Video: Chancellor Alexander discusses expectations and respect as education is tailored for individuals

Hi UW-Green Bay students,

I hope you’re all doing well. I want to take a minute to go over a few things with you today.

First, please understand that we’re relying on each one of you to have social responsibility and to make sure you’re taking all the precautions necessary to keep everyone safe this fall. It’s really important that we make sure that we’re able to continue education this fall and part of the way we do that is to make sure that everyone is taking the proper precautions at all times to make sure that yourself and everyone around you is able to remain safe and healthy throughout the pandemic.

I also want to mention that I know that all of you have differing opinions about whether or not you’d like to have classes in person or online. We respect all of the wishes that you have to be able to have education tailored in your specific way. We’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re meeting the requests that you have about what mode you’d like to have your classes delivered. If for any reason you’re not able to get the classes in the mode that you feel you need in the upcoming semester, please reach out to us at gboss@uwgb.edu.

Please understand that as many of you that want online education, as many others want in person and vice versa, so please respect what each other are asking for in their educational delivery. Our goal is to provide access to education to all and have all of you persist in your education.

Finally, I want to let you know there will be opportunities in the coming weeks ahead for you to reach out to us and ask questions directly that we can answer. First there will be an Instagram Q&A conversation, and then also an open forum where you can ask me and University leadership questions directly that we’ll be able to answer for you.

I hope you all stay well and, I look forward to connecting with you soon.

UW-Green Bay Chancellor and Provost note child-care challenges and community support

Note: In the memo (August 10, 22020), UW-Green Bay Chancellor Mike Alexander and Provost Kate Burns acknowledge University support as employees and students face child-care challenges… 

Dear UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff,

As we approach the fall, it is important we consider the numerous ways our work patterns and the ways our students will access education have evolved. Our ability to have empathy for those who need support to deal with these sudden changes, will be essential to move forward as a University fully dedicated to access.  One issue that we have struggled to holistically address as a campus is support for child care for our faculty, staff, and students. We would like to update you on the steps we are taking this year to help improve the way we deal with the reality of the equity issues caused by challenges with child care. These steps are based on the recommendations from the UW System task force on Caregiving and COVID-19 and we urge everyone to take the time to read the recommendations in full.

  1. It is our expectation that supervisors work with all faculty and staff to do everything possible to accommodate the individual needs for child care that any of our colleagues might have.  Immediately contact HR if you have questions on how to support a colleague or if you feel you are not receiving the support you need.  We will review all of our HR policies on this subject to make sure we are doing everything we can to be flexible throughout the year.
  2. Faculty are expected to have empathy and accommodate students who are struggling with the balance of child care and class expectations.
  3. Mark Olkowski and John Landrum are working with SUFAC and SGA to provide grant opportunities for students who need financial support to provide child care for their families in order to have the space to complete their studies.  It is our expectation that these grants are widely communicated and mobilized as soon as possible.  In addition, we are working towards long term solutions to provide further support for faculty, staff, and students around this issue.

Thank you for continually considering how you can support our colleagues and students through these times through proactive actions that demonstrate our belief in student success, a caring spirit, and an understanding of the challenges that our communities face right now.

Best,

Chancellor Michael Alexander
Interim Provost Kate Burns

Video: UW-Green Bay Chancellor Alexander discusses the ‘wash, watch, wear’ responsibility of the entire campus community

Hello UW-Green Bay students.

I hope you’re all doing well. I’m here today to give you another campus update, and to let you know that we have given campus guidelines out to area and divisional leaders for how we’ll be able to operate in the fall. Over the next week individual leaders will work to respond to those guidelines and make sure that each area of campus can open responsibly.

We want to make sure that you know that there are going to be three core things to do for us to be able to open successfully: One is to wear a mask. Second, wash your hands. Make sure you’re always practicing good hygiene. And third, watch your distance. Make sure you’re staying apart as much as possible. Make sure that you’re observing that distance so that we can all stay safe when we’re here together.

I also want to encourage you as a campus to please understand that we are working through literally thousands and thousands of details to be able to open up successfully in in the fall. If you have concerns over any of those details, please do not hesitate to reach out. The first place you could start with is by emailing gboss@uwgb.edu. Any concerns that you have about the opening of fall please you can start with them, and they’ll be able to route your question to the appropriate place and make sure you get an appropriate answer.

We want to make sure we continue to communicate with you in the lead up to the fall and you can expect a lot more communication in the coming weeks. I hope you’re doing well and that you have a great rest of your week, and thanks for listening today.

Chancellor Alexander’s open letter to the communities of Green Bay, Manitowoc, Marinette and Sheboygan

On Friday, July 10, Chancellor Michael Alexander sent a message out to UW-Green Bay students, faculty and staff about how UW-Green Bay is navigating the pandemic, as well as its role in the future of Northeast Wisconsin and its broader community.

