Taking it to the tweet: Harden reflects on week as voice of ‘UW Powers Me’

Chancellor Tom Harden's Twitter Avatar for @UWPowersMe

Chancellor Harden’s Twitter Avatar for @UWPowersMe

Chancellor Tom Harden took the reins of a statewide Twitter account during the last week of March, guest tweeting as the voice of the UW System’s “UW Powers Me.”

Begun in February, the new account hosts a guest tweeter a week to talk about events and observations from his or her campus, as well as how each university makes a difference in its region and statewide. Most of the account’s brave volunteers have been students — but in taking over Monday, March 25, Harden became the first (and so far, only) UW System chancellor to take it to Twitter.

“I so much enjoyed the opportunity to share some of the great things we have going on here at UW-Green Bay with the UW Powers Me followers,” Harden said. “At the same time, I know I was able to talk about just a fraction of all the terrific day-to-day happenings at UW-Green Bay. I know that as I was tweeting about one thing, there were dozens of other noteworthy things to share.”

Still, Harden enjoyed his UW Powers Me stint, which began the day after the Phoenix women’s basketball team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Harden’s earliest tweets came before he’d even left Baton Rouge, La., after the game — he shared photos that included Coach Kevin Borseth thanking supporters, a poster of well wishes from the Green Bay Packers, and even a shot of himself with former UW Powers Me tweeter Nellie Schafer. A UW-Green Bay senior and the manager for the women’s basketball team, Schafer made a big impact as the UW Powers account’s second guest tweeter in February.

“@UWGB’s original @UWPowersMe tweeter, Nellie Schafer, coaches me on Twitter “how-tos” in Baton Rouge,” the tweet said, accompanied by a photo of the smiling pair.

Throughout the week, Harden’s tweets touched on a variety of areas, from events he attended to those upcoming, signs of spring and academic and career success stories from students and alumni alike. On Friday, Harden tweeted about an impromptu visit to a student panel during Campus Preview Day, including a photo of him speaking with prospective students.

The @UWPowersMe Twitter account allows students, faculty, alumni — even chancellors — the opportunity to take control for one week, telling their UW story as only they can. It is a component of the social media arm of “Knowledge Powers Wisconsin,” the campaign that highlights how the UW System powers economic growth in Wisconsin, improving the state’s competitive edge by leveraging human capital, supporting business and industry and strengthening local communities.

Harden joined Twitter and Facebook in June 2012, noting the importance of connecting with current and prospective students and others via social media. He’s had some help along the way, including during his guest tweeting week, Harden said.

“I’d like to give credit to our Marketing and University Communication staff for their assistance and encouragement during this process,” Harden said.“Without their support, my experience with UW Powers Me wouldn’t have been what it was.”

(Staff member Kimberly Vlies searched the archives and dusted off a 2009 artist’s caricature of the Chancellor, captured during a student event his first fall on campus, for use as his avatar and to set a fun tone.)

Harden’s UW Powers week may have ended, but you can still follow him on Twitter at @thomasharden, or like his page on Facebook by searching “Chancellor Tom Harden.” More information about UW Powers Me and the Knowledge Powers Wisconsin campaign is available online.