2012 Platteville Journal Column

January 4, 2012

As the new year begins, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville celebrates a number of recent successes.

At the Dec. 17 Commencement ceremonies, 586 students walked across the stage, forming the largest winter graduating class in our history. Because of the education they received at UW-Platteville, these new graduates are well prepared to enter a very competitive, technologically advanced workforce at the local, regional, national or global level. We wish them well as they begin this exciting new chapter in their lives.

In order to educate globally competent students who are well prepared to enter the workforce, we will continue to offer cutting edge, technologically advanced programming that meets the current needs of employers. With this in mind, beginning this month, we are offering a bachelor’s degree in microsystems and nanotechnology engineering. This new major, unique in the UW System and one of only a handful of comparable undergraduate degree programs in the United States, is designed to provide students with a multidisciplinary background in science and engineering and train them in the tools and techniques related to engineering at very small scales. Professor Hal Evensen, Microsystems and Nanotechnology Program Coordinator, leads this program.

Physical changes on campus include the continued construction of Rountree Commons on Chestnut Street that will be completed by August. In addition, you may have noticed the wind turbine outside of Southwest Hall, erected as part of a university-wide energy conservation measure. The turbine provides power to a portion of Southwest Hall and also provides educational opportunities for students in the renewable energy program.

Our Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement continues its partnership with community businesses and organizations to collaborate on meaningful community projects and provide a direct connection between classroom theory and real-life experiences and applications. Since 2008, PACCE has funded hundreds of these projects involving thousands of students. On Dec. 7, students presented their collaborations with area businesses and agencies at PACCE Poster Day. We look forward to highlighting more of their projects in the upcoming year.

Our students and faculty continue to display excellence in all that they do. One of UW-Platteville’s mediation teams, led by Dr. John Rink, professor of political science, recently won a national championship in competitions held at Drake University. The championship team consisted of Katie Shanahan, Jennifer Hess, Chaz Nichols and William Kuehni. A second UW-Platteville mediation team, consisting of team members Matt Jacopelli, Cody Bales, Adam Hendryx and Ryan Parr, also competed and placed at the national championship. Several of the students won All-American Awards for their performances, earning $ 6,000 continuing scholarships to Drake Law School.

Senior Kim Cordova recently received the Alliant Energy/Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Academic Achievement Award for her outstanding academics and her work helping shape a learning environment in which students from all backgrounds could succeed. Dr. Marilyn Tufte, Biology professor, recently received the distinguished Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of her outstanding commitment to student success. Our football team, led by Coach Mike Emendorfer, finished second in the conference with the best record in two decades at 7-3, while Anthony Swimm qualified for the NCAA III national cross country meet. These are just a few examples of excellence; we look forward to many more over the course of the upcoming year.

We continue to be committed to reaching out to help those in need. I am proud to share that many of our students and faculty have truly taken this to heart and are actively engaged in philanthropy. Students, faculty and staff raised over $66,000 for Wisconsin Badger Camp, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with disabilities. The university’s Residence Hall Association raised over $3,000 for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children and the American Cancer Society. Wilgus Hall held its 39th annual Holiday Party for Kids, providing 35 local children in need with gifts, games, arts and crafts activities, and cookie decorating. Our Holiday Gala had record-breaking attendance, raising funds for music scholarships.

On February 26, we will be honored to welcome Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County and nationally renowned lecturer, as keynote speaker for our annual “Ebony Weekend” event, hosted by the Black Student Union. This meaningful event celebrates the many multigenerational perspectives within the black community and seeks to bridge the gap between them. There will be workshops, lectures, as well as informal opportunities for dialogue focused on promoting collaboration, understanding, and acceptance. We hope you join us on this special day.

As always, every day is a great day to be a Pioneer.

February 1, 2012

These are interesting times in higher education, not just in Wisconsin but throughout the entire country.  All states are challenged by tough economic times with various demands on their resources.  This has made it difficult to maintain historic support for higher education.  UW-Platteville recognizes that the state is facing a multitude of fiscal challenges.  UW-Platteville is part of the University of Wisconsin System, one of the largest systems of public higher education in the country.  To study the structure of the System and identify ways it can control costs and seek flexibilities, the 2011-13 Wisconsin State Budget, 2011Wisconsin Act 320, included language to establish a Special Task Force on UW Restructuring and Flexibilities.

In October 2011, I was appointed to the Task Force along with 16 other people, including state senators, representatives, university chancellors, as well as leaders from the UW System, Board of Regents and Wisconsin Alumni Association.  The Task Force has held two meetings since December 2011 and will submit a report to the Senate and Assembly standing committees on higher education and the Joint Finance Committee no later than July 31, 2012.  The Task Force may extend that deadline to August 31, 2012.

Supported by the UW System, the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Task Force is charged with examining six legislative issues:

•  Whether there is a need to restructure the system and make recommendations as to a new governance structure

•  How system employees and those system employees assigned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison would transition from the state personnel system to the new personnel systems.

•  Whether tuition flexibility can be extended to the system while ensuring access and affordability and what role the Legislature should have in establishing tuition.

•  How compensation plans for system employees should be determined in future biennia.

•  Additional operational flexibilities that could be provided to system institutions.

•  How articulation and the transfer of credits between system institutions could be improved.

