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Chancellor's Blog: Our values in action

| James Schmidt

Even in the face of all the changes of the past semester, our core Blugold values have continued to shine. We have continued to strive toward excellence, even as our classes and lives have been turned upside down. We have triumphed, as our spring 2020 graduating classes celebrate their achievements this Thursday and Saturday, and our UW-Eau Claire class looks forward to coming back for in-person commencement on October 2, during Homecoming. And, we have continued our commitment to those things that are important to who we are.

Our commitment to EDI

Earlier this year, in response to a racist incident on the Eau Claire campus, we formed an EDI Rapid Action Task Force to recommend specific changes that will make our campuses more inclusive. I endorsed their report wholeheartedly and we have already made progress on many initiatives: providing training for a restorative justice program, refining our process for reporting incidents, and identifying new professional development for faculty, staff and students. You can read a detailed progress report shared with campus in April by Vice Chancellor Warren Anderson.

This week, Dr. Anderson announced the formation of an Implementation Team to oversee continued progress on the recommendations. Led by Dr. Demetrius Smith and Dr. Rose-Marie Avin, the group will help to assure that the momentum for EDI change continues, especially as we come back together in the fall. You can read the charge to the group here.

Dr. Anderson also has announced the formation of an EDI Strategic Planning Committee to develop a guiding document for our campus through 2025. I encourage you to consider serving on this important committee and to watch for the group’s communication over the coming months. EDI is our core value, and our commitment to continuing our efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive campus is vital.

And finally, the review of our athletics department will continue this fall. Data gathering and surveys were concluded this spring by our external review agent, Stanley Johnson & Associates. Because of the pandemic, on-campus interviews will be conducted in the fall. Watch for more details when you return to campus.

Our commitment to sustainability

During the past year there were lots of discussions around our university priorities for the coming five years. One priority was cited by many: our need to rejuvenate our commitment to sustainability across the campus. To that end, I formed a Sustainability and Climate Action Task Force to develop strong recommendations that will guide our campuses into the future.

Led by Dr. Karen Mumford, director of the Watershed Institute, Tony Rongstad from Facilities and student Lillian Strehlow, the task force has not been deterred by the need to meet online or to work from a distance. They have been enthusiastically developing wide-ranging ideas that include strategies for reducing our carbon footprint, developing high-impact practices that will complement our curriculum, and identifying new community collaborations that will help us connect and grow the impact we can have in our region. When I met with them this week, we discussed ways in which we can share their ideas and increase excitement for supporting our sustainability value this fall. Watch for more details about how you can contribute and become involved in September.

Our commitment to our students

This spring has been a learning opportunity for all of us. One of the most important lessons is that we learn better together — when we can be on the campuses we love with colleagues and students. We are committed to making that a reality this fall. While we know there will need to be changes to keep everyone safe, I am working closely with my executive leaders to develop a strong plan to bring us together again. Please see the list of the fall planning teams we’ve formed and individuals we’ve tapped to help us think through the challenges. We will be reaching out to many others in the coming weeks as we need your expertise and ideas. Students, be assured that we are doing all we can to make sure you can be back at UW-Eau Claire and UW-Eau Claire – Barron County this fall.

Our commitment to our faculty and staff

While many of our faculty will be away this summer and staff will continue to work from a distance until we can come back, I want to make sure you are kept up to date on all the details about our return. I have scheduled regular video briefings where I will share with you information on planning, budget changes and university decisions. Mark your calendars for these dates:

Chancellor Briefings schedule
(All briefings are streamed live on Thursdays from 5-6 p.m.)

  • June 11 and 25
  • July 9 and 23
  • August 6

I hope you can join me, or view all the videos and materials here. In particular, we will have more information on faculty and staff furloughs, scheduled to begin in August, posted on the Human Resources furlough website. Detailed information will be emailed to you as our process is finalized in the next week.

This has been a lengthy blog, but that is a reflection of our university’s commitment to what is important: fulfilling our promise to improve EDI, strengthening sustainability and looking after each other. I’m honored to be part of a university that, even during times of challenge, keeps focused on our values.

Have a good summer. Stay healthy and well. And look forward with me to being together again this fall.

View more Chancellor's Blog posts.