January 20, 2023  |  News & Events, Provost's Updates, Sad News, Timely Announcements

Good afternoon, colleagues. Here is this week’s update from Academic Affairs.

2030 Feature of the Week
As part of the Increasing Diversity and Inclusion Action Team, UWM has updated their statement on DEI:

UWM celebrates, values, and promotes the diverse voices and experiences of its students and employees and our community partners. We believe diversity enriches and strengthens our institution. UWM is committed to providing equitable access to opportunities for students and employees from every background. We aspire to create a climate that is welcoming to all.

Chris Yogerst (General Studies) published an essay entitled, “How ‘Babylon’ Chases Hollywood’s Decadent Past,” in the Hollywood Reporter, where it was the top story on December 23. Congratulations, Chris!

Violinist Bernard Zinck (Music) will present a violin-piano recital at the Société Historique et Littéraire Polonaise/Bibliothèque Polonaise in Paris, France on Friday, January 20. The recital will feature music by Brahms, Wieniawski, and Szymanowski. Well done, Bernard!

Tony Giron (2019 Master of Urban Planning graduate), Xiaohan Gu (Urban Studies PhD candidate), and Robert Schneider (Professor, Urban Planning) received the 2023 Best Paper Award from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Pedestrians for their paper, “Socioeconomic Characteristics of Drivers versus Pedestrians in Pedestrian Crashes.” They presented the paper to an audience of approximately 100 people at the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Congratulations, Tony, Xiaohan, and Robert!

In the News
Robert Schneider (Urban Planning) was interviewed on WTMJ4 News about pedestrian safety during the winter. He highlighted the need for drivers to be particularly aware of pedestrians because they are harder to see during darkness, which is a prominent condition during winter. He also emphasized the need for better roadway lighting and safer street designs to improve pedestrian safety during darkness.

Stacy Nye (Psychology) was featured in a story on WUWM’s Lake Effect about the rise in true crime media and why people are so drawn to the subject.

Milwaukee Athletics
Come on out to UWM Panther Arena Saturday night (January 21) as the Milwaukee Panthers host Youngstown State in a showdown for first place in the Horizon League as both teams currently sit at the top of the league standings with records of 7-2 in conference play. The game tips off at 6 p.m.

Milwaukee student athletes continue to score high marks in the classroom and during the Fall 2022 semester posted a collective 3.45 grade-point average. That followed up the Spring 2022 term where Panther student athletes notched a 3.399 GPA. This marks the 45th consecutive semester—now spanning well over 20 years—that Milwaukee student athletes have recorded a GPA of 3.0 or better, as well as the 16th straight with a 3.20 GPA or higher.

The Week in Retrospect
On Tuesday, I had a chance to join a lunch with representatives of College Possible Milwaukee, an organization that helps high school students from challenging backgrounds attend college and complete degrees. They are providing academic support to about 180 students currently at UWM. I also met with the University Committee to discuss several issues. On Wednesday, I had a chance to meet with Student Association leaders and we discussed, among various items, the challenges of freshman on probation at UWM. I also had the opportunity to attend and present awards at the Library’s Moebius Staff Award ceremony, celebrating the tremendous work that has been done over the last year at our three library sites. I finished the day meeting with the Academic Staff Committee, where I provided updates and identified areas for follow-up by my office. Thursday, I had my monthly meetings with Secretary of the University John Reisel, Michael Doylen from the Libraries, and Director of the Electa Quinney Institute Mark Freeland. On Friday, I will attend a Provost Council meeting with a wide range of updates on UW System priorities including direct admission, dual enrollment, and the online growth initiative.


  • Online Program Council
    The OPC will meet on Friday, January 27 from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Teams. Agenda topics include a presentation on summer marketing for online courses, a panel discussion on online adjuncts, and a presentation and discussion of national trends in online program offerings and new/in the pipeline online programs at UWM. If you have not previously attended an OPC meeting, please email Laura Pedrick (lpedrick@uwm.edu) to be added to the meeting.
  • Sad News
    • Professor David Backes, who retired from the Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies in 2015 passed away on December 23 at the age of 65. For nearly three decades, David was a fixture in the Journalism Department at UWM, teaching courses in mass media, news reporting, religion and culture, and the course that came to define his career as an educator—Nature and Culture in the Information Age. Students and colleagues alike came to love David for his quiet wisdom, his kindness to and empathy for all who came through his doors, and his love of the natural world. David achieved acclaim as the biographer of environmentalist Sigurd F. Olson, who devoted his life to protecting Minnesota’s Northwoods and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. David published six books related to Olson and the Northwoods, with Olson’s biography (A Wilderness Within) receiving national attention and awards. David’s obituary is available online.
    • Kenneth Busch, former Assistant Director of Housing, passed away on Tuesday, January 10 at the age of 75. Ken worked at UWM for 34 years, serving as a mentor to both students and staff. When people first met Ken, they were often intimidated by him and called him the “Big Dog.” Once they got to know the real Ken, they described him as a teddy bear who was caring and kind to everyone. After retiring in 2009, Ken spent his time gardening, landscaping, golfing, watching sports, and fixing his children’s houses with pride. He was also inducted into the Burlington Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017. Visitation and a funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, January 28. See Ken’s obituary for more information.

Campus Events

  • Milwaukee Premiere of Theatre Professor’s Play
    Milwaukee’s First Stage, one of the nation’s leading theatres for young people and families, is producing “Carmela Full of Wishes,” adapted by the Associate Professor Alvaro Saar Rios (Theatre). The production runs January 20 – February 12 at the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theatre.
  • Science Bag is Back!
    The College of Letters and Science is proud to announce the return of a beloved UWM tradition . . . Science Bag! The first presentation, “Genes & Environment: Adapting to Changing Conditions,” by Professor Michael Carvan from the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences, will be held on Friday, February 10 at 6 p.m. in Lapham N103.
  • Open Textbooks and OER Training for Instructors
    Self-paced, online training for open textbooks, open educational resources, and affordable content in your courses is now available. This training will help you understand the benefits of affordable course materials for UWM students and provide the tools to support the identification of high-quality open textbooks and open educational resources and provides just-in-time resources to address copyright and fair-use considerations for educational content. Contact open-textbook@uwm.edu with questions.

Something Different
Although it might no longer hold the record as the strongest wind ever, its measurement was quite a feat.

Take care,


Scott Gronert
Interim Provost
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee