Category Archives: 2. Meetings

Making Dreams Come True–Rotary Scholar Event

–submitted by Mary Thompson; photos by Dennis Cooley

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Photo 1: from left, Jose Rodriguez, Mary Thompson, Cynthia Maduka & Liliana Teniente; Photo 2: from left: Ryia Steps, Moses Altsech, Brett Stratton, Jason Beren & Teresa Holmes

With record attendance, over 60 Rotary Scholars and Mentors joined the Winter Mixer event on January 3, 2018.  While mentors and scholars swapped stories, I wanted to learn how the Rotary Scholar/Mentor program had influenced them.

The importance of relationships was the overarching theme.   Melanie Ramey’s scholar, Matida Bojang (UW–Milwaukee Pre-Pharmacy) shared that this program is making her dreams come true.  Ryia Steps (Alcorn State Psychology)  connected on many levels with her mentor, Teresa Holmes.  They love coffee and talk about everything.  Jose Rodriguez (UW Madison Psychology) has forged a relationship with Rob Van den Berg; Liliana Teniente’s (UW Madison Biology) mentor, Dennis Cooley gave her books to read such as “Grit–a Story in Perseverance.”  Donna Beestman’s scholar, Reyna Groff (UW Madison Art) shared she enjoys meeting with someone outside of school.   Rahim Ansari (UW Madison Chemical Engineering) met his mentor, Stan Kitson, through Memorial High School’s Interact program.  Stan commented that he can’t wait to see where he goes!  And my scholar, Cynthia Maduka (UW Milwaukee Communications) has been introduced to a Milwaukee newscaster to further Cynthia’s career in broadcasting.

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Photo 1: Dom Petty & Stacy Nemeth; Photo 2: from left: Leen Bnyat, Melanie Ramey, Matida Bojang, Hannah Kwiatkowski & Sarah Best

The highlight of the program occurred when co-chairs Cheryl Wittke and Ellie Schatz called for introductions.  It was an impressive group of scholars ranging in majors from STEM to the liberal arts and everything in between.  Teresita Torrence from Madison College explained the resources available to students in their student development center.  Bob Shumaker reminded everyone to follow the Madison Rotary Mentor-Scholar Facebook (FB) page; Linda Baldwin offered $10 tickets to the Overture Center for the Arts by signing up through the Club 10 link on the FB page; and Dean Nelson announced the Summer Picnic on July 1.

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Photo 1: from left: Becky Steinhoff, Jana Hvorat & Joy Gander; Photo 2: from left: Tenzin Kunsel, Jim Christensen, Eddie Larson & Majid Sarmadi

The group adjourned to the Rotary meeting for more conversation and Charlie Sykes’ presentation.

For more photos, visit our Madison Rotary Mentor-Scholar Group on Facebook.

Our Madison Rotary Foundation awards college scholarship assistance to 25 students per year to assist them during their four years of college, so we have 100 scholars in college each year.  Nearly all of our scholars are connected to a Rotary member who serves as a mentor during their college years.  Since many students are on break this week, we invited scholars to attend our Rotary luncheon on January 3.  It was a great opportunity to check-in with our scholars, and they had a chance to connect with their Rotary mentors.  We enjoyed hosting our scholars and wish them all the best as they head back to college later this month.  Our thanks to Dean Nelson, Ellie Schatz and Cheryl Wittke for organizing this gathering of scholars and mentors just before our Rotary luncheon.

Charlie Sykes on How the Right Lost Its Mind

–submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Valerie Renk

Charlie SykesSelf-identifying as the “Benedict Arnold of conservatism,” Wisconsin conservative radio talk show host and author of several books Charlie Sykes addressed members of the Rotary Club of Madison on Jan. 3 to promote his book “How the Right Lost its Mind.”

“I left (the conservative radio talk show circuit) on my own, but I have been excommunicated from the conservative movement,” remarked Sykes, who now works for MSNBC. But Sykes was rather firm in proclaiming that “I have not changed, but the Republican Party has,” indicating that conservative values are still very much part of who he is.

While the vast majority of Sykes’ comments centered on the performance and behavior of President Donald Trump, Sykes made it clear that “I am less bothered by Trump himself, but rather the normalization of his behavior.”

Sykes identified three specific current political thought movements afoot in our country. Firstly, there are those who are “horrified by everything – both the policies and the behaviors.” Secondly, there are the MAGA Republicans, those who want to Make America Great Again; and thirdly, there are what Sykes termed as “mainstream Republicans,” who are looking the other way as regards to the President’s behavior, since his policies represent wins. “You get what you want (in terms of policies), but the price is too high,” he said.

The price is too high because one has to ignore behaviors such as name-calling, bullying, withdrawal as a world power, or classifying the media as fake news, said Sykes. But the most important litmus test on whether the price is too high is that “we have to accept the indifference on our democracy by the Russians.”

Sykes included several other items one must ignore such as the endorsement of Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, as well as the President’s erratic behavior in regards to the escalation of the potential of a nuclear war in the showdown with North Korea.

