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.