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Chancellor talks brand, plan, budget, pay

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Chancellor Thomas Harden

Chancellor Tom Harden touched on a variety of topics during his “state of the university” remarks to open the 2012-13 academic year at UW-Green Bay, but he saved what he described as the most important takeaway for last.

“When we say that this University is a student-focused institution, it really is,” Harden told his audience of nearly 500, primarily faculty and staff members. “And that’s thanks to you.”

He praised UW-Green Bay employees for their professionalism and dedication in the face of a challenging environment for higher education. Members of the campus community should take great pride in the “positive difference we make in the lives of our students,” Harden said.

Among the issues reviewed during his 40-minute presentation to cap the annual Faculty/Staff kickoff convocation Aug. 28 in the University Union’s Phoenix Room:

•  Branding — Harden offered an update on the University’s ongoing branding initiative. He recalled how last year’s market research done by the Stamats firm confirmed that one of UW-Green Bay’s signature selling points, interdisciplinarity, was difficult to explain. (Survey respondents guessed it meant “we’re strict.”) Working with the BVK agency of Milwaukee, the University is making progress in refining the way it markets that ever-valuable approach. The Chancellor played a sample radio spot with the new “360° of Learning” tagline. He also screened a short, internal BVK video on the challenges of marketing to the savvy, skeptical Generation Y cohort of today’s traditional-age freshmen.

•  Planning — The Chancellor thanked faculty and staff for their contributions to the Universitywide Strategic Plan. “It’s a good plan, not a perfect one,” he said, calling it a useful and dynamic tool that should and will be revisited on a regular basis. He invited his audience to familiarize themselves with the document, which is available online and includes an updateable “balanced scorecard” to monitor progress on key priorities.

•  Budget — Harden said he senses a shift in policymaker attitudes about possible reinvestment in the UW System, which might begin to reverse, or at least halt, a decade-long slide. The fact that last year’s “lapse” (a one-time budget giveback) was not made permanent, and that the UW System Board of Regents was confident in submitting a recent two-year budget proposal calling for $21 million to fund new initiatives, are positive indicators. “I am optimistic,” Harden said.

•  Faculty and staff compensation — “As a statewide university system, it’s our No. 1 goal: to do better with compensation.” Harden characterized the Regents, UW System President Kevin Reilly, System officials and chancellors of the various campuses as being in agreement that lagging salaries for faculty and staff are endangering Wisconsin’s ability to compete for, and retain, the best talent. At this institution, the Chancellor told his audience, UW-Green Bay has engaged the services of an outside compensation consulting firm for a comprehensive, position-by-position market analysis.

Harden also mentioned he is likely to ask the Board of Directors of the UW-Green Bay Foundation Inc. to advise on the feasibility of a new capital campaign focused primarily on academics. He encouraged faculty and staff members to take advantage of an off-hours employee discount on use of the fitness facilities at the Kress Events Center, new this fall as a workplace wellness initiative. He also commented on the UW System’s recent announcement that establishment of more flexible degree programs will be a statewide priority. “It’s coming,” Harden said, “and we should be driving it.”

In keeping with the congratulatory message of his remarks, the Chancellor also screened a brief highlight video of the year-in-review, noting the many shared successes of UW-Green Bay faculty and staff. To see that video, visit the post here.

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