Graduate student Alexis Heim, Environmental Science and Policy, attended the 2015 International Soil and Water Assessment Tool Conference and Workshops, held October 12-16 at Purdue University. The conference drew more than 140 attendees from 10 countries with 96 oral and 22 poster presentations. She presented part of her thesis work on “Assessing the Impact of Alternative Management Strategies in a Dairy-dominated Agricultural Watershed Vulnerable to High Sediment and P Runoff” with co-authors Paul Baumgart and Kevin Fermanich. As part of the watershed research lab at UWGB, it is expected the work will help watershed managers target implementation of alternative management strategies which improve water quality.
Prof. Mathew E. Dornbush is joining the academic affairs administrative team at UW-Green Bay as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Professional Development and Grants, and Director of Graduate Studies.
He will report to Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Gregory Davis, who announced the appointment this week. Dornbush will begin his new duties Aug. 24.
Dornbush is a professor of biology with the Natural and Applied Sciences academic unit who currently serves as chairman of UW-Green Bay’s interdisciplinary master’s degree program in Environmental Science and Policy. He has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
In his new role, Dornbush will provide leadership for the Office of Grants and Research, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and the Office of Graduate Studies, with the latter expected to be an area of emphasis with strategic planning and new recruitment/marketing initiatives. Additionally, he will take a lead role in promoting undergraduate student research and serve as a liaison to the University’s Institutional Research Board and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The position represents a reshaping of the administrative post left vacant earlier this summer by the retirement of Daniel McCollum, whose title was assistant vice chancellor for academic administration.
Dornbush earned promotion to the highest faculty rank, full professor, this past June. The promotion came only a decade after he earned his doctoral degree in ecology at Iowa State University and joined the UW-Green Bay faculty in 2005. Along with his graduate-program experience as chairman of ES&P, Dornbush has been successful in winning outside grants to support his scientific research. His primary interests involve the role of native plant restorations in improving ecosystems. He has received state and federal grants for projects ranging from the potential use of native tallgrass for bio-energy purposes to the restoration of wild rice, bulrush and wild celery stands in the lower bay.
The Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs is inviting members of the campus community to meet the candidates for a pair of administrative positions in the Provost’s suite. Open interview sessions take place the week of July 28. Four faculty members are under consideration for two separate positions left vacant by the promotion of Greg Davis to Interim Provost and the retirement of Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan McCollum. The schedule of sessions:
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Professional Development and Grants / Director of Graduate Studies
• Mathew Dornbush — Tuesday, July 28, 2:30-3 p.m. in CL 735 (the Human Resources conference room)
• Scott Ashmann — Wednesday, July 29, 2:30-3 p.m., CL 735
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
• John Lyon — Tuesday, July 28, 3-3:30 p.m., CL 830 (the Business and Finance conference room)
• Clifton Ganyard — Wednesday, July 29, 3-3:30 p.m., CL 830
UW-Green Bay, operating for the first time as its own freestanding program, celebrated the “new” Master of Social Work Program on April 29 with a welcome/orientation session in the University Union for students of the program.
The students were greeted by Dean Sue Mattison of the College of Professional Studies and welcomed by members of the Social Work faculty. It is expected UW-Green Bay will enroll approximately 85 students in various cohorts in the 2015-16 academic year.
The program and degree aren’t entirely new, of course. For a dozen years previous, UW-Green Bay partnered on a collaborative MSW with UW-Oshkosh offering courses and serving students at both locations, with each institution authorized to grant the collaborative degree. New this year, and thanks to the success of the joint venture, the UW System has authorized each school to operate independently.
The fall 2015 enrollment here will include both first-semester enrollees in the new UW-Green Bay master’s and continuing students who started in the collaborative program.
Associate Professor Doreen Higgins, MSW chair and coordinator, acknowledged the “extraordinary efforts” of the faculty in the Social Work Professional Programs, the institutional support from university leadership, and the work of Dean Mattison in developing the new freestanding program. Higgins said the strong turnout for Wednesday’s reception reflects “MSW students who are excited to begin their graduate school journey.”
The keynote presentation at Tuesday’s watershed symposium will take place from 9:15 to 10 a.m. in the Union’s Phoenix Room. Chelsea Gunther, Jesse Weinzinger and Tom Prestby — graduate students in Environmental Science and Policy — will describe their research work involving the restoration of the Cat Island Chain in the lower bay. Following completion of protective islands and dikes intended to support better wetland and shallow-water habitat, Gunther and Weinzinger are finding evidence of increased aquatic plant diversity, and Prestby is documenting the return of migratory shorebird populations.
