Category: Headlines

Top stories, featured news, and important headlines from UWGB

UW-Green Bay, Cofrin School to extend reach with InitiativeOne partnership

A new public-private partnership aimed at encouraging businesses to leverage the expertise and energy of UW-Green Bay faculty, staff and students with the leadership transformation services of InitiativeOne was launched at a ceremony Friday (April 24) at the newly developed InitiativeOne headquarters at 110 S. Adams St., Green Bay


The partnership — which has the additional benefit of giving the University a downtown presence — was formalized through a memorandum of understanding signed by Chancellor Gary L. Miller and InitiativeOne founder and CEO Fred Johnson.

The intent is for InitiativeOne’s team of professionals to work in conjunction with UW-Green Bay’s Austin E. Cofrin School of Business faculty to explore and develop a series of projects and programs that will positively influence the greater Green Bay business community. The partnership could expand to include other academic units, as well.

Both organizations will seek synergistic opportunities to match UW-Green Bay faculty and the InitiativeOne staff with the specialized needs of companies and non-profits on the firm’s extensive national client list. Additionally, InitiativeOne will help place UW-Green Bay student interns on appropriate projects and provide office or meeting space to facilitate University office hours and interaction with clients.

Miller and Johnson addressed specifics and answered questions about the partnership at Friday’s gathering. Joining them to share brief remarks was local business leader Jim Wochinske, president of Pomp’s Tire Service, Inc. Wochinske is an alumnus and advocate for UW-Green Bay who has long been supportive of local economic development efforts.

Others in attendance included Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach, Downtown Green Bay Executive Director Jeff Mirkes, UW-Green Bay faculty and staff, and business and civic leaders who serve as members of the University’s Council of Trustees and various local business associations.

Signaling a growing presence in the area, InitiativeOne invested $2.5 million in the purchase and renovation of 10,500 square feet of space in the historic Adams Street Garage development. The building, originally a car dealership, was later remodeled into a restaurant and entertainment complex and, eventually, office and professional services space. InitiativeOne plans a public open house later this spring.

Last fall, InitiativeOne announced it was moving its headquarters to Green Bay from Scottsdale, Ariz., where it retains offices. The company’s roster of clients includes prominent names such as US Steel, McDonnell Douglas, Chase Bank, Honeywell Aerospace, the Seattle Seahawks, and Scottsdale Healthcare, as well as a long list of small, mid-size and family businesses.

Friday’s announcement comes within months after Chancellor Miller’s pledge, at his installation as UW-Green Bay chancellor in November, that the University was committed to “extending our physical presence in some way to a vibrant and growing downtown Green Bay.”

‘Eco U’ makes Green Colleges Guide for fourth straight year

UW-Green Bay is one of the 353 most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada as recognized by Princeton Review.

The education services company profiles UW-Green Bay in the 2015 edition of its free downloadable book, “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges.”

The Princeton Review chose the schools for this guide based on a survey it conducted in 2014 of administrators at hundreds of four-year colleges to measure the schools’ commitment to the environment and to sustainability. The institutional survey included questions on the schools’ course offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.

Published April 16, a few days before the April 22 celebration of Earth Day, the 218-page guide can be downloaded at and

The school profiles in the guide feature essential information for applicants — facts and stats on school demographics, admission and financial aid — plus write-ups on the schools’ sustainability initiatives. A “Green Facts” sidebar reports on a wide range of topics from the school’s use of renewable energy sources, recycling and conservation programs to the availability of environmental studies and career guidance for green jobs.

In the guide’s profile, The Princeton Review says “Eco U has historically strong academic programs in environmental science and environmental policy and planning at both bachelor’s and master’s levels,” mentions various UW-Green Bay courses and research opportunities, along with “green” building design feature and the University’s Environmental Management and Business Institute (EMBI).

UW-Green Bay is one of five of the UW System’s 13 four-year campuses to be included in the 2015 edition. The others are Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Oshkosh and Stevens Point.


UW-Green Bay to host panel discussion on race relations, policing

A panel discussion on “Race Relations and the Local Police” is scheduled to take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Hosted by the University’s American Intercultural Center, the event will take place in the Phoenix Room on the main level of the University Union on the campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists will include Green Bay Police Chief Tom Molitor, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, UW-Green Bay Public Safety Director Tom Kujawa, Public Safety Training Coordinator Michael Molnar of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and Pastors Paul Davis of Kingdom Agenda Church and L.C. Green of Divine Temple Church, both of Green Bay.

