As we settle into spring semester, UW Oshkosh has two important projects moving through the Wisconsin legislative budget cycle – boiler replacement and Polk Library.
First boilers. Why, you may ask, do we want to spend money on something like this, especially in times of tight budgets? The answer is simple, the boilers on the Oshkosh campus are 75 years old. This means they no longer meet the heating capacity needs of the campus, they are not reliable and they are certainly not efficient. Simply, the Oshkosh campus is at risk of not having enough steam during peak usage to heat our buildings.
This project offers the opportunity to replace these boilers with sustainable technology and equipment, to bring us a step closer toward our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. This is a necessary goal for the future health of our campus. I believe strongly in this and last week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at a national conference exploring how we can accelerate our investments in sustainability and carbon neutrality. As a University, we must be out front in adopting new and efficient technology.
The boiler project is not unique to UWO. The request before the Wisconsin Department of Administration addresses boiler replacement at several UW campuses. The initial funding request before the state includes $3.5 million for planning and design. Work would take place in 2025 to 2027 biennium with final project approvals.
Another key project for our University is Polk Library. We are seeking a study and project planning in the 2023-2025 budget with work to follow. Polk turns 60 this year and is in dire need of repairs or an upgrade. It has sustained continual water damage from leaks and flooding. A study will help us assess whether the best plan is to renovate the space to meet the needs of the 21st century student or if we need to start from scratch.
The study will address space needs aligned with how libraries of today are used. This would include collaborative spaces, quiet spaces and technology-enabled spaces, enhancing the library’s role as a neutral space that welcomes students from every academic discipline and walk of life. Libraries are an inspirational place for study and focus – which is often not the case of our home environments. The study will also examine the best way to maintain and showcase Polk’s world-class archives, which are aligned and connected with the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The re-envisioned library would also include student support services and spaces that will make it easier for students to attend online classes.
We will continue to work closely with our state leaders to advocate for these projects that will help us continue to secure our place as a leader in technology, sustainability and innovation in our region.
Items of note
You may have seen Provost Koker’s message regarding a new initiative regarding student success, including a focus on retention, on each of our three campuses. The kickoff session is 12:45 to 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 8. I encourage you to attend and offer your input. It will take all of us to determine how we best move forward. You can register for the March 8 event here.
The Provost also has been asked to lead a group to evaluate our current budget and develop a fiscal plan for the remainder of this year and next fiscal year which begins July 1.
With the hiring of new College of Business Dean Frank Braun, we have a full slate of leadership in each of our colleges. I am excited to work with the deans on the initiatives and challenges facing our University.
UWO Reeve Union Board and athletics held a welcome back bash at Kolf on Feb. 1. You will find photos from the event here:
We offer students tremendous career and professional development services from the time they are freshman through their graduation year. One of those key events is coming up March 1: the UWO Career and Internship Fair.
Our professors and students continue to excel in research projects. We will have several students presenting March 8 at the annual Research in the Rotunda. This is always a special event that gives our students an opportunity to showcase their work in the capitol and discuss their higher education experience with our state legislators.
Lastly, I had the chance to meet with some of our state representatives this week to discuss our capital projects and other issues important to UW Oshkosh. Here are a few photos from those visits:
With State Rep. Lori Palmeri
With State Rep. Rob Swearingen
With State Rep. Jill Billings
With State Rep. Bob Wittke