Monday, September 30, 2013

The "Wow!" factor: Blugold Marching Band

The Blugold Marching Band displayed its trademark explosive energy during
its halftime show Sept. 28 at Carson Park.
One of the highlights of my weekend was seeing the Blugold Marching Band perform at Saturday's home-opener football game in Carson Park.
All I can say is WOW!

The performance was breathtaking. The band is so much fun that I wanted to grab my trombone and join them!

The students in the Blugold Marching Band completely change the game day environment. Many people on campus and off have told me they enjoy watching the band perform as much as they enjoy watching the football game itself. That's an impressive accomplishment given Wisconsin's love for football.

I was glad to see the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram give this creative and talented group of students some much-deserved attention in a recent feature story about the Blugold Marching Band.

At Saturday's game, I enjoyed talking with Randal Dickerson, director of the Blugold Marching Band. I also had a chance congratulate the drum majors: Ross Christianson, Cornell; Sean Conway, Rosemount, Minn.; and Nick Hansberry, Alexandria, Minn.

With more than 300 members, the Blugold Marching Band is the largest Division III band in the country, and larger than the marching bands at UW-Madison, the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa.

My congratulations and thanks to Director Dickerson and his talented students for representing UW-Eau Claire so well in the Chippewa Valley and during their performance tours throughout the world.

Showcase weekend for Blugold athletics

In recent weeks, I've had the opportunity to attend volleyball, women's soccer and football games, giving me a taste of UW-Eau Claire's rich Blugold athletics programs.

Already, it's clear to me why the Blugolds were ranked the 14th best athletics program out of more than 430 NCAA Division III schools in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup. The level of talent in multiple sports is impressive!

Even more impressive is that last year our 516 student-athletes earned a cumulative 3.124 GPA, and earned two National Jostens Community Service Awards. Also, 321 Blugold student-athletes were named to the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll, and 33 different Blugolds earned a total of 40 All-American honors. These are just a few highlights from a long list of honors our student-athletes received in recent months.

UW-Eau Claire Nick Hirsch makes a great catch during Saturday's Blugold
football game against Pacific Lutheran University.
These student-athletes demonstrate that athletic and academic success is not mutually exclusive. We are providing our student-athletes with the best experience possible as they pursue their athletics and academic goals. The student-athletes are learning the values of teamwork, leadership, focus, time management and perseverance. And by sharing their talents, they enhance the quality of life on our campus and in the Eau Claire community.

Saturday I enjoyed the home opener for the Blugold football team. While the Blugolds came up short on the scoreboard, it was a hard-fought game against a nationally ranked team. The rain didn't dampen the spirits of the Blugold players or the fans who gathered to cheer them on.

Blugold men's hockey team
members Andrew Wilcox,
Jordan Singer and Daniel
Olszewski sport their national
 championship rings, presented
during Saturday's
Blugold football game.
Before Saturday's football game, I had the honor of presenting the players and coaches on the 2013 Blugold national championship men's hockey team with their championship rings. It was fun to celebrate their recent success as we look forward to seeing what this team — led by National Coach of the Year Matt Loen — will accomplish in the upcoming season.

Also this weekend, we welcomed seven athletes and coaches into the Blugold Hall of Fame. As I talked with them during Saturday's Blugold Hall of Fame Banquet, it was clear that UW-Eau Claire has played an important role in the lives of these athletes and coaches.

Congratulations again to the newest Hall of Famers: Marilyn Skrivseth, former director of athletics, and tennis and track coach; Don Parker, wrestling coach; Darrel Snell, football player; Rick Dahl and Tanya (Bauer) Longo, basketball players; Kari (Albers) Madden, diver; and Jason Slaikeu, national track champion.

The newest Blugold Hall of Fame inductees (left to right): Don Parker,
Kari (Albers) Madden, Marilyn Skrivseth, Tanya (Bauer) Longo,
Rick Dahl, Jason Slaikeu and Darrel Snell.
Several student-athletes also were honored during Saturday's banquet as Super Six Salute Award winners. The university's highest athletics honor went to Sarah Bingea, a women's basketball player from Delano, Minn.; Aaron Easker, a men's track and field and cross country runner from Eland; Jeremy Kieser, a men's track and field and cross country runner from Verona; Ashlyn Mauer, a women's track and field and cross country runner from Sheboygan Falls; Erin Schoenfelder, a women's' track and field runner from Antioch, Ill.; and Jordan Singer, a men's hockey player from Lino Lakes, Minn.

Also at the banquet, Erik Strand, a Blugold alumnus and current assistant men's hockey coach, received the Joe Merten Coaching Award; Becca Bestul, assistant women's basketball coach, received the Ade & Margaret Olson Coaching Award; and former UW-Eau Claire softball player Renee (Cook) Smith received the Sandy Schumacher Courage Award.

Congratulations to all!

I hope all members of our university community will take time to appreciate the efforts of our student-athletes by taking in one or more of our sporting events throughout the year -- and join me in cheering on the Blugolds!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

UW-Eau Claire and area businesses: A study in interdependence

Chancellor James Schmidt and Scott Gunderson at Great Northern Corp.

Chancellor James Schmidt with Mayo's John Dickey and Randy Linton
Top photo: Chancellor James Schmidt tours Great Northern Corp. in Chippewa Falls and discusses with Scott Gunderson, customer service manager, a packaging product the company manufactures. Lower photo: Schmidt tours a family space at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire with John Dickey, chief administrative officer, and Dr. Randall Linton, chief executive officer. Among Schmidt's other recent business and industry visits: Royal Credit Union, RBC Wealth Management and National Presto Industries Inc.

