Category Archives: UW-Madison

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.

Pancreatic Cancer: Some Progress But More Research Required

–submitted by Linn Roth; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

LoConte NoelleAt our April 27 meeting, Dr. Noelle LoConte of the UW gave us some frightening, but also some hopeful information and a call to action during a presentation entitled Pancreatic Cancer Research: A Medical Oncology Perspective.  As many know, often because of personal experience, pancreatic cancer is a particularly virulent disease, with a five year survival rate of less than 5%.  With the exception of a rising incidence in the African American population, the incidence of this disease has remained relatively stable in our population.  Nevertheless, pancreatic cancer is expected to be the second most common cause of cancer mortality by 2020.  These numbers reflect the fact that there is no current method to screen for pancreatic cancer, and therefore, patients are typically diagnosed well into the disease process, when it is too late for effective surgical or drug intervention.   In addition, the risk factors are not well established, although age is clearly the most important factor, with smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and other contributors playing a role.

But the good news is that survival rates have slowly but surely been improving, and new methods to diagnose and treat the disease are in development.  Dr. LoConte is a firm believer that more basic research is the key to defeating pancreatic cancer, and that the UW Pancreatic Cancer Task Force will be a major contributor to this national effort.  As always, competition for funding and awareness is keen, but there are supportive events and direct means for individuals to help here in Madison.  To learn more about this disease and UW’s efforts to combat it, and to provide support, visit

The Roots of Wisconsin’s Politics of Resentment

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

Kathy CramerKathy Cramer is not your typical ivory tower professor.  Instead of conducting research in libraries, she drives to small towns far from Madison and Milwaukee.  She finds out where people meet for coffee—café’s, gas stations, and stores—and then just shows up.  “Hi, I’m Kathy Cramer, I’m a professor from Madison and I study public opinion.  May I join you?” Almost everyone she met during her impromptu visits were gracious, she told Rotarians on Wednesday.  Then she passed out her business card—she’s a professor in the Department of Political Science—and got permission to turn on her recorder.  “What issues concern you?” she asked.  What she heard surprised her.

“There’s a huge rural-urban divide, a deep sense of them and us out there,” she explained in a spirited and thoughtful presentation.  “People in Madison and Milwaukee just don’t get it,” Cramer’s interviewees told her.  They don’t understand our values.   Legislators in Madison pass laws, but most of the money stays in the big cities.  Our local businesses are closing, but state government won’t help us.  Public employees get cushy fringe benefits, and we can hardly afford any.  City folks take their showers in the morning before they go to the office; we take showers after we get home because we have to work hard all day.

These commonly held opinions culminate in what Cramer called the “politics of resentment” and are concentrated on three targets:  Madison and Milwaukee, the state’s two largest cities, coddled public employees, and African-Americans.  “Yes,” Cramer noted, “There is a racial dimension to the rural-urban divide.”  These were the factors that explained why so many Wisconsinites voted for Governor Walker and the Act 10, she explained.

Cramer closed with several changes she believed could attenuate the politics of resentment: More emphasis on the common good, not the special interests; a resurgence of the service ethic; making sure that public policy is responsive to the people, not the wealthy; and asking more of ourselves.

CLICK to watch the video on our club’s YouTube channel.