The University of Wisconsin System is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most efficient, accountable and productive systems of higher education.  With a record-high number of enrolled students, UW institutions are meeting the growing demand for college and are deeply committed to providing education that is accessible and affordable to all.  In fact, more than nine out of 10 Wisconsin residents who apply for admission to a UW campus are admitted and resident tuition remains very low compared to other colleges and universities.

In addition, graduation rates in the UW System consistently beat the national average, with each graduating UW class increasing Wisconsin’s annual income by about $500 million.  All Wisconsin citizens see a return on their investment in higher education and UW-Extension outreach networks make UW resources available in every community, business and home, reaching over a million learners every year.  The UW System has achieved these and many other benchmarks while keeping costs down, spending about half of the national average on administrative overhead.

These facts are evidence that UW-Platteville and other System schools operate efficiently. The Task Force members will be looking for a new set of accountabilities that will enable the System to continue to serve the citizens of Wisconsin well. This will ensure that our students receive an excellent education at value and assist the state in strengthening its work force and building a strong economic base for growth and advancement.  I believe there are several critical outcomes from the work of the Task Force necessary to guide the legislature and executive branch of state government as those two entities evolve legislative and state administrative agendas. First, the System and its schools need base funding that can be counted on so universities can plan and coordinate their educational and other programs.  Second, the governance structure and personnel systems need to be responsive to the needs of a modern university system that operates in a climate of declining state support/subsidy.  A clear set of outcomes and the methods of universities’ reporting should also be developed so that all constituencies can identify how well universities are doing in meeting their responsibilities.

From these efforts by the Task Force, our universities various critical flexibilities in managing our revenue from all sources can be had which will enable each university to chart a path to delivering a high quality education. We have an example of one such flexibility in the Tri-State Initiative.  The students in this program receive high value education while at the same time providing added resources to the campus.  This Initiative has provided funding for over 150 positions on campus as well as other university services and projects.

As recently as the state of the union address when the president called on colleges and universities to better control college costs, it is clear that higher education is the impetus that propels the U.S. economy forward by providing skilled graduates to the workforce.  With the formation of the Task Force, it is clear the UW System will continue to provide accessible and affordable education for all of Wisconsin students.

Chancellor Dennis J. Shields

March 7, 2012

I firmly believe that a core responsibility of a university is the development of all aspects of our human capital.  By human capital, I mean our students, who come to us to be educated, and our faculty and staff, who are responsible for delivering on the educational outcomes.  One such method is by bringing inspiring speakers to our campus, as we did during our ninth annual Ebony Weekend Conference, held at the end of February.  Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and nationally renowned leader in higher education, gave an inspiring keynote address on Sunday, Feb. 26.

He spoke about his firm belief that “the fundamental purpose of education is to help people to dream about the possibilities of their lives and then help them acquire the skills and values they need in order to reach their dreams.”  He also shared his belief that while a person or institution should acknowledge success, it is essential to continue identifying areas for improvement: “When you’ve done all that you can do, you take one more step because success is never final…University of Wisconsin-Platteville, you are a special place, and you can be even better.”

Another method of inspiring excellence is by recognizing academic achievement not only of our students but also of our faculty and staff.  UW-Platteville celebrates the success of the following faculty and staff members who recently earned their doctorate degrees:  Dr. Amy Nemmetz, Dr. Jodi McDermott, Dr. Julie Phillips, Dr. DeMisty Bellinger-Delfeld, Dr. Patricia Foster, Dr. Florence Omachonu, Dr. Shenita Ray, Dr. Pusaporn Tabrizi, Dr. Richard Garrett, Dr. Rebecca Doyle-Morin, and Dr. Yan Shi.  We commend them for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the university and its mission.

Adapting to the changing demands of our economy and society is another part of achieving our educational goals.  An example is beginning in the fall of 2012, UW-Platteville will offer a major in Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems for students who wish to pursue careers in the green technology sector.  Approved in February by the Board of Regents, the major will give students a broad understanding of both traditional and renewable energy options and their economic and environmental impact on the world, covering sustainability, wind and solar energy, building efficiency, biomass energy and project management.

As I observe students and faculty and staff in the classroom or on the job, the deep commitment to education and learning, everything that this university stands for, shines through.  In faculty, I see a genuine love of teaching as well as an interest in forming meaningful connections with students.  In students, I see the excitement of discovery as well as the joy of learning.  In staff, I see a willingness to go far beyond what is required in order to make things better for their departments and the university, which in turn has an impact on the students and their education.  In everyone, I see a willingness to share creative solutions to the challenges we face.  It is these very qualities that allow us to move forward with confidence that we will continue to deliver on our promise to provide our students with an outstanding education and make every day a great day to be a Pioneer.

Chancellor Dennis J. Shields

April 4, 2012

Superintendent Connie Valenza has embarked on an exciting and, I think, propitious endeavor.  While it is too soon to tell if the proposed charter school is a workable ambition for the Platteville School District, it is representative of a spirit of seeking to continually improve the educational opportunities available to the children of this region of the state.

On March 28, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville community as well as area residents had an opportunity to hear Dr. Robert Ballard, 2012 Pioneer Distinguished Lecturer, speak at Williams Fieldhouse.  Ballard is a premier oceanographer most well known for his discovery of the RMS Titanic and his underwater explorations of the Bismarck, Lusitania and Britannic with sea robots.  In his presentation, Ballard shared his passion for the final frontier of the natural world and explained how cutting-edge science and technology could be used to explore the depths of the ocean in order to better understand and preserve the world’s waters for future generations.