The moderator will be Justin Mallett, director of diversity for UW-Green Bay. Mallett, a native of Kosciusko, Miss., who holds a doctorate in educational leadership, joined the staff last July. In the wake of highly publicized police shootings involving African Americans in Ferguson, Mo., and Madison, he says he has been pleased to learn that Green Bay police and members of the local community already have experience in maintaining an ongoing dialog.

“The event (on the 14th) isn’t intended to criticize the police or their efforts,” Mallett says. “It’s to ask questions and help more people understand what our community is doing to continue to make sure these events don’t happen in Green Bay. I expect that students will share their perceptions of the local police and public safety. Some of their questions could be direct and even pointed, but it’s my view that we won’t be able to move forward with our overall mission if people just want to criticize and blame.”

Earlier in the day, from 11:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday,  Molnar, of NWTC, will set up a “shoot/don’t shoot” training simulator in the University Union’s 1965 Room.  This will give participants an opportunity to gain a better appreciation of a law enforcement officer’s perspective on potential deadly force situations.  Up to two individuals can sign up to participate in each 15-minute block in the training simulator.  Participants will be provided a short orientation prior to the simulated exercise and time to debrief afterwards.  A sign-up sheet to participate in the simulated exercise is available at the American Intercultural Center, University Union Room 150.

Nationally, some activists have urged that April 14 be a day of walkouts and protests over police shootings. Mallett says he hopes the event at UW-Green Bay gives local college and high school students an opportunity to share their perceptions of these national incidents, to learn from fellow community members about the history of race relations locally, and to be pro-active in contributing to positive police-community relations.

Anyone with questions about the event may contact Mallett at or (920) 465-2720.


Prof. Gregory Aldrete receives UW System’s highest teaching honor

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents honored UW-Green Bay Frankenthal Professor of History and Humanistic Studies, Gregory S. Aldrete, April 10 for his outstanding achievements in teaching. Aldrete received the 2015 Regents Teaching Excellence Award, UW System’s highest recognition for members of its faculty and academic staff.

Prof. Gregory Aldrete

Prof. Gregory S. Aldrete

Aldrete started teaching at UW-Green Bay in 1995 and since has been awarded several distinguished titles for his contributions in teaching and research. In 2012, he was selected as Wisconsin Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement of Education (CASE). In 2010, he was selected as the recipient of the American Philological Association Award for Excellence in Teaching at the College Level (the national teaching award given annually by the professional association of classics professors). Aldrete was selected to hold the Frankenthal Professorship at UW-Green Bay through 2017, and he received the UW-Green Bay Founders Association Awards for Excellence in the categories of teaching (2003) and scholarship (2006).

In addition to his role as professor, Aldrete has excelled in the field of research. His research has been honored with a number of prestigious fellowships, among them, two year NEH Humanities Fellowships, and the Solmsen Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities in Madison. The Archaeological Institute of America, the professional association of archaeologists, selected him as one of two Joukowsky National Lecturers for 2014-15, an honor which included a lecture tour of 14 universities across the United States. Additionally, he was chosen as a fellow of two NEH seminars held at the American Academy in Rome, was a participant in an NEH Institute at UCLA, and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome.

His interest of all things ancient Rome makes its way to his classroom and beyond. He regularly teaches eight different courses of approximately 450 students per year, as well as numerous independent studies. His teaching methods include analyzing primary documents, holding debates, role-playing and other hands-on activities.

Recently, Aldrete developed an innovative interdisciplinary course on military history in which students learn through “living history.” An example was the multi-year Linothorax Project, in which his students helped him re-create the lightweight linen armor that Alexander the Great wore during his conquests. Their testing firmly established that linen armor would have provided superior protection and a major tactical advantage for Alexander’s forces. Aldrete’s published results of that research garnered international attention on Public Radio International, U.S. News and World Report, Der Spielgel, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Military History, Ancient Warfare Magazine, the Canadian network History Television, and in internet stories in more than two dozen languages and countries around the world.

Recently, he has begun making video lecture courses with The Teaching Company/The Great Courses, and his offerings include: A History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective, Decisive Battles of World History, and History’s Great Military Blunders and the Lessons they Teach (forthcoming).

