Chancellor delivers fall plenary address

Chancellor Mark Mone celebrated UWM’s 60th anniversary Thursday, noting its long list of accomplishments in research and teaching and announcing a challenge for students, faculty members and staff to do 60,000 hours of service this year.

He acknowledged that these are challenging times in higher education but promised that UWM would adapt, just has it has in the past. When teachers were needed, UWM supplied them. When veterans came home from war, the university educated them, he reminded the crowd gathered for the fall plenary at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts.

“I’ve talked a lot about collaboration this afternoon,” Mone said. “I can’t stress it enough. It’s who I am, it’s how we operate and it’s the root of shared governance. I think we can accomplish even more if we work together.”

Mone challenged the campus community to work together in key areas, including maintaining the university’s elite research prowess, improving the student experience and communicating the stories of the positive impact UWM has on the community.

Buffeted by changes in demographics and technology, higher education has undergone seismic change in recent years, and will likely continue to do so, Mone said. But UWM will succeed by recognizing the rapidly changing landscape and anticipating needs of students and the community.

“There must be areas where we see tremendous growth opportunities to keep us on as positive of a growth trajectory as we can,” Mone said.

Final numbers aren’t in yet, but enrollment this year is likely to be down between 3 and 4 percent, Mone said. That largely reflects demographic trends. But Mone also pointed to several bright spots, including a rise in online enrollment.

Another bright spot: Illinois. Students from Illinois pay less to go to school at UWM than public universities in their own state. Seeing an opportunity, UWM has aggressively recruited south of the border. As a result, the number of Illinois students in this year’s freshman class rose 40 percent, and the overall Illinois student population is up 37 percent.

Mone pointed to several successes over the past year:

  • The university’s “Made in Milwaukee, Shaping the World” campaign raised $29 million, bringing the total so far to $114 million.
  • University professors received three major research instrumentation grants from the National Science Foundation.
  • UWM was ranked among the top 30 LGBT-friendly campuses.
  • The U.S. Department of Education recognized the university’s success as the leading educator of veterans in Wisconsin.
  • UWM was one recognized by the federal government as a “Green Ribbon School” for its efforts in sustainability and environmental impact.

And employees, whom Mone called key to the success of UWM, will receive recognition this fall. Employee paychecks in November will include a 1.75 percent one-time payment for solid performance, or $1,175, whichever is greater, Mone said. That’s a bit higher than the 1.5 percent previously expected. The money comes from savings in lower utility bills because of last winter’s mild temperatures and lower-than-expected benefit expenses.

Mone pledged to keep fighting to increase resources allocated to the university.

“We need, deserve and can do more with additional resources,” Mone said. “As one of our alumni said in the video, ‘I’m in the fight.’ Well, we’re all in the fight.”

As it faces its challenges, UWM has the advantage of working from a strong foundation, Mone said.

“We are THE public, urban R1 research university focused on students and community,” Mone said. “We’re the only one. Nobody can or will do this, and nobody certainly can do this as we have done and will do in the future.”

More in Campus & Community

Top Stories