Chancellor outlines future plans

Chancellor tells Board of Regents of successes, plans for future

By University Communications
October 5, 2012
Justin Nelson speaking with Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen

Photo: UW-Stout Spotlight Photo

Charles W. Sorensen has overseen what he calls “transformational” change in 25 years as chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Stout, but he told the UW System Board of Regents Thursday that the school isn’t resting on its laurels.

Sorensen opened the regents meeting at the Memorial Student Center with a one-hour presentation. He provided an overview of many major developments during his tenure — including 12 significant building projects, polytechnic designation, development of a digital campus and winning the Malcolm S. Baldrige National Quality Award — but also looked ahead.

Chancellor Sorensen speaks to the Board of Regents“Our vision is straightforward. We will continue to build a distinguished university based on the principles of all premier polytechnic universities by supporting programs that wed theory and practice, that have dynamic outreach programs and continue to use state-of-the-art technology in all educational and business functions,” he said.

Sorensen and school officials are laying the groundwork for:

• A new campus fiscal model

• Increasing funding for student and faculty research

• Increasing the Stout University Foundation’s assets by 50 percent

• Developing the next phase of the e-Stout laptop program

• Expanding experiential learning on campus from 89 percent to 100 percent

• Reducing all programs to 120 credits

UW-Stout has come a long way under Sorensen, all while state funding has fallen from 40 percent to 13 percent. The number of undergraduate majors has doubled; national research grant funding has risen dramatically; enrollment has gone from 7,600 to about 9,200; faculty and instructional staff has risen from 330 to 483; the physical campus has added 11 acres; and Foundation assets have grown from $2.3 million to $37.3 million.

UW System President Kevin Reilly quipped that Sorensen has “become an institution himself” at UW-Stout.

“I finally found a job I liked and worked hard to keep it,” Sorensen said in return. He is the longest-serving leader in the school’s 121-year history.

Student Justin Nelson, a junior from Rhinelander, detailed for the board his summer Cooperative Education program experience with NASA in Virginia. He is majoring in game design and development and applied mathematics and computer science. “Because of Stout I had just an amazing summer,” he said. “Stout has been such a wonderful experience for me.”

Doug Mell, executive director of communications and external relations, presented to the board the results of a new study by Economic Modeling Specialists International. The study determined that UW-Stout contributes about $294 million annually to the Chippewa Valley economy, or about 2.4 percent of the economic output.

Four Board of Regents committees met Thursday afternoon and the full board convenes again Friday morning.

Other UW-Stout administrators presented to committees on: improving education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; the long-term plan to renovate residence halls; improving business processes through technology; what has been accomplished through the UW-Stout planning process; and ways UW-Stout has helped business and industry to be more effective and profitable through its Discovery Center.

After Sorensen’s presentation, the board discussed its fiduciary and oversight responsibilities with regard to NCAA athletics programs. One of the speakers was Barry Alvarez, University of Wisconsin athletic director.

Friday morning, UW System President Kevin Reilly will recognize two University Police officers, Lisa Pederson and Jason Spetz, who helped saved the life of a UW-Stout student Sept. 13 on campus after the student suffered a cardiac arrest. Read more here.

The Education Committee considered a new advanced degree program for UW-Stout, the professional science master of industrial and applied mathematics. The full board will vote on the recommendation Friday.

The visit to campus by the regents is their first since 2005. This also is the first time the meeting has been held at UW-Stout since the board designated UW-Stout Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University in March 2007.

All meetings are being held in the Memorial Student Center, which reopened in January after a $19 million renovation project. More information is available here or here. All meetings are open to the public.