Category: Giving Back

Donor, scholarship and scholarship recipient stories; giving back to the community


UW-Green Bay named ‘Military Friendly’ again … and vet reminds campus to ‘celebrate daily’

For the seventh consecutive year, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has earned the 2016 Military Friendly® School designation. The designation reflects positive marks in ten categories including military support on campus, graduation and employment outcomes, military spouse policies, and more.

“It is definitely an honor to be considered a Military Friendly institution,” says Elaina Koltz, UWGB’s Veterans Services adviser. “Not many will understand exactly what these veterans have gone through.

“When they sign up for their GI Bill, they present their DD214 discharge papers and I get a small peek into their sacrifice. I see the Purple Heart awards; the discharges due to service-connected disabilities and the long periods of time spent in a combat zone.”

Koltz says that she and UW-Green Bay staff colleagues see it as an honor to serve these veterans and their families.

“When you are surrounded by these silent heroes on a daily basis it is an honor to serve them,” she says. “Then you see them graduate and become successful like Staff Sergeant Jared Spude, selected speaker for UW-Green Bay’s Veteran’s Day Reception on Nov. 11, and you are again both inspired and humbled. UW-Green Bay recognizes these sacrifices and responds. That is why it is considered a Military Friendly institution.”

UW-Green Bay alumnus Spude is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and Wisconsin National Guard. He presented an impassioned speech on behalf of Veterans, calling those in attendance to think about veterans and those who serve each day, and not just once a year.

Spude thanked the faculty, staff and administration on behalf of his fellow veterans for “going above and beyond to make sure that our needs our met, and for providing us with the tools to be successful in our educational endeavors.”

The following are some other excerpts from his Veterans Day remarks:

“I’m here to remember, encourage, motivate and challenge each and every one of you to reflect on what today is, what it represents, what the sacrifices remembered here today have brought for us and the great nation that we call home. I’m here to remind us that we all need to take a little time out of our day today—and every day to remember those who have served.

“Winston Churchill said, ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” …That is what Veterans Day is all about. As a nation, we have flourished because we’ve always had citizens willing to stand up and answer the call to serve in hours of need. Today, we honor our veterans, past, and present, for their sacrifice and dedication to our great nation.

“As Americans we forget too often and too quickly what it took and continues to take to be alive… even on a day like today, we want to celebrate, bringing in a little pomp and circumstance when too often we forget about what this day is really about — solemn remembrance, peaceful reflection, active thankfulness.

“My call to action and challenge for you this Veterans Day 2015 is to remember Veterans and all they have done not only today, but every day. Thank a Vet. Find time. Make time in your days to reflect for one minute about what it means to be free and remember the sacrifices it took. Make time to educate your children, serve in your community, help others and most importantly live a life that is worthy of the sacrifices Veterans made to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I challenge you today to find a veteran every day. Whether it is your teacher, your coach, your neighbor, or that guy that sits next to you in church and thank them. Thank them for their service. Thank them for their courage. Their commitment. Their sacrifice. I call you to action. To take time out of your day to stand here and look at old glory. Think about these veterans and other veterans you know. Have some pride for this flag and for our country and in our liberty.

“On this Veterans Day, there is so much to commemorate, and so much more to be thankful for. We would not be where we are today without the heroes we call veterans. Today we have the privilege of honoring this very small and special group of Americans, whose service spans every decade of our country’s existence. We owe them so much. But most importantly we owe them our freedom. And today, especially, we owe them our gratitude. Thank you —and God Bless America.”

Jared Spude is a 2008 graduate of Southern Door High School. He was named UWGB’s outstanding graduate in May 2015. He and his platoon served in Afghanistan. His role was to serve as a master navigator and coordinator from the ground as his platoon controlled fires of mortar tubes and artillery cannons. He continues to serve in the Wisconsin National Guard as an Instructor at the Wisconsin Military Academy, Fort McCoy — which is recognized as one of the outstanding artillery training institutes in the nation. He works full-time as a client services manager for Breakthrough Fuel, in Green Bay.


HOOAH! Student rallies campus, community for vets

Nicholas Gries, a nontraditional student at UW-Green Bay, has had many experiences in his life that have made him the man he is today. But it is his military experience that drives his current passion to dive further, dig deeper — both at the University, and in service to his community.

