Katia on Cuba: Professor offers take on historic shift in relations

Associate Professor and UW-Green Bay Political Science and Global Studies Chair Katia Levintova on Wednesday (Dec. 17) helped explain the day’s big news of changing U.S. relations with Cuba in an interview with WBAY, Action 2 News. “The embargo’s not going to be lifted right away, but there is the conversation about having this particular act repealed in Congress,” Levintova said. “But there are immediate lifting of restrictions on travel, on research, on remittances, which means, kind of, a real breakthrough for the ordinary people.”

Today’s Take: Student pens Press-Gazette column on importance of the arts

A UW-Green Bay student offered his thoughts on the importance of the arts in a Wednesday (Dec. 17) “Today’s Take” column in the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Thomas Alessandro, a Musical Theatre major, wrote the piece in response to the news that this will be the final season for the century-old Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. The arts bring myriad joys to our lives, Alessandro wrote. “The fine arts transport us to a different place and time that transcend the here and now,” he wrote, “and they reach deep into our soul to arouse a sense of creativity, liveliness and childlike qualities within us that remind us we shouldn’t always take life so seriously.”

In the news: Holiday Pops, Oak Ridge Boys play Weidner this weekend

Local 5 Critic-at-Large Warren Gerds highlighted upcoming Weidner Center performances in two Wednesday (Dec. 17) columns on holiday entertainment in our area. The first profiles the large-scale Holiday Pops concert that features the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, Dudley Birder Chorale and Birder Studio of Performing Arts presenting a program of Christmas carols and holiday favorites. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 19) and 2:30 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 20) at the Weidner Center. In a separate column, Gerds previews holiday entertainment including the Oak Ridge Boys Hits and Christmas Show, which will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 21), also at the Weidner. Tickets remain for both shows; you can check out more info.

News expected Friday on federal ‘college ratings system’

The U.S. Department of Education will release a much-anticipated outline of its college ratings system on Friday, according to several sources familiar with the department’s plans. Institution names will be omitted to protect the innocent, but the reveal is expected to show how the feds will go about structuring their system, which President Obama announced in August 2013. For more, see the online news site Inside Higher Ed.

M. Bina recruiting for iOme Challenge on financial literacy

UW-Green Bay Associate Lecturer Michael Bina is once again seeking student volunteers to assemble a Green Bay team for annual the iOme Challenge. It’s a national non-profit effort (iOme is a stylized way to write “I owe me”) to raise awareness about financial security in retirement and its impact on the future social and economic well-being of American society. The winning team earns a cash award and an invitation to Washington, D.C. to present its entry to various policymakers. This year’s hypothetical challenge involves a commission to write a policy advisory paper and prepare a video addressing the preparedness of states for the future retirement challenges of the Millennial generation. The assignment also calls for development of a system for ranking the 50 states, from those most to least prepared to handle the retirement of the Millennial Generation retiring as early as 2040. Know a student who might be interested, or want more info? Have them contact Mike Bina.

Video of SGA’s ‘State of the Campus’ is online

Interested in what leaders of UW-Green Bay’s Student Government Association consider “The State of the Campus” to be? Well, video has been uploaded of their Dec. 3 evening at the University Union. After an intro by Senator Robert Sewell Jr., look for presentations by Megan Leonard, president of the Residence Hall and Apartment Association (at 3:00); Reed Heintzkill, chair of the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee (10:21); Jacob Immel, Student Resource Committee chair (17:45); Hannah Stepp, University Governance chair (24:50); and Vanya Koepke, “State of the Campus,” at the 29:30 mark.

UW-Green Bay, other student government leaders write to Walker

Vanya Koepke and Tyler Sterr, president and vice president of the UW-Green Bay Student Government Association, have made public the text of a letter they wrote recently with other System colleagues to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The students weighed in on the side of UW System President Ray Cross’s budget request for the state’s public universities. The text is as follows:

Dear Governor Walker:
As student body presidents and leaders representing the twenty-six UW campuses, we ask that you strongly consider President Cross’ $95 million dollar request for the UW-System.

