Category Archives: UW-Madison

The U.S. Supreme Court and Its History

Submitted by Rich Leffler; photo by Valerie Johnson

Ryan Owens 4 26 2017Professor Ryan Owens, a member of the UW Department of Political Science and an Affiliate Faculty of the Law School (and who is developing the Tommy Thompson Center on Public Leadership) spoke to the Club about “The Past, Present, and Future of the U.S. Supreme Court.” He began with an interesting “Thought Experiment.” With the addition of Neil Gorsuch to the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy continues to be the middle or the median justice, often called the swing vote. But what happens if he retires, and if President Trump appoints a solid conservative such as Paul Clement, who is perhaps more conservative than Samuel Alito? In that case, the new median justice becomes Chief Justice John Roberts, who would then become the most powerful [influential?] Chief Justice since John Marshall. [Though he would be a very distant second.] If Ruth Bader Ginsburg were then to retire, Justice Alito would become the median justice. On the other hand, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, Justice Stephen Breyer might be the swing vote, etc. Very easily, a 6-3 conservative court under Trump might have been a 6-3 liberal court under Clinton. The presidential election of 2016 was, then, a very consequential election.

Professor Owens then wondered whether this was not a time for reforms to the Court. Two that he suggested were age limits on the justices, and perhaps requiring them to “ride the circuit,” as was once the case. The U.S. is the only common-law country without some limits on judicial tenure.

An age limit would remove the incentive for judges to retire “strategically,” so as to assure a like-minded jurist were appointed. It would also reduce the likelihood of justices serving while suffering from dementia. Attending circuit courts would let the justices see the consequences of their decisions and let the people see them in action close-up. It might also encourage the justices to retire earlier. [But would it also discourage people from taking an appointment?]

In answer to a question, Professor Owens said that he and a colleague were doing research on the age issue by studying oral arguments over the years to see if there is any evidence of dementia in sitting justices. He also questioned whether the Senate’s refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination would not lead to further retaliation beyond the recent filibuster. He expects the Trinity Lutheran case, probably Justice Gorsuch’s first major opinion, to be an important decision.

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

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.

Educating the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs at UW-Madison

–submitted by Mary Borland

olszewski_danielEntrepreneurship is one of the most important drivers of economic and job growth in our state and across the globe. It is also a topic that is of growing interest to today’s college students. On February 15, Dan Olszewski, the Director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship at UW-Madison School of Business, spoke with us about how UW-Madison is one of the leaders in teaching and inspiring students interested in entrepreneurship as a potential career.

Today, people under the age of 30 will have held eight different employment positions! The entire economy has become very dynamic and large and small companies in all industries are looking for employees with an entrepreneurial skill set to drive innovation in their companies. Whether a future student starts up their own company or goes to work for another company, entrepreneurship is important to society for job and wealth creation which leads to a more robust economy and innovation for consumers.

Anyone can become an entrepreneur, though the average age to begin is 40 years old.

The ways entrepreneurship is taught at UW-Madison includes classes, student start-ups (experimental things to sell) and via a link to alumni and practitioners.  For students, it is about action and doing.

Other activities enrolled students participate in include:

  1. Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Showcase – where stories can be shared and inspiration given
  2. Distinguished Entrepreneurs Lunch – where question and answers of an entrepreneur happen
  3. Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Bootcamp – five, 12 hour days for a specific subset of students
  4. WSB Business Plan Competition – students pitch ideas; winner moves on to Governor’s contest

Enrollment in these classes is coming from sections of campus and most from outside the business school. Several graduates locally have gone on to obtain over $50M in venture capital. In approximately 10 years, we will really see the fruits of this teaching with people making this world a better place by solving problems with high energy and optimism!

Rotarians can support these UW students by being event sponsors, providing student scholarships and by encouraging students they know to take these entrepreneurial courses.

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

What’s So Exciting About the First Folio?

–submitted by Dave Mollenhoff; photo by Mike Engelberger

“It’s the book that gave us Shakespeare,” explained Joshua Calhoun in a spirited talk to the club.  “Just imagine,” continued Calhoun, an assistant professor of English at the UW Madison, “When Shakespeare died 400 years ago, only half of his 36 plays had been printed.”  Without the First Folio we would never have known the Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, the Taming of the Shrew, Julius Caesar, MacBeth, and Antony and Cleopatra.  Happily, all of these and several more were published in 1623 in one of the most famous books ever printed.  And what a book it was!  Four pounds, 900 pages, 2 inches thick and about 13 inches high and 9 inches wide.  And expensive!  In today’s dollars, it would have cost at least $250.  Only 750 were printed and about 250 survive.

This rare book is the centerpiece of an exhibit at the Chazen and will be on display until December 11.  Accompanying the book is a thoughtfully-curated exhibit entitled “The Globe’s Global in Shakespeare’s time.”  The exhibit has triggered a great surge of interest throughout Wisconsin.

Calhoun delights in getting his students to contrast today’s media and technology with Shakespeare’s.  “It’s about the power of words,” concluded Calhoun.  “It’s about what makes us human.”

