Chancellor announces changes, updates, honors and more
Chancellor Joe Gow announced a change to the university’s structure that will give diversity and inclusion efforts more unity and visibility throughout campus during his All-University Address Wednesday, Aug. 30.
Progress on UWL’s strategic plan led to four major priorities, one of which is “Achieving Excellence through Equity and Diversity.” This priority led to discussion of creating a new division focused on diversity and inclusion, which would be headed by a new vice chancellor and house all related programs.
Gow announced that Barbara Stewart, interim vice chancellor for Student Life, will be the first vice chancellor of a new Division of Diversity and Inclusion within the university. The official appointment of Stewart won’t come until a new vice chancellor of student affairs is hired to replace Paula Knudson.
Soon after the decision was made to create the new division earlier this month, the news broke on the tragedy resulting from a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va.
“I’ve never felt better about a decision I’ve been part of since those horrific events in Charlottesville,” Gow says. “It was the right thing to do and something that came directly out of our strategic planning. Our students are interested in this as well and we want to show that we are listening to them.”
Units housed under the Division of Diversity and Inclusion will include:
- Campus Climate
- Pride Center
- Upward Bound
- Access Center
- Student Support Services
- McNair Scholars Program
- Eagle Mentoring Program
- Office of Multicultural Student Services
Gow shared numerous updates including student enrollment, facilities planning, scholarship fundraising totals, new efforts to support first-year students, and an innovative program that highlights UWL’s roots as a leader in strong teacher preparation. He also recognized award-winning faculty, staff and programs.
Enilda Delgado, professor of sociology and special assistant to the provost-strategic planning, shared a strategic planning update and Director of Athletics Kim Blum shared her excitement about the upcoming season for UWL Athletics.
Exceeding enrollment targets
UWL has 2,127 new students currently enrolled, surpassing the target of 2,100. And the university has 480 transfer students currently enrolled, surpassing the target of 475.
Progress on facilities and related projects
Various projects are in the works and in planning stages. The Annett Recital Hall and soccer field renovations are nearing completion. Two technology-related projects are being planned including a Wing Data Center and an IT Fiber Optic Infrastructure Update. Projects on the horizon include the The Recreational Eagle Center addition and Wittich Hall and Laux Hall renovations. While phase I of the Science Labs Building is well underway, UWL will work to promote the need for phase II of the project.
The Share the La Crosse Experience scholarship campaign fundraising totals have reached $9.8 million.
Efforts to support first-year students
UWL is getting national attention for faculty leadership in efforts to help first-year students succeed. Jo Arney, currently on leave from the Political Science Department, is leading the national Re-imagining the First Year of College project through American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
Gow said he attended the AASCU conference in Baltimore. “It was wonderful for me to attend and see a room of twice as many people as this from all over the nation — schools that want to know how do this better and Jo is the one leading that,” he says.
Those efforts to improve first-years student success are happening directly on campus too. Gow shared a video created by a group of people at UWL that aims to help first-year students succeed by having current students explain their transition to college and the challenges they experienced, as well as the notion that it gets better.
Highlighting UWL’s teacher preparation
Faculty and staff watched a video that Gow called “entirely consistent with the original mission of this university.” UWL started as an institution to train teachers. “After seeing this video, I think you’ll see that we are continuing to do that very well,” said Gow.
Strategic Planning Update
University faculty and staff also received an update on the strategic planning efforts from Delgado. She explained the main focus of a strategic plan is understanding our common and shared purpose at UWL, which is the university’s mission.
The strategic plan is an intentional way of carrying out the university’s mission by focusing on priorities, she added. In the process, UWL has outlined four priorities: Increasing Community Engagement, Achieving Excellence through Equity and Diversity, Investing in Our People, and Advancing Transformational Education.
Action has been taken on those priorities and regular updates on progress have been shared via email.
Athletic Director Blum encouraged faculty and staff to attend sporting events. Athletics staff shared ticket vouchers for a complementary general admission ticket to any UWL regular season home athletic event. She also shared the strong academic performance of UWL athletes. UWL’s student-athletes posted the highest combined grade point average among the eight WIAC institutions in 2016-17 at 3.230.
Also, for 15 out of the last 16 years, UWL student athletes have had a higher average GPA than the student body as a whole. Blum encouraged faculty to come to her with any issues concerning student athletes, as well as sharing their great stories.
Gow announced Michael Slevin, assistant director of University Centers, is the winner of UWL’s Academic Staff Excellence Award this year. Gow also recognized University Staff Excellence Award Winner Randy Otto, facility maintenance specialist in Residence Life, who was announced earlier this summer.
Provost and Vice Chancellor Betsy Morgan says she is continually impressed by the remarkable dedication of UWL’s instructors who stretch themselves and continue learning best practices with evidenced-based practices. A great example of that was on display during the 19th Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Morgan recognized the six UWL faculty members who have been honored for excellence in teaching — the 2017 Eagle Teaching Excellence Award winners. They include:
Gow recognized faculty, staff and students for other recent awards. UWL Admissions Director Corey Sjoquist was named the Wisconsin Association for College Admissions Counseling Admissions Professional of the Year. The UWL Department of Theatre Arts received the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Citizen Artist Award. The honor is for the department’s world premiere production of “26 Pebbles.”
Throughout the address, it was hard not to notice the yellow hand-shaped chair on the stage, a prop to draw attention to UWL’s new online career services management system that provides students access to internships, full-time jobs, career fairs, information sessions, and more. It’s called Handshake. Learn more.