Celebrating the Hallmarks of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside
November 6, 2009
Acceptance and Formal Welcome
Regent Falbo, President Reilly, Dr. James, Ms. Breed, Ms. Grabher, President Ruffalo, and Vice Chancellor Klaver thank you for your kind words and for your continued support. I enthusiastically accept the invitation to serve as the sixth Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside!
UW-Parkside students, faculty, academic staff, classified staff, foundation trustees, alumni, friends and colleagues from out of town, colleague chancellors, community leaders, and distinguished guests before I begin my formal remarks this afternoon, I would like to formally welcome many special people in the audience today. Please stand as I call your name so we may welcome you to the UW-Parkside learning community.
- Representing the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents: Danae Davis, John Drew, and Mike Falbo and Representing the University of Wisconsin-System: President Kevin Reilly and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and former UW-Parkside Provost, Dr. Rebecca Martin. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as the chancellor at UW-Parkside.
- Elected officials and Representatives: Representing Senator Herb Kohl, Judy Huffman and Representing Congressman Paul Ryan, David Craig. Members of the Wisconsin Legislative Delegation: Senator John Lehman, Representative Samantha Kerkman, Representative Peter Barca, and Representative Corey Mason. Local elected officials: Mayor of Racine John Dickert, and Mayor of Kenosha and UW-Parkside Alum Keith Bosman.
- University of Wisconsin Colleague Chancellors:
Carol Sue Butts from UW-Platteville
Julius Erlenbach from UW-Superior
Tom Harden from UW-Green Bay
Carlos Santiago from UW-Milwaukee
Dick Telfer from UW-Whitewater
Rick Wells from UW-Oshkosh
David Wilson from UW Colleges & Extension
Dean Van Galen from UW-River Falls
- And a special welcome to Lane Earns who served as the interim Chancellor at UW-Parkside this past year.
- Colleague education leaders in Southeastern Wisconsin – President of Gateway Technical College, Bryan Albrecht, President of Carthage College, Greg Campbell, Superintendent of Kenosha Unified School District, Joe Mangi, and representing Racine Unified School District, Bethel Cager
- Members of the UW-Parkside Foundation Board of Trustees: Roger Caron, Jess Levin, Tim Mahone, JoAnn Murtha, Sara Neubauer, Howard Olsen, Rita Petretti, Vince Ruffolo, George Stinson, Bob Toeppe, and Joan Wilk
- Colleagues who have helped me along my educational and professional journey, John and Chris Cavanaugh, Dean and Mary VanGalen, Tammy McGuckin, Susan Stephenson, Betsy Bowers, Laura Naff, Michael Day, Jenny Sawyer, Paul Jones, and Margaret Barr
- and last but not least in any way, my family, my parents Nancy and Phil Akers, my sisters, Dena Engel and Darla Broadus and her husband Matt Broadus, my husband John, and our children, Abby, and John David.
And, a very special thank you to all of the administrators, faculty, academic staff, classified staff, and students who worked tirelessly to make our week-long celebration of UW-Parkside’s Hallmarks and the ceremony today unforgettable! We have the “A” team at UW-Parkside and it shows!
Thank you for being here as we Celebrate the Past and Embrace the Future at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. As all of you know, I am thrilled to be serving as the 6th Chancellor and I am excited about how we will embrace the future together! I am truly honored to serve as the sixth Chancellor of this great University and to build upon the successes of Chancellors Wyllie, Guskin, Kaplan, Smith, Keating and Interim Chancellor Earns. As Chancellor, I will nurture the collegial spirit and culture of our campus, community, and region; develop a shared vision for success; involve others; listen attentively; build new partnerships and collaborations; lead by example; and exhibit courage!
Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true … if we have the courage to pursue them.” Today, I want to reflect on the importance of courage and how our founders embarked on a life-changing journey 41 years ago to bring a first-rate University to our region and how we, and I emphasize WE, will have the courage to keep their dreams alive for our students and communities today and tomorrow.
