Doug Higgins

Veteran TV meteorologist desires change of climate, sets course for the classroom

After 23 years in television weather-forecasting, Green Bay meteorologist Doug Higgins sensed a change in the climate of the newsroom.

“I kind of hit my own ‘glass ceiling’” he recalls. “I loved what I was doing and the people I worked with, but I could tell the news business was changing and I could not see a long-term future for me. I decided it was time to change careers.”

That was in 2015. With an air of confidence, Higgins tried his hand at sales, a career path several others in his family had navigated successfully.

“I failed miserably, twice!” he said with a sly smile, “so I decided to pursue something I had tried and enjoyed many years earlier: teaching. Carol and I decided it would be a good time for me to go back to school…literally.”

Higgins chose UW-Green Bay for three reasons: The University is conveniently close to his home in Green Bay, almost within walking distance; his wife and step-daughter are both graduates (Carol, ’08, Biology) and (Sarah ’18, Nursing), respectively, and the UW-Green Bay Education team impressed him from the first interview.

“When I met with the advisers here, they were welcoming, knowledgeable and encouraging,” he said. “Coming in as a non-traditional student, holding a bachelor’s degree in both Geography and Design, and lots of graduate credits in Meteorology, I was not sure where to start. They laid out a complete program for me to follow and pointed me in the right direction. All I had to do was set ‘em up and knock ‘em down.”

Higgins started that journey in fall of 2017. He found it somewhat challenging to be back in the classroom again, but says his life experiences are making him a better student this time around.

“I was not really a good student in high school,” said the Libertyville, Ill., native. “My attitude was not what it should have been and I have a learning disability. I have to study something three times before I can really grasp it. Having lived the life I have, I now realize how to manage that disability and the lessons from my earlier ‘failures’ fuels my focus in the classroom.”

Higgins is making steady progress on his new path and learning new ‘life lessons’ along the way.

“My favorite course so far has been Reading in the Content Area, taught by Prof. Tim Kaufman,” said Higgins. “He challenged us to develop creative and innovative ways to present information to middle school students. We could use technology or hands-on techniques or other approaches, which was not only fun, it was practical at any level.

“I’ve been able to apply those university classroom experiences to my high school classrooms at East High School,” he continued. “You know you need to adjust your approach when you look at the students and don’t see the engagement you’re looking for. It’s a little like leading an orchestra. Every student ‘plays their instrument’ in their own way and you need to keep them learning together as the semester progresses. It’s important to understand how each of them learns and make adjustments for that.”

Higgins is student-teaching three courses at Green Bay East: two freshman courses in Civics and Economics, and Contemporary World Issues for upperclassmen. He said the transition from student to teacher has been challenging, so he’s grateful for the support UW-Green Bay provides him.

“My biggest challenge has been managing the classroom,” he acknowledged. “I’m very comfortable being in front of the students and delivering the course content, but it’s a little intimidating to look out at those 30 students and figure out how to keep their attention. There are a lot of distractions at this level that get in the way of learning.

“I’m fortunate to have a veteran UW-Green Bay educator (teaching supervisor) Patricia Derozier, available to me as a resource,” he said. “Between my in-class teaching supervisors and her, I’m learning the tricks they have used over the years. Nothing about it is cookie-cutter, either; you have to know your students to know which approach to use. Sometimes just rearranging the seating chart makes a world of difference.”

Higgins knows Social Studies is the area in which he wants to land his permanent teaching role. Once certified, he will be eligible to teach middle school students, freshmen and sophomores. He completes his student-teaching in June 2019 and will submit his professional portfolio this summer. If all goes as he plans, he will enter full-time teaching in the fall, somewhere in the greater Green Bay area. His college work isn’t over yet, though, as he plans to complete his master’s in Earth Science Education.

“This feels so right to me,” said Higgins. “I love being in the classroom with the students and helping them learn. I am very open with them about my own experiences in school and in my career. In some way, I hope it helps them see that here’s a guy who worked through his own difficulties and made it out the other end, and if I can do it, they can do it.”

Mid-career professionals making a career change to teaching is a trend that began decades ago and continues to expand in popularity, according to Scott Ashmann, associate dean of the UW-Green Bay College of Health, Education and Social Welfare.

“Many school districts like to hire individuals who have had career experiences outside of education,” said Ashmann. “They bring a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and perspective with them that enhance the teaching and learning processes in the classroom.”