Exploration and discovery in the fields of science and technology and the broad range of other career areas are essential to learning, connecting with others and building healthy communities.  In the March 21 Community Corner, Dr. Valenza discussed exploring the feasibility of a charter school as an additional educational option for students.  I strongly support exploration of this option.

Charter schools help leverage all resources in a community, including those offered by public schools, businesses, universities, etc.  A charter school is another way of meeting the educational needs of our current generation of students.

We are rapidly approaching a national workplace in which students need to be globally aware as well as internationally competitive.  Because of advances in technology, the environment has changed dramatically in the past decade and people are connected instantaneously from one side of the globe to the other.  If our students are to compete and thrive in this rapidly changing, technological environment, the community as a whole must work together to support and strengthen our entire educational system, from K-16 and beyond.

We know that all students do not learn in the same way.  Traditional teaching techniques and methods are effective with some students.  Non-traditional teaching techniques and methods are effective for others.  We need competition and choices in our educational system because they allow for the exploration and discovery of new ideas that better meet the needs of all students.  A charter school would provide another opportunity for students to be exposed to classes in all disciplines in a different fashion that will encourage them to pursue careers in these areas.

As I have spoken with others in leadership positions at the university, I discovered that there is much support for exploring this option.  Bill Hudson, dean of UW-Platteville’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, states that many believe that a large percentage of female students are moving away from possible careers in science and mathematics by as early as the fourth or fifth grade.  For some of these students, a charter school with a different presentation of science and mathematics may make a connection with these students to encourage and support a Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, Mathematics (“STEAM”) career.  Dr. Hudson strongly believes that recruitment of more students into STEAM areas is vital to the wellbeing of the community and region.

An essential component of the K-16 educational system is teacher education.  Dr. Karen Stinson, Director of the School of Education, noted that while teacher education candidates currently receive wonderful field and student teaching experiences at Platteville School District, the charter school would provide a unique opportunity for an intense focus with STEAM.  It would be a positive partnership that would enhance the strengths of UW-Platteville as a STEAM and teacher education campus.  Partnering with Platteville Schools would provide the opportunity to continue to graduate excellent new teachers, who would also be able to infuse STEAM into their teaching.  Dr. Stinson believes that providing all teacher education candidates with the opportunity for hands-on learning with teaching STEAM curriculum would be a benefit to the future generations of PK-16 students.

In February and March, UW-Platteville hosted three career fairs that gave over 2,000 students, alumni and faculty members exposure to over 250 prospective employers and provided companies with the opportunity to recruit potential interns and employees.  The fairs also gave professors, deans and other university staff members opportunities to talk with representatives from companies.  The overwhelming feedback they received from employers is that their need for graduates, especially in the technical fields, is so great that they could hire all of our graduates within certain fields of study and still need more.

In order to ensure that southwest Wisconsin remains an economically viable place to live, we must increase the number of students who graduate in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.  As Superintendent Valenza pointed out:  Because the proposed charter school would more heavily emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics teaching and projects, it would provide students with extended opportunities to explore three career areas including industry and engineering, biomedical sciences and agricultural sciences.  By offering additional opportunities for students to explore these areas, more specialized focus of curriculum and different instructional strategies, charter schools can be instrumental in making sure that we are preparing students to excel in careers for which there is a high demand.

If the school district decides that it is willing to consider the charter school option, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is committed to collaborating, providing support and forming partnerships to ensure the success of the endeavor.


Dennis J. Shields

Chancellor, UW-Platteville

May 2, 2012

Building positive personal and professional relationships is essential for long-term success, whether it be in a corporate or academic setting.  At UW-Platteville, our faculty, staff and students work hard to build these positive relationships within our community and beyond.  We recognize that actively seeking out opportunities to collaborate with community members, businesses, organizations and academic institutions strengthens not only the university but the entire community and our region of the state.  As we combine resources and expertise to work together on innovative and creative projects, we can have an incredibly strong impact on the local and regional economies.  The university is committed to building upon our reputation for working with business and community groups by continuing to reach out to form these important, mutually beneficial relationships.

UW-Platteville recently had an opportunity to forge a relationship that could have far-reaching implications for our university, our community and our region of the state.  On April 18, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a Town Hall Meeting at UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Farm to discuss and answer questions about the importance of education, agriculture and the partnership between the two as the federal government looks to revitalize the economy and bolster the nation’s educational opportunities.  Nearly 400 high school and university students, educators, FFA members and legislators from across the region attended.

For those who may not be aware, UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Farm is a 430-acre working farm that provides opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage in high tech, experiential learning and applied research.  Six of the 42 majors offered at the university are in agriculture, including a dual degree in agriculture education and technology education.  In light of agriculture being a $50 billion industry in Wisconsin, it is essential that we recognize its importance to the future of our community, region, nation and the world.

During the town hall meeting, the Secretaries noted that there are many exciting opportunities on the horizon for agriculture.  They said that agriculture is key to our security, key to job growth in rural America, and key to energy and manufacturing.  They stressed the importance of strengthening agricultural education and stressed the necessity of elevating the teaching profession.  In fact, it is the U.S. Department of Education’s goal to make teaching not only America’s most important profession, but America’s most respected profession.

At the close of the town hall meeting, the Secretaries signed a joint agreement that will require the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education to work collaboratively to promote agricultural education and promote agricultural teaching as a viable, vital vocation.  The agreement encourages the two departments to share their best practices and use resources collaboratively.

