Saturday, November 9, 2013

Inaugural reflection

My heart is full, and I am humbled.

Thank you to all who made yesterday's celebration of my inauguration and, more importantly, the celebration of the great institution of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire such an amazing event.

My heart is full as I think back now on our gathering in the W.R. Davies Student Center, where I looked about at the faces of so many joined to celebrate the history and future of our university. I am humbled as I recall the support I felt from all those gathered for the occasion: my family, friends and lifelong mentors; the talented and dedicated faculty and staff with whom I have the privilege of working every day; our university foundation and alumni leadership; our partners from the Ho-Chunk Nation; UW System leaders and colleagues; state legislators and community leaders; proud Blugold alumni; community members who love this university; and everywhere, our outstanding students.

We talked about the history that has led us as a university to where we are today. We were moved by the eloquent words of our esteemed Professor of English and Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Max Garland, as he shared with us his beautiful poem, "For a Dedication by the River," written just for the occasion. We were lifted by the music of our unbelievably talented students. We talked about the work we will do together, building on our university's tradition of audaciously serving the public good and advocating for all who seek a college education to be able to achieve that goal. And we were reminded of the joy we will find in working together to serve our mission.

Thank you to all who planned and contributed in any way to this wonderful celebration. It is a day I will carry in my heart for years to come, and I am energized to move forward together in our important work for our students, our region, our state, our nation and our world.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

UW System incentive grants go to two UW-Eau Claire-led initiatives

Congratulations to Dr. Kent Syverson, chair of the geology department, and Dr. Linda Young, dean of the College of Health and Health Sciences, for having their proposals selected for funding through the newly created UW System Incentive Grant Program!

The UW System will invest $22.5 million over the next two years in projects aimed at increasing economic growth and building a stronger Wisconsin workforce. Campuses from across the UW System submitted 56 proposals for the incentive grants, 12 of which were approved by a regent committee for funding — including two from UW-Eau Claire.

Nursing initiative
Led by UW-Eau Claire, the nursing initiative received $3.2 million to increase the number of nursing faculty at four UW System nursing programs, support nursing enrollments and mitigate projections for unprecedented shortages of registered nurses in Wisconsin. UW System schools that are part of the project include Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee and Oshkosh.

Currently, a shortage of nursing educators in Wisconsin greatly limits the number of students who can be accepted into nursing programs. In 2012-13, 50-80 percent of qualified undergraduate students who applied to nursing schools at the four UW System institutions were denied admission primarily because there was not enough qualified nursing faculty to teach them.

The newly funded project would encourage new nurses to immediately pursue their doctoral degrees and encourage established nurses to enroll in nursing doctoral programs full-time. Fellowships, loan forgiveness programs and nursing faculty summits are among the strategies that will be used to accomplish the project's goals. Nurses who receive the fellowships and participate in the loan forgiveness program will make three-year teaching commitments to UW nursing schools, which will enable those programs to enroll more nursing students.

Responsible Mining Initiative
Dr. Syverson's Responsible Mining Initiative received $451,000 in grant monies to focus on workforce development to meet the needs of the mining industry and environmental sustainability.

Modern mining is a highly complex process with a strong focus on environmental stewardship and mining practices that minimize environmental impacts. Through outreach, education and internships, the "Responsible Mining Initiative" will establish an educational program in economic mineral resources, responsible mining practices and environmental protection.

The program will prepare students for jobs in mining and environmental consulting industries as well as with governmental regulatory agencies.

It also will offer Wisconsin high school teachers summer classes that focus on the geology, resources on environmental issues in the upper Midwest and on careers in the geosciences. Seminars for high school students also will give them hands-on learning experiences that introduce them to geology, natural resources, water resources and geoscience careers in the region.

I'm proud that UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff are leading these exciting and innovative initiatives, which will contribute to our region and state's economic growth and strengthen the workforce in industries that are important to Wisconsin!