Bay's turn at roundtable
celebrates growth and a bright idea
Season’s greetings from Green Bay’s University of Wisconsin!
As I write this just after Thanksgiving, we are enjoying some unseasonably mild late-autumn weather. But after five years in Wisconsin, I know that winter can arrive as abruptly as an uninvited guest. To live in this fine state, we have to be prepared for whatever hand Mother Nature deals us.
This ability to adapt to nature’s whims is part of the character of the people of Wisconsin. Another part is the tradition of service to our fellow citizens.
I recently had the opportunity to talk at some length about the contributions Green Bay’s University of Wisconsin has made — and continues to make on a daily basis — to this proud tradition.
UW System President Kevin Reilly asked me to travel to Pewaukee to speak to the Wisconsin Higher Education Business Roundtable, a group of respected business leaders dedicated to promoting our world-class university system. The topic of the day: The Wisconsin Idea.
The Wisconsin Idea, known best as the declaration that the “boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state,” has been around for more than a century. But while we treasure the rich history of our state and public university system, the Idea must remain relevant and continue to benefit all citizens.
I would argue that, at UW-Green Bay, the Wisconsin Idea relates directly to everything we do and everything we are as an institution. We live the Wisconsin Idea when, every day, we connect learning to the economic, social and cultural life of Northeastern Wisconsin.
Just look at where our students come from — and where they go after graduation. About 75 percent of our students come from communities throughout the region. After they graduate, about 75 percent stay in the region and 90 percent remain in Wisconsin. Then they go about helping build the economy and quality of life in communities across the region and state.
Your University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s unique approach to education, which stresses hands-on practical problem-solving from multiple perspectives, prepares students for careers not yet known and problems we are unaware of today. This approach is especially important in a region undergoing a dramatic economic and demographic transition.
And, by no means are we working in a vacuum. Along with partners in the public and private sectors, we have embraced a new regional way of thinking now being driven by the New North. This consortium of business, education, government, economic development and other leaders is committed to common regional goals: job growth, economic vitality and a high quality of life.
This is the Wisconsin Idea at its finest and most relevant.
I can think of many other examples of how Green Bay’s University of Wisconsin lives and breathes the Wisconsin Idea. From our Small Business Development Center, which is working with regional partners to assist small business, to our involvement in Partners in Education, an alliance of educators and the business sector coordinated by the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, we are serving a region in need. We already are preparing for this year’s Entrepreneur’s Connection, an annual conference providing resources and information about launching or growing a business. Day in and day out, our faculty bring their expertise and brain power to bear on a wide range of issues, helping our local communities, region and state solve difficult problems of today and tomorrow.
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