“If I were to offer advise to anyone considering a career change,” Higgins said thoughtfully, “I’d recommend they do something they like and that they know they are good at. I have worked with people who don’t have that combination and they are just frustrated all the time, even if the job pays well. It’s important that you enjoy what you’re doing and have self-confidence that you are doing it well.”

Higgins’ new career path exemplifies the power of personal responsibility in the old weather adage, “You can’t prevent a thunderstorm, but you can use the electricity.”

Story by freelance writer Jim Streed ’05
Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication


UW-Green Bay Names Mathew Dornbush New Dean of Austin E. Cofrin School of Business

Green Bay, Wis. — After a nationwide search, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Provost Greg Davis announced today that UW-Green Bay has named Matt Dornbush, Ph.D. as dean of the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business. The biologist, researcher, administrator and most recently interim dean, is just the second dean in the business school’s history.

“Matt’s incredible contributions as an interim dean, following on a strong foundation in his current role as associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and director of graduate studies, are impressive and set the stage for a successful tenure in leading our business school,” Davis shared.

Matt Dornbush

Dornbush was named interim dean in August 2018, after the retirement of the school’s inaugural dean, Douglas Hensler. Prior to that role, Dornbush served as associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and director of Graduate Studies since 2015, and was a member of the faculty in Natural and Applied Sciences since 2005.

“I have been given a truly special professional opportunity with this position; I’ve been asked to lead an emerging organization seated within a very rich sea,” Dornbush said. “The Austin E. Cofrin School of Business is only a few years old, our offices are filled with talented, dedicated faculty, we have a growing graduate and undergraduate student body composed of hardworking students engrained with the entrepreneurial spirit that has made Northeast Wisconsin such a great place to live and work. When you couple these internal assets with the rich business environments in all four of our campus locations in Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Marinette, and of course, Green Bay, and our emerging partnerships with organizations like TitleTown Tech, it’s clear that for those students seeking a high impact, experiential business education, the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business is the place to be. I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead for this School, our students, our faculty, and the communities we serve.”


According to Davis, Dornbush played a key role in reinvigorating and leading the Univerisity’s Graduate Studies program. Four years ago, the campus was on the verge of losing its Carnegie classification as a master’s degree-granting institution because of low enrollment. Today, UW-Green Bay annually awards close to 200 master’s degrees and is on cusp of being recognized as a “large” master’s granting institution.

“Matt has a record of mission-focused, forward-looking leadership at every position he’s held at
UW-Green Bay, including the interim dean position in the Austin E Cofrin School of Business,” added Chancellor Gary L. Miller. “As a distinguished biologist, he is a unique fit for this position, but he has proven to be capable in creating collaborations all over the University with the School of Business. The University and the region’s business community are set up for long-term success with Dean Matt Dornbush.”

Dornbush received his B.A. from Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.), and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa) before joining UW-Green Bay in 2005. Dornbush brings a strong record of scholarly production, with more than $1 million dollars in external grant awards, numerous publications and more than 670 citations to his scholarly writings. In his role as associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and director of graduate studies, he had responsibility for budgeting, extramural granting, faculty professional development and graduate programing. He has had significant community engagement responsibilities throughout his time as associate vice chancellor.

The dean of the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business provides academic and administrative leadership for and oversight over all School of Business programs. The Austin E. Cofrin School of Business is a community of teachers, scholars and learners dedicated to advancing the economic prosperity and entrepreneurial spirit of Northeast Wisconsin through partnership, impactful research, and quality educational programing. Dornbush is expected to lead the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation process and an internal reorganization. The School is expected to grow significantly as its academic programs and scholarship align with key economic and business sectors of Northeast Wisconsin. The dean will develop a vigorous program of external networking with business including establishing partnerships to connect the Cofrin School of Business to the local and regional economy.

About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs to nearly 8,000 students with campus locations in Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Established in 1965 on the border of Green Bay, the University and its campuses are centers of cultural enrichment, innovation and learning. The Green Bay campus is home to one of the Midwest’s most prolific performing arts centers, a nationally recognized 4,000-seat student recreation center, D-I athletics, an award-winning nine-hole golf course and a five-mile recreational trail and arboretum, which is free and open to the public. This four-campus University transforms lives and communities through student-focused teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, powerful connections and a problem-solving approach to education. UW-Green Bay’s main campus is centrally located, close to both the Door County resort area and the dynamic economies of Northeast Wisconsin, the Fox Valley region and the I-43 corridor. UW-Green Bay offers in-demand programs in science, engineering and technology; business; health, education and social welfare; and arts, humanities and social sciences. For more information, visit





Cast and Crew Announced for Theatre on the Bay’s Summer Musical Comedy, ‘Mamma Mia!’