As part of my ongoing efforts to learn about Eau Claire and the greater Chippewa Valley, I have been meeting with business and industry leaders, touring their facilities and engaging in conversations about how UW-Eau Claire can provide the human capital and knowledge-based expertise they need for their enterprises to succeed. 
What I’ve discovered from the visits thus far is that this region has a highly diversified and specialized array of businesses – from health care to sawmill equipment to corrugated cardboard display manufacturing. Regardless of what they make or services they deliver, virtually all have told me they seek employees with the liberal arts-based skills our university excels at teaching: critical thinking and problem solving, communication, and the ability to work in teams. 
At each and every visit, I have either met with Blugolds or heard how our graduates are making meaningful and lasting contributions to their workplaces and their communities. I have also had the opportunity to discuss my vision for how business and industry in the region can support our students through meaningful internship and workplace experiences, and have been encouraged by the initial receptivity to some of my ideas.  These visits have again reminded me of the interdependent relationship between UW-Eau Claire and the region we serve, and I look forward to the upcoming visits to more of our private sector partners. 


Monday, September 23, 2013

A historic partnership takes shape

Left to right: UW System Regent Ed Manydeeds, Ho-Chunk Nation
President Jon Greendeer and Chancellor James Schmidt during
the Sept. 23 signing of a memorandum of intent by UW-Eau Claire
and the Ho-Chunk Nation.
Today was a historic day for UW-Eau Claire and for the Ho-Chunk Nation, as we formalized our commitment to collaborate on the creation of a living-learning community at The Priory for members of the Ho-Chunk Nation. As Ho-Chunk Nation President Jon Greendeer stated during our agreement-signing ceremony this morning, we are pioneers among UW System universities in this collaboration.

The living-learning community will not only  lead to more higher education options for members of the Ho-Chunk Nation, it will include an important cultural aspect through which Native American students enrolled in the program will receive an education in the Ho-Chunk language and culture from Ho-Chunk elders in residence. The beautiful natural setting at The Priory is the perfect place for this endeavor, evoking introspection and the sense of solemn responsibility for our environment that is so central to Ho-Chunk tradition.

I'm excited about the future as I think about the opportunities of this new partnership, with its promise of enrichment for the UW-Eau Claire community, the Ho-Chunk nation and the region.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Confluence: A project for the future of our city

Justin Vernon, center, Zach Halmstad and me during today's Confluence Project
panel discussion at Volume One.
I was privileged to be a part of today's Confluence Project panel discussion at Volume One with Blugold alums Justin Vernon and Zach Halmstad and the key individuals involved with the project. We had many thoughtful questions from members of the media in attendance and from the general public via Volume One's website.

Many thanks to Volume One for this outstanding opportunity to share with area residents the positive impact that the Confluence Project will have in our community. Many thanks as well to Justin, Zach and a third UW-Eau Claire alum, Ben Richgruber of the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, for so articulately presenting how this project can help us collaboratively move the community of Eau Claire forward into the 21st century. I'm a firm believer that we are stronger together than we are individually, and today's event afforded us a great opportunity to provide members of the community with answers to their questions about this project that holds so much promise for our city and region.

·         View the recorded Web stream of today's Confluence Project panel discussion and join the continued discussion on Volume One's website.

·         Find answers to some frequently asked questions about the Confluence Project.

·         Learn even more about the project on the Community for the Confluence website.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hitting the airwaves with the Blugold story

I thoroughly enjoyed talking today with Rich Kremer on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The West Side” (interview link will be posted later today). This was the third in a series of recent media interviews, which also included WAYY radio last week (to listen, scroll down on WAYY's page to "UW-Eau Claire Chancellor" link under "Interviews") and WEAU TV earlier this month. I had some great questions both from my hosts and from listeners in the community and am grateful for these opportunities to share the UW-Eau Claire story.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Great week to be a Blugold

Wow – it’s been another great week to be a Blugold.

For those who haven’t yet heard, UW-Eau Claire was named (for the 19th consecutive year!) among the best public regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report, AND we were recognized by two national organizations for providing our students with a high quality education at an affordable cost.

Frankly, these outstanding rankings come as no surprise to me. Since arriving here as chancellor on July 1, I’ve seen time and again that our faculty and staff are living out a heartfelt commitment to providing our students with a high quality, affordable and transformative education. And in the community, every day I’m meeting more and more Blugold alumni who are using their UW-Eau Claire education, giving back through their work and service to society and making our community a vibrant place to live. I’m so very pleased to see UW-Eau Claire being recognized for its important impact.

One day this week, I had the opportunity to grab lunch in Davies Center. I struck up a conversation with a student seated near me, and I asked him a few questions about his time so far at UW-Eau Claire. The student, a junior – so he’s been here long enough to have a time-tested opinion – was quick to share that “every single day I’m reminded that I made the best decision when I chose to come to UW-Eau Claire. I absolutely love it here.”
What wonderful words for a chancellor to hear! And I wanted to be sure to share them here, with those responsible for this student’s great experience. Congratulations to all the Blugolds who’ve had a role in UW-Eau Claire’s most recent recognitions – both those on a national scale as well as those right here on campus!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

‘One Question’ responses: Thank you!

Many thanks to the more than 40 faculty, staff, students, emeriti, alumni and friends who sent in their replies to my first "One Question" feature of the semester!
From early-morning great blue heron sightings along the river, to the life-changing experiences many of you had as undergraduates, to outstanding programming going on in all corners of our university, to the great sense of mutual respect among university employees I am grateful for so many of you sharing what makes UW-Eau Claire special to you.
I also received important insights about things we need to work on as a campus community. Thank you for your open and honest communications about your concerns. This input is important and informs us as we plan our course for the future.
My second question, posted now on my home page, seeks your examples of interdependent relationships that are working well within our university and in the community. Please take a few moments to share your thoughts on this week's topic. I look forward to your responses and more great information that will help me better share the UW-Eau Claire story.