Let me begin by setting the context in relation to courage, Winston Churchill said “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…because it is the quality that guarantees all others.” Author Mary Anne Rademacher said, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.” And, in 1894 the Wisconsin Board of Regents had the courage to set a bold vision for the citizens of Wisconsin, “Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.” (Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1894)
Brief History of UW-Parkside
As I learned the rich history of our University, I was constantly reminded of how our founders, community leaders from Kenosha and Racine, and founding faculty and staff members, exhibited courage. This group of early leaders worked determinedly and embraced Winston Churchill’s philosophy that, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
In 1965, George Molinaro, State Representative from Kenosha, had the courage to stand before the Wisconsin Legislature to fight for the founding of a University in Southeastern Wisconsin. He and many others believed that is was important to, in his words, “bring education to the people, instead of bringing people to education.” Championing the early days of UW-Parkside were three courageous women, Ms. Frances Jaeschke, Ms. Rita Tallent Picken, and Ms. Harriet Wyllie, and these outstanding women will be honored during our 40th anniversary gala tomorrow evening for their leadership, passion, and tenacity in the founding and early days at UW-Parkside. It was through the courage and the perseverance of our founders that we celebrate our 40 year history and build upon a strong foundation of success for many decades to come.
Our first Chancellor, Irvin G. Wyllie, said, “The society that builds a new university assesses the future optimistically. It bets that the future will be better than the past and that the university will help make it better.” Our great University, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, was founded on July 1, 1968, and the dreams of our early founders included “a university with a grand vision of research corridors and bustling student centers; the beginning of a cultural and learning center; a place where ideas are born, challenged, and changed. And, a place where tens of thousands of people would come to enrich their minds, brighten their futures and change their lives.” (Perspective fall 1993) The University of Wisconsin-Parkside has been and will continue to be the place where ideas are born, challenged, and changed and a learning community that enriches minds, changes lives, and brightens futures.
Why UW-Parkside and Why Now?
Many people have asked me why would I move from Florida to Wisconsin and the answer is easy, because of the wonderful opportunities at the University of Wisconsin- Parkside. Last spring , two University of West Florida graduate students selected Wisconsin as the state to study for their governance in higher education project in the course I was teaching. I had been encouraged to respond to the nomination for the Chancellor’s position but it was the presentation from the students that inspired me to do more research about UW-Parkside. The students summarized the Growth Agenda for the UW System in six powerful words, Grow People, Grow Jobs, Grow Communities. During the presentation, I thought, I want to contribute to a learning environment that focuses with intentionality on people, jobs, and communities and that place is the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Vision for Success and UW-Parkside Hallmarks
Now, we must look to how we will embrace our future while building upon our past successes with courage. My vision for our University includes strengthening our campus and communities; focusing on continued excellence in teaching, learning, and research; improving the success of all of our students; and being known as the " go-to place" in our region of Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, while fully embracing and integrating the four Hallmarks that make UW-Parkside unique. These Hallmarks are Academic Excellence, Student Success, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, and Community Engagement. As I shared during our Fall Convocation, Ruby Bridges, a civil rights pioneer, once said, "Don't follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength, and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!" Therefore, let's take our collective courage, strength, and conviction to begin new trails of learning and opportunity and build upon the many strengths of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Throughout this week we have celebrated each of these Hallmarks and I want to give a special thank you to all who were involved in making the week a huge success and for demonstrating your personal commitments to academic excellence, student success, diversity and inclusiveness, and community engagement.
Our mission, of being committed to high-quality educational programs, creative and scholarly activities, and services responsive to our diverse student population, and our local, national and global communities, emphasizes the importance of Academic Excellence. We will continue to offer high-quality academic programs rooted in the tradition of a liberal education in the arts, sciences and professions, and remain responsive to the occupational, civic and cultural needs of the region, while actively seeking the continued input of all stakeholders.
UW-Parkside faculty and academic staff embrace fully Academic Excellence through their teaching, learning, and scholarly endeavors by having high expectations for our students, inspiring them to succeed and reach beyond their current capabilities, and by involving them in their scholarly activities. Our faculty has a reputation for being tough and demanding, yet caring and would do anything to help students succeed. A Professor Emeritus once said, “the most important lesson for my students to master is an appreciation for how much they still need to learn.” UW-Parkside faculty exhibit their passion for scholarship by helping students to achieve their personal best and instilling the habits of mind and habits of heart that lead to excellence. Thank you to our outstanding faculty, academic staff and classified staff for having the courage to teach, to inspire, to support our students, and to change lives.