Marinette, Wis. — “Mamma Mia!” comes to Theatre on the Bay (TOB) at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Marinette Campus, this July, kicking-off its 53rd season with music and laughs in the Greek isles. ABBA’s disco-pop songbook propels this tale of love, laughter and friendship. “Mamma Mia!” promises to be a trip down the aisle not to be forgotten.

Music and lyrics are by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, with some songs developed with Stig Anderson. The book is by Catherine Johnson, and the show was originally conceived for the stage by Judy Craymer. Martin Koch also developed additional materials for “Mamma Mia!” now available for non-professional companies after 20 years of Broadway productions and global tours.

A talented cast and crew have been announced:

Sophie Sheridan (Jacqueline Nutter, Menominee) is getting married to Sky (Noah Steffen, Marinette), but she doesn’t know who is walking her down the aisle. Sophie has no idea who her real father is, and her mother Donna Sheridan (Jennifer Rickaby, Marinette) is no help. According to Donna’s diary, three different men could be Sophie’s dad. Sophie secretly invites all three to the wedding, hoping to answer her question by bringing them all together at her home on the sunny Greek island of Kalokairi. Is it Sam Carmichael (Dave Rickaby, Marinette), who left Donna years ago? Maybe it’s world traveler Bill Austin (Glenn Sellen, Sobieski)? Could it be headbanger-turned-London banker Harry Bright (James Porras II, Menominee)? Donna’s ‘Summer Nights’ taverna bustles with preparations: Sophie’s bridesmaids, Ali (McKenna Carvenough, Amberg) and Lisa (Michaela Kaiser, Oconto Falls), Sky’s best friends Pepper and Eddie (Bailey Boutin, Marinette and Ben Everson, Marinette) and Rosie and Tanya (Kari Moody, Oconto and Brittany Welch, Marinette)—once part of Donna’s musical trio The Dynamos—are all on hand to help, along with Father Alexandrios (Tristan Schuh, Menominee) to officiate at the wedding.

Mamma Mia Rehearsal Photo[1]
“Mama Mia” cast
“Mamma Mia’s” ensemble this summer also includes Lisa Atkinson-LeBoeuf (Marinette), Alyssa Carviou (Marinette), Tyrus Cretens (Marinette), Hannah Fields (Marinette), Emily Rose Halfmann (Marinette), Tammela Kirk (Menominee), Kendra Krouth (Marinette), Lydia LeBoeuf (Marinette), Michele Lemire (Menominee), Cassidy MacArthur (Marinette), Travis Meyer (Menominee), Annalisa Mines (Peshtigo), Karah Nelson (Marinette), Colin Nygren (Marinette), Lori Patzke (Menominee), Kenan Pulver (Menominee) and Olivia Smith (Peshtigo).

The production staff includes director John Thornberry (Marinette), Brittany Welch and James Porras II (musical directors; Marinette and Menominee), Heather Olsen (choreography, Menominee), Joshua LaLonde (scenic design, Marinette), Chris Weber (lighting design, Crivitz), Annalisa Mines (costume design, Peshtigo) and Jared Thomson (stage management, Oconto). Rebecca Stone Thornberry (Marinette) is TOB’s artistic director and the show’s producer.

“Mamma Mia!” will be presented on the Nancy Gehrke Stage in the Herbert L. Williams Theatre at UW Green Bay-Marinette Campus from July 19-21 and 26-28. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 pm and Sunday performances are at 2 pm. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for patrons 65 and older and $14 for students with ID (additional ticket fees apply). Tickets for reserved seats are on sale now at Tickets may also be purchased at the theatre box office one hour before every performance.

Other shows in the upcoming Season of Laughter:

“Reckless” by Craig Lucas and Oscar Wilde’s classic “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Children’s Theatre productions include “Frozen Jr.,” the third annual Christmas by the Bay concert and “Anne of Green Gables.”

2019-2020 season tickets are available in six-show (20% discount) at and three-show (10% discount) packages at For additional ticket information, patrons may contact the main office at 715-735-4301 during UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus business hours.

In the photo: Musical director James Porras II (foreground) gives notes to the cast of Mamma Mia! L-R, front row: Colin Nygren, Ben Everson, Travis Meyer. L-R, back: Emily Rose Halfmann, Michele Lemire, Kari Moody, Marie Arnold. Photo by John Thornberry.

Buy Tickets