Aldrete has written and recorded dozens of video lectures for The Teaching Company, with the first series entitled, “The History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective.” Aldrete gives frequent public lectures, including local venues as well as, recently, Iowa State University, Boston University, and the University of Manitoba in Canada. His students frequently comment on his depth of knowledge and passion for the subject of history and for teaching.

His interdisciplinary scholarship spans fields including History, Archaeology, Art History, Military History, and Philology.   Among the books he has written are: Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome (1999); Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome (2007); Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia (2009); The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done For Us? (2012, with Alicia Aldrete); The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life I: The Ancient World (editor, 2004); and Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor: Unraveling the Linothorax Mystery (2013, with S. Bartell and A. Aldrete).

Aldrete joins other esteemed UW-Green Bay faculty who have recently received the UW System Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award: Clifton Ganyard, Humanistic Studies (2014) and Regan A.R. Gurung, Human Development (2011). The UW-Green Bay Professional Program in Education received the UW System department of the year honors in 2011.

(Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.)
Photos submitted


UW System president to host pair of ‘town hall’ meetings Tuesday

UW System President Ray Cross will visit UW-Green Bay Tuesday (March 24) to meet with students, faculty and staff to listen to concerns and hear suggestions regarding the state budget and other matters of importance to the campus. Cross will hold two “town hall” meetings — a student session at 11:30 a.m. and the faculty and staff session at 1:30 p.m. Both meetings will be in the University Theatre in Theatre Hall.

‘Uncomfortable’ choices: Chancellor shares update at Town Hall III

Chancellor addresses second town hall meeting on March 6.

UW System Regents are hopeful a proposed $150 million annual cut will be reduced, if only by a modest amount, and they’re adamant that tenure and shared governance must remain intact, says UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller, reporting on the March 5 Regents meeting he attended in Madison.

At the same time, Miller told members of the campus community Friday morning (March 6), UW-Green Bay has no choice but to prepare for the worst: a cut exceeding $4 million and potential workforce and program reductions.

The chancellor addressed an audience of 200 faculty, staff members and students in the University Theatre. It was the third in a series of informational budget “town hall” updates he has convened since early February.

(Recordings of Friday’s session — the chancellor’s 30-minute opening overview, along with a separate nearly 45 minutes of question and answer — can be found online here.)

Miller briefed faculty and staff on the Regents meeting and described two resolutions passed unanimously by board members. The first reaffirmed a commitment that shared governance and faculty tenure should be preserved, regardless of the management or budget model governing UW System operations. The second asked Wisconsin legislators to reduce the size of the $150 million annual reduction proposed in the governor’s budget, and urged approval of the “public authority” model that would grant the university system additional flexibility.

During Friday’s town hall, Miller outlined for faculty and staff the accelerated timetable for UW-Green Bay identifying its options for possible reductions. He talked about entering Phase II of the process and his intent to, beginning next week, present more specific information to shared governance groups including the Faculty Senate and the campuswide University Planning and Innovation Council.

“This phase of the work will require public discussion of some very uncomfortable things,” Miller said. “This is a $4.4 million reduction… These are difficult things to talk about, but we have to do it.”

At present, Miller said, UW-Green Bay leadership has a handle on how it might address only about half of the total budget gap. Administrative divisions including University Advancement, Intercollegiate Athletics and Business and Finance have submitted reduction proposals, already approved by the Chancellor, that he characterized as “cuts to the bone that will degrade, in some cases, our ability” to operate effectively.

Major savings must also be found in academic and student support areas reporting to the Provost, a process that is proceeding more slowly because of the complexities of the challenge and relative size of the Academic Affairs area.

The chancellor volunteered examples of areas where savings could be achieved. The University will see longer replacement cycles and less-frequent upgrades in technology. The Cofrin Library and International Studies are looking at changes. Retirements in the enrollment services area could be an opportunity for reorganization. Support for campuswide grants and research services could be shifted to a new funding model. Fund 102 money that supports portions of the Adult Access and Weidner Center budgets will be reviewed, and funding of faculty/staff development activity including the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning will be examined.

Within academic units, Miller said, the University is gathering data on how instructional resources are deployed. Practices related to course reassignments, workloads, overload payments, ad hoc appointments and the allocation of some academic services including student advising are being analyzed.

