The chancellors highlighted other ways their schools are striving to meet the needs of students, such as the FOCUS2030 strategic plan at UW-Stout; new majors and a Dairy Pilot Plant renovation at UW-River Falls; and the expansive Sonnentag Center and County Materials Complex funded generously by alumni John and Carolyn Sonnentag, nearing construction at UW-Eau Claire.
The leaders also noted their universities’ efforts to provide hands-on learning opportunities through internship programs, research opportunities and high-impact experiences.
- UW-Eau Claire is a highly ranked undergraduate research institution, Schmidt said. The school will host the 2023 National Conference on Undergraduate Research, which annually draws more than 4,500 students and faculty from around the U.S.
- Nearly 36% of UW-River Falls graduates are in STEM fields. UW-River Falls produces the third highest percentage of graduates with STEM degrees in the UW System.
- All UW-Stout students participate in at least one experiential learning opportunity like internships, co-ops, and practicums, and UW-Stout continues to be a leader in the UW System with an employment rate of 98.4% within six months of graduation. “This is a key feature of the UW-Stout polytechnic approach and adherence to our distinct mission,” Frank said.
At all three institutions they are working to “meet people where they are” to recruit new students into the future. At UW-Stout, for example, 18% of students are online.
Innovative programming and drawing out-of-state talent will be important as forecasts show the number of high school graduates in Wisconsin dropping significantly in three years, Schmidt said.
The luncheon included UW System University Relations officials Kathy Divine, director of state relations; Deej Lundgren, director of state relations; Allison Steil, director of federal relations, and other officials from the three universities.
Before and after the luncheon, tours of Heritage Hall with Frank and Justin Utpadel, director of Facilities Management at UW-Stout, addressed issues that would be resolved with renovation, including outdated hospitality labs, classrooms and technology; accessibility compliance in and around the building; lack of natural light; and infrastructure problems including plumbing and air handling.
Group photo caption:
Front row from left, state Sen. Janet Bewley, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt, UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank and UW-River Falls Chancellor Maria Gallo. Back row, state Rep. Clint Moses, UW System Board of Regents President Ed Manydeeds, state Sen. Jeff Smith, state Rep. David Armstrong and state Rep. Rob Summerfield. Missing is state Rep. Warren Petryk.