New chancellor tells faculty, staff he’s ready to serve

By University Communications
August 28, 2014
Faculty and staff applaud in the student center’s Great Hall during Opening Day

Photo: Faculty and staff applaud chancellor Bob Meyer during Opening Day.

Bob Meyer made it clear that as the new leader at University of Wisconsin-Stout, he wants to serve the students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, a philosophy called servant leadership.

In his first official address as chancellor, speaking Monday morning, Aug. 25, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center, Meyer told an overflow crowd of faculty and staff that a “chancellor should be serving you, empowering you.”

Then he cautioned with a smile, “That doesn’t mean you get your way all the time.”

Meyer became the seventh leader in university history when he took over Aug. 16 for Charles W. Sorensen, who led the school for a record 26 years.

Meyer received a standing ovation when he was introduced.

Prior to his introduction, he was welcomed in a video message from Ray Cross, president of the University of Wisconsin System.

Meyer’s remarks came at the start of Opening Day, when faculty returned to campus to kick off the 2014-15 academic year. Classes begin Wednesday, Sept. 3.

“I’m really pleased this room is stacked to the rafters,” Meyer said, looking out on the assembly hall filled with about 800 people. “This is how we start building our future.”

The words "Stout Proud" lit the stage curtain behind him.

He discussed the need to engage alumni and retired faculty and staff to use their expertise. Along those lines, he said he’s had preliminary discussions about creating a leadership development center on campus.

Meyer was at UW-Stout for more than 25 years as member of the faculty, a dean and an administrator before he left in 2008 to become president of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. He also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW-Stout, a place he calls “home.”

He said it was “surreal” and “humbling” to stand in front of the faculty and staff as chancellor but that he was excited about the opportunity.

“We’re going to build a future together,” he said. “That’s my role as chancellor, to help you become servant leaders.”

Meyer’s address was followed by the annual Engagement Sessions, when faculty and staff broke into small groups around campus and provided input on issues identified through the university’s inclusive planning process.

Meyer briefly visited many of the discussions and thanked those in attendance for their input. He also asked faculty to invite him into their classrooms and staff to invite him to their offices so he could learn more about what they do.

The Engagement Sessions are part of UW-Stout’s goal to make strategic planning part of campus culture at every level. Strategic planning is one of UW-Stout’s strengths, Meyer said, citing the university’s Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2001.

Strategic planning puts organizations in charge of their future. “We can manage change rather than change managing us,” he said.

The Engagement Sessions were followed by a campuswide awards presentation in the Great Hall. For a list of winners, go to here.

Other activities are planned throughout the week, including international student orientation, new employee orientation and special programs for faculty and staff on research and training.

Residence halls open Sunday, Aug. 31.