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.
TO BUILD THE NEXT UWGB
Partnerships | Diversity | Attracting/Keeping Quality People |
Campus Safety | Growth Agenda
These examples are encouraging. But it’s just a start in our journey as we build “the next UWGB.” There are challenges. It will not be easy. And we can’t do it alone.
Building the new UWGB is really about people, our ideas, our creativity, our commitments. One path is clear. We will not walk alone. Partnerships are central to almost all, new, that we will do. I am more convinced today than I ever have been that our university, community and region share a feeling that we are all in this together.
Just look at the partnerships we have built in recent years with other public and private colleges and universities including pioneering NEW ERA, with K-12 school districts, with Native American tribes and the other communities of color that enrich our region, with chambers of commerce, others in the business community, economic development agencies and helping with the formation of that trail-blazing regional entity, New North.
And, it is not just about partnerships within the region. Our students and region directly benefit from much broader partnerships; for example, those we are establishing at the international level with entities such as the University of Jordan and the Fondazione Romualdo Del Bianco.
As you think to the challenges in the years ahead, think also of partners and non-traditional allies. Such modes of thinking must become automatic.
One of our critical challenges – and greatest opportunities – is to diversify our student body. We must do this not only because it is the right thing to do, but because the future success of this university depends on it. The face of our community is changing. In Green Bay public schools, students of color now make up 34 percent of the overall enrollment. Just think of the lost opportunity, not only for UWGB but for our entire state, if we do not do everything we can to tap into the talents and brain power of our entire population. As I have said many times, we will not be successful in truly becoming Northeastern Wisconsin’s University of Wisconsin if we fail in this crucial area.
However, if we seek only to add students of color from the pool of recent, qualified high school graduates, all we are doing is dividing up a far too tiny pool among the institutions with which we compete for students. We must grow the pipeline.
A shining example of how we can open the door of educational opportunity has been the Phuture Phoenix program. Since its inception, this program has demonstrated what we can accomplish when committed individuals work together and toward a common goal.
Over the past year, we have tightened the connection between Phuture Phoenix and our institution. This was absolutely necessary for the program is central to our strategies for the long-term growth and success of our university. The Institute for Learning Partnership will play a much larger role by taking over day-to-day administrative responsibility and providing other resources.
Phuture Phoenix now has an ongoing presence in K-12 schools that benefits middle and high school students and provides learning opportunities for UWGB Education students. And, in the year ahead, we will work with UW-Oshkosh and UW-Parkside, who have enthusiastically accepted our invitation to learn how to take our program to their campuses, together seeking a multi-institutional federal grant for dissemination of educational innovations.
ATTRACTING/KEEPING QUALITY PEOPLE
Continuing to look to the future, we also must nurture our campus community and make sure this is a place where people want to come – and stay. We will always want people here who are coveted by other universities. Chancellors, provosts, vice provosts, coaches provide recent examples of precisely that desirable situation. But, frankly, they are not of central importance to building the next UWGB. What is absolutely crucial is that we hold on to the core faculty and staff; they are the backbone of our outstanding institution.
One factor, compensation, is making it more and more difficult to attract and keep the quality people we need in order to succeed. This, I see as our biggest challenge, my biggest challenge. I know it; the Regents know it; many of our elected officials know it. We have been relentless in our efforts to make sure that this state invests in the people who, day-in and day-out, connect learning to the life of our region and hold the keys to our region’s and state’s success. I pledge to you, today, that those efforts will continue unabated.
When it comes to making UWGB the kind of place where talented people want to come and stay, more than just compensation must be considered. In our multicultural and evolving world, we must continue our efforts to build an inclusive environment. When it comes to diversifying our faculty and staff, I am pleased with the commitment and effort. But I recognize we have a long way to go in achieving the desired results. This is a long-term commitment for our campus, and it is over the long term that we will see the results. Please, in the year ahead, redouble your efforts to diversify our faculty and staff. There is no higher priority if we are to successfully build the next UWGB.
When it comes to our valuing our place of work, there is another subject I must mention: sexual harassment. Even one instance of sexual harassment is unacceptable. We recently have had a number of such formal complaints, quite serious allegations.
I know we all share zero tolerance for harassment. Why? Certainly, we all want to be a part of a community where none experience the sting of harassment. Also realize, though, that the victims of sexual harassment can experience seriously deleterious consequences -- depression, failing classes, failing on the job, dropping out of school, …. even suicide.
