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Michael R. Lovell

Unlimited opportunities
April 2012

Last month, I spoke at the Ninth Annual Green Energy Summit in downtown Milwaukee. The idea I wanted to get across was that when it comes to green energy, and specifically energy and water-relat- ed technologies, there are unlimited opportunities.

I told the audience about a great example of such unlimited opportunities right here at UWM with the work of Dr. Zhen “Jason” He, assistant professor of engineering. His ideas about creating micro- bial fuel cells, which use bacteria to purify wastewater and control their metabolic energy to generate electricity, are contributing to the creation of a new start-up company called HydroTech Innovations. (A good summary of his work is featured in our new Research Report 2012, available online at

The concept of unlimited opportunities was also shared by School of Freshwater Sciences Dean David Garman, who was one of my co-presenters, and School of Continuing Education Interim Dean Patricia Arredondo and Associate Dean Sam White, who were session co-chairs.

The more I thought about those unlimited opportunities, the more I realized they are all around us here at UWM. Sometimes those opportunities have already been seized, and sometimes the door to those opportunities is just opening.

An excellent example of an opportunity seized is the first recipient of the UWM Foundation Alumni Fellow award, Milton Coleman. In the 1960s, he seized a scholarship – a $128 scholarship – to UWM that he now says made all the difference in the world to him. Milt tells the story best in a short video found on the UWM website: video.cfm:

“Here I am, somebody who grew up in public housing, who grew up in what was called the ‘Inner Core,’ who went to public schools, and who has made it to become the senior editor of The Washington Post. And people will say, ‘Not everyone can become senior editor of The Washington Post,’ to which my response is, ‘But I became senior editor of The Washington Post.’”

You can read more about Milt Coleman’s story and his very successful return to our campus.

And I saw hundreds of young people getting a glimpse into their academic future at the National History Day Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Competition. The regional competition has been hosted by UWM and our Department of History (and coordinated by lecturer Ellen Langill) since 2001.

To see so many middle- and high-school students demonstrating their appreciation for the study of history was exhilarating. It is also reassuring when considering the future of education and seeing young people demonstrate their desire to learn.

It was also greatly satisfying to see so many people here in support of those young students – their teachers and parents, along with so many people affiliated with history here at UWM, including faculty, staff and graduate students.

I have no doubt that such stories of unlimited opportunities can be found all over campus. It is our continuing challenge to communicate them to the wider community, and I congratulate all those mentioned above for their success in transmitting the message of unlimited opportunities.


Michael R. Lovell