Speaking of Excellence, earlier this week we learned that the UW-Parkside Department of Theatre Arts has been selected to receive the 2009 Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award. “The Regents’ award pays tribute to the impressive dedication of the department and the ability of its members to inspire in students an enthusiasm for learning both in and beyond the classroom.” Please join me in congratulating Dean Yohnk and the entire Theatre Arts Department for serving as a model of Academic Excellence for UW-Parkside and the UW System.
The Importance of Mentors
Earlier this week, during our Celebration of Student Success, I shared with
the students the importance of how mentors shape success in your life. I
want to thank a few mentors who have influenced my life over the past years: Jenny
Sawyer for introducing me to the life of Student Affairs as an undergraduate
student and for encouraging me to go to Indiana University to earn my master’s
degree; Dr. Vic Boschini for broadening my horizons as a graduate student and
for demonstrating what it means to be student-centered; Dr. John Strope and
Dr. Dennis Golden for pushing me and supporting me in the doctoral program
to do the things that I did not think I could do and for continuing to serve
as mentors. I want to recognize the late Eileen Egan for taking a chance
on me to serve as her Dean of Students at Spalding University in 1991 even
though she told me that I was too young for the job. And, I want to thank
Drs. John and Chris Cavanaugh for showing me the important values of higher
education and for modeling leadership and excellence.
I want to thank my family for never underestimating what I could accomplish
and for showing unconditional love and support. An effective leader
surrounds herself with great people and my “home team” is the best
family anyone could ask for. John and I met 25 years ago when I was a
freshman and first generation student at the University of Louisville. I
was a women focused on her career and would not get married until I completed
my masters degree. John encouraged me to follow my dreams and he knows
how much I love what I do and my passion for student success. John, thank
you for always being there for me and for serving as my #1 supporter! Our
wonderful children, Abby and John David, have the good fortune of growing up
on a university campus and have been willing to be a part of new adventures
in new communities. Most importantly, they keep me grounded and give
me the joy of being their mom!
As you can see, many people, a few who I have named, have influenced who I am today and I thank them for their confidence, trust, and unending support. I know how education and opportunity have changed my life and I now have a responsibility to pay it forward.
One of the ways to pay it forward and to fully embrace and integrate our hallmarks
will be to act upon every possible opportunity to close achievement gaps of
all UW-Parkside students and to work together to reach state and national goals
to improve educational attainment. Nationally for every 100 public high
school ninth graders, only 75 will graduate from high school four years later. Only
46 will enter college the fall after they graduate, only 35 will return to
college for their sophomore year, and only 24 will earn associate degrees within
three years of enrolling in college or bachelor’s degrees within six
years of enrolling. The statistics for our region are comparable and
we must use our creative energy to find new solutions to improve high school
graduation rates, improve college readiness, and advance the educational level
in our communities. At UW-Parkside we will continue to lead, be action
oriented, and collaborate with our PK-12 educational partners in Kenosha, Racine
and surrounding areas, along with colleagues from Gateway Technical College,
and Carthage College to enhance educational attainment.
We will continue to be a destination University for first-generation students by addressing the challenges of access and affordability, and optimizing first year in college experience initiatives. As we work to close achievement gaps and to enhance student success, we will continue to have high expectations for UW-Parkside graduates. It is my hope that each of our graduates will carry the banner of lifelong learning as they strive to achieve their personal, academic, and professional best. I am confident that our graduates will continue to exhibit personal courage on their educational and professional journeys.
Diversity and Inclusive Excellence
At University of Wisconsin-Parkside, we are proud to have the most diverse student body in the UW System but we must work smarter to close the achievement gaps for our students of color. We will enhance our focus to attract and retain more diverse faculty and staff members as we fully embrace the goals of Inclusive Excellence. We will use the results of our recently completed campus climate survey to create an environment grounded in respect, nurtured by dialogue, and characterized by equal access and participation for all. Through our curriculum, co-curriculum, study abroad, community based learning, and inter-cultural experiences, we will continue to work collaboratively to prepare our students to work, live, contribute, and explore possibilities in a diverse world and global society.
At UW-Parkside Community Engagement serves as a core element of our vision and mission. Our efforts to lead and serve our greater community embody the essence of how and why we teach, learn, research, and engage at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Throughout these first 98 days at UW-Parkside I have articulated our firm commitment to partnering and collaborating in order to improve and to contribute to our region. Over 90% of students come from our region of Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois and over 75% of our alumni remain in the region to live and to work. We are and will continue to be a great public, regional, comprehensive University committed to Academic Excellence, Student Success, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, and Community Engagement.
