Chancellor Wachter Letter to the Students

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.

Dr. Renée Watcher

Image cour­tesy of Uwsuper.edu
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