“The number one thing that the military has taught me is not to be content with my situation; you can always do more…” says Gries, a business and finance major. “The military has also taught me to set my goals high and work hard until the mission is complete. We do not fail. We make mistakes, learn from them, and get back up and try again.”

Gries served as a fire team leader in in the 1st Ranger Battalion of the United States Army from 2002 until 2006. In 2010 he joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard as a squad leader. In 2012, he joined the National Guard full time, in the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) as a non-commissioned officer, a position he maintains today.

Gries was one of the two founders of 4th HOOAH WI (Helping out our American Heroes), a local branch of a national organization dedicated to supporting deployed service men and women, their stateside families and returning veterans. Gries has also helped establish a scholarship at UW-Green Bay for continuing service men and women, or veterans of the armed forces.

“I am president of 4th HOOAH WI, and we look at any and every way possible to help Veterans and their families,” he says. “I am a firm believer in higher education for everyone so this is one way we can help veterans and their families reach the goals they set out for themselves.”

This year, Veterans Day (Wednesday, Nov. 11) will be a little more hectic for Gries, who is an organizer of HOOAH WI’s major fundraising effort of the year —the third annual Veteran Suicide Rucksack March — a 22-mile walk/run/march beginning at Stadium View Bar and Grille, 1963 Holmgren Way. At 4 p.m. that day, HOOAH WI will be recognized, with other veterans’ scholarship donors, at UW-Green Bay’s annual Veterans Reception at 4 p.m. in the University Union.

(The expression “hooah,” incidentally, has no precise dictionary definition, but is instantaneously recognizable to service members and veterans (mostly Army) as military slang — a confident, catch-all expression of high morale, cohesiveness and motivation.)

Gries, a Bay Port High School graduate, said he was initially drawn to UW-Green Bay because of its sound business program and the school’s location, but he has been impressed after the fact that the campus provides the non-traditional student an ideal opportunity for degree completion.

“I am not a traditional student…The thing I like the best about the campus and school is the times of the classes, allowing me to make it to my full time job…All of my instructors have been more than understanding…I believe nontraditional students are more than welcomed and treated as peers.”

For more information about the Third Annual Veteran Suicide Rucksack March.

Story by student Emily Schuh, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication Office

Keith White Prairie Restoration Planning Meeting

Slideshow: Couple’s gift could revitalize UWGB prairie

A retired professor and his wife have stepped forward to promote revitalization of the tallgrass prairie on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Keith L. and Betty A. White of Green Bay agreed earlier this fall to make a generous, five-figure gift to the University to create a permanent endowment for improvements to the prairie, a signature feature of the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum encircling campus.

(The Whites, in blue and purple parkas above, posed with staff, faculty and friends who toured the site and discussed plans for the endowment with them in mid-October.)

The amount of the gift was not revealed publically, but the principal is expected to spin off up to several thousand dollars annually for student research, projects and plantings aimed at maximizing diversity and bringing the prairie to full flower.

“What we’re looking for is that, 20 years from now, there will be many more patches of color and much more diversity, especially in the ‘understory,’” Keith White said while walking the 8.5-acre site. “Right now, we have perhaps 50 (plant) species present here. I’d like to see 200.”

Prairie pioneer urges revitalization

White joined the then-new UWGB in 1968 as a founding member of the biology and ecology faculty. He made the first prairie plantings on the bayshore campus in 1973, in an area of former farm fields along South Circle Drive. Five years after he retired in 1989, the University named and dedicated the Keith White Prairie in his honor.

In the decades since, the prairie has come to be dominated by the success of climax species including big bluestem and switchgrass, along with invasive goldenrod, whose taller stature and deep roots crowd out other plants.

The relative lack of diversity today limits both the attractiveness of flowering-plant displays for casual visitors and the range of species available to researchers studying succession and other ecological issues.

In a thriving prairie, flowering forbs become evident throughout the growing season, a pattern often called “sequential blooming.” Some of the flower species evident at the UW-Green Bay prairie include yellow cone flower, prairie dock, lupine, black-eyed Susan, spiderwort, and false indigo, but White reiterates there should be more.

“I hear from friends of mine, people who make the drive here because they want to experience a native prairie, and they tell me, ‘I didn’t realize so much of it would be grasses,’” White relates. “We need to change that. That’s my primary goal.”

