Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Pin It
Feed Feed

Jul 19, 201601:11 PMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

At UW–Stout, a working model for how to prepare students for a career

Depending on how old you are and how long you’ve lived in Wisconsin, you’ve likely heard the dismissive phrase, “When in doubt, Stout!” It’s an outdated reference to UW–Stout being a college choice of last resort.

Today, a more apt slogan is “There’s no doubt, it’s Stout!” as the university’s reputation for excellence in science, technology, engineering, and math education grows along with its record in placing its graduates in jobs.

The campus is also an example of why state investments in higher education can pay dividends to communities, the economy, and taxpayers.

A recent visit to the Stout campus in downtown Menomonie, about halfway between Eau Claire and the Minnesota border, was a reminder of the ways in which college campuses intersect with regional businesses while providing students with a broad-based education.

With 48 undergraduate majors and about two-dozen graduate majors, Stout offers plenty of choices for students who attend classes there. Most settle into one of six career pathways — science and engineering, technology and communications, business and management, health and human services, arts and design, and education.

Because there’s a blend of applied learning and liberal arts, students gets hands-on experience through internships and co-ops, industry projects, career conferences, and campus facilities that feature twice as much laboratory space as traditional classroom space.

Examples include the UW–Stout Discovery Center, which features more than 50 industry projects, a digital fabrication workshop (or “fab lab”), a Manufacturing Outreach center, an affiliated business park, and two of the largest student career conferences in the Midwest. Collectively, those two conferences are attended by 600 employers.

It all leads to students who graduate with a future: More than 97% of Stout’s undergraduate students are employed or pursuing graduate degrees within six months of their graduation, and more than three-quarters are employed in their field of study.

That performance helps to explain why UW–Stout recorded the third largest enrollment increase in the UW System over the past decade, with a record enrollment of 9,535 in 2015 and an expected 2016 enrollment that appears on track.

Like most UW System campuses, however, Stout has troubles lurking below its seemingly productive surface.

Speaking to members of the Wisconsin Technology Council’s board of directors, Chancellor Bob Meyer noted that cuts in state support for the UW System have encouraged other colleges — mostly outside Wisconsin — to poach Stout faculty members who are worried about their future.

About 60 faculty and staff out of 1,300 employees of all descriptions have moved on, which Meyer warned will hurt Stout’s program quality if the cuts continue and talented faculty aren’t replaced.

Most recently, Gov. Scott Walker has said he wants to avoid further cuts to higher education and even restore some funding if there are measurable performance standards by which campuses can be judged.

Meyer said he’s fine on UW–Stout living up to such metrics because he’s confident the campus — which won a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2001 — can continue to perform at a high level.

“We value assessing our performance in a variety of areas,” Meyer said. “Therefore, we welcome the governor’s call for basing additional funding for the UW System on performance metrics. We hope, however, that one of the metrics includes accurate measurements of the success that graduates have in the workplace after leaving campus.”

The Tech Council’s May report on the economic value of higher education to Wisconsin noted a number of examples of how public and private campuses benefit business by delivering talent, expertise, and research partnerships. Without a doubt, a leading example for Wisconsin is UW–Stout.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.

This calendar is currently not available.
exception 'RCalendarException' with message 'Calendar id is missing or invalid.' in /usr/local/share/rivista/core/includes/classes/CalendarView.php:1188
Stack trace:
#0 /usr/local/share/rivista/core/modules/OpsCalendar/OpsCalendar.php(859): CalendarViewFactory::createView('search_view', '', NULL, NULL, NULL, '')
#1 /usr/local/share/rivista/core/modules/OpsCalendar/OpsCalendar.php(240): OpsCalendar->doView()
#2 /usr/local/share/rivista/core/modules/OpsCalendar/OpsCalendar.php(137): OpsCalendar->_execute()
#3 /usr/local/share/rivista/core/includes/page.php(1566): OpsCalendar->execute()
#4 /usr/local/share/rivista/core/includes/plugins/function.loadModules.php(42): Page->loadModules(Array)
#5 /tmp/template_c/www.ibwisconsin.com/%%E6/E64/E642A1D8%%3f48fe2d1e8ef501ee35328bb87a7451.php(76): smarty_function_loadModules(Array, Object(Rivista_Smarty))
#6 /usr/local/share/rivista/core/includes/thirdparty/smarty/libs/Smarty.class.php(1263): include('/tmp/template_c...')
#7 /usr/local/share/rivista/core/includes/Rivista_Smarty.php(108): Smarty->fetch('article.tpl', NULL, NULL, true, true)
#8 /usr/local/share/rivista/rivista.php(210): Rivista_Smarty->display('article.tpl')
#9 /usr/local/share/rivista/rivista.php(1011): RivistaPage->execute()
#10 /usr/local/share/rivista/rivista.php(1057): RivistaPage->run()
#11 /usr/local/share/rivista/rivistalauncher.php(115): require_once('/usr/local/shar...')
#12 /home/webadmin/www.ibwisconsin.com/html/index.php(3): require_once('/usr/local/shar...')
#13 /home/webadmin/www.ibwisconsin.com/html/Blogger/Inside-Wisconsin/July-2016/At-UWStout-a-working-model-for-how-to-prepare-students-for-a-career/index.php(9): require_once('/home/webadmin/...')
#14 {main}

Jul 19, 2016 02:53 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

An interesting subject to look at is who is taking the University jobs at various campuses here and what their level of expertise is . Are we replacing experienced faculty with equivalent experience . In the biotech field I know a lot are avoiding the UW not just because of the cuts but because of continued battles with the legislature over research (and having a legislature that seems to have no interest or background in science)
That is a key part of the story- if we lose skilled teachers and researchers and gain less experienced younger ones we may save money and provide yet another lab for some right wing thin thank(remember how well welfare reform worked?) but we may end up taking years to get back to where we were.
People often ask me why we left Chicago - they were amazed to know that even with a corrupt and useless police precinct we took out the mob drug dealer next to us in over a year . However a decade of work did not improve the schools. Wisconsin had amazingly good schools so we invested here. That type of excellence at the university and at the local level does not get created over night , The damage done today will probably last years if not a decade.
It is sad but many people here don't know what they had and thus don't care when it is gone.

Add your comment:
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Pin It
Feed Feed
Edit Module

About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Archives

Feed

Atom Feed Subscribe to the Inside Wisconsin Feed »

Recent Posts

Edit Module