In the coming year, the University will offer multiple learning opportunities for understanding and responding to sexual harassment.
But as important as education can be, more important in my view is our attention to campus culture and explicit consequences.
Everyone of us has a role in creating — and changing — campus culture. Do we ignore when we should object? Do we keep quiet when we should confront?
Consequences must also be clear. You may wonder if anything really ever happens when allegations are made. That is understandable for we do not talk about specific cases. But, let me tell you that, where sexual harassment has been alleged, we have acted with alacrity. Where the allegations were substantiated, we have taken serious steps and not just warnings, reprimands, and permanent reductions in pay. Employment relationships have ended.
I know you join with me in welcoming our explicit commitment – through deeds as well as words – to an environment free of legally impermissible harassment.
The tragedy at Virginia Tech brought another aspect of campus safety to the fore. Some of those road trips down to Madison this summer were in connection with my co-chairing of the Governor’s Taskforce on Campus Safety. Let me bring several lessons I have learned home to the UWGB context.
First, understand that it did not take a Virginia Tech to wake this campus up. We already had the teams and the training in place for such events: tested, critiqued, improved, then tested again.
Second, effectively identifying, assessing, serving, and — if necessary — protecting the campus from distressed students is where the most important payoffs result. Killings capture headlines. Violence avoided does not. But, that is where the greatest returns are and where we must continue to focus our efforts: prevention and intervention before violence occurs.
Third, campus safety must not be thought of as the responsibility of this office or that office. Rather, it must be a part of a changed campus culture where we are each responsible for the collective safety of our community.
Several other thoughts. If we focus primarily on killings, on the response to an active shooter, we are drawn in directions that may be unproductive:
• There is the practical matter that attention and resources may be diverted from areas where the payoffs for campus safety are the greatest.
• We may fall into the quintessential American predilection to find security in purported technological panaceas when really meaningful solutions require much more complicated involvements including shifts in campus culture.
• And, we put at possible risk the essential need to maintain the only kind of environment in which truly higher education can flourish: an environment that encourages passionate intellectual exchange, that tolerates behaviors the mainstream would find odd, and that is free of impediments to rigorous academic exploration and challenging personal growth.
One last thought for I wish to bring us forcefully back to real and recent tragedies at UWGB. Mental disease is just that. Whatever we do about threats to campus safety, we must do so in ways that do not further stigmatize the brave people successfully coping with these serious impediments – they are in our community, they are a part of our campus, they are members of our families. And, the correlation between serious mental illness and violence is very small; simply being male is a greater risk factor.
There has been violence involving our campus during the past year: incidents involving fatalities. Several. It is the violence that distressed students have done to themselves. I am talking about suicide. The causes are treatable. But here is where stigmatizing those with mental disease works its ugly ways, making mental disorders like depression all the more fatal.
This is the kind of violence on campus we can each do something about.
We do have the expertise, teams, and training in place to try to prevent violence – against others, against one’s self. What we have not done is explicitly and regularly communicate with you about how to deal with distressed students and whom to contact concerning them. That is being corrected. Immediately.
We also have out-dated and, speaking for myself as I learned through the Taskforce, wrong understandings of what the law says concerning information we may and may not share. I have asked Dean Keihn and University Counsel Jackson to put together a group to review our policies, practices, and educational efforts in this area. You will be learning more.
Now, you probably did not walk into the gathering this morning expecting to hear the chancellor discuss sexual harassment, mental disease, and suicide. But, building the next UWGB is not just about programs, budgets, buildings. It includes attention to how we care for each other, how we care about each other.
I’m sure you have been paying some attention to this summer’s news from the state Capitol and the efforts to fund our region's Growth Agenda.
Let me remind you, “why growth.” Ours is a region with a proud, 400-year old tradition of shaping the economic development of not only Wisconsin but much of the mid-continent. Over the past 100 years, we were the economic dynamo for the entire state. What about the next 100 years?
The region is in transition demographically and economically. For that transition to be successful, we must think as a region, we must educate the next generation of young people, people much more diverse than the generation that preceded them. And, we must grow UWGB.
Let me also remind you of what I have repeatedly said – and held to for six years. We will not grow without the resources to do so. That would be dishonest, denying our existing students the classes they need to graduate in a timely manner with a quality of education they can effectively put to higher purposes.
