Welcome! When Felicity, your editor, asked me whether I was interested in doing a column so that you could get to know me better and become more aware of some of the issues facing the campus and you, I responded with a resounding, “Yes!” She even gave me the option to present any matter as I would choose. So, let me tell you first a little about myself. Then I will relate one of the primary issues which I deal with as your chancellor.
I was raised in a military family. My father was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and my mother was a nurse. I was fortunate to be able to live in several different places around the world while growing up. We resided in England and in Germany before moving to Kansas where I attended school and the University of Kansas. Being abroad, especially for a longer period of time, truly widens ones perspective in a way that simply reading about other places does not – that is why I am a big proponent of foreign study and having some international life experiences. In school, I had rather broad tastes and took the opportunity to enroll in classes which were interesting – I took fencing, enjoyed Russian history, studied logic, loaded up on math courses, learned to dissect the short story, and became a student tutor for a statistics course. So, when I meet you and ask about what courses you are taking, it’s because I want to see that you explore as much as study for a major. My husband and I have a dog of black lab mix named Max (because he is many things to the max!) who came to Superior with us.
One of my jobs as chancellor is to advocate for the University with our state legislature and to enlist its support of our constituencies. This is an important year because it is one in which the budget for the State of Wisconsin is set for the next biennium. This is the first time in a while when the governor’s proposed budget does not contain cuts in it for the university system. We are in the process now of contacting friends of the University to help us to send the message to our legislators that keeping the budget intact is critical through the entire required process. I have a template of a letter on my blogsite which people can use to send messages of support to legislators for the university system funding.
Because of the way that the budget is written, the entire budget must be approved without changes as presently written or the net result will render an actual financial cut to the System campuses. Approval of an unaltered budget also helps to set the stage for what we call a pay plan, or a pay raise for faculty and staff, something which has not been seen now for several years. This increase in compensation is important because we need to keep our salaries competitive, indeed compared to the country, as we try to hire for and retain our faculty and staff. We are trying to hire 13 faculty and staff positions, and I can tell you that it has been a serious challenge to acquire talented, competent people. You can help; you can have your voice be heard by contacting your legislator from your district and encouraging others to do the same. And you can follow the budget discussion at legislativeupdate.uwsa.edu/. I promise to keep you posted! Next time I want to talk about the other side of the budget issue – tuition.