from Green Bay Press-Gazette
September 29, 2002
links campus, community
and answer session with Bruce Shepard, conducted by Mike Blecha, opinion page
editor for the Green Bay Press-Gazette
Page one of five
who arrived here a year ago from Eastern Oregon University, was inaugurated
Sept. 20 as the fourth chancellor in the 33-year history of the University of
Press-Gazette editors recently visited with Shepard in his
eighth- floor office in the Cofrin Library. We talked about his first 11 months
on the job, the status of current campus initiatives and his goals for UWGB's
Following is an edited transcript of that interview.
Office of the Chancellor
David A. Cofrin Library, Suite 810
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
2420 Nicolet Drive
Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
Chancellor's Web Manager
Q. Bruce, assess your first 11 months on the job.
A. It's been, at least on a personal basis, the time of my life. It really suits
my personality because it's a job about building relationships, at least half
of it is that. Building relationships on campus internally and off-campus as
well. So I've enjoyed it that way.
When I came here, I saw that the campus really had a couple of needs that jumped
out at me right at the beginning. One was internal. I don't think the campus
really knew how good it was. And I don't think it had confidence in the fact
that it had control of its own fate, responsibility for where it needed to go.
Where it wanted to go. There was a sense, I think, of having leadership imposed
upon it, concepts imposed upon the campus and where it wanted to go.
I also felt that the campus was going in a direction that was apart from the
region. This is a region that has a sense of its own identity. It's very clear.
And the university seemed to be charting a path in going to establish a national
reputation as a liberal arts school, maybe even being smaller rather than larger.
And that includes so many things that probably the average person in public
doesn't even care about - the student mix we have and the kinds of programs
we fund and all that sort of thing.
I knew that would not work well for the university. In fact, the evidence
is that the Legislature didn't pay us to be better to attract students from
out of state. What public entity is going to do that? It just doesn't make sense
that Wisconsin would want to spend more money on things like the Learning Experience,
to build a quality program, to attract students from out of state. But that
was the strategy that was being followed.
I really did expect, when I got here, to have to turn around the campus because
I thought that was what the campus believed was its future. And what I found,
in fact, when I started with all these meetings with different groups, I'd start
off, hypothetically, that there's this route in the national liberal arts, or
emphasizing access, serving the region. (I'd say) let's talk about the strengths
and weaknesses of these different approaches. I wanted to try to see if people
could get to where I had already gotten in my own thinking about what would
work with this university.
Nobody wanted the small, liberal arts national. I just dropped the question
after a couple of meetings. That wasn't in anybody's thinking. In fact, people
were involved in this community in ways I just had not begun to realize. I easily
could create a list of 100 things people on this campus are already doing in
the community, but people have not thought about why they're a part of this
university. That really hasn't been given credibility, hasn't been given legitimacy
- and that's the job of leadership to do that.
I think the community is extremely responsive to, or just hungry, for
connecting with the campus. The real test has yet to come, because what we have
to be able to do if we're going to develop that sense of ownership that people
feel about the whole university the way they do about the Weidner Center or
the men's basketball team is that we've got to be responsive and in a timely
And higher ed isn't always known for timeliness in its responsiveness and we
often come across with mannerisms that seem arrogant. We don't do that intentionally
but that's often the way we strike people.
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