So, we sought increased public support through a three-biennium strategy. That the whole UW System adopted a similar “grow agenda,” that the Governor funded that agenda in his budget, that the Senate did the same, that Joint Finance did the same in a bi-partisan vote, and that even the Assembly included the Growth Agenda in their scaled-back budget testifies to the power and importance of the cause.
So, what is going on now? Let me take my chancellor’s hat off and, political scientist that I am, pretend to be a CNN guest analyst.
And, perhaps I should remind you of something political scientists are apt to forget. It was the “Iron Chancellor,” Otto von Bismarck, who said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”
At one level, it’s about differing views of how to build brighter futures for Wisconsin. There are those, and it is most certainly an intellectually defensible position, who argue that we must downsize government to grow our state – shift resources from the public to the private sector.
Others believe, I among them, that brighter futures must be aggressively made to happen; that an important role of government is to make those lead investments necessary for the continuing effectiveness of the private sector, that the UW is the best weapon in the State’s arsenal to make those brighter futures happen; and, therefore, it is about investing rather than divesting.
Please note that these two competing views – rightsizing government, investing in the UW – need not be at odds. It is about priorities. Any business understands, even when reductions must be made, you expand the areas with the highest returns on investment.
This is understood across the state. Have you noticed the continual din of supportive newspaper editorials in papers across the state?
— July 31, from the Associated Press (and I quote): “Assembly budget called devastating to UW.”
— From the July 27 Capital Times: “Assembly’s budget attacks much of what we all hold dear.”
— The Green Bay Press-Gazette, July 29: “Assembly budget shortchanges UW System.”
— And, from the July 12 Oshkosh Northwestern: “Extreme budget approaches not helping state march forward.”
Our own legislative delegation gets it, and it’s not a partisan issue for Northeastern Wisconsin. I thank them – Representatives Soletski, Van Roy, Ott, Bies, Nygren, Montgomery, Nelson, and Tauchen and Senators Cowles and Hansen – for their consistent efforts on behalf of the Growth Agenda.
Even the Assembly budget supports the Growth Agenda. So, what’s the rub?
Set aside your telescope focused decades ahead upon a brighter future for Wisconsin, grab a microscope, and place the upcoming general election, still wriggling and squirming, on a glass slide.
Yes, the Growth Agenda is supported in all the budgets. But, in the Assembly budget, the cuts to the UW and to UWGB would dwarf the investment. Several times over.
As some wag explained it: “It’s like proposing to grow a dairy operation by adding some calves and then cutting the feed bill in half.”
The net effect of the so-called growth budget would be cuts to UWGB much larger than the unprecedented reductions we faced back when the state and its economy were in an extremely serious financial straits.
Why is this happening? And during much better fiscal times.
There are those differing philosophical views of what is the best path for building a strong Wisconsin. However, this matter is not being approached as philosophers might. We are caught in partisan battles, most immediately over control of the state Assembly. It is about politics, political advantage, and political points.
Now, I want to digress for a moment because one tactic has been to criticize our ability to manage with the mythical “increase.” Rather than criticize, I want to sincerely praise you and thank you. You have managed superbly even as UWGB’s budget has been reduced in each of the past six years.
Our students, our region, and those across the state elected to represent each of us owe you great thanks.
There are other problems with the Assembly budget:
— It’s not right to grant our deserving veterans a tuition benefit but to fund it on the back of other students, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.
— It’s not right to claim to fund a growth agenda while cutting programs for existing students.
— It’s not right to be elected to represent our faculty and staff across the state who have held our system together through tough times and then, when our highest need is for competitive salaries, to propose a 5% pay cut and make a $96 million raid on the ‘compensation reserve.’”
— It’s not right, at a time when our hope for building brighter futures for our state rests upon fully developing the talent of all of our people, to propose to “zero out” the Wisconsin Covenant and cut financial aid.
— It’s not right to be the only state in the nation that does not yet have a budget.
I do believe, in the end, those in the middle of both parties will come together on the obvious common ground of what is best, in the long run – not for this political party or that political party, but for Wisconsin.
Sausage is being made, yes. And it is trying everybody’s patience. But, as we are enmeshed in a shorter-term political battle, let me conclude with another quote from Herr Bismarck: “A government must not waiver once it has chosen its course. It must not look to the left or right but go forward.”
. . . .continued
The Next UWGB
Recent Progress in Building the Next UWGB
Continuing to Build
the Next UWGB
Moving Forward Together
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