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February 23, 2001

UW Day: Building Wisconsin's Future

By Jolene Bracy
UW-RF News Bureau

The 26-campus University of Wisconsin System has a tale to tell involving students, alumni, university communities and the state.

It will do that at "UW Day: Building Wisconsinąs Future," on Wednesday, March 7 in Madison at the Monona Terrace Convention Center. A large continent of UW-RF faculty, staff, students, as well as community leaders, alumni and friends‹more than 90 persons‹will be part of that effort.

In addition to showcasing public higher education in the state, the day will be spent addressing the UW-RF and UW System biennial budget request.

Students and alumni have stories about the impact a UW System institution made on their educational and professional growth. UW institutions are located in communities that depend on UW support. The collaboration of the institutions, alumni, students and community leaders has resulted in UW Day.

Chancellor Ann Lydecker, who will lead the University's delegation, said UW Day will be an important opportunity to demonstrate the System's contributions‹and deliver the additional message that it deserves continued state financial support. The UW System is seeking $179.9 million in new state and student money. However, Gov. Scott McCallum in his budget message delivered Feb. 20 recommended $92.7 million with a heavy reliance on tuition.

"When you have people from the campuses coupled with the communities and businesses we serve, community leaders, alumni and students who value the education andwhat their education through the UW System has done for them in terms of making them successful, you have a story. Many of our alumni stay in Wisconsin instead of going somewhere else to use their education. That is the impact of the institution and the story we want to tell," said UW-River Falls Chancellor Ann Lydecker.

At the events and activities showcasing UW Day , "Most people will see in one tremendously powerful, impacting day just what the university is, how diverse we are and how we encompass this entire state," said Lydecker.

Constructing the framework for future relations between Wisconsin government officials and the UW system is another primary goal of UW Day. Featuring the UW systems to legislators, alumni, the general public and showing the economic impact at the state, regional and community level is part of UW Day, said Lydecker.

The UW-RF campus has always played a leading role in the community, said Mayor Katie Chaffee. The mayor is one of several community leaders, including First National Bank President Tom Palmer and Hudson consultant Steve Wilcox, who are traveling to Madison to represent UW-RF and the System to legislators and other decision-makers.

"The University put River Falls on the map. It breathed into the community a life of its own. The University provides us educational and cultural activities, along with community support," said Mayor Katie Chaffee. "UW-RF is a leading edge to industry, business, resources and facilities so that the area doesnąt stagnate," said Chaffee. The community has a big stake in what happens at the University, she added. Chaffee, along with other community leaders, will attend the UW-Day events, and meet with legislators.

UW Day is an opportunity to demonstrate the magnitude of contributions the UW system make to the state, including intellectual, cultural, social and economic growth. All the UW System institutions have bonded together to demonstrate their future impact on the state as a whole and to show their uniqueness. "We want people to realize this is an investment in the future of our state, educationally and economically," said Lydecker.

"System unity reveals a common purpose and theme between the institutions. UW Day highlights the distinct differences each university offers," continued Lydecker.

The proposed budget will be another chapter in the UW Day story.

"How do you talk with legislators about maintaining an appropriate level of funding at our educational institutions so that the same quality of education can continue to be delivered or improved?"said Lydecker.

"We knew UW Day would be about the time the budget was proposed, but we didnąt realize at the time we scheduled the event that the economy of the state would take a slight downturn. The money the state has is limited, and we need to band together to obtain our funding. We will gain more impact with officials by working within a larger system," said Lydecker.

Lydeckerąs happy ending to the UW Day story requires "a fully funded system. To end up with a fully funded system budget, because the general public and legislators recognize that the future of the state rests with a high quality public education system."

UW Day opens with a luncheon at the Monona Terrace Convention Center with a briefing for 300 persons by UW System President Katherine Lyall and Board of Regents President Jay Smith for legislative visits in the Capitol.

At Monona Terrace that evening the Kinnickinnic River research activities of UW-RF biology Professor Clarke Garry will be a featured presentation, and the 22-member Jazz Ensemble, director by Professor David Milne, will provide musical entertainment. Some 3,000 persons are expected to attend the evening celebration, including nearly 60 UW-RF alums from the Madison area.

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