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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh launched its 150th year of offering excellence and opportunity in higher education in northeastern Wisconsin on Sept. 7, with an Opening Day convocation at the Culver Family Welcome Center on the Oshkosh campus.

The event included an address by Chancellor Andrew Leavitt, remarks by Provost John Koker, the presentation of 2021 faculty and staff awards and the premiere of the UW Oshkosh sesquicentennial video.

UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson also made a special appearance at the event to thank the University community for its success over the past 150 years and its excellence in education, which he said is “second to none.”

Thompson encouraged students to continue to get vaccinated to reach the 70% goal that would make them eligible to enter a drawing for several $7,000 UW System scholarships. UWO also is offering 10 $1,000 scholarships to vaccinated students.

“UW Oshkosh is leading the way against this insidious virus. Thank you from the state of Wisconsin,” Thompson said, citing the many innovative programs and protocols UWO put in place to fight the pandemic. His short address received two standing ovations.

UW System President Tommy Thompson was a guest speaker at UWO’s Opening Day convocation.

Celebrating our past

Leavitt kicked off his comments by wishing the UWO institution a “happy birthday” and inviting the greater community to the Sesquicentennial Celebration set for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12.

“We want hundreds and hundreds to join us for this mainly outdoor event staged in the Oshkosh campus core, from Reeve Union all the way to the Arts and Communication complex,” he said.

Leavitt then reflected on last year’s “extraordinary events” and the impact of the pandemic. “We mobilized the entire University community. I am so grateful to all of you for the contributions and adaptations you made last year,” he said. “We rose together and worked hard to defeat a largely unknown virus, a threat to our way of life and life itself.”

UWO Chancellor Andy Leavitt wished the University a happy birthday.

Looking ahead

Leavitt next turned toward UWO’s future, which includes development of a new strategic plan based on four foundational elements: liberal education, inclusive excellence, shared governance and sustainability.

“A good plan not only articulates the necessary strategies needed to achieve goals and objectives, but it also provides an opportunity for University-wide conversations about the collective values and vision of the University through the process of planning,” he said.

The plan will serve as a guide for introducing new initiatives and expanding existing programs. “It is a way to prioritize what is important to the institution in times of budget cuts,” Leavitt said.

Provost Koker outlined a $6 million reinvestment plan of one-time and on-going funding for the current 2021-23 biennium.

“Due to the hard work and sacrifices we have all made over the last several years, we are in a position to reinvest in UWO,” he said. “It is our plan that these investments will reach every part of the University on all three campuses and will provide needed support to faculty, staff and students as they work, study and learn.”

Among other measures, the plan will boost information technology; invest in a proposed salary equity process; support student recruitment and retention; add faculty, staff and programs; update academic spaces and equipment; launch the Titan Thunder marching band in 2022; and grow the summer bridge Titan Advantage Program to help incoming first-year students succeed.

Honoring faculty and staff

Leavitt said the annual ceremony allows the campus community a moment to reflect on and honor those who serve as examples of “educating students, lifting communities and adding to the knowledge of the world around us.”

UW System Academic Staff Excellence Awards

  • Kimberly Langolf, director of risk and sponsored programs
  • Project Success

John McNaughton Rosebush Professorship Distinguished Teaching Award

  • Chad Cotti, Oshkosh Corporation endowed professor and department chair, economics
  • Phan Hong-Lishner, clinical psychologist

Edward M. Penson Distinguished Teaching Award

  • Jennifer Basler, associate nursing professor
  • Sarah DeArmond, professor and department chair, management and humans resources
  • Bailey Hermann, associate professor, leadership, literacy and social foundations

Barbara G. Sniffen Faculty Governance Service Award

  • Druscilla Scribner, professor, political science

Outstanding Service Awards

  • Jennifer Buelow Fischer, undergraduate program director, College of Business
  • Chrissy Lambie, assistant director, Career and Professional Development
  • Rich Marshall, College of Letters and Science internship coordinator, Career and Professional Development
  • Julie Meyer, transfer coordinator, Registrar’s Office
  • Jessica Spanbauer, director, Center for Academic Resources

Outstanding Performance Awards

  • Mary Chapin, financial specialist, University Studies Program and the Advance-Titan
  • Fran Holzmann, campus administrative specialist, Fond du Lac campus

LGBTQIA+ Ally Award

  • Thomas Fischer, professor, special and early childhood education

Queer and Trans Faculty Staff Award

  • Samantha Larson, assistant professor, public administration

Inclusive Excellence Award

  • John Dobyns, operational and outreach director, Cooperative Academic Partnership Program

Edward M Penson Faculty Awards

  • Scott Beyer, professor, finance and business law
  • Jennifer Considine, associate professor and chair, communication studies
  • Heather Englund, associate professor, research and evaluation director, College of Nursing
  • Margaret Hostetler, associate professor and chair, English
  • Michelle Pietrzak, assistant professor, human kinetics and healthy education, Fox Cities campus
  • Alison Shaw, professor and co-chair, music
  • Kyle Steele, assistant professor, educational leadership and policy
  • Lee Van Scyoc, professor, economics

Launching our 150th video

The nine-minute video directed and edited by University Marketing and Communications videographer Jason Page tells UWO’s 150-year story of excellence and opportunity since its inception in 1871 as the Oshkosh Normal School for teacher training. UWO archivist Joshua Ranger and Justine Stokes, television services director, provided the research for the video, which was narrated by retired director of WRST radio Randall Davidson.

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