First and lasting
Baldrige impact evident 15 years later in Student Jobs Program
January 12, 2017
Fifteen years ago
University of Wisconsin-Stout made national news when it won the Malcolm S.
Baldrige National Quality Award for organizational quality and performance.
The university continues
to take pride in the fact that it remains the only four-year higher education
institution to receive the award.
But what about
today? Is being a recipient of the Baldrige — announced Nov. 30, 2001, and awarded
March 2, 2002, in Washington, D.C., by President George W. Bush — little more
than a historical footnote?
If one outcome can
serve as an example of the university’s operational excellence, then it’s clear
the award has meant much more. In 2012 the Student Jobs Program began on campus.
It was created in large part because UW-Stout has continued to follow the core
values identified in the Baldrige framework, one of which is management by
The jobs program was
initiated, in part, to increase student retention by providing more engaging on-campus
experiences. In addition, it was supported by faculty and staff during another
Baldrige-inspired planning event, all-campus Engagement Sessions held each fall
on campus. The sessions provide further evidence of UW-Stout’s commitment to
the Baldrige core value of valuing people.
At the Engagement Sessions, faculty, staff and students
suggest new ideas and improvements to plans and practices. Some of these
suggestions, like the Student Jobs Program, become action items. The
university implements the action items and reports related initiatives and results
back to campus at the start of the spring semester during You Said, We Did
presentations, including one at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, when the new semester
begins for faculty.
In nearly five
years, a total of 300 students have benefited from the Student Jobs Program, or
an average of about 60 per academic year.
Program improves retention
The program appears to be working: Retention rates of
students in the program are up to 10 points higher than average on campus,
according to campus data.
“It’s clear that students who participate in the job program
are more likely to stay in school and earn their degrees than students who
don’t,” said Assistant Chancellor Meridith Drzakowski, a national Baldrige
examiner who oversees the university’s office of Planning, Assessment, Research
and Quality and administers the jobs program. “The focus is on meaningful
The program provides
$500 per semester to students hired by various departments. Students also benefit
from focused work experiences while engaging in meaningful projects with faculty,
staff and fellow students.
Jen Grant, biology, knows the value of the program. She has employed seven students
since 2013 in labs at Jarvis Hall Science Wing.
exceptional personal and professional growth in the jobs recipients,” Grant
said. “My research program wouldn’t be where it is today without them. There
isn’t any question that the stipend allowed me to hire and retain the best
have done research, for example, on phosphorylation within a protein component
of egg yolk and have evaluated the lipid content of potential fuel oils
extracted from weeds.
One of those
students was Sean Doering, of Green Bay, who graduated with honors in May 2016
with a Bachelor of Science degree in applied science.
“The variety of
experiments I have been able to perform and the people I have been able to work
with has kept my interest and excitement about college and scientific research
burning. This job opportunity has even inspired me to pursue further education
in graduate school,” Doering said about the program while employed.
Other jobs within
the program have led students into a variety of research: Discovery Center Fab
Lab, clothing design, video game design and teaching. The Take2 video and news team also is made up of students in the program.
reported that their positions influenced their decisions to stay at UW-Stout,” Drzakowski
that student employment is a leading indicator in closing the achievement gap
for racial and ethnic minorities, one reason the jobs program has been recognized
as a “best practice” by the UW System Board of Regents.
The jobs program is
funded through the Chancellor’s Special Project Fund, Stout University
Foundation and federal work-study funds, with final funding for proposals
approved by the chancellor. A proposal must include at least one job for a
Adherence to Baldrige core values continues to benefit
UW-Stout in many ways, Drzakowski said.
“The Baldrige program has had a tremendous impact on
enhancing our processes to engage the workforce and students in
decision-making, our willingness to take risks and to focus on our success.”
Drzakowski said. “The You Said, We Did program provides direct evidence of the
success we have experienced as a result of listening to faculty, staff and
Learn more about the Baldrige here.
Doering, a 2016 graduate, and Associate Professor Jen Grant talk about
Doering’s research conducted in the Student Jobs Program.
Second: Meridith Drzakowski
Doering does research in a science lab while employed in the Student
Bottom: UW-Stout's Malcolm S. Baldrige National Quality Award, presented at a 2002
ceremony in Washington, D.C.