Stellar Accomplishments in a Dynamic Year

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

Over the past year of continuing changes, you have shown adaptability, compassion, and the courage to stand steady in the face of adversity. We’re in the final sprint of this academic year and I am reminded of your resilience and accomplishments—far too many for one end-of-year message. This is a great problem to have, and I’m delighted to spotlight a sampling of your triumphs here.

Our Students
Congratulations to our graduating class of 2022, and classes from 2020 and 2021! This past December, we held our first in-person commencement since 2019. On April 10, we held a special in-person recognition ceremony for those who had virtual graduations. I witnessed the most enthusiastic standing ovation I’ve ever heard for student graduates. Our two May 22 ceremonies will feature Willem Dafoe as the commencement speaker, and we will give him an honorary degree.

he number of students struggling with mental health issues increased significantly during the pandemic. Our student athletes and allies responded by starting the Green Bandana initiative on campus. The project helped spread awareness of campus resources. Student athletes involved with the initiative attached green bandanas to their backpacks to symbolize their allyship. Thank you!

Sustainability is another area in which our students have made their mark. A student team placed second in the U.S. Department of Energy’s competition to design a new energy efficient home. Congratulations!

Research and Partnerships
What an outstanding accomplishment of our faculty, researchers, staff and students to attain Research 1 status for a third consecutive time! It was even more special to celebrate this during our Undergraduate Research Symposium a few weeks ago.

UWM has partnered with Milwaukee Area Technical College on a pilot research program to help ease the talent shortage in health professions and to increase the number of underrepresented students entering those fields. Early Connect is a four-week full-time summer research program for MATC students interested in health professions and planning to transfer to UWM. Each student will receive a stipend, a faculty-mentored research experience of 20-25 hours/week, and more.

Our Faculty and Staff

I continue to be amazed by the powerful impact of our faculty and staff. From discoveries to changing the course of thousands of lives, I am proud of all you have accomplished. Brooke Haley, Academic Director of UWM’s English Language Academy, led efforts in the community and abroad to help a group of women who fled Afghanistan. They are now enrolled in our Intensive English Program and beginning new lives.

Our Children’s Learning Center celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Center staff worked with the Golda Meir Library to develop a history display on the second floor of the library. It highlights the origins of the center and its roots in the need for on-campus child care in the early 1970s as more women came to UWM and prepared to enter the workforce.

This past year, UWM was named one of the 10 best universities in the country for students who are currently or formerly in the military. I congratulate our Military and Veterans Resource Center team and all who strive to help veterans make the transition from the military to UWM.

After more than a decade in planning and state approval phases, we broke ground on a much-needed new chemistry building. This modern facility will help prepare students for the many careers that rely on a strong background in chemistry. We expect the project to be completed in early 2024.

My sincerest thanks go to all the faculty and staff who have led and worked so diligently on 2030 action team initiatives. There has been significant progress this year with numerous updates, just a few of which I mention here.

  • Creation of guidelines for use of research and teaching professor titles.
  • Revision of our core curriculum to streamline general education requirements across campus.
  • The UW System Board of Regents approved our College Realignment Plan.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Relatedly, we have made great strides in our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • We will have our first-ever history book that highlights the contributions that diverse groups have made to UWM. Telling Our Stories: A History of Diversity at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1956-2022, will be released in early June. It was co-edited by Vice Chancellor and Professor of History Chia Vang and Associate Professor of Social Work David Pate. Bravo!
  • In collaboration with the Office of the Provost, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion implemented a strategic faculty hiring fund to hire three diverse faculty members per year for the next five years.
  • Partnering with Student Affairs, the Division of DEI established the Dialogue Across Differences series and hosted events that focused on critical race theory and free speech.
  • The Division compiled tools and materials to help academic and administrative units to develop DEI action plans and piloted a DEI Action Planning Institute this past semester.

Care, Respect and Expression
Many of the recommendations made in 2020 by the Care, Respect, and Expression Task Force have now been implemented. We have made significant progress in improving our ability to respond quickly and thoughtfully to speech incidents, providing care and support to those impacted, increasing clarity of hate/bias reporting, and educating and equipping members of our community around engaging across difference. I encourage you to visit the new Free Speech, Rights and Responsibilities website – it’s an excellent resource.

These are outstanding accomplishments during a year when we transitioned time and time again toward a more normal collegiate experience. You have given me every reason to be confident for our future. Warmest wishes to you for a summer full of rejuvenation.

Best regards,

Mark A. Mone, PhD