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Chancellor: UW-Eau Claire is a force for the public good

| Gary Johnson

Photo caption: Chancellor James Schmidt reflected on milestone achievements at UW-Eau Claire during his presentation at the Blugold Breakfast and academic year opening on Tuesday.

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has embraced its fundamental role as a force for the public good during the past decade by showing how higher education benefits individual graduates and the larger society, Chancellor James Schmidt says.

“At a time when the value of higher education is questioned, we can be proud of our enduring commitment to serve the public good,” Schmidt says. “Rest assured that eyes from all over have seen the value of this university.”

During the annual Blugold Breakfast and academic year opening meeting on Tuesday, Schmidt reflected on milestone achievements at UW-Eau Claire as he begins his 11th year leading the university and expressed his high hopes for the next decade.

“In the last decade, we’ve conferred degrees for more than 22,600 students,” Schmidt says. “Just let that sink in. That’s equivalent to nearly a third of the population of the city of Eau Claire. Talented critical thinkers who have gone on to lead companies, support communities and make a difference.”

UW-Eau Claire has launched 15 new degree programs over the past decade, with two more approved to begin next year, that build on faculty strengths and respond to urgent societal needs, Schmidt says.

During the past decade, UW-Eau Claire has been a part of multiple building projects, including Pablo Center at the Confluence, Haymarket Landing, Aspenson-Mogensen Hall and the Flesch Family Welcome Center. The Garfield Avenue Pedestrian Corridor was created, and academic buildings and residence halls were renovated.

Looking to the future, the County Materials Complex is scheduled to be completed and open in 2024, the same year that construction is set to begin on the new Science and Health Sciences Building.

“Our audacious vision, our commitment and our persistence have literally transformed the face of this campus and this community in ways that will outlast all of us,” Schmidt says. “And we have not only built buildings but new relationships to extend the benefit of UW-Eau Claire well beyond the boundaries of campus.”

Schmidt says enrollment management data show positive signs, including the highest student retention levels since COVID-19, and a larger incoming class than 2022-23.

“We will continue building back to our pre-pandemic enrollment in the next three to four years,” Schmidt says. “It will take all of us, and our best thinking, to climb back to where we were, but I know the Blugold family is up to the challenge.”

UW-Eau Claire alumnus Michael Perry ’87, a New York Times bestselling author, humorist and singer/songwriter, spoke at the Blugold Breakfast about finding joy and gratitude in challenging times.

During the event, winners of the 2023 faculty and staff excellence awards were announced and recognized.