In lieu of bison

Faculty and staff of the University’s Cofrin Center for Biodiversity manage the prairie with periodic spring burns to mimic the natural wildfires that, on America’s pre-settlement grasslands, revitalized the native plant communities and discouraged invaders.

Both White and Prof. Bob Howe, who directs the biodiversity center, are in agreement, however, that another natural contributor to prairie ecology is unavailable here.

“We have never had bison and elk roaming free on this prairie,” Howe said, “and I’m not going out on a limb here by saying we never will.”

Those keystone species were vital to the biologic diversity of America’s native prairies because their grazing habits, massive size and sharp hooves periodically disturbed the grasslands and encouraged understory plants to gain a toehold. Bison, in particular, had a habit of digging out depressions to wallow in the dust, their shaggy coats picking up seeds and depositing them elsewhere as their herds traveled the land.

At a little under 10 acres in size, bordering the boundary road for the busy central campus and criss-crossed by hiking and biking trails, UWGB’s Keith White Prairie is not a prime candidate for a large-ungulate transplant. That leaves it to humans — using tools, seeds and plans developed via the White’s recent gift — to promote biodiversity.

Plans to use the White endowment

Howe says that the first step will be a comprehensive inventory of the existing prairie documenting species diversity and relative abundance, with an assessment of non-native invasives and soil conditions.

Over a period of years, the White endowment would encourage researchers to move forward with individual projects that would likely begin with rototilling and manually clearing small pockets within the exiting prairie, replanting with diverse species, and continue with monitoring of the new plants’ success.

Partnering with UW-Green Bay on the project is alumnus Neil Diboll, a former student of Keith White, who during his undergraduate days in the 1970s assisted in developing and expanding the campus prairie. Diboll is today known nationally for his expertise in prairie planting and restoration through the success of the company he founded, Prairie Nursery Inc., based in Westfield.

Students who receive grants from the White Prairie Restoration Endowed Award Fund will be expected to pursue their projects under the supervision of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, in consultation with Diboll, as they conduct plantings, transplants or other measures to increase the diversity of native plants, insect pollinators and animals. They’ll also be required to maintain careful records and maps of activities to facilitate long-term monitoring.

“The gift from Keith and Betty will provide tremendous opportunities for our students,” Howe says. “It is very appropriate that, during this University’s 50th Anniversary year, they have committed their support to the Arboretum, this prairie and our students.”

Photos by UWGB Marketing and University Communication staff member Kimberly Vlies.

(Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.)

Make a Difference Day

Difference Makers: UWGB volunteers spend 1,000 hours in community

As part of UW-Green Bay’s 50th Anniversary celebration, more than 300 students, faculty and staff participated in Make a Difference Day activities, Friday and Saturday, October 23 and 24. The UWGB contingent volunteered 1,000 hours of service Friday, October 23 at a number of sites in the community between 1 and 4 p.m. including Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Baird Creek, St. Vincent de Paul, and the Green Bay Botanical Garden.

A large number of students also took part in the Volunteer Center’s “Neighborhood Volunteer Connection” — hand-delivering thousands of letters throughout Green Bay in an effort to recruit volunteers who will in turn assist seniors and people with disabilities in their own neighborhoods remain independent and in their homes longer. The UWGB team delivered letters to 6,000 homes that afternoon.

Many of the volunteers were freshmen who are enrolled in the UWGB GPS (Gateway to Phuture Success) program, designed to help first year students transition into college and succeed in college-level courses through faculty connections and peer mentoring.

Volunteers returned to the University Union at 4 p.m. for a celebration and refreshments, with a short program that included appreciation from UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, UWGB student Sierra Spaulding, and The Volunteer Center Coordinator Michael Schwartz-Oscar. The program was emceed by UWGB Dean of Students Brenda Amenson-Hill.

The activity was also in support of the Campus Common Theme — Engaging in Public Life.

Photos by UWGB Marketing and University Communication staff members Kimberly Vlies, Jena Richter, Sue Bodilly, and other UWGB faculty and staff members on site, and shared on social media with #UWGBMDDay.

(Click thumbnails to enter slideshow or view the album on Flickr.)


