Visiting A Few of Wisconsin’s Star Businesses

Welcome back to a new semester, I hope you all had a chance to spend time with family and friends and recharge.

It was a busy winter break. A highlight for me was the chance to travel to Pasadena and see the Badgers compete in the Rose Bowl. It was good to see thousands of alumni and students who traveled to the game, and I was particularly proud of the many Badgers (and Ducks) who took time out of their visit and volunteered to package food for low income families in the Los Angeles area.

This month, I also did some traveling inside our state, visiting Stevens Point, Wausau, Eau Claire and Black River Falls. These outreach visits are an excellent opportunity to spread the word on the world-class education and research we do here, and to make businesses and communities across the state aware of the resources we can provide. Meeting with local and state officials, business leaders and alumni is a chance for me to hear about issues they are facing, leading to more collaboration on solutions that will positively impact their community and the rest of the state.

In Stevens Point, I visited Sentry Insurance, a company which has been in business since 1904 and continues to heavily invest in their community. I talked with them about our many talented students both in technology and the humanities.

In Wausau, I stopped by UAS Labs to meet with two proud UW alums, CEO Kevin Mehring and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Greg Leyer, for a tour of their production facility, where they manufacture and brand probiotics. This company is growing fast and they are doing increasing work in international markets. A fun part of the visit was that UAS leadership and our many alumni employees wore Badger red for the visit.

In Eau Claire, I met with senior leaders at Silver Spring Foods to learn more about the business and their involvement in the upcoming Farm Technology Days, which will take place at Huntsinger Farms on July 21-23. Huntsinger Farms is the world’s largest grower and processor of horseradish, bottled and sold worldwide under the Silver Spring brand. They work with our our Horticulture Department and the Division of Extension to improve their products. I did get a sample of one of their new products to take home and I can tell you it was a wonderful complement to the roast that Hanns and I had this past weekend.

While traveling home I stopped in Black River Falls, where I had the honor of presenting a framed gift titled “Our Shared Future” to Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle.

I was impressed with the creativity and business acumen of the leadership in all of these companies. I promoted closer ties with UW, offering them help in reaching and hiring our graduating students while asking them to help us communicate the career opportunities here in Wisconsin. I also advocated for research and knowledge collaborations with our faculty in areas where we share substantive interests.

I look forward to doing more travel around the state this year. Our impact on the state is large, and there is much potential for collaboration all over Wisconsin. You can find stories at and by searching the #UWChangesLives hashtag on Twitter. I invite you to share these stories widely and help us show Wisconsin residents the many ways that UW changes lives.