“What we’re really about with these is figuring out a way to work differently,” Miller said. “Not necessarily ‘more,’ but differently. In order to do that we have to examine all of these areas carefully, and we’ve been doing that for about two weeks… UPIC will be seeing some data on that very soon, to help us sort through that.”

The provost and academic deans will be asking fundamental, organizational questions, the chancellor continued. “Are there areas where we might want to be smaller… and that includes some academic programs… and, if so, how do we go about doing that, and if we do get smaller, can we reallocate to a growing area? These are hard discussions.”

He closed his presentation by thanking faculty and staff for their patience, consideration and participation in the process.

“I appreciate your courage. It’s hard to talk openly with a challenge this big. But we have to do that if we want to come through this with most of us here, with a University that can grow, and a University that can continue to be a great university.”

He urged members of the campus community to keep faith in their roles in working with students, developing future leaders and providing the community a quality institution of public higher education.

“We have to remember that this University was built on innovation, and innovation will get us through this.”

The recording of the 45-minute question-and-answer session that followed the chancellor’s remarks can be found here.

Events, activities to celebrate ‘50 Years of UW-Green Bay’

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is making plans to celebrate five decades of history by engaging alumni, students and the community in opportunities to share their memories.

The opening day of fall semester 2015 — Wednesday, Sept. 2 — will mark the golden anniversary of the occasion in 1965 when Gov. Warren Knowles signed legislation creating a new four-year university for Northeastern Wisconsin.

Activities throughout the 2015-16 academic year will be tied to the theme “50 Years of UW-Green Bay.” A kickoff celebration is planned for Sept. 2.

“We are going to offer ways for 32,000 alumni to reconnect and for 6,500 current students to embrace the future,” says UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller. He also specifically wants to use the opportunity to engage the community.

“This community wanted a great university in Green Bay back in 1965. Our goal is to meet the needs and expectations of this region through increasing levels of engagement, partnership building, innovative education and service,” he said. “The opportunity to celebrate our first 50 years is also an opportunity to commit ourselves to being a key partner in this great place.”

The Sept. 2 events begin with a public, outdoor reception on the University Union Plaza from 11 a.m. to noon. A short formal program with greetings from state and local officials, UW System representatives, community leaders and other well-wishers is planned.

A second major event at which the 50 Years of UW-Green Bay theme will be prominent will be the annual Alumni Reunion Days weekend on Oct. 17 and 18. A yearlong lecture series is also expected to begin in fall.

Although the full year’s calendar is not yet complete, the University is announcing its plans six months before the anniversary of its founding to reach out to current and former students, employees and community members who might have photos, mementos or memories to share.

A “Share Your Story” page is part of the 50 Years website at

The 50 Years website will share historical “Phoenix Phactoids” tidbits and periodically rotate top-50 lists on topics from favorite campus and Weidner Center shows and concerts to all-time most memorable professors, from 50 history-making sports moments to 50 (or more) notable alumni. (The first list, at, looks at top campus performances in the student-run Good Times Programming series.)

Extensive photo galleries highlighting UW-Green Bay’s people, programs and campus growth through the decades will be made available to the public closer to the September anniversary. A special August edition of the University magazine, Inside UW-Green Bay, will celebrate the milestone.

A historic timeline and oral-history project related to the first 50 years are also in development. Interested parties can refer to UWGB’s first 25 years in the book From the Beginning, written by former staff member Betty D. Brown, based on original documents and personal observations as a member of the campus community. It was published in the early 1990s, and can be accessed online at

Use of the hashtag #uwgb50 will be encouraged on social media.

Miller, UW-Green Bay’s sixth chancellor, says he’s looking forward to hearing from early alumni and founding faculty and staff members with their thoughts on the development of Founding Chancellor Edward Weidner’s 1960s-era field of dreams into a modern, respected and comprehensive university.

More than nostalgia, the 50-year milestone is not just a time for reflection, Miller adds. “It’s about the future.”

He notes that at its founding in 1965, UW-Green Bay was widely regarded as one of America’s most innovative institutions, organized around the idea that students should tackle great problems. In public remarks when he assumed the chancellorship last year, Miller challenged today’s UW-Green Bay to embrace its roots by capturing innovations from the private sector, fostering creativity internally, and promoting entrepreneurship by students.

