UWM serves up honest conversation at first On the Table forum

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is participating in an initiative next week that aims to harness the power of conversation.

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, more than 1,500 residents of southeastern Wisconsin will come together in a daylong series of conversations that the Greater Milwaukee Foundation hopes will inspire a fresh set of ideas to improve quality of life in the region. The change-making community foundation is sponsoring the forum at sites across the Milwaukee area. Conversation and candor are heartily encouraged. Refreshments range from sit-down meals to coffee breaks. Hence, the forum and its related talks are called “On the Table.”

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will host 15 On the Table conversations, making UWM a “super host” of the event.

“As one of Milwaukee’s anchor institutions, we are pleased to partner with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and use On the Table to leverage our teaching, learning and research agenda with community knowledge in this impactful dialogue,” said Joan Prince, vice chancellor for global inclusion and engagement at UWM. “At the end of the day, the power of inclusive conversation will always serve as a bridge towards action and, ultimately, change.”

University administrators, faculty and staff will host the tables. Each UWM table host selected a topic, then invited attendees from across the community whose insight and expertise can shed light, and consider possible solutions, to the issue being discussed.

School of Education Dean Alan Shoho is tying his On the Table lunchtime conversation to one of the education school’s key initiatives: recruiting, retaining and graduating men of color to be K-12 teachers in Milwaukee. Titled “Fostering Racial Relationships to Strengthen Communities and Schools,” Shoho’s talk table offers another opportunity to gather fresh ideas and new supporters for the School of Ed’s related “Call Me Mister” teacher-preparation project.

On Tuesday, he’ll lead a discussion among school superintendents, principals, pastors and community volunteers who share his vision of teacher diversification as a way to narrow the K-12 achievement gap between black and white students. “I would like everyone leaving On the Table to commit to doing something,” he says, “even if it’s small, to strengthen our communities and schools.”

Each participant will complete a follow-up survey that gathers their impressions and ideas to move forward on a key issue affecting Milwaukee. The Greater Milwaukee Foundation will pore over this feedback, seeking new ideas and partnerships to move the needle on myriad issues.

Other UWM On the Table topics include:

  • “Access and Success for Underrepresented Students in Engineering,” hosted by Brett Peters, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
  • “Collaborating to Improve Health Outcomes: Partnering for a Healthier Community,” hosted by UWM Partners for Health: the College of Health Sciences, the College of Nursing and the Zilber School of Public Health. Guests include Patricia McManus, director of the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin; Tom Ellis, executive director of Silver Spring Neighborhood Center; and Steve Hargarten, Milwaukee Global Health Consortium and president/CEO of Center for International Health.
  • “Diversity in STEM Dialogue,” sponsored by the Division of Global Inclusion and Engagement – UWM WiscAMP/STEM-Inspire Program.
  • “Fines, Fees and Debts of Low Income People,” hosted by David Pate, associate professor of social work.
  • “Inclusive Entrepreneurship,” hosted by Brian D. Thompson, president of the UWM Research Foundation and director of the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.
  • “Prostitution and Sex Trafficking,” hosted by Joan Blakey, associate professor of social work. Among the invitees are representatives of the Benedict Center, Legal Options for Trafficked and Underserved Survivors (LOTUS) and the ASHA Project.
  • “What Should UWM Be Doing in the 53206 ZIP Code Area?” sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs.


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