We were extremely fortunate to have Secretary Duncan and Secretary Vilsack as our guests.  I was greatly impressed with their knowledge and expertise, their willingness to listen and respond to questions, and their deep commitment to resolve the challenges that face us in the educational and agricultural fields.  In turn, the Secretaries were impressed with UW-Platteville’s excellent academic programs and its commitment to provide quality education at an affordable cost despite difficult economic times.  The Secretaries also spoke with many students who attended and were impressed with how satisfied they were with the education they were receiving.

This event was an extraordinary opportunity that allowed us to hold an interactive dialogue with national leaders as well as showcase the university’s cutting-edge programs in agricultural education.  In addition, it allowed us to form a positive relationship with two embassadors who recognize the critical importance of both education and agriculture and are committed to strengthening and improving both in communities across America.

June 6, 2012

Good news travels quickly and bad news often takes precedence over good news. As you have read in previous weeks of the Platteville Journal, a number of UW-Platteville students recently made some very poor choices that resulted in their arrests. It is important to remember that these were the actions of only a few UW-Platteville students. The majority of our students exhibit the highest standards of behavior, academically and socially, as evidenced by their academic success and the countless hours that they devote in service to our community.

Our students, sometimes with our prompting but often without it, actively seek out ways that they can give back to our community. UW-Platteville students provide service to local residents, businesses and organizations. Community service allows students to develop interpersonal skills, learn new perspectives and increase their sense of commitment to the people in the community.

There are many examples of UW-Platteville students helping people in our community. Here are a few of the most recent community service activities that students have participated in:

This spring, more than 600 UW-Platteville students participated in Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement community-based service learning projects. With UW-Platteville faculty members, these students partnered with more than 40 businesses, organizations and schools to affect meaningful, positive changes in Platteville and the region. Projects were in the areas of engineering, math, science, business, industry, life sciences, agriculture, liberal arts and education and ranged from building learning tools for special needs children to helping non-native speakers learn English to designing an exhaust diffuser that met new EPA emissions standards.  During the past academic year, 14 percent of UW-Platteville students (1,050 students) participated in PACCE projects.

Also this spring, students who resided in Morrow Hall hosted their annual “Morrow Hall Works Week.” Students participated in Relay for Life, an event that raises awareness and support for the American Cancer Society. They also cleaned up Main Street and parts of campus, organized and conducted a food drive, brought decorations and crafts to senior citizens, ran a clothing drive for Easter Seals and provided a donation to an area family in memory of their son. Students from Morrow Hall and other residence halls who provide service in the community are always looking for new ideas of service activities as well as new organizations to help.

Throughout the school year, UW-Platteville student athletes hosted Kids Night Out.  They also collected can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, held “Little Pioneers” basketball clinics, visited local elementary schools, raked leaves for senior citizens in Platteville, and participated in Relay for Life.

Members of the UW-Platteville football program helped Neil Wilkins Elementary School upgrade their playground equipment and taught the students the fundamentals of football. Many of the players also helped with Relay for Life. Coach Jason Wagner, Coach Ryan Munz and player Lee Vlasak helped a young boy from Middleton who has cancer celebrate his 10th birthday.  They talked with him and his classmates about football, athletics, perseverance and the future, then presented him with a signed UW-Platteville football helmet and jersey. In the last year, the football team has also bagged food for the “Food for Haiti” mission, helped build a home for the “Habitat for Humanity” just outside Cuba City and completed yard work for Platteville residents.

Most of UW-Platteville’s more than 200 clubs and organizations have missions that are deeply rooted in providing service to others. For example, the Greek Community, which includes 16 social and professional fraternity and sorority chapters and their governing councils, participated in more than 2,100 community events, spending more than 14,800 hours engaged in service. Some of their activities included bell ringing for the Salvation Army, walking dogs and cleaning cages for the Dubuque Humane Society, taking a number of disabled people on a hunting weekend, highway clean up, tutoring, city hall auditorium cleaning, hosting bingo/spa day/caroling at senior centers, donating blood, donating food to the food pantry, raking leaves, shoveling snow and much more.

Members also volunteered or provided financial support to the Humane Society, United Foundation for Disabled Archers, scouts with special needs, Operation Home Front, ALS Walk, World Dairy Expo and Wounded Warrior. In fact, 10 of the 16 chapters collected well over $14,000 for Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, Campfire USA, ALS Walk, Trina Benefit, Food Pantry, Invisible Children, Wisconsin Badger Camp, Project Concern, Walk MS, UW-Platteville Music Department, Main Street Fund, Special Olympics, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Food for Kids and Family Advocates.

University students hosted the 39th annual Wisconsin Badger Camp Christmas Telethon and raised over $66,000 for Wisconsin Badger Camp, whose mission is to provide quality outdoor recreational experiences for people with disabilities. In addition, UW-Platteville student ambassadors helped with promoting and organizing the Irish Festival at the end of March.  They also participated in Relay for Life and did yard work for a family in Platteville.

This is only a snapshot of the positive ways that UW-Platteville students contribute to this community and region. There are many, many more. In closing, I have great pride in the students at UW-Platteville. We have some of the finest, brightest, most creative and innovative students right here on our university campus. They are hard-working and deeply committed to their studies and future careers and are willing to devote the time and energy necessary to be successful. They are globally and environmentally aware and have a desire to make a difference in the world. Equally important, they are also responsible citizens who give back to the university campus and this community. The next time you hear of or read about a UW-Platteville student in the news, I hope you will think about all the good things that our students do for this community and region.

