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Chancellor’s Blog: Implementation teams helping to create our future

| Chancellor James Schmidt

At the Blugold Breakfast in August, I outlined four goals that we have set for this year: 100 percent student participation in high-impact practices, a 90 percent student retention rate, a 50 percent four-year graduation rate and growth in our number of students of color to 20 percent. To reach those guideposts, we will need to operate differently — in how we support our students and how we manage our time as instructors and as staff.

And so this fall we launched a number of major initiatives — laid out by our Rapid Action Task Forces earlier this year — that will help us do just that, including the creation of a One-Stop Student Services Center, a centralized Advising Center and an Administrative Support Center that will provide administrative support more effectively. More than 60 faculty, staff and students are working right now to make those ideas a reality.

EDI team appointed
In addition to our service initiatives, I have formed an EDI implementation team and asked them to focus specifically on creating a plan for how we can reach our goal for 20 percent enrollment of students of color and to close the opportunity gap. I’m pleased that Ann Rupnow, from the College of Business, has agreed to lead this important effort and David Jones, from the College of Arts and Sciences, will assist her in convening the group. I want to thank those who have agreed to serve; you can read the full charge to the group and see the EDI team members here.

The faculty, staff and students on the EDI and service initiative teams have committed their time because they know these efforts are vital to our future. We’re making big changes not only to help us meet our budget challenge, but more importantly because it’s the right thing to do — right for how we serve our students and the right way to support each other. I hope you will support and encourage their work.

Implementation team updates
Here is a small sample of what our implementation teams are up to. You can follow their progress and read more on my Blugold Insider page.

The One-Stop Student Services Center will better serve our students by putting all the transactions they need to do in one spot, with teams of people able to handle any request. I am pleased to announce that Durwin Long, currently director of Continuing Education, will also take on leadership of the One-Stop Student Services Center; both units will be integrated into one and he will serve as the executive director. Durwin brings to this task deep experience and commitment to serving students, and he will begin working with the implementation team on the transition. This reorganization appointment fulfills my commitment to seek talent from within our university as we identify the changes we need to make to be successful.

The One-Stop Student Services Center implementation team has begun to create a “knowledge base” with financial aid, registration and payment information available for staff to use to answer student questions. They’re also designing a single website that will offer all services in one convenient location.

The Advising Center implementation team is working with the College of Business and kinesiology department to pilot proactive advising tools that will help advisers communicate with students to help them stay on track and progress to a degree. The team is outlining how the advising center will collaborate with academic support units across campus to assure that our students have a strong network of support. The team also is outlining roles and responsibilities that will align the expertise of professional and faculty advisers to help students meet their academic and career goals.

The Administrative Support Center implementation team has identified what services it will provide and is working to streamline how everyone can work together. Cross-campus teams have been formed to define the “one-stop shop” concept and to identify improvements to the Accounts Payable, Purchasing, Budget and Finance, and Human Resources functions. The team is meeting weekly and literally mapping out how we work and how we can rethink the way we operate. Walk by their mapping room in Schofield 41 and give them a thumbs up, because their goal is to make life easier for all of us so we can focus on serving our students.

If you have a nomination for a particular process that you’d like this team to streamline, let them know! Contact Kristen Hendrickson at hendrikm@uwec.edu with your ideas.

Our Facilities units from Recreation and Sport Facilities, University Centers, Housing and Residence Life, and Facilities Planning and Management are coming together to form a single unit. Those discussions are underway now. I have pledged that we will have all staffing decisions in regard to any budget reorganizations by the end of this month, and we are on track to do so.

Creative services staff also are being consolidated into Integrated Marketing and Communications. Graphic design, communications and marketing functions from University Centers, Continuing Education and the College of Business will be pulled together. Staff from University Centers already have joined the IMC team in Old Library.

I know that we have a lot on our plates this semester, and I am grateful for the many faculty and staff who are willingly stepping up to reshape our university. While the budget is necessitating that we take on truly massive change at a speed we are not used to, I want to affirm that our efforts are critical to our future. Every day I see many of you stepping outside your comfort zones to put the needs of our students and our future first. Thank you.

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