“With inspiration from our past and from the Phoenix itself — a mythical bird that is periodically reborn or regenerated — we at UW-Green Bay will use our anniversary as a launch pad for reinvigoration, and for shaping this community’s future,” Miller said.

The chancellor says innovation, coupled with the transformative power of higher education to change lives and promote economic growth, and a deep commitment to serving the region and partnering with business, government and the nonprofit sector, bode well for UW-Green Bay’s next 50 years.

UW-Green Bay is not the only local institution celebrating a milestone anniversary in 2015. The Neville Public Museum of Brown County will mark 100 years, while the Green Bay Press-Gazette celebrates 100 years publishing under its current name. (The year 2016 will mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the paper’s oldest forerunner, the weekly Green Bay Gazette.)

A campus planning committee headed by staff members Kimberly Desotell and Tracy Heaser is coordinating activities related to the UW-Green Bay anniversary. For more information, visit the website, or contact the University Advancement Office at (920) 465-2074 or e-mail

Chancellor: Budget reduction is closer to $4.6m

The revenue gap facing the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay under the governor’s proposed budget will in reality be closer to $4.6 million annually than to the initial projection of $4 million, Chancellor Gary L. Miller said Friday morning (Feb. 20).

Miller addressed an audience of more than 200 faculty, staff members and students in an informational budget “town hall” session in the University Theatre.

The difference relates to inclusion of a budget provision that would trim $600,000 from UW-Green Bay’s allotment for cost-to-continue items in the second year of the biennium. Despite the new, higher figure, the Chancellor expressed confidence that UW-Green Bay administrators and campus planning groups are making headway in identifying ways to manage the impact of a reduction in state-allocated taxpayer support.

About $2 million in short-term savings has already been identified to begin to deal with the base cuts, primarily by leaving some positions vacant.

UW-Green Bay must submit an outline of its budget-reduction strategy, including potential impacts, to UW System Administration and Regents for the board meeting March 4 in Madison.

“We don’t anticipate layoffs (in the short term),” Miller told the audience, “because of what we have done to account for that first $2 million (through immediate cost containment measures).”

town-hall-in-story-2He added, however, that if the full $150 million annual cut planned for the UW System is signed into law, the remainder of UW-Green Bay’s projected $4.6 million share will be a much more difficult challenge, bringing longer-term uncertainty to at least some positions and programs.

One goal of the University’s budget-management strategy, he said, will be to garner enough flexibilities and efficiencies to buy time while “we figure out how programs can continue on their own” under new funding models.

“Worst-case, we are going to have to take $4.6 million in annual cuts. I’d like to have enough flexibility to see if some programs can generate revenue on their own… with others, it might be a matter of whether we can wait it out, ‘hold on,’ to see if the (next state) budget improves,” Miller said, or enrollment gains or other factors brighten the outlook.

The Chancellor prefaced his remarks on the budget by saying those who characterize the proposed UW System cuts as a mere 2 percent reduction are calculating from the wrong base. While the System’s total spending does exceed $6 billion annually, that figure includes federal financial aid pass-throughs to students, student fees for housing and dining, grants, gifts and other funds earmarked for specific purposes. A more realistic calculation would compare the $150 million cut to the $1 billion annual allocation from the Legislature — an amount that, combined in roughly equal proportions with student tuition revenue — underwrites most of the System’s academic offerings and personnel costs.

Miller noted that the University’s Council of Trustees, along with the Alumni Association Board of Directors, have been briefed on budget developments and are advocating on behalf of UW-Green Bay with legislators and key decision-makers, behind the scenes. He cautioned faculty, staff and students, however, that the likelihood of reducing the proposed cuts by a meaningful amount remains an uphill prospect.

“I can’t say that I’m ‘hopeful,’” Miller said, “but we’re still talking, and that’s a positive.”

Q&A: a sampling
Q. Is the spending of student segregated fees affected by the temporary campus freeze?
A. Not really. That money that has been allocated for student organization activities, programming, travel and the like should continue as planned. Students deserve those experiences, and any savings would not really be applicable for repurposing.

Q. (From a student) Didn’t a recent audit find that the UW System had a $1 billion surplus?
A. No. Incorrect. The audit made public two years ago found not a “surplus” but cash reserves or, primarily, money collected over time to pay for designated major projects. (Example at UW-Green Bay: accumulated parking fees pay for road and lot resurfacing every few years.) “The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is not sitting on a pile of cash… The reserves we are holding (here) would get you fired, as a private-sector CEO, because they’re not large enough.”