Embracing Our Future at UW-Parkside
How will we, and the focus is on we, embrace our future with
courage? In order to fully integrate UW-Parkside’s Hallmarks, maximize
the possibilities and opportunities and increase educational attainment in
our region we must collaborate, communicate, and cooperate. As
the 6th Chancellor to serve this great University, I ask that you join me in
championing our shared vision and mission, in building relationships and in
collaboratively matching UW-Parkside’s strengths with needs in the community
Over the next several months and years our actions will manifest in the courage we find to:
- Work together to complete the strategic planning process and embrace our strategic directions
- Create a culture focused on best practices in Enrollment Management to increase enrollment through aggressive and integrated recruitment and retention programs
- Continue to serve as a regional and state-wide leader in Community – Based Learning and Community Engagement
- Build new relationships to increase external funding for scholarships, need-based financial aid, capital needs, and academic programs
- Encourage our almost 20,000 alumni to get re-engaged with the UW-Parkside campus
- Collaborate with educational partners to prepare quality 21st century teachers
- Build upon our many successful inter-disciplinary programs
- Utilize a strengths based approach as we initiate the Higher Learning Commission re-accreditation process
- Brand our campus identity and be more intentional about our messaging and marketing
- Investigate possibilities to add new undergraduate and graduate programs
- Increase student participation in High Impact Practices, such as internships, international study, research with faculty, community-based learning, and capstone seminars
- And increase the success of our students through our comprehensive first year experience programs and strive to improve the graduation rates of all of our students!
All about Students!
Over the past few months, I have learned about the many wonderful attributes, particularly our passion for Student Success at UW-Parkside. I have been and will continue to be visible across campus and will engage with students by visiting classrooms, laboratories, attending student events including Ranger Welcome days, scooping ice cream with Ranger Bear, cheering for UW-Parkside student athletes, meeting with student organizations, participating in Admissions Experience Days, attending the award-winning UW-Parkside Theatre Department’s productions, meeting with Parkside Student Government leaders, and attending noon-time concerts. I invite each of you to do the same. I want you to be a part of our learning environment and to see first-hand the quality of a UW-Parkside graduate in training.
To fully demonstrate my commitment to our four Hallmarks, I have decided to do something a little different during my Inaugural remarks. At UW-Parkside, it really is all about Students! A special thank you to Jennifer Hansen, the UW-Parkside Brass Quintet under the direction of Mark Eichner, and UW-Parkside Camerata directed by Alvaro Garcia for sharing their talents with us today; thank you to Ted Ruffalo for bringing greetings on behalf of the students; thank you to our students who have joined our celebration today; thank you in advance to members of the Parkside Chorale, under the direction of Professor James Kinchen, who will perform immediately following this ceremony in the Student Center Ballroom and to the UW-Parkside Jazz Quartet led by Professor Tim Bell who will perform during the reception.
To provide a more personal perspective on the thriving student-centered learning environment at UW-Parkside I have asked two students to join me in sharing a few words about their experiences.
- Nicholas Cozzi, Undergraduate Majoring in Biological Sciences
- Major Franklin, Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from UW-Parkside in 2003; Entered MBA Program in 2008
I wish to extend a special thank you to all of our students for making each day worthwhile and for making UW-Parkside a great place to learn and to work. Our celebration is only beginning here at UW-Parkside as we work together to embrace and integrate our four Hallmarks of Academic Excellence, Student Success, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, and Community Engagement. The successes of our collaborative work will Grow People who are well prepared for Growth in Jobs and Growth in Communities.
In closing, there are perhaps a number of you here today who remember the speech President Kennedy made at Rice University in 1962. His purpose was to defend our country's decision to "go to the moon" and the enormous financial commitment that decision would entail. The President's words were, and I paraphrase, 'we choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. The exercise will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. It is a challenge we are willing to accept--unwilling to postpone.'
Today, as your new Chancellor I say: Let's go to the moon and shoot for the stars together. Let us test ourselves, challenge ourselves and one another, reveal our weaknesses, build upon our strengths and aspire to achieve something great. We will do it because it is hard. But we know our successes will be many and meaningful. They will be measured by the bright futures and changed lives of the worthy students who will cross our paths as they reach their full potential as University of Wisconsin-Parkside graduates.
Have courage with me! Let us begin today!