UW-Green Bay Chancellor Thomas Harden began his semester-opening remarks to UW-Green Bay faculty and staff with words of appreciation for the assembled faculty and staff members and their “astounding individual efforts” during a challenging year.
The Chancellor covered a variety of topics during his unscripted, 30-minute talk at the University’s annual Mid-Year Convocation, held last Wednesday morning (Jan. 18) in the University Union.
Harden said 2011 was the most trying year he had experienced in his higher education career over several decades, institutions and state university systems. In Wisconsin, sizeable budget reductions, policy changes and a significant shift in public-employee benefits drew national attention and worker protests.
While emotions ran high among some at UW-Green Bay, Harden noted, despite the new round of cuts members of the University community remained committed to their core mission of providing excellent and efficient service to students and the larger community.
“Students here hold a great deal of appreciation for the way you have gone about your business while all this was going on,” Harden told faculty and staff. “I personally want to thank you for working hard, and remaining civil. Everyone in this room is critical to student success.”
On other topics during his Jan. 18 talk:
• The Chancellor urged faculty and staff to take advantage of this spring’s rich array of diversity programming, headed by Black History Month events in February.
• He offered an update on plans to revitalize the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. Announcements are expected later this spring on new programming. He related he has heard questions about the feasibility of re-energizing the Weidner in an era of budget cuts and a still-sluggish economy, and he responds that the University has an obligation to make best use of a unique resource. “It’s a great venue. It helps our academics, it helps the community. To have that great venue under-utilized just doesn’t make sense.”
• Harden said institutional strategic planning is proceeding, with both short-term and long-term goals and objectives taking shape for major divisions across campus. Strategic planning is essential, especially given UW-Green Bay’s $1.6 million “lapse” in state funding for the current biennium. Harden said UW System officials continue to lobby to reduce the total amount of the giveback, making the case that UW campuses are increasingly underfunded.
• He said the institution’s marketing task force continues its work with Stamats, a highly regarded national consulting firm, to refine and then apply UW-Green Bay’s new “brand statement.” The University needs to position itself, promote a strong brand and do a better job of marketing in order to secure a stable enrollment future, Harden said.
• Four candidates for the critical position of Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance would be visiting campus for interviews by late January, Harden announced. The search process includes a brief public presentation from each of the candidates on the topic, “How to deal with and creatively communicate the budgetary challenge facing higher education.”
• The Chancellor publicly acknowledged three trustees and members of the UW-Green Bay Foundation board of directors in attendance — Lou LeCalsey, Ginny Riopelle and Rick Beverstein — as “people who stay with this institution through good times and bad” and who have given UW-Green Bay not only friendship and time, but results… on a series of initiatives.