Dear UWM Faculty and Staff,
UWM’s Remarkable Rise
Together, we have monumental impact on lives. Thanks to your efforts and talent, alumni from all of our campuses find great successes. We have become a research powerhouse. UWM is the most diverse campus in the UW System (UWS). Our communities have grown and have been positively impacted through our engagements, partnerships and giving back. My goal is to continue these efforts and to have even greater impact.
Things That Make Us Move Faster
Things That Slow Us Down
Demography is not our friend. As I’ve said more than a few times, “higher ed is running out of teenagers.” We have nearly always been in politically-challenged environment. We battle negative perceptions about the value of higher education. The cost of college and increasing debt load for students are serious state and national concerns – and they impact equity and inclusion. Changing workforce needs require different learning opportunities.
Internally, we are part of a higher education culture that is steeped in long-standing bodies of knowledge and established pedagogy. There is some denial that changes in our field will actually occur and a proclivity for “this is how we have always done things.” This is not agile. Then again, learning and research take time. There are some things that cannot be accelerated. Within our system, our structure, levels of governance, policies and procedures, and slow approval processes are monumental and, at times, detrimental.
What We Are Doing And What We Need To Boldly Pursue
We have elevated and enhanced in major ways the importance of student enrollment and success priorities. We are creating an outstanding learning environment for our students. Our high impact practices such as invasive advising and academic supports, experiential learning, and engaging in research are just a few examples. Our continued focus on enrollment management – across all functions – is how we will successfully attract, retain, support and graduate students more effectively. This leads to prosperity for them and for us. Enrollment is our most important revenue source.
As a university with a dual mission, we have the unique distinction of being the ONLY university in the system that is an access and research institution. No other ‘R1’ university does research better on such a lean budget: focusing on critical areas and reinvesting where possible has kept us in the ‘R1’ rankings. This will continue and collaborative research is essential.
Our future will be shaped by partnerships. They bring resources to the table, help align priorities, increase engagement, create and focus educational progress and research, expand the talent pipeline, and provide opportunities for growth. Our major partnerships include, for example, the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute, Connected Systems Institute, Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, and M-Cubed. These will change us in profound ways. Some thought-provoking examples outside of UWM are Cornell University’s partnership with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology; and the Starbucks College Achievement Plan at Arizona State University.
Partnerships also help us build a stronger case for elevated state General Purpose Revenue/base funding. Coalition-building is essential for us to attain greater UWM support and increased resources from the state. In the same way, philanthropic support is key to our fiscal future. Based on our recent campaign, we will increase our endowment and scholarships to attract and retain students, faculty and staff as well as strengthen partnerships, research, and targeted activities.
To attain higher levels of support, we must elevate our visibility and build our image through paid and unpaid media, marketing and branding. Our University Relations team will roll out a new branding campaign this spring that spotlights our people, programs and unique aspects, all of which position us to be considered as a top choice university.
Yesterday, at our Chancellor’s retreat, we examined our strategic directions to shape a stronger, more successful UWM. We took a careful look at our most valuable attributes and actions, sought additional elements to further advance our goals, discussed concerns and problematic areas, and how we can more fully reflect diversity, equity and inclusion in all that we do. As an institution, we are preparing for the next 10+ years through initiatives such as our 2030+ Think Tank. We need everyone to contribute to our efforts. One example is how Alejandra Lopez in the Lubar School of Business led a collaborative effort to integrate retention initiatives and create connections with first-year students, resulting in a significant improvement in retention. New ways of doing things will better position us internally.
During the year, I will share more detailed information in future activities updates. For now, this message serves as the big picture – our road map – to preview the directions that will bring us the results we want and need. We have much momentum thanks to you. I am confident that, together, we can increasingly become a university that is the top choice for our students, faculty and staff.
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee