of Wisconsin-Green Bay
2007 Faculty and Staff Convocation
August 28, 2007
Chancellor's Address on the State of Green Bay's University
Bruce Shepard, Chancellor
Click here to download the Chancellor's remarks.
Thinking of Chancellor Weidner causes me to reflect on a challenge I issued at last year’s convocation: to build “the next UWGB.”
As was the case 40 years ago, we are again in a period of major ferment and, I will confidently assert – major transition in American higher education Last year, I noted common denominators among critiques across the political spectrum from the Bush Administration’s Spelling’s Commission to Derek Bok’s then recent treatise on Our Underachieving Colleges: We are called upon to be:
— Be more accountable,
— Be more efficient,
— Be more innovative,
— Be more accessible to groups traditionally not well served by higher education,
— Be more effectively engaged in the problems of the day.
A year later, I must tell you, Democratic control of Congress and the waning days of the Bush administration have not reduced the projected pressures to change one iota.
There is much we can draw upon for guidance. AASCU published a very important study whose simple title — Stewards of Place — eloquently captures a critical component of the future university. Another useful source is the study titled Renewing the Promise: The Public’s Universities in a Transforming World. Indeed, the process of helping write that report – working with other presidents and chancellors, with national private sector leaders and public officials – has significantly shaped my thinking about the next UWGB.
Now, the scholar in me would very much like to spend my time this morning analytically bringing such relevant literature home to bear on UWGB. I will not and not because time is scarce or I fear putting you to sleep. Cyndie knows that I never sufficiently worry about the length of my Opening Convocation remarks. Nor about how scintillating they may be.
No, it is this: it is not the Chancellor’s vision of the next UWGB that matters whatsoever. It is your vision that matters entirely.
I certainly have a role. As a window on outside developments, I need to keep you informed of what I am seeing, something I have just attempted to do. Primarily, though, my role is to challenge and to encourage your fine professional efforts. First the encouragement. As I read the four studies just mentioned, among others, I see great opportunity for us. We are way ahead of the pack. Take that title “Stewards of Place” and compare it to our phrase, “Green Bay’s University of Wisconsin.”
Think also about our innovative roots and commitments to connecting learning to life as you read Bok’s stinging critiques of American Higher Education. Our Trustees did just that as, at our request, they recently read Bok. Then they reflected on innovative structures, approaches, and commitments at UWGB. They left their discussion of America’s Underachieving Colleges saying Bok’s points are good but UWGB is already well ahead of those campuses with which this president emeritus of Harvard is most familiar.
And, how must I challenge you? I am more sure of them than of anything so far said:
• While we are currently ahead of the pack, we will only successfully lead if we are willing to relentlessly innovate. That means experimenting and sometimes failing. It means routinely assessing the results of our experiments, adjusting, and experimenting again.
• The core values of higher education will not change; indeed, they are becoming all the more important. But, only if we make them relevant to new students, to new purposes, to a society in transformation. And, through new means.
• While remaining dedicated to those core values, we must understand, above all else, that the next UWGB – and the successful universities of tomorrow – will find stability only through institutionalizing an extraordinarily high capacity to continually change.
• Like those visionaries of 40 years ago, if we fully believe in the fundamental societal value of public higher education, then we really have only one choice: to lead, shape, and define societal changes rather than to be simply pushed along by the changes.
. . . .continued
The Next UWGB
Recent Progress in Building the Next UWGB
Continuing to Build
the Next UWGB
Moving Forward Together
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