Photo caption: As program coordinator for the Menard Center for Constitutional Studies, Phil Rechek will help promote research, education and community outreach on matters related to the U.S. Constitution. (Photo by Bill Hoepner)
A longtime Eau Claire community member with years of experience in management and programming and a passion for the First Amendment will serve as the first program coordinator for the Menard Center for Constitutional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Phil Rechek, who for nearly a decade has held management positions with the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, joined the MCCS in May.
Rechek says he is excited to be part of a nonpartisan organization that aims to educate people on and off campus about the U.S. Constitution. He is especially interested helping students and others better understand the First Amendment.
“The Menard Center for Constitutional Studies provides a tremendous resource to deepen our understanding of our foundational documents,” Rechek says. “Through the MCCS, I hope to provide opportunities for students and others to learn about the rights and responsibilities granted them by the Constitution. I hope to grow the MCCS’s program events. It is my goal to promote a richer understanding of the First Amendment and promote civil discourse by example and action.”
Established in 2016, MCCS’s mission is to promote education, research and community outreach on matters related to the U.S. Constitution and the Wisconsin Constitution.
The center, housed in the political science department, also operates as the university’s point of access when the media or members of the public seek information or research on issues related to the U.S. Constitution. It invites speakers and hosts events that relate to American constitutional law and politics, and supports and organizes faculty and student research around U.S. constitutional law and politics.
In fall 2020, John Menard — a 1963 UW-Eau Claire graduate and a successful business leader — contributed $3 million to support a five-year initiative that will create new opportunities to engage in research, coursework and programming around the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment rights.
With a background in political science and history, Rechek’s interests and experiences align well with MCCS’s expanded mission, says Dr. Eric Kasper, professor of political science and director of MCCS.
“Phil arrives at the Menard Center for Constitutional Studies with a wealth of relevant experience, including as it relates to management, planning, technology, fundraising, staffing and programming,” Kasper says. “He is passionate about the First Amendment and fostering civil discourse. Everyone affiliated with the Menard Center is very enthusiastic about working with him.”
As program coordinator, Rechek will help promote research, education and community outreach on matters related to the U.S. Constitution, particularly the First Amendment. He will oversee speaker series, forums, workshops, trainings and other educational events.
In this role, Rechek will play a key part in helping MCCS meet its goals to provide even more opportunities for members of the UW-Eau Claire campus community and the general public to grow their knowledge and understanding of constitutional rights, Kasper says.
“The Menard Center aims to become a regional and national leader on education, research and community outreach on the freedom of expression, tolerance and related constitutional rights,” Kasper says. “In addition to the programming we have been conducting, we will be expanding over the next year into establishing teacher trainings, student workshops and survey research.”
While new to his position, Rechek says he has long been impressed by UW-Eau Claire. Thanks to his wife, Dr. April Bleske-Rechek, a professor of psychology, he’s had plenty of opportunities to interact with the talented faculty, staff and students who make up the campus community.
“In the almost 18 years that my wife and I have been part of the UWEC community, I have been struck by what a remarkable university UWEC truly is,” Rechek says. “The students, faculty, staff and administrators that I have been privileged to get to know through the years are all incredibly hard-working and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence.”