Reception honors student artist Adam Fulwiler

UW-Green Bay student artist Adam Fulwiler was honored for his work, “Windows” a layered, large-scale acrylic painting chosen for display as the Chancellor’s Holiday Art Scholarship selection for 2015-16. Fulwiler was joined by art faculty and others at a reception hosted by Chancellor Gary L. and Georgia Nix Miller, Sept. 24.

Fulwiler, a graduate of West De Pere High School, has a double major in Art and Design Arts and expects to graduate in spring 2017. His painting was selected by Chancellor and Mrs. Miller from a range of student pieces submitted for juried consideration. Fulwiler will receive a monetary award provided through the Holiday Art Scholarship program established by the Millers.

With its selection, “Windows” will be the featured art on the 2015 year-end holiday cards the Millers and the privately funded UW-Green Bay Foundation Inc. will share with campus and community friends of the University. Additionally, the piece will be publicly displayed for one year in the UW-Green Bay Chancellor’s Office, Suite 810 of the David A. Cofrin Library.

Art Prof. Kristy Deetz says Fulwiler “is a diligent worker who sets a standard of excellence in the quality of the work that he produces and in his commitment to growing as an artist.”

In his artist’s statement accompanying “Windows,” Fulwiler describes how his large-scale paintings explore the elements of form including line, shape, value, color and texture. “I build up surfaces by scraping, layering and dragging paint across the entire canvas with the goal of forming visual passages and ‘doorways’ to spaces that often suggest landscapes,” he writes. He uses five-foot-long squeegees, brooms, metal trowels and oversize brushes to create the paintings.

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Photos by Tammy Resulta



Scholarship receptions: Bringing donors and recipients together

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Chancellor Gary L. and Georgia Nix Miller hosted a series of smaller, more intimate receptions at various venues this fall to give donors, recipients, and others more of an opportunity to engage. Enjoy the photo gallery. Photos by UW-Green Bay graduate Tammy Resulta.

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Early grads help celebrate UWGB’s 50th

A busy day of public events celebrating the 50th anniversary of UWGB’s founding opened with a Wednesday morning breakfast program in the University Union’s Phoenix Room.

The University’s first Student Government Association president, Scott Knapp, was the keynote speaker. Now the CEO of Central Maine Community College, Knapp shared memories of his relationship with Founding Chancellor Edward Weidner, the earliest days of the new campus, and being asked to speak at the official groundbreaking for UWGB in November 1967.

Also offering remarks were UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt (who presented Miller and the University a key to the city), and proud Class of 1971 alumnus Sen. Dave Hansen (who presented a flag that had flown over the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison). Ron Pfeifer was emcee.

The invitation-only breakfast was also attended by other early 1970s graduates, current students and student government leaders, longtime community supporters (including Dr. Herb and Crystal Sandmire, friends of UWGB since 1969), emeriti faculty, University officials, the senior member of UW-Green Bay’s faculty (Prof. Kumar Kangayappan), Marge and Ellen Weidner, UW System officials including the deans of nearby UW Colleges, System President Ray Cross and Regent President Regina Millner, Regent Tim Higgins, Council of Trustees and Alumni leadership, and others. First graduate Nancy Ably Deprey ’70 and “most recent graduate” Victoria Zacarias ‘15 were acknowledged for their participation in the campus 50th anniversary video.

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Photos by UW-Green Bay staff members Dan Moore and Kelly Selner


UW-Green Bay memories power exec’s generosity

If power industry executive Barbara Nick ’83 ever pens a memoir about her atypical career arc, the chapter on her college experience will be central to the story.

Nick is president and CEO of Dairyland Power Cooperative, La Crosse, which provides wholesale electricity to more than 40 member cooperatives and municipalities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Nationwide, she’s one of only a few female chief executives in her industry. Her start in the tech-heavy field, 35 years ago, also sets her apart. It came in communications.

Nick says UW-Green Bay shares the credit, and it’s partly why she and her husband established the Jay and Barbara Nick Family Endowed Scholarship in 2013 to offer financial assistance to new freshmen.

Nick, then Barb Bielmeier, was a part-time, returning transfer student when her young family relocated to Green Bay in 1980. Raised in Scottsdale, Ariz., she had taken classes at Arizona State and UW-Madison. She was impressed that the quality of her UWGB education equaled the big schools and the campus was accommodating to non-traditionals.

