Employment rate for graduates hits 97.4 percent, up third year in row

Economic impact results also reported at Baldrige, polytechnic anniversary celebration

March 7, 2017

Chancellor Bob Meyer speaks as Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch listens during the Baldridge and polytechnic anniversary celebration Tuesday.

For the third year in a row, an increased number of University of Wisconsin-Stout graduates were working within six months of leaving campus, Chancellor Bob Meyer announced Tuesday, March 7, at a celebration of two historic developments in the university’s recent past.

Meyer announced that 97.4 percent of the 2015-16 graduates were working or continuing their education within six months of receiving their diplomas, compared with the 2014-15 employment rate of 97.3 percent. The 2013-14 rate was 97.1 percent and the 2012-13 rate 97 percent.

When event attendees in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center applauded the announcement, Meyer in turn applauded for the crowd, made up largely of faculty and staff. “It’s because of a lot of effort by people in the room. It speaks to the polytechnic designation we have and making sure our graduates are well-prepared,” Meyer said.

Meyer also announced the results of an economic impact study that found UW-Stout contributes $271.8 million annually to a seven-county area in western Wisconsin and supports 4,624 jobs.

The study showed that for every $1 that students invest in their education at UW-Stout, they receive $3.50 in additional earnings over their lifetime. The average annual rate of return for student spending at UW-Stout is 15 percent.

Laura Donovan, president of the Stout Student Association, talks about her educational experiences.For taxpayers, the annual rate of return was 14.6 percent on every dollar they invest in support UW-Stout.Taxpayers also received $3.50 in benefits for every dollar invested in UW-Stout.

For the first time, the study analyzed the impact UW-Stout graduates have on the economy in the seven-county area, revealing that the accumulated contribution from 30 years of alumni employed in the regional workforce amounted to $147.7 million in added income during the analysis year.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch attended the event, which marked the 15-year anniversary of UW-Stout receiving the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award and the 10-year anniversary of UW-Stout being designated by the UW System Board of Regents as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.

“It’s pretty incredible the economic impact and the number of graduates you put directly into the workforce — 97.4 percent is pretty amazing,” Kleefisch said. “You take the polytechnic idea and the Wisconsin Idea and spread it across the great state of Wisconsin.”

Kleefisch read a proclamation signed by Gov. Scott Walker that makes March 9, 2017, “Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University Day” in Wisconsin. March 9 is the 10-year anniversary of the Board of Regents vote on the polytechnic designation.

A brochure explaining UW-Stout’s designation as a polytechnic institution was available at the event.The proclamation notes that since receiving the designation, UW-Stout has doubled the number of undergraduate majors it offers, has record enrollment “and continues to be a vital partner with business and industry in the Chippewa Valley and across the state of Wisconsin.”

Meyer read a letter sent by Chancellor Emeritus Charles W. Sorensen, who championed both the Baldrige award and the polytechnic designation. The Baldrige award, Sorensen said, “provided national and international recognition for the school” and demonstrated “that indeed UW-Stout is a special university.”

The polytechnic designation, Sorensen said, meant that UW-Stout “joined the ranks of well over 100 other polytechnics across the country” and “reinforced our commitment to regional and statewide companies.”

Meyer said the polytechnic designation helped and continues to help UW-Stout focus as an institution. “A lot of people knew we were special. They just didn’t know what was special about us,” he said.

Other speakers included:

  • UW-Stout deans Maria Alm, Chuck Bomar and Bob Salt
  • Barbara Bales, director for strategic initiatives and educational innovation for the UW System
  • Meridith Drzakowski, assistant chancellor for Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality
  • Professors Julie Bates-Maves, Nels Paulson and Forrest Schultz, emcee
  • Laura Donovan, of Platteville, an applied social science major and Stout Student Association president
  • Kristine Christofferson Olson, of Eau Claire, a 2010 graduate who in 2007 as a student spoke at the Board of Regents to encourage the UW System to approve the polytechnic designation

Alumna Kristine Christofferson Olson discusses her experiences as a UW-Stout student.Bales said UW-Stout’s polytechnic mission is the “intersection of theory and practice” and that the mission and Baldrige focus support the Wisconsin Idea of leveraging university expertise for the good of all state residents.

Donovan also noted UW-Stout’s promotion of the Wisconsin Idea, especially through the LAKES REU — research experience for undergraduates. She was part of the federally funded program, which conducts research on area water quality. The Baldrige and polytechnic designation are embedded in the type of education UW-Stout provides, she said. “It’s about taking what we learn and applying it to real-world situations both locally and globally. It’s about using those values (we learn) for a better future.”

Olson, who became a science teacher for six years and currently is a stay-at-home mom, said “my passion for science was fostered here at UW-Stout” through integrated hands-on experiences such as doing research on grasshoppers and zebra fish. “I am forever grateful for these experiences. They truly changed who I am as an individual,” she said.

Drzakowski is on the national Baldrige Board of Examiners. She said that 15 years after receiving the award UW-Stout remains a national role model for quality because award criteria such as using factually based research to drive managerial decisions and valuing people “keep us focused on continuous improvement.”

A livestream video of the event is available here.

Read more about the polytechnic designation, the Baldrige award and the economic impact study at the links.



Top: Chancellor Bob Meyer speaks as Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and deans Maria Alm, left, and Bob Salt, right, listen during the Baldrige and polytechnic anniversary celebration.

Second: Laura Donovan, president of the Stout Student Association, talks about her educational experiences at UW-Stout during the event.

Third: A brochure explaining UW-Stout’s designation as a polytechnic institution was available at the event.

Bottom: Alumna Kristine Christofferson Olson discusses her experiences as a UW-Stout student and advocating for the university’s polytechnic designation in 2007.