Q. With the “public authority” proposal, won’t the devil be in the details? Why are you so sure of the value?
A. True, the proposal is not fully fleshed out. It’s possible I’ll see something that changes my mind. But, it’s not an uncommon model nationally… it is likely the state funding stream would be more consistent… and the level of over-regulation in Wisconsin is very high for a university system. Under a public authority model, “I think a university like Green Bay would compete, operate very efficiently and be successful.”

Q. Wasn’t the “Invent the Future” initiative and task-force work intended as a growth-scenario plan? And not something for a budget-cutting environment?
A. The recommendations can be viewed through either lens. (Example: Expanding graduate programs would be a revenue benefit in either case, as long as tuition revenue outpaces costs.)

Q. Isn’t the real problem the fact UW-Green Bay is relatively underfunded? Is there a chance that will change?
A. “We are underfunded — by various metrics, and (actually) just about every one.” I have started discussions with President Cross and with UW System on this topic. The initial $4 million was assigned proportionally, just to get us started with some idea of the magnitude of our cut. It’s a possibility the UW System will consider campus-by-campus factors when the final statewide reduction plan is determined.

Q. What happens if a professor’s position is ‘retired,’ not posted? Don’t offer those courses? Or hire ad hocs?
A. Deans are assessing both strategies and impacts. As far as determining which positions require filling, in the short term, enrollment growth potential and accreditation issues are priority factors at present. Delayed graduation times might be an issue when courses aren’t offered as often. Unfortunate cycle: “One of the reasons universities absorb these sort of cuts is that educators are so dedicated, it’s our nature to find a way to make things work…”

Q. (From a student) I’m getting a great education. “Even with these cuts, I know I’m valued,” but won’t students be looking at larger class sizes, a required class being offered only every other semester, or year, and taking longer to get through to your degree?
A. We can’t tell you the impact, right now. But, yes, those things are possible. “We apologize for that… but we have to make cuts to our budget.”

Miller tells budget forum UWGB cuts could hit $4 million

Chancellor speaks to faculty and staff

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will need to plug an unprecedented $4 million revenue hole for the fiscal year starting July 1 if UW System budget cuts proposed in Gov. Scott Walker’s state spending plan are approved without amendment.

That’s the message UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller shared in remarks to about 300 faculty, staff members and students in an informational “town hall” session late Monday afternoon (Feb. 9) in the Phoenix Room of the University Union.

The chancellor would not speculate on possible layoffs or program reductions — steps he said he would like to avoid if a quality university is to maintain and expand service to students and community — but acknowledged that “everything is on the table” as UW-Green Bay anticipates a proportional share of what would be the largest statewide budget reduction in UW System history.

“These cuts are too large, and they will damage this precious institution,” Miller said of the $150 million annual reduction proposed for the state’s public universities in 2015-17. “We will work to reduce them, but as a University we have to prepare in the event the deepest cuts become reality. We will need to be creative, innovative and collaborative.

“We will plan for a $4 million cut at UWGB. This is a huge cut. On July 1, (if the budget passes, as is), we’ll have to work with $4 million less.”

Miller spoke for about 30 minutes in his opening remarks. He touched upon the UW System autonomy proposal (which he favors, from personal experience in other states) but focused on the budget. Over the course of the nearly two-hour forum, he fielded more than 40 questions from employees and students.

In opening the session, Miller described developments since the governor’s budget was released last week, the process by which UW-Green Bay will develop its plan, and a daunting two-month timetable for influencing the legislative process while simultaneously preparing to address the impact of the cuts as proposed.

He called for thoughtful, “evidence-based” discussion of the budget challenge. He said he hoped faculty and staff would pull together during uncertain times, and he expressed confidence they would.

“This is a fantastic University, with a unique product, an incredible spirit… There will be a UWGB for another 50 years, and more… We need to get through this current challenge in a way that positions us for a bright future.”

He also reminded employees to keep students first – “they’re why we’re here… as well as creating knowledge and serving the community.”

Planning timetable

Phase I, Miller said, began last week with announcement of the governor’s budget and discussion at the UW System Board of Regents meeting in Madison. UW-Green Bay faces a quick turnaround in having to submit preliminary budget-reduction plans to the Regents and UW System Administration in time for the next monthly meeting, on March 4.

