The passing of
Dr. Edward Weidner
1921 - 2007
Remembering UW-Green Bay Founding
Chancellor Edward W. Weidner
People who knew and worked with UW-Green Bay Founding Chancellor
Edward W. Weidner remembered the impact he had on
UW-Green Bay, Northeastern Wisconsin and higher education.
Weidner, UW-Green Bay chancellor from 1966 to 1986,
passed away early today (Wednesday, June 6, 2007).
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Emeritus
Ed Weidner's passing is sad
for his family and friends and is a great loss for
the university and community.
Ed did some remarkable things. It is tough to be
an innovator, to carry out new ideas, to swim against
the current; but that is what he set about to do
with great vision as Founding Chancellor of UWGB.
Not all innovations work and those that do often
are modified in time, but the continuing character
of UWGB has been profoundly shaped by his concepts.
I am sure that he was very gratified by what the
campus has become as am I.
A few months after I took over as chancellor from
him, he came into my office and asked how things
were going and then said something such as, “By the
way, I've received a $4 million pledge from David
Cofrin toward a performing arts center. “ Getting
from that day to the opening of the Weidner Center
was one tough assignment, and I got to know Ed quite
well in the process. We developed an enduring friendship
and although distance kept us from getting together
often during the last few years, it was always great
fun for Marcia and I to be with Ed and Marge.
I will miss him a lot.
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce
“We are, in so many
ways, Dr. Weidner’s University of Wisconsin:
as the direct expression of his revolutionary vision
for higher education, as the product of his tireless
hard work, and, even after his retirement, as the
focus of his caring, concern, and commitment.
“The depth of the loss for our community and
for our university is matched only by the personal
loss we all feel for Ed. He was held so strongly
in the affection of so many of us, and together we
grieve. Marge Weidner and the entire family are very
much in our hearts.”
Mark Perkins, third UW-Green
“It was a special day
in the life of the Perkins family as Carolyn, Patricia,
Diana and I left our hotel for the drive along the
Bay to Shore Acres. There we would first meet the
founding Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin
Green Bay. We had been invited for breakfast before
I officially began my service as the third Chancellor
of the University with the daunting responsibility
of realizing the bold vision of one of higher education's
greatest educational architects.
And what a meeting it was! It was a family event,
a homemade breakfast with the Weidner family and
grandchildren. Everyone shared stories about family
and of course the founding of the University and
our dreams about the distinctive difference the University
would make in the lives of the people of Wisconsin
and the landscape of American higher education. It
was a warm and welcoming experience which our family
soon came to appreciate as “The Green Bay Way”.
As you know, Ed was soft spoken, and oh so passionate
and persuasive when it came to his University and
Green Bay. What you might not know is how close we
became as he not only offered me advice on how to
work with, or should I say work, the UW System but
also on what we might do next at the University.
Chancellor Weidner was a mentor and a friend who
dared to dream the impossible and simply make it
happen. I think it was that soulful connection that
gave us the greatest joy in our work together.
To have followed in his footsteps was a privilege,
to walk with him in life a joy, and if we follow
his example, we can touch the life of thousands who
can make a great difference in our world. Ed was
a man of quiet courage and deep passion for making
a difference in this world. I appreciate the family's
offering me this opportunity to share these thoughts
in celebration of Ed's journey with me and my family.
While we have lost a friend, we have been shown the
way. The Perkins family is grateful to the people
of Wisconsin and, especially Edward W. Weidner and
his family for “Touching our Lives. ”
Former Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus
“Ed and I were in a pitched
public battle over merger. Despite that battle, we
never lost our personal friendship. That’s unusual.
Most people take these things personally. Ed never
did. “This was a man who was very warm, but he had
to be close to you before he’d show it. When you
were a friend of Ed’s, you were a friend for life.
“His legacy is that he established a standard that
has carried through today. That initial chancellor
Green Bay Major Jim Schmitt
“It's hard to imagine what
Green Bay would be like without its university. Ed
Weidner’s vision and leadership from the very beginning
have created an everlasting legacy that will continue
to enrich the lives and the spirit of the Greater
Green Bay Community for generations to come. Ed showed
how quickly a university could build a strong reputation
from scratch for both academics and athletics, and
we can't thank him enough for that gift.”
Dr. David Cofrin, longtime
friend and supporter of UW-Green Bay
"It is very seldom that anyone
is privileged to have known a man of such depth of
vision, wisdom and understanding, as was Ed Weidner.
This, associated with great love of family and a
great kindness and gentleness of spirit that extended
to all his relationships with others. In the more
than 25 years that Ed and I were good friends, I
never heard him speak ill of any person. Not once.
Not ever. Now he has passed into our fondest memories
and this great institution will continue to feel
the influence of his founding years for generations
Phil and Betsy Hendrickson,
longtime friends and supporters of UW-Green Bay
"Our memories of Edward Weidner
go back to about 1975 when we met him soon after
he had been appointed as chancellor for the new University
of Wisconsin at Green Bay. Ed Weidner dreamed of
establishing a 'communiversity' with environmental
emphasis. We think of Ed as an administrator who
was persistent in his goals, planned for the future,
and was practical in seeking new ways to reach out
into the community. With this new approach to higher
education, students from all over the country applied
for admission to UWGB. During Ed's retirement years,
we have many happy memories of good times and declicious
food at his Shore Acres home. We admire Ed and Marge
for their persistence in bird watching and love for
travel. Ed has touched the lives of countless students
and left our community with an outstanding university
and forward thinking community leaders. We will miss
UW System President Kevin
“On behalf of the Regents,
the entire UW System, and myself, condolences to
the Weidner family and the UWGB community on Ed’s
passing. He is sure to be remembered as one of the
giants in the history of the University of Wisconsin.”
