A Visit to the Fox Valley: How UW-Madison is serving the state

I had the pleasure of visiting the Fox River Valley for two days last week, meeting people in Appleton, Green Bay and Oshkosh. For those of you who read my earlier blog about my visit to Milwaukee, you know that I want to get out into the state at least once a month during my first year as Chancellor. In part, I want to become reacquainted with Wisconsin, a state that I spent much more time in during the 1970s and 1980s than in the last two decades. In part, I want to spread the message of how valuable UW–Madison is to all parts of Wisconsin.

Chancellor Blank at Lambeau field on Sept. 11.

I have a goal to visit each of the UW System’s four-year campuses over the next several months to get to know my fellow chancellors and to learn more about how the other campuses in the UW-System are serving the people of Wisconsin. I’d like to thank UW-Green Bay Chancellor Thomas Harden and UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells for welcoming me to their campuses. Both are doing outstanding work and have grounded the work of their schools in the fabric of their communities.

We are collaborating with these schools in a number of ways. For instance, the BSN@Home program is a nursing degree program that allows registered nurses with associate’s degrees to earn a bachelor’s from one of five UW campuses, including UW–Madison, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh, without disrupting their home life. Students pick a “home institution” from which the degree will be granted, but can take courses from any of the schools that may not be offered at their local university.  his program is a model for the type of collaboration we should be pursue with our fellow UW System campuses.

The best event of the trip was a chance to meet with some of our alumni at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. I grew up in Michigan and Minnesota and the reputation of legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi reached even me in those years. It was a thrill to be able to see and tour the Packers facility.

The more than two dozen alumni I met at the reception were a diverse group of ages and occupations. They were enthusiastic in their support of UW-Madison and had several good ideas for how to better engage the citizens of the state. It’s always fun to hear stories from our alums about their campus experiences in Madison.

I met over breakfast with a group of business leaders. There are some big companies in the Fox River Valley, such as Kimberly Clark, Bemis, and Miles Kimball. We talked about the ways in which UW–Madison can help these companies, both as a source of skilled workers and as a source of new ideas.

After the business meeting, I met with a group of state legislators from across the Fox River Valley region. I want to make sure that I’ve talked with as many Wisconsin elected state officials as possible, to build a working relationship. I need to understand their agendas, in order to more effectively communicate why UW–Madison is important to them and their communities.

And – I talked with the editorial boards at the Appleton Post-Crescent, the Green Bay Press Gazette and the Oshkosh Northwestern. The staff on these papers asked good questions and clearly understood that their readers cared about what’s happening at UW–Madison.

Next month I head to Eau Claire and La Crosse on my cross-state travels. Stay tuned.

I appreciate the many stories and ideas that have been sent by members of the campus community to about how UW–Madison has helped people in the state through its programs and outreach. Please continue sending them to chancellor@news.wisc.edu.