Higher education stakeholders saying 'show me the data' - Office of the Chancellor Blog - UW-Superior

Office of the Chancellor

Chancellor's Blog

November 8, 2012

Higher education stakeholders saying 'show me the data'

Data now makes the case for the lasting value of a liberal arts education. We just need to collect it in smart ways.

Dear Colleagues,

I write this after having been on the road for the better part of 10 days, which included meetings with private and public college university presidents from nearby situations as well as across the entire country.

There are several themes which appeared repeatedly during my travels, reinforcing the message which I delivered at the campus opening.  It is clear, if there were any doubt, that we are in the midst of a fundamental change in higher education.  The underlying notion of increased accountability is here to stay.  Part of the heightened scrutiny comes because of the perceived rising cost of higher education coupled with the condition of the general economy.  One only need look at the wave of states moving to performance-based funding models to be able to observe this principle in action. In the case of Tennessee, one hundred percent of university funding is now based on performance. Over and over in meeting after meeting, there was the message from all sectors that results matter.

Many states have been hit hard with reduced educational funding. In one case, there has been a stultifying loss of 49 percent of state appropriations. Other campuses find themselves being merged with one another. 

While we might feel particularly stung coming off the activity of the previous tumultuous years, our "lapse" will remain just that, a lapse.  And, we have positive indications about a pay plan.  The UW System should expect, however, very modest increases in base funding.

What else do the trends mean for us?  The need is here to do more than provide anecdotal evidence of our effectiveness.  Put another way, we should be able to demonstrate our "added value" with hard data.  As frustrated as we might be with undertaking data-producing activities such as assessment of student learning, the work is valuable and we are on the right track as it is one way by which we can indicate that we deliver what we promise.  If we are smart, we will build this into the natural, usual manner in which we operate.  

As we continue to build our partnerships and our interaction with the local community as "stewards of place", we will remain relevant.  Thriving universities and colleges are integrated into the community.  Indeed, I chose "partnerships for progress" as a theme for my inauguration because I believe that there is much that we can do to meet our mission of access and to lift up the region in which we reside.  It is a win-win proposition. The recently announced $1.1-million federal grant will enable Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College and the University of Wisconsin-Superior to launch a collaborative program to prepare more Native-American teachers, including some who would be proficient in the Ojibwe language. The new Swenson undergraduate scholars, who are wrapping up their work from this summer, worked on projects that were focused mainly on regional advancement. We can make manifest the liberal arts and sciences as we empower and enhance our community.

Engaged faculty and students

I spent the Friday of my return wandering around campus to get grounded again.  I peeked into classes, talked to students, and visited with several members of the faculty and staff.  I witnessed engaging classrooms, faculty members who love their discipline and the impact they are making on students, and much hard work.  Thank you all for your dedication to the University.

Choir festival, Halloween in dorms, Shakespeare

There are many events going on around the campus.  Chorfest took place on Friday evening and was an amazing experience thanks to Matthew Faerber and his music students and colleagues.   Dr. Craig Jessup, former music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and workshop conductor, whispered in my ear that we have a "great thing going here" at UW-Superior.  Our residence halls were full of Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween.  Several hundred Superior area children and their families spooked through the halls, gathering up a record-breaking $1,000 worth of candy from the three halls.  Ross Hall was featured this year as the "kid-friendly hall"; many parents shared with the staff that they appreciated a warm, safe, and child-friendly environment for the costumed to enjoy.  Thanks to all of you who donated or brought your families to this campus/community event!   This week, the Theatre Department opens its latest stage presentation, Much Ado About Nothing.  It's guaranteed to be great fun as only Shakespeare can serve it up. 

Huie in Chalk Talk

In the spirit of Inclusive Excellence, Wing Young Huie was on campus meeting with students and faculty, holding "Chalk Talk: more than a conversation about race" Thursday in the Erlenbach Lecture Hall (1004 Swenson).  If you're not familiar with Wing's work, see http://www.wingyounghuie.com.

New advancement officer hired

We welcome a new face to the Office of Advancement, Jason Young, who was hired as a development specialist and major gift officer.  His first day was already a busy one, engaged in meetings with campus constituencies.  His addition to the fundraising team signifies important rebuilding efforts which have been underway during this past year in Advancement.

Greenhouse coming along

The greenhouse structure is being set into place next to the Barstow breezeway!  We expect this construction to be completed by late December.  Once the structure is erected, the electrical and heating work will be completed inside the facility.

Women's Hockey championships

Finally, UW-Superior has been chosen as the host site for the 2013 NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Championships.  This will be the first time that we have hosted the women's championships, the fourth time in all that the NCAA has come to town.  Mark your calendars for March 15-16, 2013!  Thanks to Steve Nelson and Athletics for the effort to bring the championship to campus and the community.

Regents meet in Madison

This mid-week, I am away for the Board of Regents meeting in Madison.  The primary topic for discussion will be economic development and prosperity and the importance of the UW campuses to their advancement. 


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