campus convocation held on Thursday.

“Our mission remains the same, which is to promote excellence by using a personal, hands-on approach to empower each student and achieve our vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university,” said Chancellor Shields.

The topics he addressed included recruitment and retention, student mental health, continuation of the collaborative integration with UW-Platteville Richland and UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County, capital project updates, 2019-24 strategic plan and the Wisconsin state budget.

Chancellor Shields said UW-Platteville faces a number of significant opportunities including the transformation of campus with the $23.7 million Boebel Hall improvements and $55 million Sesquicentennial Hall. He highlighted how the new facilities will be a selling point in recruitment as they enhance the student hands-on learning experience in state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms.

The five-year strategic plan is built around three goals: foster transformative education, increase access and invest in our future. The implementation will guide intentional investment and will support student success, according to the chancellor.

“We are in a position of strength – excellence in our academic programs, recognized strengths in our student support, dedicated and passionate faculty and staff,” said Chancellor Shields. “If we continue to make sound, rational, data-informed investments that support student success, we are proactively planning for the opportunities and challenges to come.”

This year’s biennial budget included the Dairy Innovation Hub, a collaboration between UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls and UW-Madison. The Dairy Innovation Hub will bring in $8.8 million annually and about $1.8 million to UW-Platteville. “We will soon see $240,000 in equipment that directly comes from this initiative. It will provide approximately four Dairy Science positions, plus research equipment and opportunities,” said Chancellor Shields.  

Chancellor Shields and Provost Dr. Joanne Wilson recognized the 2018-19 award winners, honored the major grant recipients and welcomed the new faculty and staff members. The 2019 award winners at the all-campus convocation included Jeanne Robinson, Kari Frederick, Kristina Fields, Shan Sappleton, Jessica Sprenger-Schulenberg, Muthu Venkateshwaran, Kyle Horne, Chris Schulenburg, Raymond Pugh, Soma Chattopadhyay, Dong Isbister, Eugene Tesdahl, Scott Melin, Amanda Tucker, Kimberly Sargent and Jeffrey Strange. View the full video of the chancellor's convocation online.

University Staff Award of Excellence

Jeanne Robinson, the School Certifying Official for veterans’ benefits has been at UW-Platteville for 35 years. For the past two years she’s worked in the Wright Center, helping more than 300 veterans per year navigate the world of forms, websites and paperwork necessary for them to receive their maximum benefits.

Academic Staff Award for Excellence

Kari Frederick is an alumna of UW-Platteville and has been working in the chemistry department since 1998. Frederick works hard to make sure that all of the lab rooms are set up before each chemistry class, and she enjoys the technical aspects – math and chemistry – of working in the lab.

Excellence in International Advising

Since 2007, Dr. Kristina Fields, professor of civil engineering has been teaching and advising in the department. Fields has been leading a short-term study abroad through the Netherlands to focus on the cycling infrastructure. The program provides students with the opportunity to develop their cycling design skills to create safe and effective infrastructure.

Excellence in International Advising

Dr. Shan Sappleton, associate professor of political science is receiving the Excellence in Advising International Students Award for her efforts in helping further international experiences at the university. Sappleton also serves as the program coordinator for the International Studies Program and sits on the University International Education Committee.

Outstanding Professional Academic Advisor Award

Jessica Sprenger-Schulenburg has been at UW-Platteville since 2011. She is the academic advisor/academic coach in the Department of Criminal Justice. Sprenger-Schulenburg believes the primary goal of academic advising is to help students define and develop both educational and career goals that are consistent with their personal values, interests and talents.

Outstanding Faculty Academic Advisor Award

Dr. Muthu Venkateshwaran, associate professor of crop physiology and molecular biology joined the UW-Platteville School of Agriculture in 2013. Venkateshwaran teaches a variety of soil and crop science courses, ranging from introductory to advanced. He also serves as an academic coach in the School of Agriculture for special advisees who are re-admitted after recommendation by the Admission and Academic Appeals Committee.

Early Career Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr. Kyle Horne, assistant professor in mechanical engineering is entering his fourth year at UW-Platteville. Horne took the initiative to re-evaluate the class Thermal Systems Laboratory, a course he previously taught. He is now working on re-designing the coursework for the class Intro to Computational Methods.

Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr. Chris Schulenburg, professor of Spanish began teaching at UW-Platteville in 2007. Schulenburg’s teaching philosophy focuses on how the Spanish language impacts students’ lives. He also seeks to create an active teaching environment.

Innovations in Technology for Teaching and Learning Award

Assistant Professor in Chemistry, Dr. Raymond Pugh is entering his third-year teaching at UW-Platteville. Pugh is bringing new technology into his classroom to help his students receive a better understanding of molecular structure, interactions and function by using 3D models.

Innovations in Technology for Teaching and Learning Award

Dr. Soma Chattopadhyay, professor of chemistry, is introducing her proposal, integrating computational chemistry into the undergraduate chemistry curriculum with the web-based interface program WebMO. The hands-on tool gives students the opportunity to form different types of molecules in 3D.

UW System Outstanding Woman of Color in Education Award

Dr. Dong Isbister, associate professor of women’s and gender studies and coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies program, began teaching at UW-Platteville in 2013. Isbister has worked closely with students and colleagues inside and outside the classroom, on-and off-campus, to help make positive changes and progress in varying capacities. She has also worked closely with students of color and LGBTQ student populations and participated in activist and scholarly activities organized by student organizations, faculty members, and student residence halls.

UW System Wisconsin Teaching Fellow Award

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Scott Melin joined UW-Platteville in 2017. Melin’s research is centered around a STEM outreach service-learning project in partnership with the first and second grade classrooms at Westview Elementary School in Platteville, and the students of the mechanical systems lab course.

UW System Wisconsin Teaching Fellow Award

Dr. Raymond Pugh, assistant professor in chemistry will continue his research on Writing-to-Learn through the Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars program. Writing-to-Learn is the idea of using writing to promote a deeper understanding of concepts for students.

UW System Wisconsin Teaching Fellow Award

Dr. Eugene Tesdahl, assistant professor of history has been teaching at UW-Platteville since 2014. Tesdahl’s project furthers research about chattel slavery and lead mining in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin, 1826-1865.

UW System Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Amanda Tucker, associate professor of English, was named one of three recipients across the UW System of the 2019 Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. The $3,000 awards are funded by an endowment from the Alliant Energy Foundation and are intended to recognize “teaching of outstanding quality that leads to substantial intellectual growth in students” at UW System institutions within the company’s service area. Tucker will also be recognized in October at an awards ceremony at UW-Madison.

Carol Sue Butts Woman of the Year

Kim Sargent, program manager for the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Student Success Programs is being honored with the Carol Sue Butts Woman of the Year Award. Sargent has been supporting women students in the College of EMS for about eight years. She also advises the Society of Women Engineers student organization, along with coordinating STEM outreach programs for fifth through 12th grade girls that includes the Women in STEM Career Day, Pioneering Your Future in STEM and Girls Who Code.

Nimocks Family Faculty Appreciation Award

Dr. Jeffrey Strange, associate professor of theatre, resident scenic and lighting designer and technical director of the Center for the Arts Theatre is the recipient of the university’s third annual Nimocks Family Faculty Appreciation Award. Since Strange began working at the university in fall 2011, he has designed, mentored student designers, technical directed, or done all three simultaneously, for more than 30 productions.