July 3, 2012

There are times in life when we are faced with difficult, painful circumstances that change our lives forever, such as the death of a dearly loved family member or friend.

All of us at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville mourn the recent loss of three of our students, a member of our faculty and a member of our staff. All were incredibly talented, creative individuals who had a positive impact on everyone whose lives they touched and brought spirit, energy and life to this university and the community. It’s hard to believe that our university has been faced with tragedy so many times in such a short period of time.

Christopher Holcomb was pursuing a major in English and creative writing and was an incredibly talented young man. He created music, played guitar and was a gifted writer. His first-person narrative entitled “My World for Now” was published in the 2011-2012 Stylus – An Anthology of Freshman Writing. Chris was from Monroe.

Stacy Chantel McGuire was pursuing a degree in business administration. She was a gifted leader, outstanding worker and confident public speaker. She was gracious, loved helping others and always looked for the good in people. She especially loved her daughter, Anastacia.  Stacy was from Dodgeville.

Katie Binning graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in art and education. While a student at UW-Platteville, she ran cross country, indoor and outdoor track, was a two-time NCAA Scholar Athlete and won numerous awards. She was devoted to being “freethinking, unconventional and optimistic.” She walked in the commencement ceremonies on May 12 and was completing her student teaching as an art teacher at Wisconsin Heights High School. A piece of her artwork will be displayed in UW-Platteville’s Rountree Commons. Katie was from Abbotsford.

Michael Ley joined the student center staff as a custodian in 1996. Throughout his many years of service, he was always dependable, hardworking and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. Michael’s character and his work ethic were extraordinary and he never let obstacles stand in his way. He was deeply respected and appreciated by all those who knew him. Michael was from Platteville.

Dr. Anthony (Tony) Thomas was a professor of mathematics, beginning as an assistant professor in 1994 and progressing to full professor in 2004. He was passionate about his teaching and was known as a caring, engaged and devoted professor. He will be remembered for being helpful and patient in helping students solve the mysteries of mathematics. Tony also possessed a deep love of music and was well known as the lead guitarist of the local rock band Fallen Roadies. As a teacher and as a musician, Tony touched the lives of many people.  Tony was from Platteville.

We extend our condolences to the families and friends of these very special people. They will not be forgotten. While they were here, each of them made her or his own unique and lasting mark on this university, the community and the people who live here.

We also recognize that over the course of the school year, in addition to the passing of these individuals, some of our students, faculty and staff lost family members, relatives or friends whom they loved and cared about. We extend our condolences to them as well.

These recent losses make us pause and consider what is truly important in all of our lives.  While we may have different jobs, different focuses and, at times, different opinions, we are all brought together in times of tragedy.  We are all Pioneers.

August 1, 2012

Though it may be difficult to believe, fall is rapidly approaching and a new academic year at UW-Platteville will begin on Sept. 4. The university continues to experience record growth, with 1,650 freshmen and over 400 transfer students registered for the fall. While the majority of our students are from Wisconsin, we also have students from 15 other states as well as degree-seeking international students from 19 different countries and visiting/exchange students from 12 countries. Interest in UW-Platteville continues to grow, with more than 3,600 students visiting over the past year to find out more about our academic programs and the campus.

Having a diverse university is essential to preparing our students for the global workforce they will enter when they graduate. Today, many companies are international entities and are looking for employees who are broadly prepared for the workforce and who possess a global awareness and perspective. In order to compete in this type of environment, our students must possess interpersonal skills as well as intercultural competencies to complement their technical skills and broad intellectual training. Having diverse students, faculty and staff from the United States and the world who have a variety of backgrounds and life experiences allows our students to develop these very important life skills.

One of the challenges we face is ensuring that students are actively engaged in university campus life. One way that we can keep students fully engaged is to encourage them to experience residence hall life, which provides students with many benefits compared to living off campus. Research from the National Survey of Student Engagement shows that students who live on campus earn higher grade point averages, have more interaction with faculty and are more likely to graduate than their commuting peers. This is largely due to the fact that residence halls create an environment that allows students to feel a sense of belonging as well as a sense of pride in their university. This sense of belonging and pride, in turn, fosters academic achievement and community involvement as well as involvement in academic, cultural and co-curricular activities that allow students to learn, develop and grow. In addition, students who live in residence halls have the opportunity to develop lasting bonds with peers in their living environment and learn how to get along, communicate and live with others who may be different from themselves. This experience can be instrumental in helping students mature into responsible, thoughtful adults.

In order to provide this type of experience as well as accommodate our growing number of students and increase retention and graduation rates, we are opening a new residence hall, Rountree Commons, which is possible thanks to the combined efforts of the UW-Platteville Foundation and the UW-Platteville Real Estate Foundation. This residence hall will provide housing for 620 students this fall, mostly freshmen and sophomores and will offer many amenities that aren’t available in our traditional residence halls, including an air-conditioned, suite-style, double room floor plan; convenience store and fitness center. Student artwork has been incorporated into the design of the interior and exterior of the building and grounds, including statues in the courtyard, metal artwork on the retaining wall and other art pieces created using a variety of mediums. We will host a Rountree Commons open house for the general public on August 30 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. We hope that you will join us.

