Travels to Oshkosh and Green Bay

Here’s something that I learned last week: Green Bay’s Schreiber Foods sends 2.1 billion pounds of cheese and yogurt to more than 55 countries around the world. Is there anything more Wisconsin than that?

The company is also staffed with more than 55 proud UW alums. I learned all of this and more last week during an outreach trip to Green Bay and Oshkosh.

Chancellor Blank meets with UW alumni who work at Schreiber Foods. More than 55 alums work for the international dairy company based in Green Bay.
Chancellor Blank meets with UW alumni who work at Schreiber Foods. More than 55 alums work for the international dairy company based in Green Bay.

I stopped by UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay and held joint meetings with the chancellors at each of those UW System institutions to talk directly with alumni and business leaders about how critical it is for them to get involved during the upcoming state budget process. We heard a lot of positive feedback on our Project 72 efforts, and I was encouraged to see how many people are willing to help us spread our message that it is time to reinvest in UW.

We have alums all over the state and these meetings are a good way to bring them together to discuss what the state budget means for every campus. This is not Madison versus Oshkosh or Madison versus Green Bay. This is Madison, Oshkosh, and Green Bay together.

Every campus is feeling the cuts in different ways, but dealing with budget cuts for five of the last six state budgets is showing up across the UW System in quality for our students. People attending these events are often surprised to learn that when a steam pipe breaks under our university, I have to take educational funds to fix it because the state gave us no maintenance money in the last budget. That has never happened before, and chancellors across the system are facing similar problems.

But the highlight of the trip was the visit to Schreiber Foods. One of my favorite activities is a visit to a local business. I love hearing from Wisconsin business leaders about how their business is changing and growing. It’s also good to see how many of our alumni are in key positions in businesses across the state. We discussed the many current partnerships between UW-Madison and Schreiber Foods and ways we can do more together in the future.

Many of the executives noted how they are looking forward to the forthcoming renovation and expansion of the outdated Babcock Hall Dairy Plant and Center for Dairy Research. They stressed how important it was for the “Dairy State” to lead the way on dairy technology development.

Leadership at Schreiber was very important in building the private funding and the political impetus to fund and move forward with this new building project. Once completed, this state-of-the-art facility will improve curriculum so students are better prepared to start work on day one, and allow Wisconsin dairy companies to test new products to sell.

It’s always good to travel in Wisconsin. I thank UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt and UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller for hosting me for these visits and I look forward to working with them as the state budget process continues next year.