Fox 11 News and reporter Eric Peterson ran a nice feature story last week about local research on spawning activity and habitat for northern pike, a popular game fish. Featured in the piece was UW-Green Bay graduate student Rachel Van Dam, who works with Associate Prof. Patrick Forsythe and is pursing her master’s in Environmental Science and Policy. Van Dam was netting and measuring fish at a restored spawning wetland on the west shore. Her work represents collaboration involving the University, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, the state DNR, the Nature Conservancy and Brown County.
How did new UW-Green Bay graduate student Marc Minani (center) find himself hanging out with new best friends Randall Cobb, Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Mason Crosby within a week of his arrival in Green Bay?
And what got the Green Bay Packers stars to trade green-and-gold uniforms for all-black wait-staff outfits one evening earlier this fall?
Credit good fortune and good people.
Minani, 22, a native of Rwanda, arrived in Wisconsin just in time for the start of UW-Green Bay fall semester classes on Sept. 2.
His travels from east-central Africa to east-central Wisconsin had required a marathon, 26-hour day of air travel from Kigali International Airport with stops in Nigeria, Ghana, New York City and Minneapolis.
His long journey actually began, however, five years earlier with a chance interaction with an American businessman.
J.R. Schoenfeld of Green Bay was traveling with an international humanitarian group delivering food to impoverished areas of Rwanda. The local man hired to be his driver, Jean Minani, was Marc’s older brother.
Schoenfeld returned home impressed by Rwanda and its people. The words of a missionary priest who longed to have a bakery in his village — “The kids love bread, and they only get it about once a year” — inspired him to found the Seven Loaves Project. The non-profit favors sustainable solutions over short-term feeding programs and provides ovens, resources and training to struggling communities.
Schoenfeld hired his former driver, Jean, to be the Seven Loaves point person in Rwanda. Along the way, he also got to know younger brother Marc, a personable, polite but driven young man who had earned a government-sponsored academic scholarship to the National University of Rwanda.
Marc’s goal was to add to his bachelor’s in agricultural economics and agribusiness with advanced education abroad. His dream, he says, is to return an expert in best practices for maximizing crop productivity in his hilly homeland while preserving the land for future generations.
“I want to pick a thesis topic that will fit the needs of my country,” Minani says.
Schoenfeld, seeing a fit with Seven Loaves, agreed to sponsor and raise money for his studies. When Minani surfed the internet and discovered the university in his friend’s hometown had top-flight programs in environmental studies, his college search was over.
Today, Minani is pursuing his UW-Green Bay master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy. He works closely with Profs. John Stoll and Kevin Fermanich. He lives in Roy Downham Hall on campus and loves Green Bay, the community he’ll call home the next two years.
“The people are very friendly… professors, students, everybody… and everything is so green here” Minani says.
Language is no barrier. Although he spoke French every day as a youth and during his preparatory studies in Rwanda, the primary language of instruction at the university was English. As for the weather, he knows he’s going to need warmer clothes than those he brought from equatorial Rwanda, where it’s rarely below 60°F.
Of course, any challenges in America will likely trifle in comparison to the human devastation that racked Rwanda in 1994. It is estimated nearly half the country’s residents were either forced to flee (two million) or slaughtered (nearly one million) as a result of government-incited ethnic violence.
Minani was 3 years old. Along with his brother he has three sisters who survived. The genocide and its aftermath are not easily spoken of, but it’s clear that remembrance and reconciliation are top of mind, as they are to all Rwandans. He speaks hopefully of healing, and a “new Rwanda.”
The current government, he says, has made a good start. “People look at themselves not as a Hutu or a Tutsi, but first as Rwandan citizens. People are intermarrying.”
If some of those hopes rest on a younger, better-educated generation including the slender shoulders of Minani, he’s eager to do his part. He’s also made some influential friends in Packers Country.
Schoenfeld, the owner-chef of the highly rated Chives Restaurant in Suamico, formerly ran the food service at Lambeau Field. Between his restaurants, private parties, catering and now the Seven Loaves Project, he’s developed friendships with prominent Green Bay Packers including Coach Mike McCarthy and NFL MVP quarterback Rodgers.
Schoenfeld organized a tuition benefit for Minani at Chives on Sept. 8, which for the players happened to be an open Monday night after a Thursday game. Delighted restaurant customers paid and tipped generously. To help Marc, Rodgers — No. 12 himself — volunteered as host. McCarthy was bartender. Nelson, Cobb, Crosby, A.J. Hawk and spouses served as waiters.
Yet, the star was Minani, the center of attention with players and diners wishing him well.
“It was overwhelming, all the people asking me how I liked Green Bay, telling me they supported me,” Minani says.
Until a few years ago, Minani — a fan of international soccer, like most in Africa — didn’t know American football existed. It was only when older brother Jean made a training trip to spend time with Schoenfeld and learn the Seven Loaves model that he heard it described.
