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Chancellor's Blog: A few things to celebrate

A few items of business during this week's UW System Board of Regents meeting were especially good news for UW-Eau Claire, and a few shout-outs are in order! 

ORSP honored for excellence 

First, please join me in congratulating the staff of our Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, who during today's regents meeting received the UW System Academic Staff Excellence Award. 

This is a well-deserved award, and I was proud to see Karen Havholm and her outstanding ORSP team recognized for the ways they go above and beyond to maintain a supportive environment for the research, scholarship and creative activity of faculty, academic staff and students. Their recognition also brings to light the impact they have had as leaders across the UW System and the nation in promoting best practices and strategies in undergraduate research. Read more about ORSP's Academic Staff Excellence Award — the highest UW System honor for academic staff. 

New materials science and engineering program 

Also noteworthy was the regents' approval of UW-Eau Claire's new bachelor of science program in materials science and engineering, which will be offered beginning in fall 2016. Kudos to Marc Mc Ellistrem, Doug Dunham and their materials science colleagues in their dedication to making this happen. Providing students with this option is a natural outgrowth of our existing materials science degree program and will meet the talent demands from industry in our region and state — as well as provide promising starting salary potential for program graduates.

When I speak of meeting industry talent demands, I refer to both the technical expertise AND the liberal-arts foundation that our students will gain by completing this new degree program. According to Dr. Mc Ellistrem, he and his colleagues are hearing from industry partners that they need employees with both technical knowledge and the ability to work in social contexts with an appreciation of different ways of thinking that a liberal education foundation provides.  

A recent British Council survey reported on by Inside Higher Ed supports the notion that a foundation in the liberal arts is a desirable trait in leaders from a variety of sectors around the world. That survey found that a "solid majority" — 55 percent — of leaders in a range of organizations internationally were more likely to have degrees in traditional liberal arts fields — and that number rose when adding in those who studied liberal arts majors in the physical and biological sciences.  

Of course, the personal attention our faculty and staff provide UW-Eau Claire students also will be an important consideration for students choosing between this program and those offered elsewhere. I'm so looking forward to seeing our new materials science and engineering program thrive as students see the advantages of pursuing this degree at UW-Eau Claire! Learn more about our new materials science and engineering program

Priory improvements 

Finally, the regents approved additional improvements to The Priory, including significant restroom and parking lot expansions that will enable use of the assembly areas (the former chapel, dining room, etc.) for potential revenue-producing summer camps, retreats, conferences and other events. Previous improvements have included the Children's Nature Academy and residential areas that provide single-room capacity for approximately 50 students. It's exciting to envision the expanded programming that will be possible at The Priory once these improvements are complete. 

Read additional blog posts by UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt.