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Budget challenges and economic forces are not standing in the way of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s growth and success.

UW Oshkosh released its 2009-2010 Strategic Plan Update & Annual Report on Jan. 14, featuring updates on the University’s key operational plans, strategic action initiatives and activities of major units on campus. The report also highlights the continued growth and improvements UW Oshkosh experienced since 2000.

Among the “Top 6” standout accomplishments

Record-breaking enrollment and degrees awarded: Fall 2010 marked the largest enrollment in the institution’s 140-year history, with 13,415 students attending classes — a 16.5 percent increase in full-time equivalent enrollment since 2000, furthering the University’s commitment to remaining accessible and affordable. The number of students of color has almost tripled, and the number of nontraditional undergraduate students (age 25 and older) increased 42.3 percent. Additionally, UW Oshkosh maintains the highest number of transfer students among the UW System’s comprehensive universities.

In the past decade, the number of degrees conferred at the state’s third-largest and second-fastest growing University increased by 27.2 percent. Since sending the Annual Report to the printer, we have received a final enrollment report showing a total headcount enrollment of 13,629, which represents an increase of 427 students over last year.

Mission Statement Revision: The UW System Board of Regents approved the UW Oshkosh revised mission statement at their on-campus meeting in October. The new mission statement is part of related documents called the Governing ideas, which include the UW Oshkosh Learning Outcomes, vision statement, core values and strategic directions.
A strategic planning retreat titled “The Pursuit of College and Division Distinctiveness” will focus on aligning distinctive areas of excellence of the four colleges, Student Affairs office and Lifelong Learning & Community Engagement with the University’s Governing Ideas Jan. 19 and 20, 2011.

Adding more value to students’ educational experience: UW Oshkosh maintains its commitment to the Student Titan Employment Program (STEP), which adds even greater value to students’ educational experiences by linking them with high-quality, paid internships to help support the work of faculty and staff members. The program has been just as valuable to the University, which has collaboratively and creatively sought ways to combat a 13.6 million biennial budget shortfall.

Engaging external stakeholders: In October, UW Oshkosh hosted the Board of Regents meeting, and in November, hosted the state’s first Education Foundations Conference with the State’s Higher Education Aids Board, bringing together representatives of all the state’s public and private sources for financial aid to talk about ways they can collaborate to keep college accessible and affordable.

UW Oshkosh also hosted the seventh annual New North Economic Summit, “Competing to Win,” on Dec. 3 in Kolf Sports Center. The Summit brought 700 leaders from throughout northeastern Wisconsin to foster collaboration, share success stories and map out a game plan for the continued prosperity of the region.

Groundbreaking facilities enhancements: The University has completed more than $100 million worth of building projects, and there are another $100 million worth of capital projects under construction. The 191,000-square-foot, LEED gold certified academic center known as Sage Hall will open in fall 2011.

UW Oshkosh held a groundbreaking ceremony for the nation’s first commercial-scale dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester, which will convert yard and food waste into fuel, on Sept. 15. The renewable energy facility will include heat and power generators, which will produce up to 10 percent of the campus’s electricity and heat.

We dedicated the $8 million Student Success Center in October during the Board of Regents meeting, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held on Nov. 15 for the new 350-bed, suite-style residence hall on Algoma Boulevard that will be the State’s largest totally energy-independent building.

Recognition for national leadership: In July, College Planning & Management Magazine selected UW Oshkosh’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC) as the national 2010 grand prize winner for Outstanding Design and Architecture in Education in the college and university category. The publication is the premier trade magazine for facilities design in education.

In August, the Sierra Club released its annual Cool Schools rankings, based on the “greenness” of participating universities, with UW Oshkosh ranked 35th in the nation.  The University’s first solar energy system was in September installed to provide the campus with electricity and hot water. A photovoltaic array was installed on a walkway adjacent to the campus tennis courts.

UW Oshkosh Chancellor Richard H. Wells presented “Principles for Progress and Prosperity: A Compact to Better Educate More People” before the 18-member governing board of UW System, guests from other UW institutions and members of the UWO campus community on Oct. 7.

“It is clear that we need a very compelling strategy for the 2011-13 biennium, and we have to do things in a fundamentally different way if we want to see a greater share of state tax dollars invested in the mission of our public higher educational institutions,” Wells said.

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