Getting to Know UW-Green Bay Conversations with Chancellor Shepard:
Weidner Center for the Performing Arts
January 15, 2002


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Can you educate us on where we’re at re. an events center?

The Chancellor responded that we’ve looked at facilities needs and what our needs are.  We need to raise funds.  With Division I, we’ve gone from 8 sports to 15.  We need to meet student expectations.  We’ll not compete with the Resch Center.  We need a facility to highlight women’s BB ­ a place to hold commencement.  We want to add to the community ­ we’re working with PMI.

Now, we’re figuring the square footage needed to meet our needs.  It’s a $30 million project (which is down from the original $60 million) with $7 ý million from the State, $7 ý million from private donors, and $15 million from students.  It’s a smaller venue ­ seating capacity of 3 to 4,000 with perhaps another thousand on the floor.  Groundbreaking will occur in approximately 3 years.

We’ve signed a 6-year contract with the Resch Center. 

We need a plan to establish alliance in the community with regard to an events center.  It hurt season ticket sales when there was bad publicity in the community with regard to us competing with the arena.

We’ve been asked to manage the Meyer Theatre.  How do you see the Meyer Theatre fitting in? 

The Chancellor replied that he sees the alliance as a win/win situation.  We’ve approached the Appleton facility, but they weren’t interested.

The Chancellor inquired about Weidner Center needs ­ what are they?

The response was a 15-passenger van.  When the men’s BB team is on the road, there’s no large van at their disposal.

Additional office space ­ we’ve expanded once, but we’re already maxed out.

Workload issues ­ compensation.  We’re taking on the Meyer Theatre, have a small marketing department, responsibilities have expanded.  We’re playing catch up as far as staffing goes ­ we’re continually short staffed.  When programming is scheduled, staffing needs aren’t taken into account.

What’s the status of on-campus child care?  Involvement in the process by faculty and staff was encouraged.

The Chancellor replied that a group of students is studying the need:  they’re looking internally at needs, looking at approaches used around the country, and will then develop a proposal.  We’ll step in if the students appear to lose interest in following through.  It’s unusual for a campus of this size to not have a child care center.  Nearby off-site child care centers are being underutilized.  Universities are not particularly good at running child care centers so we would probably contract for those services.  We need a business plan for running the center.  The University may offer space for a center.  Could require fundraising.  Might need to open up to the community to fill spaces. 

I’ve heard from community that there are problems with placement of our student teachers.  Our students are not well prepared and the logistics are handled poorly; I’ve heard from students that there are only a limited number of slots.

How does the campus feel about the Weidner Center?

The Chancellor replied that he hasn’t heard any area of concern.  A dream of his, with regard to the WC and theatre arts, is that we have the capacity to have a premiere theatre arts program, and we haven’t yet taken full advantage of that opportunity.

He went on to say that he’s amazed at the number of people in the community who don’t realize that the WC is part of UW-Green Bay ­ we need to market that.  The Chancellor now refers to the WC as the university’s Weidner Center.

The university’s job is to enable the success of its Weidner.

Ideas suggested:  performers sing the national anthem at men’s BB games, have university information available in the lobby (i.e. BB schedules, theatre arts fliers, etc.), during the holidays we had music students caroling the lobby and that was well received ­ expand and have them promote their own events.

It seems as though the WC and the university are very separate.  In three years, the theatre dept. has grown from 37 majors to 74.  The music dept. has grown in the number of faculty more than theatre, but majors are down.  It’s hard for the theatre/music departments to do a production and get an audience when that event has already been done at the WC by a professional touring company.

The Chancellor asked how large the university should be.  

I can see it both ways ­ it’s a fine line ­ 7500 seems reasonable.  How many students do we turn away?  The Chancellor replied that it’s hard to determine because we shut down admissions.  He worries about us getting a reputation of continually turning away students so then no one will think of us. 

Is it a concern in UWS about how big we are?  I prefer a smaller size, it’s not always a benefit to be bigger.  We need quality programs.   The Chancellor replied that, if it comes down to a choice between quality and size, we won’t sacrifice quality for size.  But access and quality are not “either or” choices: we are not serving our region if we are not providing high quality programs; high quality programs will attract students from the region and beyond; expanded access ­ if funded at average ­ provides the resources we need to improve quality.  Mainly, we need to figure out our niche.

We’re already not achieving what could be done as a smaller campus, so if we find our nitch, let’s make it work. 

The Chancellor replied that feedback from students is that they’re not having a good experience in the first year.  We won’t get additional dollars to do what we’re already doing.  We’re currently $1.2 million below where we should be; each student is worth approx. $5,000 to UWGB.  The last time around, those who played the game received $9,200 per student ­ we didn’t play the game. 

How does retention play into those numbers ­ would it be better to admit them and then have them drop out? 

The Chancellor replied that it makes a difference in the classroom with the numbers being served and course offerings.

I don’t want us to be perceived as turning students away and I don’t want a reputation of admitting anyone ­ there should be a definite reason why students want to be here.

The Chancellor responded that we need to meet the needs of the region ­ students need to succeed here.

Are we talking to students about why they’re here ­ are we getting their input? 

The Chancellor replied yes, but there haven’t been any focus groups.  It’s important that students make a connection within the first two weeks.

The Weidner Center is the most unique thing about UW-Green Bay. 

Food service was brought up ­ there’s a lack of variety.  Road crews want to eat quickly, after performances, etc. ­ the three eating areas aren’t always available and there are no vehicles at their disposal to leave campus for food.  A coffee shop might help.  Other campus have an on-site Taco Bell or Hardies ­ we do have Blimpies.  Perhaps we could support a restaurant attached to the WC (i.e. bus trips ­ inquiries are made about on-site eating facilities) ­ patrons could come early for dinner before seeing the show ­ there’s no night life after the show.  The biggest question we get from performers is “where can we eat after the show?”

The Chancellor replied that we’re negotiating the food contract.  Tom mentioned the key for the future is flexibility so we can plug-in/plug-out what popular/what’s not.  The Chancellor went on to say that because we’re small, food service needs to limit it’s hours of operation.
The Chancellor stated that we’re being asked about a freeway interchange by 54/57 and Bay Settlement Road and business growth in that area.  How do you feel?

Response was that it would help campus life to have businesses close by.  We are far out.

 

TOP OF PAGE Office of the Chancellor, David A. Cofrin Library, Suite 810, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay,
2420 Nicolet Drive,
Green Bay,WI 54311-7001 
Phone 920-465-2207
E-mail:shepardb@uwgb.edu
Comments to: Chancellor Web Manager
Revised 1/8/03