“The bottom line is that we have to realize that our political culture is more fragile than we thought,” said Sykes. We could go down the path of other democracies,” said Sykes. He characterized Trump as a cause of our current situation, but also referred to the President as “a symptom of a pre-existing condition.” While Sykes did not directly identify the pre-existing condition, he implied that it is our current tribalism that is at the root of the current political climate. Disagreement has turned to hate, he said, resulting in a “binary, polarized culture.”

In offering a glimpse of improvement to the current political landscape, Sykes offered that the current modus operandi may lead to a revitalization of democratic norms. Potentially, a coalition of Center Right and Center Left could restore the norms.

Our thanks to WisconsinEye for videotaping our meeting this week.  You can watch the video here.

Ten-Year Journey of the Wisconsin Union

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by Pete Christianson

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Rotarian Eric Salisbury with Mark Guthier (center) and Rotarian Mary Ellen O’Brien

Mark Guthier, Director of the Wisconsin Union at UW-Madison, filled Rotarians in on the 10-year journey of reflection and growth that has resulted in restored, renovated and enhanced facilities for Memorial Union and Union South. He emphasized that the project was “our journey” because there were so many people, including students and many Rotarians, involved in its completion.

The Master Plan for the project was completed in 2004 and announced at the Memorial Union’s 75th Anniversary. Two years later a student referendum approved a student fee of $96 per student per semester in support of the project, and a capital campaign was launched in 2007. Operating revenues will cover the remainder of the $220 million budget.

In 2012 the Wisconsin Union Theater, Hoofers and Craft Shop facilities were closed. The “saddest period in the Union’s history” was when the Terrace was closed for several months, Guthier said. But now all of these facilities – and more – are open and operating and serving the University community. The crowning event was the recent opening of Alumni Park.

There were three goals for the project: infrastructure improvements to update deteriorating or obsolete facilities and meet new student expectations; increased space for student programming, meeting rooms, food service and production storage; and mission enhancements to serve the entire campus better and re-energize the Union’s status as a membership organization.

The project had a new Design Committee appointed annually, including nine students, two alumni, two faculty and two staff members. The Committee was always led by a student and Guthier himself had just one vote. In addition there were multiple advisory groups to ensure that the new facilities would meet the needs of the community.

The Committee abided by design principles that ensured the buildings will be “people magnets,” will advance student programming, and will be timeless and enduring. They strived for green construction and sustainability. Their goal was to achieve LEED Silver status for both buildings, and the prospects look good. Union South has received LEED Gold status, and they are still awaiting the rating for Memorial Union. In addition, the project aimed at making the buildings complementary of each other and welcoming of all University community members. Finally, they wanted the buildings to tell the story of the Union, student leadership on campus, and the state of Wisconsin.

Goals for ongoing operations are to “make every day an event,” operate according to sustainable principles and build community for the entire campus. The Unions must have a customer-first perspective because they rely on program revenue for their existence.

Guthier closed his presentation with a slide show of the renovated facilities and the many celebrations that marked the Union’s 10-year journey. He invited Rotarians to attend two upcoming events: a November 10 celebration of the Memorial Union being on the National Register of Historic Places and the November 11 re-dedication of the Gold Star Honor Roll.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Wisconsin’s Economic Outlook

–submitted by Bill Haight; photo by Jeff Burkhart

Tom Still 9 20 2017

Tom Still pictured here with Club President Donna Hurd

This week’s speaker was Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council, a non-partisan advisory group to the governor and legislature. In addition to policy development, the council’s activities include facilitating collaboration between companies and investors.

In promoting Wisconsin as a place to invest and locate business, Still cited the state’s many advantages such as affordable housing and water in strong supply, both of which can be big drawbacks in other states. He also pointed out that despite a perception of being a “high tax” state, Wisconsin’s taxes are steadily decreasing. Also, Wisconsin is finally getting on the national investment community’s radar, with numerous startup hubs, particularly in smaller cities like Eau Claire and La Crosse.

Wisconsin’s high quality of education is another plus. And in recent years the UW System has become more nimble to react to the type of graduate needed in the new economy. “The Ivory Tower is giving way to a more inclusive approach toward business,” he said.

On the state’s possible incentive for Foxconn, Still said: “I think it’s well worth pursuing.” We should ask “How much would you pay to essentially rebrand the state AND create jobs that support families while attracting young workers and offering underemployed workers a chance to retrain?” The Foxconn investment is less than one percent of the state GDP for one year – but spread over 15 years, he noted.

Possibly more important than the 13,000 promised Foxconn jobs are the indirect effects on the supply chain. “For example, a new glass factory or other manufacturer might spring from Foxconn’s material needs,” said Still.

In closing, Still invited the audience to check out 45 new companies presenting to investors at the November Early Stage Symposium (www.wisearlystage.com).

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.  

 

Will Madison Win the Nation’s F-35 Competition?

–submitted by Dave Mollenhoff; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

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Col. Erik Peterson with Club President Donna Hurd

Will Madison be selected as one of two Air National Guard bases where the nation’s newest and most expensive fighter jet, the F-35, will be stationed?  That was the question that Colonel Erik Peterson, the Commander of the 115th  Fighter Wing at Truax Field, addressed in his talk to Rotarians.  Already Madison made the first cut from 18 Air Guard bases to today’s five.