Jean had returned from the United States with a keepsake, an odd, oblong leather ball signed by some of J.R.’s friends in a sports league called the NFL.
On one of his first nights in Green Bay in late August, Marc caught part of a Packers exhibition game on TV. He heard announcers talking about No. 12 as perhaps America’s most famous player and his teammates as very talented individuals, as well.
It wasn’t until the night about 10 days later at Chives, however, that he saw for himself just how “big” Packer players were in his new community.
“The people coming for dinner entered the door and they just…. they…”
At this point in telling the story Minani mimics the absolute hero worship of wide eyes, astonishment, awe and absolute joy of practically every customer in being greeted by the Packers.
“At that point, I got the idea that, ‘Oh, these guys are very, very popular and very, very famous.’
“And the players… they all wished me good luck in school and my work. They are very nice guys. I would say, ‘cool.’”
Photos copyright: Brad Thalmann, Harle Photography
Graduate students, faculty, staff and administrators involved in UW-Green Bay’s Environmental Science and Policy graduate program gathered informally at Lambeau Cottage along the campus bayshore for a fall reception last week. The venue welcomed those new to the program, and gave others a chance to discuss news and developments. Students entering their second year of graduate school give a brief statement of their research interests and thesis topics. Among the University leaders in attendance were Chancellor Gary L. Miller and Dean of Professional Studies Sue Mattison. (Photos by Mary Valitchka of the Office of Academic Affairs.)
Matthew Christianson of Green Bay entered his name in the UW-Green Bay history book Saturday, May 17, during spring commencement at the Kress Events Center.
Christianson (left) became the first recipient of the new Master of Science Degree in Sustainable Management. Prof. John Katers presented the diploma and assisted with the ceremonial hooding during the ceremony in front of nearly 5,000 spectators and participants.
Christianson completed the online program in less than 18 months. The new master’s is a collaborative effort of UW Extension and the UW System campuses in Green Bay, Oshkosh, Parkside, Stout and Superior. Students choose the school in which they will be enrolled, but take courses offered by each of the member institutions.
UW-Green Bay was a logical choice as home university for Christianson, formerly of Sturgeon Bay. Following five years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, he enrolled as an undergraduate at UW-Green Bay and earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2012.
Posing for a photo before the ceremony with Katers, Christianson said he intends to pursue a position in the growing field of corporate sustainability, in which companies examine their processes and policies with the aim of meeting consumer expectations for “green” practices. As important, companies want to add green to their own bottom line by promoting reuse and recycling to limit waste. Christianson’s master’s thesis involved best practices in professional sports sustainability, from game-day recycling to front-office and franchise-wide techniques for going green.
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate student Matt Peter is out to broaden the base of knowledge of a currently understudied subject — the effects of native phragmites on Door County shores.
You see, it is the exotic invasive plant that seems to take over shorelines in a matter of a few years and are the scorn of naturalists, tourists and homeowners. The native species may be getting a bad rap, right along with it. Maybe.
Peter, a native of Rothschild, Wis. near Wausau, and a graduate of UW-Green Bay’s environmental science program in 2011, is working with The Nature Conservancy to study the differences between the two and how each responds to various natural stimuli. A recent feature in “Pulse,” a print and online resource for Door County art, news and entertainment, featured Peter’s work earlier this fall.
The feature explains an extensive effort to kill the exotic species in Door County and a possible indifference, and the effect it could have, if the native phragmites are destroyed along with the exotic.
“Native species, such as native Phragmties, have co-evolved with the other species in their ecosystem,” Peter explains. “Over time, each species has established its own niche within the natural environment and has developed a set of services that it provides to the surrounding ecosystem. Essentially, each native species is a small piece of a very complex puzzle. Therefore, by eliminating the native Phragmites you may also be weakening the health of the ecosystem.”
He says that many organizations including The Nature Conservancy and “even the United States government” aim to protect and promote biodiversity.
“By definition, this requires them to focus on specific species genotypes (aka subspecies). Laws, like the Endangered Species Act, recognize the importance of protecting genetic diversity. Through an understanding of the importance of genetic diversity, the goal of our project is to determine differences in the native and exotic genotypes of Phragmites to help shape effective and efficient management strategies for conservation groups and land managers.”
Peter said he chose UW-Green Bay for its environmental science program. He chose to stay and pursue his master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy because of the faculty and graduate students he had an opportunity to interact with as an undergraduate.
“The ES&P faculty is outstanding and being able to work with many of them as an undergrad is really what drove me to stay here for grad school. Also, as an undergrad I interacted with many previous grad students and I was really impressed with the work that they were doing. I admired how challenging the program is and the quality of the work that is produced from the ES&P program.”
Peter is working toward a spring 2015 graduation date, and possible future career as a land manager or restoration ecologist.
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