Gow shares what inspires him, what keeps him up at night during Wednesday’s remarks
When Chancellor Joe Gow is out and about in the community, he frequently gets the question of “How are things on the UWL campus?”
He can speak about the university’s progress, such as the largest and most diverse group of first-year students entering this fall and the building projects underway that are reshaping the campus. The university continues to be recognized for its leadership in a variety of areas and continues make great gains in raising funds to help support student scholarships.
But it is not all rosy. Gow can also share the challenges.
“Here’s what keeps me up at night,” he told a packed room at the All-University Address on Wednesday, Aug. 29, in the Student Union. “This university is a strong enterprise because of each and every one of you, but we can’t pay our people competitively.”
UWL faculty and staff salaries are based on a state pay plan and are on average lower than salaries at higher education institutions across the country. UWL officials have used data gathered on higher education salaries nationwide from CUPA-HR, College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, to compare and set goals to stay competitive.
Several years ago the university set the goal of getting all academic staff and faculty to make 88 percent of the CUPA average salary in their respective area. Yet that remains a goal. UWL has 72 people in instructional and non-instructional academic staff roles who earn below 88 percent of the CUPA mean and it would take $1.3 million to get them to making that 88 percent mark. For faculty, the challenge of reaching 88 percent of the CUPA mean is even greater.
Meeting the goal of having competitive salaries is particularly challenging when tuition is frozen, notes Gow.
“A tuition freeze is great politically, but for us, operationally, that creates a problem because we have to find several hundred thousand dollars to do the pay plan,” says Gow. “We need to be very careful of how we spend money and how we grow revenue. We will continue talking with Joint Planning and Budget [a UWL committee] about ideas in this regard.”
Despite some big challenges, Gow says he is inspired by the impact the university is able to make in the lives of students. He recently walked the campus with a 1999 graduate who pointed out where his various classes were held and the faculty he met.
“I think what our current students will remember is not so much what enrollment was or the building construction that was happening. It is the people they really remember,” says Gow. “That is pretty exciting. I hope you are conscious of that.”
And, perhaps, even more importantly, says Gow, is that students encounter transformational ideas at a university.
“That reminds us of our responsibility to expose students to new ideas and ways of thinking — to challenge them,” he says.
Along those lines, Gow shared a new Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression policy of the UW System. Also, he also showed a video that will be shared with UWL students.
In other news:
Gow welcomed new members of the campus community and recognized a group of people taking on leadership roles. Some are new to campus and some have held previous roles.
- Barbara Stewart, vice chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion.
- Jo Arney, student success coordinator
- KayahBah Malecek, graduate studies coordinator
- Kate Parker, special assistant to the provost for strategic planning
- Vitaliano Figueroa, vice chancellor of Student Affairs
- Greg Phlegar, dean of students
- Kara Ostlund, assistant dean of students.
Gow recognized a large group of people who helped with clean up to ensure students would be able to move into Eagle Hall as originally planned after sprinklers put out a small fire on Thursday, Aug. 9.
Award winners recognized
- Stephen Brokaw, Marketing
- Laurie Cooper Stoll, Sociology
- Whitney George, Mathematics & Statistics
- Christine Hippert, Archaeology & Anthropology
- Renee Redman, Biology
- Leslie Rogers, Educational Studies
AffordableCollegesOnline.org (ACO) ranks UW-La Crosse No. 6 among the Top LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges for 2018-19.
Scholarship campaign progress
The Share the La Crosse Experience Scholarship Campaign has raised $14.1 million of its $15 million goal.
UWL has tracked a long list of hundreds of internship, service learning and community-based research happening at the university. Schools, colleges, hospitals, city governments, non-profits, major Wisconsin businesses and more are on the list. “As I looked at this I was thinking, ‘what aren’t we doing?,’” says Gow. “I did not appreciate how engaged our faculty and staff are with the state and the region.”
Gow acknowledged UWL’s Community Engagement Council, which plays an important role in advancing those efforts, as community engagement is a pillar of UWL’s strategic plan.
The UW System Board of Regents approved five capital projects from UW-La Crosse, totaling about $202.2 million for the 2019-21 two-year budget. Also, work on the Wittich Hall renovation project is now underway, among other projects.
Enrollment – record high
Although official enrollment numbers are not in yet, enrollment numbers look positive. As of the Chancellor’s Address, UWL has 2,178 students in its first-year class — an all-time high for the university. And 10.5 percent of those students are students of color, making it also the most diverse class in the history of the university.
The chancellor shared that UWL has 441 transfer students and 327 graduate students. Official numbers are expected later in September.
Among the challenges, international enrollment is down from previous years with 50 new international students this fall. “I think the political climate has not helped at all,” says Gow.