Already, the Chancellor noted, he has announced immediate cost-containment measures including a freeze on most out-of-state travel and the filling of open positions. (About 25 permanent positions are currently left open.) Over the next week, Miller expects reports from budget officers and senior administrators on mid-year fund balances and possible savings across campus —although, “after six years of budget reductions,” he acknowledged, “there’s not a lot of flexibility.”

He said he is also beginning the process of soliciting innovative ideas from across campus to respond to the budget challenge.

Phase II will be the period between that early March meeting of the Regents and their next scheduled meeting, April 9, as the UW System and its campuses fine-tune their strategies and incorporate any new information into their planning.

Phase III, Miller said, will be the period from the April Board meeting through the end of June. Legislative action on the 2015-17 budget is expected during that time.


Miller said he will have the final say on UW-Green Bay’s plan, but he described a transparent process that will invite involvement across campus.

“Ultimately, the decision on what to cut rests with the chancellor,” he said. “I am obligated to make decisions, but what we’re trying to do is make the best informed decisions we can make.”

To that end, he pledged regular briefings and consultation sessions with the University’s four statutory governance groups, representing faculty, academic staff, university staff and students.

Miller said UPIC — the new University Planning and Innovation Council, with cross-campus representation — will play a prominent role in identifying and assessing possible courses of action. Additionally, the University Committee and its chairman, Associate Prof. Steve Meyer, have agreed to the temporary addition of ad hoc members to function in a special advising and information-sharing capacity.Encouraging the widest possible involvement, Miller asked the several hundred employees in attendance to stay apprised of continuing developments by way of:

  • following the budget blog and postings at the Chancellor’s web page,
  • future town hall meetings
  • inviting the chancellor and other University officers, as available, to attend divisional and department meetings to talk about the budget

Legislative approval

The version of the 2015-17 biennial budget released Feb. 3 by Gov. Walker is currently undergoing technical and financial review by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Once cleared by the LFB, the document proceeds to hearings and deliberations conducted by the Legislature’s 16-member budget-writing and review panel, the Joint Finance Committee. Public hearings on the budget are expected in late March and April. The bill then proceeds for approval by both Senate and Assembly, and signing by the governor, typically in June.

Miller observed that lawmakers of both parties have questioned the size of the proposed UW System reductions. Alumni, citizens, business and civic leaders are also weighing in, and UW campuses will encourage that participation.

“(As a university) we have an obligation to prepare for a $4 million reduction,” the chancellor told the town hall meeting, “but there’s going to be a major effort to reduce that cut.”

Miller specifically mentioned UW-Green Bay’s influential Council of Trustees/Foundation Board. That group’s advocacy committee has expressed a willingness to lobby on the University’s behalf, and members will receive a briefing on the budget later this week. The Alumni Association Board of Directors has also agreed to join the effort.

Miller acknowledged the high level of interest among UW-Green Bay students and employees, some of whom are already talking about the proposed cuts to neighbors, community leaders and elected officials. “You need to participate in the budget-decision process through any avenues that are available to you,” he said.

He reminded faculty and staff about the strict prohibition against political activity on state time using public resources, and promised to re-circulate the appropriate guidelines.


Q&A: a sampling

Q. Why the apparent disconnect regarding state taxpayer support? Is message not getting out?
A.  We will be talking about UW-Green Bay in a way that communicates 60% of our students are working, 60% are first-generation… our alumni are very successful… our impact on the community and region is impressive. Faculty and staff workload? Chancellor: “I’ve been in higher ed more than 30 years, and the reasons I stayed are the (great challenges and rewards), and the fact people in higher ed are the hardest-working and most dedicated people you’ll meet.”

Q. Is outsourcing of some services, as UW-Superior has done, in our future?
A.  Everything is on the table, but we have not been actively pursuing that course of action. Chancellor: “Rarely does that work out to the extent that people think it might.”

Q.  How soon can I begin using my office Visa card to purchase needed supplies?
A.  We don’t know. Not now, anyway.

Q.  Are furloughs a possibility?
A.  Have not heard that possibility raised even once.

Q. Tuition revenue from cost-recovery programs has been frozen, and will be pooled. Is this permanent?
A.  The University doesn’t have a clear policy for incentivizing programs that generate revenue and determining how much stays with the specific program and how much goes to the larger institution. This is a larger question.

