Chancellor Meyer focuses on student success

By University Communications
April 2, 2015
Bob Meyer

Photo: Chancellor Bob Meyer's Inauguration Ceremony

James Huff Stout would be proud of what the institution he founded, University of Wisconsin-Stout, has become after nearly 125 years: a place to prepare students “for high-demand career opportunities in business and industry,” Chancellor Bob Meyer said Thursday, April 2, during his inauguration address.

“James Huff Stout might not recognize some of the programs now offered by Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University,” Meyer said, referring to UW-Stout’s polytechnic designation, “but I’m convinced he would enthusiastically approve of how we have stayed true to his original mission.”

Meyer, only the seventh chancellor or president since the university’s founding in 1891, ticked off the undergraduate and graduate programs UW-Stout offers, including applied mathematics and science, art and design, business and management, social sciences, education, family and consumer sciences, engineering, health and technical communication.

“That is what James Huff Stout envisioned for us in 1891,” Meyer said. “We have just put it into practice in a modern era of higher education.”

UW System President Ray Cross conducted the formal chancellor investiture ceremony during the event in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. Cross noted that no chancellor has ever left UW-Stout for another position.

“This campus community is clearly doing something right,” Cross said. “It is a testament to a legacy of stability within the leadership at UW-Stout and the deep affection that its leaders have for the institution. It also means that its leaders develop deep connections to the community and the area. Leaders here truly become respected contributors to the city and region.”

Meyer embodies that devotion to the institution and community, Cross said, adding, “Bob has worked tirelessly to reconnect to the institution that he so obviously loves. His energy, positive outlook and passion for innovation is obvious to everyone who has come in contact with him since August.”

Regina Millner, vice president of the Board of Regents, said, “UW-Stout is truly one of the gems of the UW System,” pointing to its request in 2007 to be designated Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.

“Clarity in its name and in its mission, coupled with quality in implementing that mission, has been important to UW-Stout’s amazing enrollment increase over the last years,” she said, referring to the record enrollment of 9,371 posted in fall 2014. University officials are predicting another record enrollment for fall 2015.

“Every chancellor brings unique assets to their position,” Millner said. “But it would be hard to find anyone better suited to lead UW-Stout than Bob Meyer.”

Meyer used his address to announce results of the latest survey of UW-Stout graduates, revealing that 97.1 percent of them either were working full time or continuing their education within six months of leaving campus.

“We measure the success of everything we do at UW-Stout with one key indicator: the career success of our students,” Meyer said, adding that the median starting salary of the 2013-14 class was $41,000 and total earning power of the class is $62 million.

“The success of our students in the workplace is directly related to the engagement we have with our employers, alumni and other stakeholders,” Meyer added.

Meyer also highlighted the university’s strong strategic planning model, its commitment through the Discovery Center to help business and industry solve real-world problems and its strong partnerships with other universities, the K-12 system and the technical colleges.

Increased fundraising through the Stout University Foundation will be important as UW-Stout tries to address significant budget challenges, he said. He presented a check to the foundation for $5,000 for a new fund to support teaching excellence and student success.

Meyer noted that he first stepped onto the campus of UW-Stout as a student nearly 40 years ago. “I felt right at home at UW-Stout, and this is a feeling that continues at UW-Stout today.”

Meyer took over as chancellor Aug. 16, 2014. He replaced Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen, who served for 26 years.

Speakers also included Amerika Vang, president of the Stout Student Association; Lopa Basu, Faculty Senate representative; Krista James, president of the Senate of Academic Staff; and Joan Wahl, chair of the Classified Advisory Development Council.

Meyer was introduced by Mark Tyler, president of OEM Fabricators, of Woodville. He is a former member of the Board of Regents. Closing remarks were by Tom Kornegor, president of the Stout University Foundation Board of Directors.

Petre (Nelu) Ghenciu, president of the Faculty Senate, welcomed attendees to the inauguration and served as master of ceremonies.

Music was provided by the UW-Stout Chamber Choir, directed by Assistant Professor Jerry Hui, and the Blue Devil Jazz Project, directed by Associate Professor Aaron Durst.

A reception followed the ceremony. The Stout University Foundation paid for the event; no taxpayer dollars or tuition funds will be used.

Meyer, a native of Port Washington, graduated from UW-Stout with bachelor's and master's degrees. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Learn more about him at "Who is Chancellor Bob Meyer?"

In addition to his time on campus as a student, Meyer spent 25 years at UW-Stout, from 1983 to 2008, in various professional roles, including assistant to the chancellor for state and federal relations; dean of the College of Technology, Engineering and Management; associate dean of outreach; and director of the Stout Technology Transfer Institute.