Dear UW-Green Bay Students, Faculty and Staff:

At a meeting with campus leadership on Tuesday, I was asked if we were considering how to move forward as a campus after the pandemic.  It was an excellent question and one that I have not done a good enough job articulating an answer for over the last few months.  Like all of you, I have been focused on UW-Green Bay’s careful response and planning related to the immediate crisis. We have learned over the last four months that conditions can shift quickly and new guidance appears almost daily, which can make long range planning a challenge. I want to thank our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community for being patient and understanding while we navigate these difficult times.  Our enrollment is up 875 students this summer over last year and our faculty and staff are working through the summer in order to be ready for any version of teaching we need to provide in the fall.  We are positioned well to deal with whatever challenges emerge in the coming year, but it is not enough.  We must do much more. 

In the spur of the moment, I answered the question about our future with the first thing that came to my mind.  I believe our long-term vision is the same vision that will guide our university and region in the coming year.  To begin with, we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Our students deal with a fear of the unknown all the time.   Most felt this way prior to the pandemic and those who did not, likely do now.  Prior to the pandemic, I believed an education helped a student contribute to making a positive difference in their region, country, and world.  Now, I believe education must also prepare students to generate constructive dialogue that will help heal and rebuild our communities.

We must stop spending all of our time worrying about the mode of delivery for our courses.  For what feels like my entire career, and certainly over the last four months, we have been debating whether or not to teach in person or online.  It has presented as a binary choice when it does not have be.  The debate has gone on while more and more students need an education that can provide the benefits of both.  We need instruction that honors the fact that a large portion of our students need flexible hours to learn.  They lead complex lives.  Many desire the in-person experience with the flexibility of an online course.  Providing this kind of education is our answer now and it is also our answer in the future.  The first step in providing access to education is ensuring that our classes are actually accessible given the realities of modern life.    

We must fully commit to solving the racial achievement gap (the disparity in academic achievement between black and white students) in our state, which is one of the worst in the country.  While it pains me to say that, we must face this reality head-on and finally fully dedicate ourselves to addressing it. Our community cannot grow together unless we level the educational playing field.  There are massive inequities in our region that are exacerbated by uneven access to education.  This problem has been building since higher education started in this country.  Achievement gaps in education lead to inequities in opportunities and further widen socioeconomic disparities in our region.  Only our actions will determine whether we are truly committed to solving this injustice. This is urgent.

We must fully commit to teaching all who desire an education at any age and with any background.  Universities have often boasted about the academic profile of their student body.  I do not care what the academic profile is of our incoming class.  I only care if each student feels like their life has been enriched by an experience with us.  It is not our place to choose who we teach.  It is our mission to teach all who want to be taught.  There are many universities that will fight over a student with a 4.0 GPA and high SAT score.  I do not begrudge that student or the university that seeks to teach them, but we must fight for the student who has had to struggle, who has potential that is yet to be realized, and who wants to make a difference in their community.  Our region needed that student to have an education prior to the pandemic.  Now it is essential that our University nurtures local students into the leaders of tomorrow.

We must stop assuming that all students go to college to get a degree and do so between the ages of 18-22.  We needed to set this assumption aside prior to the pandemic and it has become even more important to do so now.  Education should be a lifelong pursuit and one that may not always follow a straight line.  Most students expect an affordable education and during the pandemic may not be willing or able to travel far from home to get one.  As education continues to grow in cost, it is becoming a more and more attractive decision for students to stay local for large parts of their educational experience.  We will welcome students at any point in their career to use education to improve their career or broaden their view of the world.

We must change the narrative around the cost of an education.  Our tuition is under $8,000 per year for a Wisconsin resident.  An elite university education can cost upwards of $50,000 per year.  Regardless of the university students choose, it should be viewed as an investment they make in themselves.  Student debt matters when it inhibits a person’s ability to fulfill their potential.  Worse yet is student debt without the completion of one’s educational goals.  We must support students to persist in their education.  We must encourage them to stay on course and finish what they have started. We must be a leader in helping first generation college students successfully navigate the experience.  The narrative on the cost of education and rising debt was broken before the pandemic.  We now have a chance to reset the educational value proposition in the coming year and beyond.  

Our community has rightly demanded that UW-Green Bay grow to support the economy, culture, education, and health of our region.  Now and after the pandemic, we will need leaders to help us move forward. It is our job to prepare them.  We fiercely believe that all students who want a university education should have access to it.  Our mission is to provide that education, and the rapid growth of our University in recent years shows we are fighting to support students to reach their educational goals.  I ask our entire community to join us in the fight to create a more equitable community and one prepared to meet the challenges of the future. 