Q.  How do you determine a “non-essential” employee from an essential one?
A.  UWGB refuses to use those terms, and hasn’t. We’re relatively lean. We will seek to avoid any reductions and, in the event that’s not possible in the short term, try to re-staff as soon as we are able. “Everybody we have here is essential,” Miller said. “Every one of you is essential.”

Q. Is the chancellor’s recent public essay on our unique interdisciplinary structure an indicator of restructuring that might take place because of budget cuts?
A.  No, the timing is coincidental… but the University will, at some point, enter a thorough analysis of its organizational structure. In truth, we don’t know enough about the costs (or savings) of maintaining an interdisciplinary administrative structure vs. a disciplinary one. Chancellor: “Let’s be clear. Our interdisciplinary focus is not going away… it’s obviously working… we need to preserve that.”

Q.  What will be the breakdown, if staffing cuts are necessary, between administration and faculty positions?
A.  If we cut every single administrator, from the chancellor on down, it would only amount to about $1.5 million and we’d still owe $2.5 million to the state. Chancellor: “This is a very ‘under-administrated’ university, by national standards. At the same time, our primary mission involves teaching and research.”

Q. What can we (students) do to push back against the cut?
A.  Avail yourself of your opportunities as both students and citizens. The Student Government Association is likely to get involved. Supporters of the University will “push back” at every level. Those efforts will be most effective if they are methodical, consistent, persistent and evidence-based.

Q. Is enrollment growth a possible answer?
A.  Yes. UW System institutions retain tuition dollars. Additional tuition revenue is a direct benefit, provided the University can adequately serve the larger enrollment.

Q.  If approved, when would “public authority” status take effect?
A.  July 1, 2016, allowing for a one-year transition.

Q.  Under an Authority, would faculty and staff still be state employees, and with similar health care, retirement and other benefits?
A.  No to the first part, yes to the second. As written, university employees would not be “state employees” in the traditional sense, but the law as written would keep them in the current health and benefit plans. The chancellor said there are reasons to believe policy-makers would favor continuing that arrangement.

Q.  Any assurances on tenure and shared governance, under a Public Authority system?
A.  While Wisconsin is the only state with these issues addressed in state statutes, “49 other states do it without statutory mandates.” Regent VP Regina Miller, other Regents, UW System officials and campus leaders have been adamant that tenure and shared governance shall remain.

Q.  Quality and capacity of the institution have been eroded by budget cuts over many years… have we finally reached the point where we should scale back or reconfigure our academic program array?
A.  We don’t have an over-abundance of programs, right now, to begin with, but… there would have to be a clear consensus. That doesn’t mean everyone would have to agree. But everyone would have to agree that the choices are being presented in fair and accurate fashion. Chancellor: “I’m (generally) not a supporter of across-the-board cuts that leave institutions ‘mediocre everywhere.’”

Q.  How do we focus on our work? I’ve never seen morale so low.
A.  Concern is understandable, but…. We can get through this cut. There’s a lot of innovation and creativity in this room. Chancellor: “It’s more than a cut to me… it’s what we look like when we come out the other side.”


Miller’s public statement on Governor’s proposals for UW System

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller released the following public statement today (Tuesday, Jan. 27) regarding the Governor’s proposal to cut funding and lend autonomy to the University of Wisconsin System.

“The Governor has sketched a sweeping plan to provide the University of Wisconsin System the autonomy it needs to operate in an efficient and productive manner to meet the needs of Wisconsin students and to support a vigorous and growing Wisconsin economy. We look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature to shape the details of a new accountability model of Wisconsin higher education.

“Nevertheless, we are extremely concerned about the depth of the budget reductions the Governor is proposing for the coming biennium. These cuts represent unprecedented reductions in the state’s investment in higher education at a time when the state economy would benefit from the job-producing power of universities and when most other states are increasing their investment in higher education. These reductions come after significant reductions in each of the last three biennia.

“Considerable study and analysis will be required to determine the specific effects of the proposed reductions on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. However, it is safe to say reductions of the size proposed will have dramatic negative effects on our ability to sustain the important business of higher education for Wisconsin and to build partnerships in the New North to help grow Wisconsin.

“In the coming weeks we will be working closely with our faculty and staff, our friends in the community and our colleagues in the legislature to craft a way forward that does not permanently damage the great capacity of this wonderful university.”