Interim Chancellor’s Update: Moving Forward Together
July 1, 2014
Dear UWM Faculty, Staff and Students,
With the June Board of Regents meeting at our university completed and more than a month elapsed since I took over as Interim Chancellor, I want to offer a quick update on recent happenings. Each month I’ll share a few highlights, and occasionally provide more depth on important developments. I especially want to keep you informed on elements that make up Moving Forward Together, the phrase I’m using to describe university initiatives during the interim year.
Campus strategic planning
As I’m hoping you recall, completing and implementing the strategic plan is the first key thrust of Moving Forward Together. The 13th strategic plan draft was posted online and we invited your feedback on the latest draft. Almost 50 people responded to this request, adding to the hundreds who have offered comments over recent months. I am very impressed with the strong, positive language used in this document to declare our objectives and intentions.
Throughout June, we had three 1.5- to 2-hour meetings of the full Chancellor’s Council on Enrollment Management and the steering committee.
Right now, we are maximizing efforts for the Fall 2014 semester by focusing on admitted students and turning them into enrolled students and also on boosting student retention of students previously enrolled in the 2013-14 academic year.
Planning also is under way for a late July day-and-a-half retreat for the council to further develop long-term enrollment strategies. I see this retreat as a critical event for us to address enrollment management practices, and we are deliberately structuring this to serve as an inflection point for campus.
Stabilizing student enrollments and continuing to enhance the quality of our educational experience is the second key thrust of Moving Forward Together. These items will therefore be high priorities throughout my tenure as interim chancellor and well into the future. I appreciate the attention enrollment management is receiving from all corners of the university.
Furthering our engagement
The third and final key thrust of Moving Forward Together is further engaging our communities through research, education, and service activities. I very much appreciate that for our schools and colleges, further engagement is, in many ways, business as usual. The Peck School of the Arts presents 350 performances a year, many at minimal or no admission cost. In the School of Education, hundreds of students are working in teacher preparation programs taking them into area classrooms. Our College of Nursing has students involved in well over 200 clinical agency sites and another 80 students making daily contributions to the college’s Silver Spring and House of Peace Community Nursing Centers. The recent announcement about our naming rights for the UWM Panther Arena, the great venue for hosting our men’s basketball, commencement, and other student program and open concerts and lectures, is an example of boosting our engagement, marketing and branding—as well as signaling important commitments to the city and larger region.
Continuing our momentum
Even though it is the summer, we are not slowing our momentum. I am meeting regularly with our donors, business and community leaders, legislators, campus governance and other faculty and staff groups to discuss important matters—strategic, financial, and operational—as we move the campus ahead.
Implementing current and future initiatives will require us to move forward together: strengthening student enrollment and educational quality; completing and beginning to implement our strategic plan; further engaging our university partners through research, education and service; and identifying and obtaining additional resources for our campus.
I also want to mention two leaders who will be taking the reins of important areas as I serve as interim chancellor. Professor Mark Harris has agreed to serve as interim Chancellor’s Designee for Strategic Planning, a role that is quite natural with his co-leadership with Dean David Garman of the Top-Tier Research University Thematic Team for the last two years. In addition, Associate Professor Romila Singh has agree to serve as the interim Chancellor’s Designee for Campus Climate, a role that is made easier by Romila having served for the last two years on the Best Place to Work Coordinating Team and on the Human Capital Thematic Team for the campus strategic planning. Please join me in thanking these two leaders for taking on these roles.
Final words of appreciation
A final thought, spurred by the damage to Kenwood campus buildings and infrastructure from bad weather on Sunday, June 22. Beyond my individual thanks, I offer public recognition and thanks to Facilities Services, University Police, University Information Technology Services, and University Safety and Assurances. Their extraordinary efforts ensured facilities were secured, damage was evaluated and repairs were made so that the university could be functioning by the following morning.
I was asked recently what has surprised me most during my initial days on the job as interim chancellor. First on the list has been seeing firsthand and close-up the dedication to this university by faculty and staff. In my 25 prior years here at UWM, I have seen individuals’ support for UWM, but not on as wide a scale as I’ve seen as interim chancellor. My experiences of June 22 are a perfect example.
They are inspiring and convince me that we are up to the challenges of Moving Forward Together.