As you are already aware, the UW-System includes some 180,000 students and over 39,000 faculty and staff. The graduates of our system have numerous proud alumni who have contributed to our state economically in incredible ways. This trend of skilled, creative, and productive graduates continues.

As students we have truly benefited from the tuition freeze implemented by your administration. We are also appreciative of a balanced state budget and a healthy rainy day fund. At the same time, we have been losing talented faculty, staff, and potential students, in addition to overall support for the state UW-System. Politics aside, the universities within the system simply cannot maintain the high quality student experience at the same time state funding support declines and tuition remains frozen.

While we are not requesting state support of that decades ago, we are asking for your support for at least partial approval of President Cross’ request. Such support will benefit the students and faculty of all UW-System colleges that continue to bring much talent into the Wisconsin workforce.

Forward together,

Video: Mid-year commencement at UW-Green Bay

December Commencement videoUW-Green Bay bade farewell to a record mid-year class Saturday, Dec. 13, when more than 330 students (of more than 500 total graduates) took part in December commencement ceremonies at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. From lighthearted worries about traversing the stage in heels to genuine feelings of excitement and nostalgia, our grads and commencement speaker shared their thoughts about the big day.

[youtube id=”bHsM3EgMF-I” width=”400″ height=”225″]

“It’s really exciting and scary,” said graduating senior Ashley Smar, “and just a whole bunch of emotions.”

Her Education classmate, Small Moua, agreed.

“I feel the same way,” Moua said in a pre-ceremony interview. “I think the main part right now is not tripping on stage. That’s kind of what I’m thinking about.”

Quipped Smar: “Especially in heels.”

In a nearby room, soon-to-be alumnus Ryan Wehse reflected on his time at UW-Green Bay.

“I’m really excited to graduate,” said Wehse, who was graduating with a degree in Biology. “This has been a great University. My time just went really fast and I’ve learned a lot, met a lot of cool people.”

Graduate student Stephanie Suchecki had even more upon which to reflect, having completed both her bachelor’s and now her master’s degree at UW-Green Bay.

“It feels bittersweet because I’m going to miss UWGB,” Suchecki said. “I’ve been here for like 7-and-a-half years, I want to say. I worked here while I was in graduate school, I’ve roomed here all seven years of school that I’ve been here, and made amazing friends along the way.”

For commencement speaker and UW-Green Bay alumnus Cristina Danforth ’88, addressing the class of 2014 was a tremendous opportunity.

“I‘m excited. It’s historic in the sense that I graduated from here and we have a lot of students from Oneida graduating today,” said Danforth, chairwoman of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. “So it’s special to me to be able to represent my tribe and the student body of the University. And so I’m really honored to be here and I’m very excited.”

Also excited was Adult Degree Program grad Cheryl Juen, who celebrated six cancer-free years just days before Saturday’s commencement.

“I knew from the minute I started, I was going to walk today — that’s why you do it,” Juen said, her voice thick with emotion. “You do it because you’re proud of yourself. So yeah, it means a lot.”

Music grad Erin Sunisa was among those who said they’re ready for what’s next.

“I’m nervous, to be quite honest, but I’m really excited,” Sunisa said. “I’m really excited to get on, move on to different things, start my career and get out in the real world — and kick butt at it, I guess.”

Dance of the Sugar Plum Phoenix: Happy Holidays, UW-Green Bay!

Twas the end of the term, and away at the Kress,
Four gentle, fine dance students practiced their best.
They pliédchasséd and developéd with such grace,
That Phlash the Phoenix could not believe his big face.

’Twas too little to admire the scene from afar,
So he snuck up upon them to join in at the barre.
Despite how he tiptoed and crept with such care,
His ungainly footfalls, announced he was there.

To his delight and surprise, the dancers made way,
For furry Phlash Phoenix, to join in that day.
This really did happen, we swear it’s the truth,
And if you’re a skeptic, we have video proof!

So with this message, festive greetings we spread,
In hopes visions of Phoenix will dance in your head.