UW-Platteville has been the fastest growing campus in the University of Wisconsin System over the past dozen years. While this has been beneficial to the university and community in many ways, it has also created challenges in some aspects, such as parking. To accommodate parking needs, the university has added parking including some remote parking options such as McGregor Plaza, which will be primarily for residents of Rountree Commons.  Additional remote parking will be available at Memorial Park.

In an additional effort to help meet transportation needs on campus, starting this fall, the university will provide a city-campus shuttle service seven days a week. The shuttle will provide a way for students, employees and community members to travel to campus and to various locations throughout Platteville.  Students will only need to present a valid student ID to ride. Staff and community members may ride the shuttle for a fee of $1 per ride or $30 for a yearly pass. Shuttle routes are currently being finalized and details will be posted on our transportation website, /transportation.

The university will hold its annual Welcome Weekend/New Student Orientation on Friday, Aug. 31 through Monday, Sept. 3. New student orientation is important because it helps all incoming students connect with the university, meet other students and learn more about the community. In fact, research indicates that students who attend new student orientation transition more positively in college, both academically and socially. During this weekend, the university has scheduled a number of activities both on-campus and in the community, including music during student move-in, a welcome picnic in Memorial Park, a scavenger hunt downtown and an outdoor movie.

There will also be an evening block party on Saturday, Sept. 1, and an all-campus welcome fest the evening of Monday, Sept. 3, featuring two popular, national recording artists.  The block party will conclude by 8 p.m. and the all-campus welcome fest and concert will conclude by about 10:30 p.m.  All of the planned activities have been designed with community members and students in mind, and we are confident that this welcoming weekend will be a positive experience for all.

As the new academic year begins, we hope that you will take advantage of all the university has to offer: sporting events, music and theatre performance, fitness classes, academic courses, indoor/outdoor track, basketball and racquetball courts, swimming pool, exercise/weight room and more. We are committed to continuing to provide these opportunities and more to the people of Platteville. This university campus is not only for our students, but for you as well. Remember, every day is a great day to be a Pioneer!

September 5, 2012

A new academic year at UW-Platteville began on Sept. 4. Not that long ago, the university’s enrollment was approximately 4,000 students. This fall, enrollment is likely to top 7,500 and possibly even approach 7,700 students. While this growth has been beneficial to the university and community in many ways, we realize that it has also created challenges in some areas, including housing, neighborhood relations and parking.

Housing: Thanks to the efforts of the UW-Platteville Foundation and the UW-Platteville Real Estate Foundation, Rountree Commons was opened this fall, providing housing for 620 students, mostly freshmen and sophomores. We hope that you were able to attend the open house on August 30. In addition, we recently began construction on another residence hall just north of Southwest Hall, which will provide housing for over 400 additional students.

Neighborhood relations: Ensuring that UW-Platteville students are good neighbors is very important to us and we have plans in place that will give students the opportunity to take an active role in being positive members of the neighborhood in which they live. For example, this fall, a group of students residing in Rountree Commons will travel throughout the surrounding neighborhood to rake leaves and then in the winter, will volunteer to shovel neighborhood sidewalks and driveways. More community service ideas will be implemented as the school year progresses.

Parking: In the fall of 2011, in anticipation of the effects that the increase of students would have on parking, the university sponsored a transportation and parking study by Delta 3 Engineering. Delta 3 made a number of recommendations for immediate and long-term improvements to the transportation and parking options which can be viewed on the university’s transportation website, /transportation.

In June 2011, the university committed to provide periodic updates to the Platteville Common Council, in writing or in person, on the progress of our transportation and parking plans.  Here is what we have delivered, as promised, to date:

  • Provided Platteville Common Council with monthly reports on transportation and parking updates. These reports are available to the public.
  • Hosted a community forum for neighbors of Rountree Commons on October 10, 2011.
  • Parking:

◦      At New Student Registration, encouraged families to consider not sending a car to campus.

◦      Secured additional offsite parking by leasing 70 parking spots at McGregor Plaza, primarily for residents of Rountree Commons, as well as developing over 100 additional spots at Memorial Park.

◦      Provided parking for at least 75 percent of the number of students residing in our new residence hall, Rountree Commons.

◦      Expanded the Jay Street parking lot.

◦      Following the city’s decision to require permits for parking on Greenwood, College and University Plaza, we formalized internal plans for those streets.

◦      Paved and lit the path between Markee and the large parking lot on Southwest.

  • Additional Transportation Options:

◦      Implemented a city-campus shuttle system that allows students, employees and community members to travel to campus and to a number of locations in Platteville. Students need only to present a valid student ID. Staff and community members may ride the shuttle for only a $1 fee per ride or $30 for a yearly pass. There are two primary shuttle routes, a campus loop and a shopping route. See /go/shuttle for details.

◦      Provided a secure, online rideshare board called Zimride to assist people in setting up carpools, either for regular commuting or one-time trips. Before the school year even started, this program had over 160 users.

◦      In the process of developing a fiscally and environmentally sustainable transportation plan that will reduce the percentage of cars brought to the university and increase the use of multi-model transportation options. The plan will include incentives, disincentives and flexibilities.

Further details about all of these transportation and parking issues are available on the university’s transportation website, /transportation.

As you can see, UW-Platteville is committed to working with the city of Platteville to provide its students, staff, community members and visitors with a variety of transportation and parking options. As we move forward, the university will establish a Transportation Advisory Committee that will address topics including establishing formal review and recommendation procedures for parking, identifying other transportation options which could be implemented and policies on visitor permits and special events.