She tutored in the writing lab, was a linguistics researcher for Prof. Donald Larmouth, and offered English-as-a-Second-Language assistance to international students.

In 1981, a job board posting caught her eye. Wisconsin Public Service Corp. was hiring a technical writer. Having studied with the exacting Larmouth, she knew she was qualified.

“The thing was, I had a liberal arts background. I was eight months pregnant when I had to decide whether to go ‘permanent’… and I was not from the Midwest, not male, not an engineer, and not an accountant,” she recalls, laughing. “But I stayed 33 years.”

Nick “fell in love” with the energy industry, and her work brought her to various divisions across the company. She remembers one afternoon at a lathe with a precision machinist at Kewaunee Nuclear Power and being in awe of the “absolute pride of workmanship.”

Nick finished her bachelor’s in Communication. She later completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

At WPS, she rose through the ranks to become senior VP of energy delivery and customer service. She was president of the Upper Peninsula Power Co. subsidiary, and by 2014, when she concluded her career at Integrys, she was president of its Minnesota Energy Resources and Michigan Gas Utilities corporations.


Dr. Coussons gives the gift of music

The Green Bay Symphony Orchestra’s 100-year collection of music scores will remain available for the community via UW-Green Bay’s David A. Cofrin Library on a limited basis. The music collection has been donated to the Cofrin Library and can be accessed by local music groups requesting the scores at the service desk on the library’s third floor. The historical documentation about the GBSO was donated to the library’s Archives and Area Research Center, on the library’s seventh floor.

“This substantial musical score collection will remain a community resource thanks to the generous donation by Dr. Herbert Coussons,” said Paula Ganyard, Director of the Cofrin Library.

Both the youth and orchestral music libraries were purchased and donated by Dr. Coussons (a Green Bay-area physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology) after the GBSO disbanded as a professional organization in the past year. The Youth Symphony, Civic Symphony and music programs at UWGB and St. Norbert College retain access to the collection that includes photos, news clippings, season program books and historic audio recordings of concerts.

“The UWGB Archives is pleased to add the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra historical records to its collections,” said University Archivist Deb Anderson. “The original documents date from the Symphony’s inception in 1913 to its final performance in 2015. Included in the collection are photographs, recordings, programs, and scrapbooks. The collection of Green Bay Symphony Orchestra records helps us preserve the rich musical heritage of the area.”

The Symphony records will complement the Green Bay City Band records also housed in the Archives Department.

Business grads can relate to hard work, local roots

bartels-top-storyMore than most, Todd Bartels ’82 and Julie (Rose) Bartels ’82 can appreciate the return on investment from UW-Green Bay.

They know that many of UW-Green Bay’s 6,900 students are from cities, small towns and rural areas within 100 miles of campus. They know that many earn their own way through college. They know that most UW-Green Bay alumni stay local after graduation, stepping up to serve among the region’s teachers, planners, health professions and civic and business leaders.

They’re familiar with that profile because they share it. Both Todd (from Appleton) and Julie (Green Bay) juggled work, school and family to earn UW-Green Bay Business Administration degrees before finding satisfying careers close to home.

Todd is a senior vice president with Associated Bank, headquartered in Green Bay. He had previously spent many years as an executive with JPMorgan Chase before moving in 2006 to Associated, where he oversees large business accounts.

Julie’s career has focused on healthcare information and technology. She’s highly regarded in the industry, currently leading the Wisconsin State Health Innovation Plan and serving as executive VP for national health information with the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value.

In 2014 the couple donated funds to establish the Todd and Julie Bartels Annual Scholarship for continuing students in physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology – areas the couple views as emerging growth areas for the economy. They established the fund with appreciation for their own University careers and the first-hand knowledge that college is hard work.

“There wasn’t a lot of ‘down time’ in my case, because I was working,” Todd recalls. “Go to class. Go to work. Study. Repeat.”

For Julie, UW-Green Bay was a great fit for a married young mother who was working part time while balancing a full-time credit load. “Without access to a local, high quality and affordable four-year campus, I would not have been able to pursue my degree for many years,” she says.

The Bartels Scholarship fund represents just the latest effort by the couple to give back to their alma mater. Julie was a board member with the Founders Association, while Todd has been active with the Phoenix Fund on behalf of Division I Phoenix Athletics.