Amid a fall full of sesquicentennial celebrations, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt and the University community welcomed the UW System Board of Regents to the Oshkosh campus for its two-day October meeting.
In addressing the Regents Thursday afternoon, Leavitt highlighted the successes and shared some of the challenges of UW Oshkosh’s 150-year history.
“It’s a very special time in the history of our institution. We pause and reflect on the University’s extraordinary voyage through time. Hundreds of thousands of people’s journeys have intersected with this institution’s,” he said.
150 years of success
Leavitt noted that throughout the decades UWO has worked to “hone local people for a better, shared future.” He added that today the institution “still strives to be a national model for the delivery of liberal and professional education that, regionally, provides an affordable and accessible degree for anyone that wants to earn it.”
Leavitt also commented on the UWO community’s response to the ongoing pandemic.
“It may be the greatest challenge every one of our institutions has ever faced. We are persevering,” he said. “It’s hard for me to express how grateful I have been for the changes in learning, teaching, service and life our campus communities have made since March 2020. Students, faculty and staff have made great sacrifices.”
Chancellor recognized the Regents and, especially, Interim President Tommy Thompson, for their efforts throughout the health crisis.
“He provided leadership, direction and badly needed resources to open and stay open, and then later to vaccinate students, faculty staff and community members. Thank you, President Thompson.”
In committee meetings earlier in the day, the Regents heard presentations from other UWO leaders, including Provost John Koker and vice chancellors James Fletcher (administrative services) and Bob Roberts (university affairs).
Learning via community
During the education committee meeting, Koker talked about how UWO knits academics and experiences into northeastern Wisconsin.
“As part of its mission, UWO serves the communities in its region and beyond by closing the gap between academic knowledge and real-world applications that help people, business, institutions and organizations succeed,” he said.
Among other examples, he cited how students are making an impact through course partnerships with community organizations, such as the Oshkosh Community Pantry, the local Habitat for Humanity Restore and the Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Center.
During the Regents’ business and finance committee meeting, Fletcher reviewed UWO’s financial recovery plan, financial management during the pandemic, current financial position and growth plans.
“We are in a positive financial position and, due to budget discipline and reliability of our cash flow model, are able to strategically invest dollars into initiatives, such as inclusive excellence, student support, enrollment management, IT and beautification of our grounds while reestablishing a University financial reserve,” he said.
Moving forward, Fletcher said UWO’s growth plan will include investments that focus on increasing transfers from the access campuses to the Oshkosh campus; launching the Titan Thunder marching band; and expanding diversity, equity and inclusion through the Titan Advantage Program and Project Success.
A sustainable mission
At the research, economic development and innovation committee meeting, Roberts shared how sustainability plays a part in many UWO initiatives. He highlighted a partnership with Agra energy that uses a new technology to convert biogas to fuel.
The partners also are seeking ways to prepare students for employment in the engineering and renewable energy sectors.