This fall, we hope that you take advantage of the variety of programs and activities that the university offers: sporting events, music and theatre performances, academic courses, etc. Remember, every day is a great day to be a Pioneer!


Chancellor Dennis J. Shields

October 3, 2012

Thank you to the many members of the community who provided support for the UW-Platteville students who lost their belongings during the recent fire at Chicago’s Best Restaurant.  The response was overwhelming and the students greatly appreciated all of the support, gift cards, funds and other items they received to replace what they had lost in the fire.

The university is deeply committed to providing students with learning experiences that allow them to develop and grow as human beings. At every opportunity, both inside and outside the classroom, we strive to nurture, instill and inspire students to be thoughtful, insightful and responsible citizens who genuinely care about others and the world around them.

I am especially excited about one of UW-Platteville’s new initiatives that provides such a learning experience: our inaugural Campus Read program. Launched this fall, Campus Read is a reading program that stresses community involvement and is designed to engage the entire university campus as well as community members in a shared reading activity.

The program will facilitate discussion and learning, help students relate larger social issues to what they’re studying in their disciplines and help to broaden understanding of different people, cultures and eras. Campus Read will also encourage students to become broader in perspective, more literate, intellectually more astute and ethically more sensitive.

In August 2011, UW-Platteville Provost Mittie Den Herder charged Amy Nemmetz, director of First Year Experience, with implementing the Campus Read program on our campus. A Campus Read committee was formed that includes Evelyn Martens, Kory Wein, Aryan Rashidi, Kara Candito, Zora Sampson, Amanda Tucker, Laura Beadling, Sharon Klavins, David Van Buren, Art Ranney, George Smith, Val Wetzel, Becky Peters, Terry Burns, Phillip Parker, Shari Wedig, Vicky Suhr, Heidi Tuescher-Gille and Madelon Kohler-Busch.

The committee narrowed a list of 70 books to four via a committee vote. Then, in February, a campus-wide vote determined that The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, written by Rebecca Skloot, was the winner.

The university hopes to meet several objectives through the Campus Read program:
• Elevate connections between university students and faculty, the Platteville community and alumni through an academically-focused reading experience
• Promote and engage in dynamic conversations about diverse ideas
• Enhance students’ critical thinking skills
• Raise awareness of cultural likenesses and differences
• Foster a sense of community through enhanced and guided student-to-student and student-to-faculty interactions

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a nonfiction book describing the story of Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year old African American poor southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells were removed and illegally cultured. Themes in the book touch on science, medicine, bioethics, human values, race, poverty, faith, gender and capitalism. I strongly encourage you to read it.

The book will be read by students in all First Year Experience classes, in many English freshman composition classes, some communication and gender studies classes and other classes across disciplines. Other departments, such as the Writing Center, have formed a lunch-time reading club to discuss it among the student and professional staff in their departments.

Additionally, at least one campus-community book club has formed to meet and discuss the book, thus furthering our goal of strengthening connections between UW-Platteville and our community partners. Many faculty and staff are reading it as well and exploring innovative ways to incorporate it into their classes and into campus life.

Students involved in the university’s SUCCEED program, a three-week summer bridge program designed to provide support for first-year students, had a chance to read the book and their positive responses indicate that the program is accomplishing its goals.

The university will hold a Campus Read essay contest in which students have an opportunity to write an essay about how the book develops one of its themes and why they found it personally relevant. In future Campus Read programs, the university hopes to engage high school students and help them prepare for the expectations of college reading and writing.

We invite you to attend the special Campus Read panel presentation on October 30 from 4:30-6:30 pm in Velzy Commons that will feature Dayle DeLancey, a bioethics and African American history professor from UW-Madison; Esther Ofulue, a UW-Platteville professor of biology who has conducted cancer research; and Jill Ellefson, executive director of the University of Wisconsin Organ Procurement Organization.

Panelists will talk about the book from their own perspectives and examine questions related to bioethics, race, cancer research and organ donation. We are contacting local book clubs as well as area high schools and encouraging them to attend this presentation. We hope that you join us at this special event.

Zeitoun, a nonfiction book written by David Eggers that documents a man’s harrowing experience after he chooses to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, has been selected as next year’s Campus Read book, having placed second in the campus community vote.

In the future, UW-Platteville hopes to implement additional programs that allow the university to further engage with the community in impactful ways. Remember, every day is a great day to be a Pioneer!

Dennis J. Shields
Chancellor, UW-Platteville

November 14, 2012

It was wonderful to visit with so many UW--Platteville alumni and community members during Homecoming in October. Celebrated since 1924, Homecoming is one of the university’s most memorable, lasting traditions.

This year, thousands of alumni, family, friends, students, faculty and staff participated in Homecoming Week. I hope that you were able to enjoy the parade, football game, lighting of the M and other activities.

Academic programs and services are always the university’s first priority, for they are the heart of this institution. We continue our tradition of providing exemplary, affordable and accessible education in high growth fields; cutting edge technology; hands-on, experiential training; academic advising and career counseling; and assistance with securing a position following graduation.

Keeping our priorities in line clearly makes a difference for our students. A recent study conducted by PayScale, a Seattle-based, compensation data company that maintains salary profiles, indicates that UW–Platteville graduates can expect a positive rate of return on their investment into higher education. In fact, UW–Platteville is the highest-rated UW school in the survey except for UW–Madison. Given the concern nationwide about the increasing costs of a university education, it is refreshing to learn what we have known all along: UW–Platteville graduates can expect a great reward for their investment, both in knowledge and in compensation.

