University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Welcomes
Faculty and Staff Back to Campus

 MAILED:  Aug. 26, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire continues to get better at meeting its primary goals of student learning and personal development and regional service despite the funding challenges it currently faces, Chancellor Donald Mash told about 600 faculty and academic staff members Aug. 26 during the opening meeting of the 2003-04 academic year.

“In spite of budget reductions, tuition increases and the impact these things have on our students and the university, we’re getting better and better at preparing students and providing regional service,” Mash said during his “State of the University” address. “The university is managing its enrollment, we’re currently admitting the best freshman class in the university’s history in terms of academic credentials and again U.S. News & World Report magazine has ranked us in the top tier for quality in its 2004 Best Colleges guidebook.”

Mash noted that U.S. News & World Report this year included UW-Eau Claire in its “Programs to Look For” section, which highlights schools with outstanding examples of academic programs that lead to student success. UW-Eau Claire is one of 39 colleges, recognized along with Yale, Princeton, Stanford and other premier institutions, in the magazine’s “Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects” category.

“Many of the things cited in this special section are things we’ve been doing here for a long time, including first-year experience courses, internships, study abroad and service-learning,” Mash said. “The point is, we’re better than the rankings’ measurable criteria suggest, and we’re getting better by engaging our students in all of these aspects of our enterprise, which extend the classroom and add value for our students and the region we serve.”

Mash commended faculty for maintaining their focus and tending to the university’s goals of student learning and regional service in spite of the gloomy news related to state-funding budget reductions.

“In addition to your course loads and day-to-day activities, you have willingly taken on the added responsibility for things that make a difference for our students and contribute to their learning and personal development,” Mash said. “Faculty involvement in collaborative research, service-learning, senior capstones, internships and the like add value to the undergraduate experience and contribute to improved retention and graduation rates for our students.”

Mash said numerous studies have shown that what contributes most to a student’s growth is the amount of interaction he or she has with faculty mentors and professional staff outside the classroom.

“Our students understand and appreciate the special nature of what we do here,” Mash said, acknowledging the contribution made by university student leaders when they agreed to increase the amount students pay in differential tuition, which funds in part many of the special opportunities available to them, including collaborative research.

UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff will continue to maintain excellence in the classroom and in the region by focusing on the goals set forth in the university’s Strategic Plan, Mash said. The three goals of UW-Eau Claire’s Strategic Plan are to:

While UW-Eau Claire continues to enroll excellent students, not all are ready to learn, Mash said, noting that beginning at freshman orientation and continuing over time, students are encouraged to be active participants in their educational experience. He added that faculty and staff can meet the goal of enhancing students’ learning and personal development by reinforcing the importance of active engagement in their experience.

“We have no doubt about our students’ intellect and ability to do the work, but a focused lifestyle and high level of engagement provide the best opportunity for students to jumpstart their future,” Mash said.

The university’s goal of expanding and enhancing its regional service is also important to the overall mission of the university and can translate over time into support from members of the community, Mash said.

“If we view ourselves as a catalyst and regional center, we will continue to have a positive impact on our service region,” Mash said, adding that faculty, staff and students currently give a great deal to the region through volunteer assignments, public service, service-learning and other activities.

UW-Eau Claire’s Continuing Education unit has been consolidated and made more visible, providing an important outreach resource for our public, Mash said, noting that such an interactive stance can help meet regional needs.

To meet the goal of broadening and increasing the university’s resource base, many people think in terms of dollars only, Mash said. But he noted that managing enrollment relates to the university’s most critical resource — its faculty and staff.

“Personalized attention for students and manageable workloads for faculty are crucial for maintaining quality,” he said.

The physical campus itself is an important resource, Mash said, adding that a master plan is being developed to ensure that the university makes the best use of its remaining space.

In terms of the university’s revenue sources, many challenges are ahead, Mash said.

“The state has imposed the largest budget cut ever to the UW System,” he said. “When the time comes to rebalance the budget during the coming biennium, we must head off more reductions. The UW System has already done far more than its fair share.”

Mash also noted that tuition is going up quickly without a conscious plan to backfill financial aid for the students who need it most.

“A financial aid policy must be put in place in order to manage this shift,” he said.

Mash also talked about UW-Eau Claire’s first comprehensive fund-raising effort, “Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence,” and the impact it’s already having on the university’s students and programs.

“The campaign is having an immediate effect in terms of gifts being turned into impact,” he said, adding that the campaign will have more impact in the longer term, citing a recently received $1 million bequest and four endowed chairs in the pipeline. “We have a lot of friends and outstanding alumni who are responding to the university’s needs.”

Mash concluded by acknowledging the impact faculty and staff have had on students through the years.

“We’ve done outstanding work here over many years,” he said. “I commend those who have developed department newsletters, appointed alumni to advisory committees and stayed in touch with our graduates through the years. You’ve contributed to their intellectual development and helped turn them into bright citizens with a propensity for being engaged in their communities.

“We have a vision for the future and a plan to get us there,” Mash said. “It’s important that we keep our eye on our goal. We change lives, empower people and make a difference.”

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: August 26, 2003