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Reprinted from: Green Bay Press-Gazette

November 11, 2001

It's time to build on UWGB's solid foundation

Guest column

By Bruce Shepard
Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

It's exciting to be on the job in Green Bay after a few months of traveling back and forth between here and Oregon. My wife Cyndie, son Paul and I are eager to get settled and to begin working with the people who make Northeastern Wisconsin such a special place to call home.

I want to commend William Kuepper for the superb job he did as interim chancellor. Dr. Kuepper is an outstanding educator who has given so much of himself over the years to make UW-Green Bay an innovative and respected institution of higher learning. Selfless leaders like Dr. Kuepper, who graciously respond when called, are bonuses we cannot take for granted.

When I began to consider the possibility of coming to Green Bay, I was struck by the extraordinary support for higher education in this community and across the state. Through their actions on the 2001-03 state budget, our leaders — including Gov. Scott McCallum and state legislators — demonstrated again this year that their support for the University of Wisconsin System is unwavering. I would like to single out the work of our own legislators — Sen. Dave Hansen and Rep. Judy Krawczyk — and the leadership of Rep. John Gard, co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee.

I also was impressed by the strong foundation on which we can build. We have outstanding faculty who care about and are accessible to our students and who give much to the community. The quality of our student body is high and getting higher, as evidenced by the fact that our freshman class ranks among the University's best ever on the basis of grade-point average and other measures of quality. We are responding aggressively to recommendations of the campus Report on Equality for Women. The completion of our beautiful Mary Ann Cofrin Hall and plans to renovate and expand the Laboratory Sciences building give us first-class academic facilities.

Our connections to the community go beyond the highly visible performances at the Weidner Center and NCAA Division I basketball games. The Institute for Learning Partnership, the Learning in Retirement program, various music and theater programs, and summer camps and youth activities all strengthen the ties between campus and community.

Even as we celebrate our strengths and successes, we look to the future knowing that many challenges lie ahead. That's a constant fact of life at a dynamic institution such as ours. I will be meeting soon with faculty and students to discuss how best to proceed with the Learning Experience, a more personalized approach to learning which will enhance our retention and graduation rates.

My compliments and thanks go out to the people who already have put so much into the initiative. As I said when I took this job, the Learning Experience was put forward by people who obviously are not afraid of the future. Through this visionary program, we can better meet the needs of our students and communities and establish a model for undergraduate education that will be the envy of the academic world.

Another immediate need is to improve campus life by continuing to develop the student union and upgrading our on-campus sports, recreation and events facilities. Our current facilities were built for a different time, a time when relatively few students lived on campus and our athletics program had not yet reached Division I status. I plan to talk with students and with our friends in the community and Madison to get ideas about how we can move ahead together on this important issue.

High on my list of priorities is engagement of the community and the region in our development of a shared future for Northeastern Wisconsin's own University. I have said that communities support universities that support communities. Your support of your university has, to date, been extraordinary. We will be listening to you as we revitalize that critical partnership.

As Cyndie, Paul and I settle into our new home, we look forward to meeting many new friends and building on friendships already made. This is an exciting time to live and work in the Green Bay area. For our University and community, it is a time of great promise and possibility. Working together, we will pass through our window of opportunity and make the dreams we share come true.

(Bruce Shepard is chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He started work Nov. 1. He can be contacted by phone at (920) 465-2207 or email at

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