Faculty, staff give Ford warm convocation welcome
There were plenty of familiar touchstones when UW-Parkside faculty and staff gathered for the 2009 fall convocation. The sumptuous breakfast was much like those of years past; the subjects may have been different but the conversations were just as animated as scholars and staffers reconnected after a summer apart. There was the usual anticipation of meeting new co-workers and the excitement of honoring university award winners, just as there had been at past convocations.
But there was something different this year; an air of anticipation that had not been present at these semester-opening events in recent years.
"Good morning and welcome to the fall 2009 convocation of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. I am Debbie Ford."
With that simple statement, Chancellor Deborah Ford ushered in a new era in UW-Parkside history. Judging by the extended round of applause she received and the standing ovation at the end of her speech, faculty and staff were anxious for that new era to begin. Dr. Ford became the university's sixth chancellor upon her arrival on campus Aug. 1.
Chancellor Ford began the program with a proclamation praising Interim Chancellor Lane Earns for his service to UW-Parkside. She said Earns "brought intelligence, calm, thoughtful consideration, and compassion to all his decisions" as interim chancellor. She noted Earns' initiation of a strategic plan for the university, completion of the Student Center expansion, and the securing of funds for the Communication Arts Building expansion among his accomplishments. She thanked him for improving campus communication through joint meetings of the campus governance groups, and for helping to ease her transition into the leadership role at UW-Parkside.
After welcoming attending state lawmakers Bob Wirch, John Lehman, and Samantha Kerkman, Chancellor Ford introduced the first of the university's more than three dozen new employees. She noted that more information on new people like volleyball coach Michele Benoit, new Arts and Sciences faces Moses Langley and Suzanne Swiderski; new Center for Community Partnerships employee Emily Bach, and the otherswas available at http://www.uwp.edu/news/new.employees/ on UW-Parkside's Web site.
Then, with help from Interim Provost Jerry Greenfield, Chancellor Ford honored the "men and women [who] represent the best our campus has to offer," the 2009 UW-Parkside faculty and staff award recipients.
Two faculty members, Associate Professor of Political Science Jonathan Olsen and School of Business and Technology Associate Dean Dirk Baldwin received two awards. Olsen earned the Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award, while he and Assistant Professor and Chair of Physics Jeffrey Schmidt were honored with Stella Gray Teaching Excellence Awards, the university top academic prize.
Baldwin earned the first-ever UW-Parkside Community-Engaged Learning and Research Award along with a Faculty Distinguished Service Award. Alan Goldsmith, Associate Professor and Chair of the Art Dept. joined Dirk in receiving the Faculty Distinguished Service Award.
The UW-Parkside Diversity Award was earned by Associate Professor of Management Dr. Michele Gee
Also honored during convocation were Health, Exercise Science, and Sport Management Advisor Curtis Bickham who received the Advising Excellence Award and Facilities Management Director Don Kolbe who earned the Academic Staff Distinguished Service Award. Two Classified Staff Distinguished Service Awards were announced:Assistant to the Vice Chancellor of Administration and Fiscal AffairsCheryl Gundersen and Rita Altmeyer, the Equal Opportunity Specialist - Senior in the HR/Office of Equity and Diversity, received the honors.
After touching on a number of campus highlights during her speech--the 700 K-12 teachers who attended the largest-ever Chiwaukee Academy, major grants to fund the Student Success Initiatives program and to mentor Kenosha and Racine middle school students, the success of the "40 For 40" scholarship campaign, and the university's repeat appearance on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll during--Chancellor Ford talked about her reasons for pursuing the chancellorship at UW-Parkside.
"As I have been meeting and greeting on campus and in the community and as I have interacted with many of our friends in the media I have been asked, 'Why Parkside?' The answer is easy. The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is a great place to learn and a great place to work!" Dr. Ford stated. "I was attracted to UW-Parkside and this opportunity because of the quality and commitment of you, our faculty and staff; a strong desire to continue providing opportunities for first generation students; and Parkside's four hallmarks of Academic Excellence, Student Success and Access, Diversity and Inclusiveness, and Community Engagement. These hallmarks are a few of the important characteristics that make Parkside's learning environment distinctive."
Dr. Ford said the university must create "pictures of success" for students. Through continuing programs like the First-Year Experience, Summer Scholars, Upward Bound, Intrusive Academic Advising, and Living and Learning Communities, she said, UW-Parkside can create coherent and sensible pictures of students' Parkside learning experiences.
Chancellor Ford urged UW-Parkside faculty and staff to continue to collaborate saying collaboration makes better use of available talent. "And we have excellent talent in our faculty, staff, students, and alumni," she said.
Turning to the future, Dr. Ford expressed her hope and determination that UW-Parkside's "to-do" list would include the continued success for our campus and communities, continued excellence in teaching, learning, and research; improved success of our students, and that the university become known as the first choice of college bound students and adult learners in southeastern Wisconsin.
Chancellor Ford closed the program by urging faculty and staff to heed the words of civil rights pioneer Ruby Bridges to be educational trailblazers."'When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength, and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!'" Ford quoted Bridges. "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."