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Chancellor delivers state-of-the-university message

| Gary Johnson

Chancellor James Schmidt expressed hope during his annual Blugold Breakfast and academic year opening message Aug. 25, that working together and using safeguards put into place will provide for a safe and sustainable return for the UW-Eau Claire fall semester that begins Sept. 2.

In his annual state-of-the-university message delivered virtually, Schmidt talked about returning to in-person classes with a COVID-19 vaccine still on the horizon.

“As we have learned more about the virus, we have also learned real ways we can combat it,” Schmidt says. “We know that with diligence and care we can create safe spaces for faculty, staff and students. And we’ve done that with vigor.”

The chancellor referred to the Blugold Flight Plan and other strategic changes intended to keep faculty, staff and students safe during the pandemic.

“We have the testing protocols in place — the masks, thermometers and app — ready to use, the reconfigured classrooms to keep students 6 feet apart,” Schmidt says. “But the one thing that is essential for this fall — and for the future we are envisioning — is that we are working together.” 

UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff provide life-changing learning experiences for students, and the university wants to provide person-to-person instruction for students in classrooms, labs and studios as much as possible.

“But we will not do so recklessly,” the chancellor says. “We have already proven that we can be adaptable and provide remote learning. Our staff has learned to work from home and many will continue to do so. The health of our instructors, our students and our staff is paramount.”

Schmidt says the past six months have demonstrated the power of shared governance at the university as UW-Eau Claire grappled with budget lapses, furloughs, and the closing and reopening of campus. The chancellor says shared-governance leaders “provided invaluable counsel, challenging us to explore alternative solutions and offering their support.”

The chancellor also recognized winners of the 2020 University Excellence Awards: Mark Alfuth, senior lecturer in accounting and finance; Staci Heidtke, interim director of the Advising, Retention and Career Center; Dr. Jerry Hoepner, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders; B.J. Hollars, associate professor of English; Dr. Christopher Jorgenson, director of the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center; Nichole Miller, academic advisor in the Advising, Retention and Career Center; Kimberly Reed, program assistant in the Intercultural Immersions Office; and Dr. Scott Swanson, professor of management and marketing.

The recording of Chancellor's Schmidt's presentation can be viewed here.

Photo caption: Chancellor James Schmidt spoke Aug. 25 during his annual Blugold Breakfast and academic year opening message. The message was delivered virtually.