Interim Chancellor Scott Menke Op-Ed: Prepared for Change
Regardless of your age, I’m guessing most of us are familiar with John Lennon, the former Beatle. Even though he has been gone for more than 40 years, we hear his music all the time. In his song “Beautiful Boy Darling Boy” Lennon borrows a phrase from writer Allen Saunders: Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
Before coming to UW-Parkside some 20 years ago, I had no exposure to higher education as a career. Higher education was not part of the plan – and interim chancellor was definitely not on my radar. Yet, when I address the UW-Parkside 2023 Winter Graduating Class this weekend it’s because I’ve had the privilege of serving in that role for the past several months.
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
I earned my M.B.A. from UW-Parkside in 2010. In addition to a quality education, the experience allowed me to see first-hand the dedication and commitment of UW-Parkside faculty and staff. That’s how I know our graduates are prepared for success as they face the challenges and opportunities ahead – even if they are not, right now, part of the plan.
For more than 50 years, UW-Parkside has prepared the communities of southeastern Wisconsin for new challenges and opportunities. Of the university’s 30,000-plus graduates, roughly 60 percent have stayed in our region and contribute on a daily basis with their talent and ideas. Because our graduates are prepared for change, they bring that skill set wherever they contribute. As a result, our communities are better prepared for change.
Collectively, the more we learn and the more experience we gain, the more valuable we are as a community and the more opportunities will come our way.
Some of those opportunities might include responsibilities that we may not like. I remember taking on a few responsibilities that I really disliked, and yet the knowledge I gained was invaluable. As a community we must accept new challenges and not be afraid to step out of our specific areas of interest. UW-Parkside graduates are prepared to help us meet the challenges ahead and they are willing to take on new responsibilities.
But there’s more. UW-Parkside graduates earned their academic credentials in one of Wisconsin’s most diverse educational environments. Students are encouraged to connect and build bridges with one another. That means they are prepared to contribute and include others in our diverse region.
This year almost 450 eligible graduates will be honored during our Winter Commencement. We will confer 166 master’s degrees – 50% more than the amount we awarded just three years ago.
Similar to prior years, 52 percent of our graduates are the first in their families to earn a university degree; 27 percent represent minority populations; and about half came to UW-Parkside as transfer students.
Over the past five years, UW-Parkside has conferred nearly 4,500 degrees. The university continues moving forward toward its bold goal of 50 percent more graduates by 2025!
UW-Parkside transforms the lives of its students and graduates, and the lives of its faculty and staff. Together, with our neighbors, we are preparing our communities for change and new opportunities that may come our way.