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Watch the video here.

The Nature of Autumnal Storms in the Great Lakes States

–submitted by Larry Larrabee; photo by Loretta Himmelsbach

martin-jon-11-2-16With the enthusiasm of Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel, Professor Jonathan Martin informed and entertained us regarding the unusually severe nature of November storms in the Great Lake States region.  He is a member of the faculty of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin and nationally recognized for his studies of mid-latitude atmospheric dynamics.

As Professor Martin informed us, UW is the birthplace of satellite meteorology and he was able to share with us numerous satellite images of past storms as they progressed through the Midwestern States.

He began his presentation by providing the physics behind hurricanes and cyclones as they travel across the world, divided north and south by the tropical weather pattern that flows in the opposite direction, east to west.

In his individual description of five specific November storms between 1911 and 2010 he illustrated the uniqueness of these weather phenomena and how the extremes of temperature differences and low barometric pressures contribute most significantly to the relatively high winds associated with these particular inland storms.

For instance, the November 11, 1911 storm contributed that day to Janesville, WI experiencing a daytime high of 70 followed with an overnight low of 20 with a 35-degree drop in just one-hour.  The community also experienced that day an F4 tornado and six inches of snow that evening.

The other storms described had their extremes as well.  In 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald was sunk in Lake Superior as it succumbed to 80-foot waves and on October 26, 2010 the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded on Earth was recorded in Northern Wisconsin.

Professor Martin’s enthusiastic delivery and our in-born fascination with weather and it’s extremes made for an informative and enjoyable program.

If you missed our meeting this week, click to watch the video.

Animals Need Heroes Too

–submitted by Stan Inhorn


Dr. Mark Markel, Dean of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) described the current status of the School, as well as the plans for expansion currently underway. One of the newer veterinary schools in the U.S., the SVM has become one of the premier schools in the country. During the past 10 years, the SVM has been rated in the top five research schools in the country. The SVM is particularly known for its research in infectious diseases – viral, bacterial, and parasitic.

The SVM is also highly rated for its teaching innovations. Each year, the School receives over 1,300 applications and selects 90 bachelor-degree students into the four-year program. It also maintains a large graduate-degree program. Over half the veterinarians in Wisconsin are graduates of the UW School. About 50% of graduates limit their practices to small animals, 25% include large animals, and 25% go into other aspects of practice, including government service, research, and industry. The SVM is an innovator in creating close to 200 teaching modules that permit self-learning, which will be made available to other schools

The SVM operate a large clinical facility, as it sees more than 25,000 patients a year from throughout the Midwest and beyond. With practitioners in more than 20 specialties, an animal with a primary disease may also be seen for other medical conditions at the same hospital visit.

Since clinical space is not adequate, the SVM is planning a $150 million expansion. More space is also needed for research and teaching in order to bring all parts of the School’s mission into one facility and to allow new teaching and research programs to expand. An example of a new service-teaching program is called WisCare, which offers animal care to homeless people. An expanding research program is one that permits the influenza and viral disease experts to study  zika and other emerging viral epidemics.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  CLICK to watch the video.

UW Men’s Basketball Update

–submitted by Bob Dinndorf; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Coach Greg Gard

UW-Madison Men’s Basketball Coach Greg Gard (right) pictured here with Club President Ellsworth Brown

“Losing to Maryland, a number 5 team in the country, on a 28 foot shot by an All-American with a defender in his face is not adversity.”  Coach Greg Gard used this statement to help his players and fans gain a sense of proportion about the game of basketball versus life.

Gard was named head coach at UW-Madison on March 7, 2016, and is in his 15th season on the Badgers basketball staff, serving as the team’s associate head coach since July 2008.

As associate head coach, Gard served as the Badgers’ recruiting coordinator in addition to on-floor coaching duties, opponent scouting and game preparation and the constructing of future game schedules. He also served as the director of the Badger Boys Basketball Summer Camps.

Gard came to the Badgers after spending the previous two seasons as Bo Ryan’s assistant at UW-Milwaukee. Previously, Gard served as an assistant to Coach Ryan at UW-Platteville from 1993-99. Coach Gard began his career at Southwestern and Platteville High Schools.

Well educated for this job, Coach Gard is a 1995 graduate of UW-Platteville with a degree in physical and health education. He earned a Master’s degree in counselor education from UW-Platteville in 2007.

Coach Gard was joined by his wife, Michelle, at the meeting. He was lavish in his praise for her support as he has made his way through these past sixteen years. His young family enriches the perspective he is able to bring to his work helping young men develop their potential as players and as people. He was thoughtful and reflective answering questions from club members. Coach Gard enjoys the public relations side of the job, describing the visit by Barneveld first graders to the Kohl Center in the morning of the Rotary meeting as well as other appearances he has made throughout the state. As a native of Cobb, Wisconsin, Coach Gard said he will not lose sight of the roots of Wisconsin, its people and our midwest region. Badger basketball is in good hands.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Watch the video here.