Peterson argued that Madison meets and exceeds all Air Force criteria for this major strategic decision.  We have the capacity to handle F-35s with today’s F-16 hangers and support facilities.  We have cost advantages over other sites because just four minutes away—at F-36 speeds!—are 30,000 square miles of practice air space and a target range.  Four minutes may not seem important, but for an aircraft that costs $40,000 an hour to fly, having everything nearby will be a strong cost argument for locating the squadron here. Another cost advantage is that we already own the necessary hangers and support facilities.  We will not adversely affect air quality and the F-35’s will be no noisier than today’s F-16s.  Finally, Madison has always given the 115th Fighter Wing strong community support.  That’s a strong resume, said Peterson.

Zach Brandon, the President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and a project supporter who attended the meeting, reminded everyone that Madison has been an Air Force town since Truax was founded during World War II.  Remember, Brandon continued, when 9-11 happened, it was F-16s from Truax that scrambled to protect O’Hare Airport.  This is the proud job of the National Guard.

Peterson said that if the F-35 wing is stationed at Truax, its economic impact based on payrolls and purchased services will be $100 million per year.  Another benefit that few realize is that the Air Force pays for the fire-rescue program at Dane County Regional Airport.

Pevehouse: International Order is Costly But Necessary

–submitted by Valerie Johnson

Jon Pevehouse 4 5 17Jon Pevehouse, UW Political Science Professor, asked and answered the question, “How should the Trump administration balance power with constraint to maximize our legitimacy and prosperity?” at the April 5 Rotary meeting.

With graduate student Ryan Powers and Carnegie Foundation grant-funded opinion polls, Pevehouse has a wealth of information on what Americans want in international trade policy:

  • The last 5-6 years have found more people interested in trade barriers
  • Older, non-college educated people are more interested in trade barriers (these tend to be Trump supporters)
  • People want to keep jobs in the US, a platform Bernie Sanders also ran on as evidenced by the many “NO TPP” signs seen at the Democratic convention
  • Most American still want free trade (12% margin) even with job losses
  • Both political parties are pro-free trade; Hillary Clinton ran on this and Bill Clinton began NAFTA
  • Interest in trade barriers follows the economy; people like trade better than trade agreements.

Trump has indicated an interest in re-negotiating NAFTA.  Wisconsin has a positive balance of trade with Mexico, even though US does not.  The rules of origin Trump complains about were already re-negotiated by Obama as part of the TPP, but Trump threw that out; it would increase the percent of product manufactured/labeled required to be created in Mexico (for example) from 65% to perhaps 85%, decreasing what can come from China.

The concern is the Trump administration likes the power of the US economy, but not the traditional constraints we have used with other countries, such as the foreign ad Bush quietly used or the traditional tools such as the World Bank, WTO, etc.

“But without constraint,” Pevehouse said, “the fear is our power endangers our foreign policy.  International order is costly, but gives us legitimacy, as we have had with the last 60 years of prosperity.

Professor Pevehouse’s research in the areas of international relations, international political economy, American foreign policy, international organizations, and political methodology. Topics on which he has recently published include regional trade agreements, human rights institutions, exchange rate politics, and international organizations. He is the author, with Joshua Goldstein, of International Relations, the leading textbook on international politics. He is currently the editor of International Organization, the leading journal in the field of international relations.

Pevehouse has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Ohio State University and a B.A. in Political Science from University of Kansas.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

New Member Event at HotelRED

–submitted by Mary Romolino; photos by Jorge Hidalgo

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Photo 1: Charles Tubbs and Jeff Quinto; Photo 2: Haley Saalsaa, Jason Ilstrup, Karla Thennes, Leslie Lochner & Craig Bartlett; Photo 3: Leslie Overton, Jennifer Weitzman & Mary Romolino

20161213_080843It was a game of Find the Member Who… that had experienced Rotarians and new club members alike learning fun facts about each other’s unique and sometimes quirky life experiences at the new member event on December 13 at HotelRED. Thanks to Jason Beren, who organized the game, attendees mixed with literally every person in the room in order to match the experiences listed on our game sheets with the Rotarian who lived that experience. It was a terrific way to get to know our newest members and learn surprising facts about those we’ve known for years.

With members like ours, it’s no wonder our club is so dynamic! For instance, new members Jorge Hidalgo marched in President Reagan’s Inauguration Parade, Chris Rich saw a ghost at age eight, a sighting confirmed later in life by his mother; and Jennifer Weitzman has donated a kidney. Leslie Overton started at UW Madison as a music major but instead became a CPA and lived in Washington D.C. for years before returning to Madison.  Jeff Quinto’s family motto is “Often wrong, but never in doubt,” while Karla Thennes’s Minnesota-dwelling parents gave their children names beginning with the letter K. By the time Karla was due they were running low on names. Luckily Karla’s dad saw Miss Minnesota on TV and you guessed it, her name was Karla with a K.

When you meet a new club member, please extend a warm welcome and discover the experiences which led them to where they are now and to our club.  And, thanks to Jason Ilstrup and HotelRED for hosting our event.

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