According to the 2012 study, UW–Platteville ranks 429th out of 1,248 institutions nationwide regarding the rate of return on in-state tuition and ranks 483 on out-of-state tuition. When comparing public universities nationwide, UW–Platteville ranks 134th out of 395. The rate of return, according to PayScale, is 7.9 percent annually for in-state tuition and 6.5 percent annually for non-residents.

The study also noted that the typical starting salary for a UW–Platteville graduate is $47,300. All data used to produce PayScale’s results was collected from employees who successfully completed its survey, and only employees who possessed a bachelor’s degree, not any higher degrees, were included.

The quality and success of our academic and athletic programs has drawn much media attention. Over the past few months, UW–Platteville has received increased local, regional, and national media coverage, which indicates that people regionally and nationally are starting to take notice of the many great things that the university students, faculty and staff are accomplishing.

A few examples of recent media coverage include a U.S. News and World Report article about our International Pal Program, a WMTV Madison special consulting our experts at Pioneer Farm about the drought, and a Wausau Daily Herald story about our Engineers Without Borders organization.

There has also been much publicity about our Forensic Investigation Crime Scene House, including an article in Forensic Magazine. An article written about the Horrific Crime Scene Re-Enactment at FICSH was picked up by the Associated Press and was used by various television stations online across the state and beyond, including WLUK-TV in Green Bay, News8000.com and WXOW-TV in La Crosse; San Francisco Chronicle.com, MSNBC. com; and WBAY-TV in Green Bay. KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, aired a feature on FICSH this month.

In addition, the Associated Press picked up a story about the 75th anniversary of the M, and it appeared in several media outlets throughout the country. Other coverage includes a Wisconsin State Journal story about the North American Manx Museum, and there will be a Channel 3 TV in Madison story on our Cheer and Stunt Team’s new Sparkle Effect Squad, the first-ever, all-inclusive collegiate cheerleading squad. There have also been numerous radio interviews, articles posted on media websites and articles printed in newspapers and magazines that highlight the success of our students, professors, and programs.

Pioneer athletic teams have received national recognition and student–athletes have received weekly recognition from national media outlets such as NCAA.com and D3football.com and on the conference level from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in various sports.

I have great pride in the students, faculty and staff of this university. I am also thankful that the university is closely connected to so many people, businesses and organizations in Platteville as well as the surrounding communities. Together, we are making a name for ourselves in the region, the state, and the nation. Together, we are making every day a great day to be a Pioneer.

December 4, 2012

By Dr. Elizabeth A. Throop
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Education, UW–Platteville

From our founding as a nation, the United States set out deliberately to educate its citizens.

Clearly there were unjust definitions of “citizen” throughout our history, as almost the entire population was excluded from the rights of citizenship — women, African–Americans, Latinos, the poor and illiterate, and non-landowners all were denied participation in education and, more broadly, democracy for a long time. However, over the centuries, the United States has worked on remedying these injustices so that we understand that we all have a right to a solid education.

This translates today into the American emphasis on a well-rounded, broadly educated college graduate, one who has had exposure to a variety of disciplines and viewpoints in addition to concentrating on one or two specific subjects through majors. It is through this wide sampling of subjects and perspectives that true American citizenship can be practiced.

Through understanding a wide variety of perspectives, scientific facts, and artistic expressions, a typical citizen can move beyond what he or she believes to be true and right, to begin to consider important issues in historical, social, scientific, intellectual, and cultural context.

However, many of our students hear, as they are growing up and especially from the electronic media, that colleges are filled with ivory-tower, unrealistic thinkers who are clueless about how the “real world” works. That often is coupled with calls for “practical” education and college programs that lead to immediate employability.

Practicality is all well and good, but it is unclear whether teaching college graduates how to maneuver around the latest spreadsheet or operate CAD platforms, isolated from a deeper, more nuanced educational experience, will serve 21st-century students, and their potential employers, very well at all.

One reason that UW–Platteville requires all of our students to immerse themselves in philosophy as well as project management, ethnic studies as well as engineering, and sociology as well as sales, is because we know that employers need people who can think critically, write coherently, speak well, and work with a variety of people from a panoply of societies and cultures around the world.

Employers tell us over and over again that our job is to educate students for a global reality; they will take care of their own specific training needs. For the companies for whom our graduates are likely to work, a deep and broad exposure to philosophy, ethnic and gender studies, history, the arts, literature, and public speaking, as well as the sciences, is crucial.

Our graduates’ employers need people well versed in the liberal arts and sciences as well as in the fundamentals of their particular professional or pre-professional disciplines.

So it is clear that college graduates today need to be creative and innovative in a complex global economy; they must work with foresight and integrity and, most importantly, they have to be aware of the broader impact of decisions they make in their work. Often, programs focused on specific skills are too narrow, and creative thinking is not encouraged or fostered.

Students need to understand the world and their place in it, experiencing varied bodies of knowledge, having both practical and intellectual learning opportunities. They need to be able to understand and experience multiple points of view and be able to ask a variety of questions. So professors must have the ability to help students integrate the liberal arts and sciences with whatever their major is, whether it is English or engineering, psychology or agribusiness.

That’s the mission of UW–Platteville, and we know that our graduates agree that every day is a great day to be a Pioneer!

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