Chancellor, provost take a hacky sack break with engineering students

An idea struck Dave McClanahan, a faculty associate in electrical engineering, like a thunderbolt one recent night. He emailed UWM’s chancellor and provost: Would they want to play a game of hacky sack with students of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Organization? To his surprise, both Chancellor Mark Mone and Provost Johannes Britz responded that night. Game on!

Mark Mone kicks a hacky sack while students watch.

UWM Chancellor Mark Mone gives the hacky sack a kick. (UWM Photo/Carolyn Bucior)

Under sunny skies on Oct. 17, about a dozen College of Engineering & Applied Science undergraduates joined UWM’s top brass for a half hour of play and camaraderie.Dean Brett Peter joined the fun.

The group of hacky sack players poses for a photo.

UWM Chancellor Mark Mone (right), Provost Johannes Britz (left of Mone) and Dean Brett Peters (left) joined a group of engineering students and David McClanahan (front, with hat) for a game of hacky sack Oct. 17. (Bart Adrian photo)

McClanahan is the faculty representative for the IEEE student organization. “I wanted students to have exposure to some high-level university officials they normally would not come in contact with,” he said. “The fact that these gentlemen were willing to hang out with a small group of undergraduate engineering students says a great deal about them and humanizes them for students.”

People let their guard down when they’re standing around in a circle laughing, kicking a little beanbag around, says  McClanahan. “Some of the most honest and insightful feedback I have received from students came while we were taking a study break and playing hacky sack.”