Major donation part of chancellor’s optimism to begin 2016

By University Communications
January 11, 2016
Chancellor Bob Meyer addresses faculty and staff Monday, Jan. 11, to begin the spring semester at UW-Stout.

Photo: Chancellor Bob Meyer addresses faculty and staff Monday, Jan. 11.

Chancellor Bob Meyer, announcing a major donation, exuded optimism as he addressed several hundred faculty and staff Monday, Jan. 11, to open the spring semester at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

“It sounds good to say spring doesn’t it? Makes you feel kind of warm all over,” he said, with the temperature well below zero outside.

Faculty returned to work Monday after the winter break. Classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 19. UW-Stout is closed Monday, Jan. 18, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Speaking in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center, Meyer cited several reasons for his optimism, despite ongoing efforts to weather $5.3 million in annual budget cuts in the 2015-17 state budget.

He announced that UW-Stout will receive a major donation in 2016 for its engineering programs. The details of the donation will be announced later.

The university learned of the gift shortly after Christmas, Meyer said, calling it a “game-changer for our engineering programs. Let’s just say the donation made my holidays quite a bit brighter.

Bob Meyer greets Abel Adekola, left, and Petre (Nelu) Ghenciu.“This donor’s decision to commit to a significant gift serves as a clear reminder to me of our extraordinary value proposition, that your contributions as a staff are making an indelible and positive impact on employers and that we can be very successful with our fundraising efforts,” Meyer said.

“It also reminds me of the importance of keeping focused on our goals and the power of maintaining a positive outlook in spite of the challenging environment we are operating in. In short it gives me great hope for our future. I can’t wait to share with you more details about this exciting gift,” Meyer said.

UW-Stout added its fourth engineering program, mechanical, in 2015 and hopes to add several more engineering programs in the coming years.

Meyer also announced that Stout University Foundation, led by Mark Parsons, vice chancellor for University Advancement and Marketing, will begin a major fundraising campaign in 2016. “Thesuccess of this campaign will be critical to the financial health of UW-Stout well into the future, and I am absolutely confident that this campaign will be a huge success and a game-changer for all of us,” Meyer said.

Meyer complimented all faculty and staff members for their “willingness to make tough decisions in trying times. Your advice to me and leadership to the campus has been a real asset,” he said.

Another reason Meyer cited for his optimism was record enrollment of 9,535 in fall 2015 and how the 1.75 percent increase over 2014 helped ease the impact of the budget cuts.

“There are people who kept their jobs at UW-Stout because of the financial benefits we saw from higher enrollment. That’s how important enrollment growth is for us,” he said. “It is my intention that we continue to grow.”

UW-Stout’s enrollment has grown more than twice as fast as the UW System’s enrollment in the past 20 years. One reason for the growth is UW-Stout’s 97.1 percent employment rate for recent graduates, Meyer said.

Meyer also noted that UW-Stout is celebrating its 125th anniversary throughout 2016, a chance to highlight its rich history and to look at its future. A kickoff celebration Jan. 5, the school’s 125th birthday, featured Gov. Scott Walker, who proclaimed it UW-Stout Day in Wisconsin.

The chancellor announced a new civility initiative on campus. Faculty and staff will have mandatory training in the spring on Title IX harassment, discrimination and retaliation; FERPA; and mandatory reporting of child abuse. The goal is to further develop “an inclusive and respectful environment for our faculty, staff and students in which to grow,” Meyer said.

Civility is the topic of a keynote speech “How Do Experiences of Everyday Civility or Incivility Impact You on Campus?” Friday by Mitchell Kusy, a professor at Antioch University and founder and managing partner ROI International, and Elizabeth Holloway, a professor and psychologist at Antioch University. They also will hold a breakout session, “Everyday Civility.”

Meyer’s address kicked off the annual January Professional Development week programs on campus.



Second Photo: Bob Meyer greets Abel Adekola, left, dean of the College of Management, and Petre (Nelu) Ghenciu, Faculty Senate chair, after the program.