||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
UW-Eau Claire Moves Forward With
Many Initiatives as the Search for
a New Chancellor Continues
MAILED: Jan 28, 1998|
EAU CLAIRE -- The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be in a period of transition for several months as it prepares to hire a new chancellor to lead it into the next century and beyond, but university initiatives won't be slowed by the change, Interim Chancellor Marjorie Smelstor told faculty and academic staff Tuesday afternoon.
"Our chief responsibility at this time is to capitalize on our significant strengths so that the next stage of development at UW-Eau Claire will reflect continued, renewed and new strengths," Smelstor said during a faculty and academic staff meeting held on the second day of the spring semester. Smelstor became Interim Chancellor after Larry Schnack retired earlier this month.
Smelstor reported that the State Building Commission last week approved a $438,000 allocation to UW-Eau Claire to remodel classrooms and equip them with instructional technology. By combining this money with funds from other sources, such as laboratory modernization and external grants, the university will have $655,400 for improving classrooms -- more dollars for this purpose than any other comprehensive university in the UW System. The dollars will be used to renovate and equip seven classrooms in Hibbard, Schneider and Phillips halls as well as in the Human Sciences and Services building. Funds also will help increase the capacity of the distance education room in the Old Library. It's important to note, Smelstor said, that most of the rooms will be used by more than one department, with a total of 13 departments benefiting for the monies.
In addition, the Building Commission also approved $249,200 in planning funds to finance preliminary plans and a design report to remodel Phillips Science Hall, Smelstor said. "You know how long and hard we've worked to get this project under way, and I'm sure you're as pleased as I am that we have the planning money to move forward," she said.
Another exciting initiative that deserves attention is UW-Eau Claire's involvement with other Chippewa Valley entities in the National Technological University, Smelstor said. The program downlinks master's level engineering and noncredit technological and managerial courses from the National Technological University. Courses originate at any of 46 universities in the NTU network, including places such as Columbia, Purdue and UW-Madison.
UW-Eau Claire is working on the project in partnership with area high-tech companies, UW-Stout, the Chippewa Valley Technical college, the Industrial Development corporations in Dunn, Chippewa and Eau Claire counties, and the city of Eau Claire. The partnership was formed at the request of local high-tech companies that expressed a need for continuing education courses for their engineering and technical personnel. All up front costs for the venture have been funded by W.L. Gore, Hutchinson Technology, Johnson Matthey, Sequent Computers, Silicon Logic, Northern States Power and Ayres Associates.
The only comprehensive university in the System that is an NTU site, UW-Eau Claire is providing the local coordination for NTU programs. As of last week, five programs were being downlinked, with 27 engineers enrolled in courses that originate in Arizona and Illinois.
Smelstor also talked about the growing enrollment in UW-Eau Claire's three-week Winterim session and noted steps being taken by the university to try to bolster its sagging summer session enrollment. In 1998, 625 students took Winterim classes, up from 501 in 1997. The university offered 26 classes this year, including two directed studies, during Winterim, up from 16 classes offered a year ago.
Summer session enrollment has been declining since 1990, a trend that has been noted by universities throughout the country as summer employment opportunities for students have increased, Smelstor said. Some 20 additional classes will be added to the summer schedule this year in an attempt to bring students back to school during those months, she said, adding that she also has asked the Financial Aid Office to help students find jobs while attending summer school.
"We'd like to reverse that trend at UW-Eau Claire and bring our students back to campus," she said, noting the benefits to students include things such as small classes allowing for greater interaction with faculty, accelerating the students' progress toward graduation, and helping students who have fallen behind get back on track.
Dubbing it "one of the most exciting and significant opportunities we've enjoyed at UW-Eau Claire," Smelstor also reminded faculty and academic staff about the benefits of the almost $1 million in new monies that have come to UW-Eau Claire as a result of differential tuition. UW-Eau Claire students agreed to pay $50 more per semester to help support sweeping changes to the university's undergraduate curriculum.
"I have heard from numerous faculty, staff and students that they have benefited enormously from this infusion of money, particularly in the area of student/faculty collaborative research," Smelstor said. "As we begin to plan for next year's allocation, we do so with continued pride that our students have supported this effort and that they are working closely with us to assure its continued success."
Among the things being considered is the possibility of offering a course dedicated to a special kind of freshman experience for all incoming freshmen, an initiative that has virtually unlimited potential, Smelstor said. About 2,150 new freshmen are expected to attend UW-Eau Claire next year, down from 2,171 this year. That would bring the university's total enrollment to 10,447 next year, compared to 10,484 this year.
"We're already negotiating with local hotels for the overflow from the residence halls, a reminder that we are clearly eager for our new residence hall, still planned to open in the summer of 2000," Smelstor said, referring to the hall that is to be built on upper campus.
As a result of the many initiatives well under way at UW-Eau Claire, the university is in great shape as it moves into this critical point in its history, Smelstor said.
Also during Tuesday's faculty and academic staff meeting, Dr. James Oberly outlined the process used by the Chancellor Search and Screen Committee, which he chairs. The committee is currently seeking applicants and nominations for the position. The committee hopes to forward its five finalists to the UW System Board of Regents in time for its May meeting, Oberly said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Jan. 28, 1998