Retired UW-Green Bay Associate
Chancellor Donald Harden
“Ed was a Renaissance
man. He loved the arts on the one hand and athletics
on the other and just about every other human endeavor
between the two. He had a very rich and full life
and made contributions not only to the University,
obviously, but to many other community organizations
with which he worked.
“Ed started the campus from scratch, which
is an exceedingly difficult thing to do. It was a
monstrous task. This campus has been a major force
not only economically and educationally, but culturally.
To have started this University, he made a major
contribution to the lives of anyone who attended
the University and also those who have lived in this
community and throughout the region.”
Retired UW-Green Bay Vice
Chancellor William Kuepper
that the current generation of people in the University
community who knew Ed as chancellor emeritus and
as a very enthusiastic supporter of Phoenix Athletics
understand what he did. He brought to the campus
a spirit of innovation, which really captured the
souls of many of the faculty members who already
were here (at the Green Bay two-year center campus)
and decided to make a commitment to the University
just like Ed Weidner did.
“He was a remarkable chancellor in those early
years. UW-Green Bay would not be what it is today
if someone else had come in and assumed the reins
in those early years. He was demanding and very determined.
He was marvelously creative. I don’t know that
I’ve found anyone who was more innovative,
determined and with a quicker mind than Ed Weidner.”
Community member James Temp
“He was a bird watcher
who was highly intelligent and could talk education
and politics. Yet he could have a beer with you and
“We now have UWGB graduates the world over.
It got off to a great start with Ed Weidner. His
legacy? The name on the center. That says it all.”
Prof. William Laatsch, UW-Green
Bay’s longest-serving faculty member
“He was certainly a
futurist. The testimony of that is that it would
be difficult to find a school in the country that
didn’t have an environmental science program
or some program that addresses the environment. He
also made a huge contribution through his approach
to an integrated general education program. A program
like that emphasizes problem solving, communication
skills of writing and speaking, and working effectively
within a group. It was the interdisciplinary concept.
Other universities have adopted it. We’ve gotten
away from it a little.
“He liked and encouraged fluidity of ideas,
of faculty assignments. He never allowed an organizational
chart on campus. He thought that stifled people.
He wanted faculty to be pursuing new ideas and new
enormously creative and understood students. He was
kind and personable and warm as an individual.”
Nancy Deprey, UW-Green Bay’s
first graduate in 1970
“He always remembered
who you were. He made you feel you were an important
person. It always surprised me when he would say,
‘Hello, Nancy, how are you?’
“When we had the celebration of the 20,000th
graduate (in 2002), it was wonderful to see how the
faculty and staff greeted him. He was very well-respected
by everyone. He had a vision for the University and
carried it through and worked very hard for it. The
University was ahead of its time.”
Betty Brown, founding head
of UW-Green Bay News Services
“Ed was a dreamer. He
also had the passion, the political skill and the
will to see many of those dreams come true. His interest
was always in furthering the interests of the University.
It was never self-aggrandizement. It was always in
building the institution.”
Former UW-Green Bay women’s
basketball coach Carol Hammerle
“As the former chancellor
at UW-Green Bay, Ed displayed outstanding leadership
because he had a vision for such a young campus.
I believe his vision was well ahead of the times.
The atmosphere and success that UW-Green Bay athletics
and especially women’s athletics enjoy today
is what Ed Weidner envisioned for this University.
“In my 32 years of coaching, he was the only
chancellor to ask me each year what I needed to improve
the quality of the women’s basketball program.
When I reflect back I realize what a pivotal person
he was in my career at UW-Green Bay.
“After I left UW-Green Bay he made it a point
to stay in contact with me. He was a role model,
a mentor and a friend. I will miss him dearly.”
Former UW-Green Bay men’s
basketball coach Dick Bennett
“My life has been enriched
by Ed Weidner’s leadership and friendship.”
Retired UW-Green Bay Business
Manager Cyril (Zeke) Backes
“Ed would always listen
to an idea or suggestion whether it was contrary
to his thinking or not. That was a gem of his. He
took universities in a different way of thinking.
He moved away from the standard letters and sciences
theme and put more emphasis on environmental themes.
I enjoyed working for him for a lot of good reasons.
He never left you out hanging.”
State Sen. (and UW-Green Bay alumnus) Dave Hansen
“As a member of one
of UWGB’s first graduating classes I was saddened
to hear of the passing of Chancellor Weidner. Not
only was he UWGB’s founding chancellor, he
was widely respected as an innovator in education
and is rightfully considered the father of the institution.
Under his guidance the university grew from its infancy
into a respected campus in the university system
that has made it the pride of Northeast Wisconsin.
Through his vision, dedication to higher education
and commitment to our community, Chancellor Weidner
set an extremely high standard for all who followed
him. I am thankful to have known him, grateful for
his contributions and wish to extend my sympathies