UW-Green Bay celebrates Terrific 2013

The UW-Green Bay community is celebrating a Terrific 2013, savoring successes as a new year nears. There were so many bright spots that choosing just 10 for our annual list was a difficult task — but we sure had fun doing it. We know these represent just a fraction of the good-news stories happening on campus and beyond, and we honor and celebrate them all. Here, in no particular order, are UW-Green Bay’s top 10 positive stories from 2013, as selected by the University News Bureau: 

Growing by degrees: UW-Green Bay adds Engineering Tech, Sustainable Management and Nursing programs 

It was a big year for new degrees at UW-Green Bay, where three new and collaborative Engineering Technology degrees were approved during the summer and funded this fall. This innovative program allows students to begin their studies at any one of 13 Northeastern Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA) universities and colleges, and finish the program at either UW-Green Bay or UW-Oshkosh. The program offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology and Environmental Engineering Technology through collaboration between the NEW ERA institutions, colleges and an array of business partners. Pending accreditation, preparatory classes could begin this spring, with program classes beginning in fall 2014.

A new master’s degree in Sustainable Management also is off to a big start, and officials anticipate filling twice as many class sections as initially thought by the end of the 2013-14 academic year. The degree program is a collaborative effort of five UW System institutions — UW-Green Bay and its sister campuses in Oshkosh, Parkside, Stout and Superior. The 14-course, 34-credit online program is designed for working adults with real-world experience — those who understand that sustainability is increasingly important across the business world.

UW-Green Bay’s Nursing program also launched a new degree, enrolling its first Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) students in fall 2013. Nursing also offers an RN to BSN program in three tracks — campus, online for Wisconsin residents and online for nurses residing outside Wisconsin — as well as a Health Information Management & Technology major.

Record grad class, smart and diverse freshmen

UW-Green Bay graduated another record class in May 2013, when some 930-plus students were set to join the ranks of new alumni. December’s class was a near-record, with nearly 450 students applying to graduate and therefore eligible to participate in midyear commencement.

The University’s incoming students are noteworthy as well, as the freshman class of 2013 is among the best prepared academically in school history. Eighty percent of new freshmen this fall completed high school with at least a ‘B’ average, with an average high school GPA of 3.38. Their average ACT Composite score was 22.9, compared with the national average of 22. More than half of the incoming freshmen scored 23 or higher.

Fall 2013’s freshman class is the most diverse to date, with 104 students of color — 13 percent of the class — who started in September.

University undertakes compensation study, awards market raises

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden spearheaded a large-scale compensation study that concluded in 2013 and resulted in some 40 percent of University employees receiving market adjustments to their salaries. Working with an outside consultant, UW-Green Bay was able to conduct a careful and thorough analysis of pay issues Universitywide.

Harden has long said compensation was his No. 1 priority, in light of funding challenges and gaps between UW-Green Bay and peer institutions nationwide. The study and subsequent pay increases were an important step toward addressing that inequity, officials said. Competitive pay is important for the recruitment and retention of quality faculty and staff.

Packers set new record as University Advancement has big year

The Green Bay Packers Foundation in December presented its largest-ever single gift, a $250,000 donation toward student scholarships at UW-Green Bay. The gift was doubled with a matching effort by the University to ultimately add a full half-million dollars to the scholarship fund. A check presentation was made during the UW-Green Bay Phoenix men’s basketball game on Dec. 7.

“The Packers Foundation and Packers organization are very excited to support UWGB with this grant,” Murphy said on Dec. 6, when the grant was announced. “UWGB is an outstanding university in the region, and this donation and the matching effort allows more scholarships to be available. The grant will also make UWGB more affordable for students in the area. In the long term, our hope is that this grant increases the number of college graduates in the Green Bay community.”

The Packers Foundation gift was one of several bright spots for University Advancement during the year. Before the Packers gift challenge, the UW-Green Bay Foundation had reached more than $1.6 million in new scholarship gifts in 2012- 2013, a level that created dozens of new opportunities for high-ability and high-need students. Many of those gifts were set in motion by the L.G. Wood Fund and the Baer Family, which directed a leadership challenge gift of $500,000 to provide a dollar-for-dollar match for all new gifts earmarked for endowed scholarships. Word of the match spread rapidly, eliciting immediate action by donors who made first-time gifts or expanded existing scholarship funds, bringing a successful close to the drive by spring 2013.

In addition, the annual Alumni Phone-a-Thon set an all-time monetary milestone, hitting — and exceeding — the $50,000 mark in over-the-phone pledges for the first time ever. Both milestones and a host of everyday achievements are good news for the University as 2014 approaches.

The Weidner Center … and the arts

It was another huge year for UW-Green Bay’s signature performing arts venue, as the Weidner Center finished year one of its revitalization plan in the black and announced a dynamite lineup for 2013-14.

Big shows like Blue Man Group, “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, Bob Newhart and the Vienna Boys Choir were hits during the first half of the Weidner’s new season, while the likes of “Rock of Ages,” Celtic Woman and the “Bring It On: The Musical” are on tap in 2014. The Weidner hired a director of marketing and presented the hugely successful show from American Idol Phillip Phillips, partnering with student organization Good Times Programming to bring the big pop star to campus.

