Tragedy and compassion
Death of international student is university’s top story of 2016
December 28, 2016
It will be
remembered as the year international student Hussain Alnahdi was attacked and
died in downtown Menomonie, but 2016 at University of Wisconsin-Stout also will
be remembered for the compassion shown in light of the tragedy.
The Oct. 31 death of
Alnahdi, of Saudi Arabia, leads the list of UW-Stout’s top 10 news stories for
2016, as chosen by the University Communications staff. The case, still under
investigation by Menomonie police, has drawn national and international media
attention, some of it for the heartfelt reactions to the death, including a sidewalk
memorial, a memorial service and a memorial dinner led by Alnahdi’s friends.
The No. 2 news story
of the year is the university’s yearlong celebration of its quasquicentennial, 125th
Rounding out the top
five are the Science Olympiad National Tournament, which drew more than 5,000
people to campus in May; the September grand reopening of Harvey Hall after a
$28.3 million renovation; and fall enrollment of 9,619, a record for the third
Other top 10 stories
in 2016 are: the university’s reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission;
a report that 97.3 percent of recent graduates are employed; reorganization of
the university’s colleges to help meet a state budget cut; approval of a School
of Engineering; and UW-Stout partnering in a $500,000 local watershed project.
Following are summaries
of the top 10 stories:
and memorial events: Alnahdi died the day after he was found beaten
and unconscious early Oct. 30 outside Toppers Pizza on Main Street. A suspect
has been identified by Menomonie police, but no arrests have been made. Police
have said the attack was not a hate crime and that the suspect, from Minnesota,
is not a UW-Stout student.
service held Nov. 3 at the Memorial Student Center outdoor amphitheater
drew about 1,000 people, and a memorial
dinner Nov. 17 at the student center, featuring traditional Saudi Arabian
food, drew about 750 people. A memorial fund has raised more than $10,000.
Chancellor Bob Meyer, in his Dec. 17 commencement speech, said
he is proud of the university’s and community’s reaction to the tragedy. He read
from an email sent to him by one of Alnahdi’s roommates. “I have never felt
more honored to call myself a UW-Stout student,” the roommate said. “The
student body, and surrounding community, has become closer than I would have
ever imagined. Thank you for being so passionate about this school, its
students and the community. Thank you for inspiring us, so that together we
could hopefully inspire thousands more!”
2. 125th anniversary: UW-Stout kicked off a
special anniversary year with a celebration
Jan. 5, 125 years from the day in 1891 when it opened as Stout Manual
Training School. Gov. Scott Walker and UW System President Ray Cross attended
the celebration. Walker proclaimed it UW-Stout Day in Wisconsin. Other
anniversary events were held during homecoming and throughout the year, which
wrapped up with the December publication of a definitive book about the history
of UW-Stout, “An
Idea Comes of Age.”
3. Science Olympiad National Tournament: The
32nd annual event was hosted
by UW-Stout for the first time. Teams from California and Illinois took
home the top high school and middle school prizes, respectively. About 3,000
competitors and 2,000 spectators representing 49 states and Japan were on campus
for three days, May 19-21, including a science expo.
4. Harvey Hall reopening: A $28.3
renovation project that lasted more than two years, shutting down the largest
classroom building on campus, ended with a grand
reopening celebration Sept. 22. UW System President Ray Cross and other
dignitaries were on hand to cut the ribbon, rededicate the 100-year-old
building and tour the like-new classrooms, offices and other spaces.
5. Record enrollment: With 9,619 students,
UW-Stout set an enrollment
record for the third straight fall. The previous record was 9,535. In the last 20 years, UW-Stout’s
enrollment has increased by about 29 percent, more than double the rate of the
UW System as a whole.
6. Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation: The
HLC, one of the regional agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of
Education to accredit degree-granting colleges and universities, visited
UW-Stout in March and in July announced
reaccreditation, which is good until 2025-26. In its 95-page report, the
review team said it has “confidence in the direction UW-Stout is headed.”
7. 97.3 percent employment: The 2014-15
Employment Report, compiled by the UW-Stout Career Services office,
revealed that 97.3 percent of the most recent graduates were employed or
continuing their education within six months of leaving campus. The report
covers graduating classes in August 2014, December 2014 and May 2015. The
2013-14 employment rate was 97.1 percent, and the rate was 97 percent the previous year.
reorganization:In an effort to meet a
state budget cut, the number of colleges was reduced from four to three,
effective July 1, saving UW-Stout $360,000 a year. The College of Management
was eliminated and blended into two other colleges.
9. School of
Engineering approved: The UW System Board of Regents approved
the new school Aug. 18. No additional university funding was requested. The
school will help coordinate existing engineering programs, which have 500
students, and help develop additional programs. The new school also will assist
in raising private funds for engineering education, UW-Stout officials said.
10. Watershed project: Along with the state
Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, UW-Stout will
help lead the Red Cedar River Water Quality Partnership, which received
$500,000 in grants and funding through 2018 to improve regional water quality
in lakes, rivers and streams. The project, involving 25 organizations, was announced
The top 10 stories represent a small fraction of university
news in 2016. For links to all UW-Stout news stories, go to the university
Top: Friends of Hussain Alnahdi hold candles during his memorial service Nov. 3
Second: Omar Alkohmos, of Saudi Arabia, wipes a tear at the Hussain
Alnahdi memorial service Nov. 3 at UW-Stout. At left is Tommy Hutson, of
Chippewa Falls, one of Alnahdi’s roommates.
Third: Students from Menomonie High School, one of the Wisconsin
qualifiers, participate in the Science Olympiad National Tournament opening
ceremony in May at UW-Stout.
Bottom: Dignitaries prepare to cut the ribbon at Harvey Hall grand reopening in September.