I am unable to predict exactly what will happen with education in the coming months.  However, I know we are resilient. As the Phoenix, we are up for the challenge that lies ahead. We will rise into the unknown together.

Chancellor Alexander responds to ICE guidance for international students

In a memorandum to faculty and staff, UW-Green Bay Chancellor Mike Alexander responded to an announcement regarding deportation of international students if a university is forced to go entirely online because of the pandemic this fall. See it below:

“Yesterday (July , 2020) the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released new guidance concerning international students studying on F-1 visas.

As we understand the regulations, international students will be able to maintain their immigration status provided that they enroll in at least one face-to-face course this fall. However, if UW-Green Bay is forced to move entirely online for any reason, immigration will require all international students to depart the United States or transfer to other U.S. institutions offering face-to-face classes. Read more here.

To be clear, we value international students and their contributions to our University community. We do not support any policy that prevents any of our students from accessing an education at UW-Green Bay.

Our Office of International Education immediately began reviewing the order and is actively working with individual students on their status and class schedules to ensure their individual education plan is not impeded.”

Later in the day, the UW System posted this response to the ICE:

“Our university system is internationally recognized. There’s a good reason students from all over the world want to attend our universities. We welcome them. These students provide great benefit to our universities and anything that makes it harder for them to attend will raise a host of issues during an already challenging time.”

Video: UW-Green Bay Chancellor Mike Alexander welcomes the Phoenix family back to the University

In this video, UW-Green Bay Chancellor Mike Alexander expresses his gratitude to faculty and staff on all four campuses who have worked toward a responsible reopening. Thank you also to medical partner Prevea Health.

“Good morning UW-Green Bay faculty and staff. It is July 1st and we’ve begun to slowly open up our campus. I’m here this morning to help remind you of some things we can all do to make sure we keep each other safe.

As I drove in this morning it was encouraging to see a few cars parked in our public spaces, using our trails socially distanced, and enjoying the outdoor spaces we have on our beautiful campus.

I want to remind you to please park in your normal spot, but as you walk to your office make sure you stay outside. It’s also important that you go outside as much as you can whenever you’re having to walk anywhere on campus. Try not to use the tunnels, and hopefully every day for the rest of the summer looks just like today.

As much as I’d like to see all of you on campus it’s really important that as many of you as possible please continue to work from home. Please continue to use the electronic platforms that you’ve been using to be able to have meetings since march… it’s been working for us. If you need to come in, obviously it’s okay to come onto campus at this point during the hours that we’re open, but if you’re able to work from home please do so it helps for all of us to stay socially distanced and prevent an outbreak from occurring on our campus.

I want to thank all of our staff at facilities that have worked so hard to be able to allow us to open up our campus safely. I also want to encourage all of our faculty and staff to please make sure that you’re keeping your areas clean and sanitized at all times. Please be sure to read all the guidelines we sent out about how to safely open campus.

Remember that masks are required whenever you’re in public spaces walking through halls or around other people. It’s very important, and required, that we all do this for everyone else’s safety.

As a Phoenix family we’re best when we do things together. It’s vitally important right now that we all work together to make sure that we keep everything that we’re doing safe for everyone on our campus. Thank you for your attention to all these details it’s great to be able to slowly open up campus. It’ll be even better to make sure we keep everybody safe while we’re doing so.”

See the Phoenix Forward: Return to Workplace Plan.

See the Interim Building Hours and Access Policy

 

Monday, June 29 is the next Coffee Break with campus leaders

To keep all informed of University decisions as we continue to work on specific details for fall, a Coffee Break listening session will be held on Monday, June 29 at 8:30 a.m. Chancellor Alexander, Sheryl Van Gruensven and Kate Burns will give a brief update and allow the remaining time to take questions from faculty and staff. Colleagues from all campus locations are strongly encouraged to attend. See your inbox for details.

The presentation will be recorded for those who cannot attend.

Chancellor Alexander’s message on interim UW System President

Chancellor Michael Alexander sent a message to UW-Green Bay faculty and staff on June 19 regarding the new interim UW System President. His full message is below:

Dear UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff,

As you have probably heard, Tommy Thompson has been named the interim president of the University of Wisconsin System.  I am excited to work with President Thompson in his new role.  His experience as governor of the state of Wisconsin will be an asset to advocate for the needs of higher education during his tenure.  He also has served as the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, which provides experience that is particularly relevant at this time. 

I am looking forward to my first conversation with President Thompson to tell him about the incredible work our faculty, staff, and students are accomplishing.  We have so much to be proud of at UW-Green Bay and I believe our mission and the work we are doing to realize it will fully resonate with him.

Best,

Michael Alexander