The arts were thriving across campus, with UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance completing one successful season and beginning another. Year’s end brought another invite to the prestigious American College Theatre Festival, where Theatre and Dance, together with UW-Green Bay Music, will present the award-winning “Avenue Q: The Musical” in early 2014. The Lawton Gallery in Theatre Hall found success with a major exhibition, “Andy Warhol Photographs” during fall semester.

Super-smart athletes find success in sports, classroom alike

UW-Green Bay’s Division I athletic teams are known for their success in the gym, on the court and in the pool, but 2013 proved yet again that our athletes are winners in the classroom, as well. Phoenix Athletics attained its highest-ever average GPA, at 3.29, in the spring of 2013; and men’s tennis set a new University record with a whopping 3.81 team average during the same period of time. UW-Green Bay led the Horizon League in graduation rates — eight of 13 Phoenix teams had perfect scores — and the UW-Green Bay program accounted for roughly one-fourth of the League’s 33 perfect percent team rates.

Women’s basketball was among the teams that shone athletically and in the classroom, earning national academic recognition, a 15th consecutive regular season championship — and yet another trip to the Big Dance.

Adult Degree expands partnerships, graduates record numbers

UW-Green Bay’s Adult Degree Program continues to grow and expand, graduating record numbers of students and adding partnerships with technical colleges to improve the student experience.

In October, the program hit another milestone, holding formal signing ceremonies to mark the establishment of new agreements with Waukesha County Technical College and Milwaukee Area Technical College. The agreements focus on graduates of WCTC and MATC being able to transfer a full 60 credits from their technical college work into UW-Green Bay’s Bachelor of Applied Studies degree and Interdisciplinary Studies major. The students will be able to enter UW-Green Bay as juniors and complete their degrees online, saving valuable time and money. To accommodate the change, the program hired a full-time staff member for each campus, to work as a recruiter and academic adviser.

Adult Degree also launched a new online orientation program to introduce students to support services available for online learning. The noncredit course was designed with adult learners in mind but is available for any student who wants to take an online course.

Campus rocks research with incredible opportunities, nationwide notice

Research also was at the forefront in 2013, allowing undergrads and graduates alike to work closely with faculty members on a variety of projects. Research on the so-called “dead zone” (areas of hypoxia) in the bay of Green Bay drew local and national attention, as Prof. Kevin Fermanich and alumna and master’s student Tracy Valenta worked to unlock the mysteries of the area. A collaborative fisheries project that is a joint venture of UW-Green Bay and Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium found its way to National Geographic, and undergraduate Psychology student Miranda DeMars’ glasses stereotype research started as a local story and ended up airing nationwide.

In April, UW-Green Bay had another strong showing at the UW System-wide Posters in the Rotunda event at the state Capitol in Madison. There, six undergraduate researchers showcased their innovative work on everything from dietary compounds and cancer to International Baccalaureate curriculum and “nerd” stereotypes. Late in the year, a UW-Green Bay study on endocrine disruptors in well water made headlines after its April publication in the journal Water Environment Research. Other faculty and student research focused on Internet rage, language and skill acquisition in toddlers, Green Bay’s Cat Island Chain, and a host of other topics.

Big numbers, huge star and more mark banner year for the Kress

The Kress Events Center welcomed an all-time high of 128,210 member visits during the 2012-13 academic year, continuing to make good on one of its initial promises — to boost participation by UW-Green Bay students in health, fitness and recreation activities. In the busiest weeks of fall semester, new statistics show, usage approaches 4,000 visits weekly — on a campus of roughly 6,600 students. Added fitness class options and increased intramural participation are part of what’s driving the increase at the facility, which offers a host of recreation options for students, faculty, staff and community alike.

Fall 2013 brought additional good news for the Kress, which in November was named one of the top 20 college gyms and rec centers, an honor bestowed by www.bestvalueschools.com. Just weeks later, it was announced that the facility would host mega pop star Ke$ha in April 2014, representing another huge get for Good Times Programming and yet another reason to celebrate for our friends at the Kress.

Former Prof. Bauer honored with UW System Diversity Award

Former UW-Green Bay Human Biology Prof. Angela Bauer earned a big honor early in the year, when she was named a 2013 recipient of the UW System Board of Regents Diversity Award, in the individual category.

Bauer was lauded for her commitment “to enhancing the educational experiences and outcomes for under-represented students of color at UW-Green Bay,” her award letter said. Among the many reasons cited for the honor was Bauer’s development of the Targeted Opportunities for Success in the Sciences (TOSS) program, which proved effective in closing the academic achievement gap in UW-Green Bay Introduction to Human Biology courses. Working with Donna Ritch, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Bauer also developed the course Ethnic Minorities in Science, which helps students acquire a historical perspective on the role of ethnic minorities in the sciences. Bauer also spearheaded efforts to bring notable scientists of minority backgrounds to UW-Green Bay.

Bauer left UW-Green Bay at the conclusion of the 2012-13 academic year to become chair of Biology at High Point (N.C.) University. Her award put her in good company of past System award winners from UW-Green Bay, recently including Prof. Regan A.R. Gurung (2011-12 Regents Teaching Excellence Award, individual), the Professional Program in Education (2011-12 Regents Teaching Excellence Award, department) and the First Nations Studies program (2012 Regents Diversity Award).

With a terrific 2013 nearly in the books, we look forward to sharing more good news in the year to come. Happy Holidays and Go Phoenix!