Tag Archives: UW-Madison

Stories About Pioneers Who Settled in Wisconsin

submitted by Kevin Hoffman; photo by Mike Engelberger

Michael Stevens 3 6 2019

From left: Club President Jason Beren, Michael Stevens and Rotarian Loretta Himmelsbach serving as our club’s speaker greeter this week

Instead of writing about Wisconsin history in the pioneer era (1830-1850) from the perspective of the famous or leaders of that time, Dr. Michael Stevens chose to document the practical and emotional side of everyday existence for ordinary people.  What did it feel like to those who lived in a new situation from the land to weather to language to food to culture?

While there were many things to be negative about such as Wisconsin weather extremes, an imbalance in the male to female ratio (8 men to 5 women), poor food and hardship on the journey, having to learn a new language (English), loss of cultural affiliation, unfamiliar surroundings, and loneliness; the overall impression was that the pioneer had a positive outlook and balanced the difficulties against the opportunities, diversity, freedom and future prosperity they envisioned.

The trade-offs from having to learn English, live in rough conditions and with rough people, and missing their home country are the freedom they enjoyed to map their future, work hard for income and wealth, and the natural beauty of Wisconsin.

One essay of the time expressed the following about the Wisconsin Character:  There is a freedom and independence of mind – people think for themselves; an awakening spirit of enterprise – people are open to new ways of doing things; people work hard – they invest their sweat equity; and a public spiritedness about Wisconsinites – people support roads, schools, churches and a friendly interest in the welfare of all.

Dr. Stevens drew insights into the attitudes, humor and outlook of the early pioneer and the similarities to today’s Wisconsin Character.  The essay writer above said of his time:  “The settler here finds, within the limits of his acquaintance, people from all the states and many foreign countries, and those too have been formerly been engaged with a variety of occupations different from his own, so he acquires a great variety of new ideas and becomes much more liberal in all his opinions and life.”  Even through the hardships and inconveniences of the time, the pioneer’s outlook is not so different from our present-day Wisconsin outlook.

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

An Analysis of the 2018 Mid-Term Election

submitted by Andrea Kaminski

_SHR0908UW-Madison Political Science Professor Barry Burden, on February 6, gave Rotarians an overview of the November 2018 election in Wisconsin, along with an analysis of how and why voting patterns differed from past midterm elections.

The 2018 election had the highest national voter turnout rate for a mid-term election since women won the right to vote in 1920. Wisconsin’s participation in the midterm was higher than most other states’ turnout in presidential elections. Both major political parties had turnouts above 60 percent in our state, and the overall participation was 25 percent higher than would normally be expected for a midterm.

Burden attributed the high turnout to the fact that it was an “interesting election” driven by the gubernatorial race. He recalled that his students were watching the Walker-Evers race much more closely than more nationally hyped elections, such as Beto O’Rourke’s Senate bid in Texas.

The 2018 Wisconsin election ended the longest stretch of one-party control in the state since the 1950s. Burden noted that former Governor Walker has always been highly organized and disciplined as a candidate, and he is a master at fund raising. However, Burden described a shift in Wisconsin politics away from the formula that worked so well for Walker in the past toward a formula that worked well for Donald Trump in 2016. Walker was first elected Governor in the Tea Party Wave of 2010, which was a good year for Republicans. In contrast, it was clear early on that 2018 would be a difficult year for Republicans.

Democratic voters were better mobilized in 2018, and they voted in big numbers, particularly in Dane and Milwaukee counties. Although Walker won 65 to 70 percent of the vote in the Republican strongholds of Waukesha and Washington counties, neither the turnout nor the Republican edge was as strong there as in the past.

Burden does not believe Wisconsin saw a “Blue Wave” in 2018. First, the results were not particularly surprising. The President’s party always suffers losses in mid-term elections. Second, the effects of gerrymandering have proven to be quite durable.

Burden explained that until recent years, collecting more votes generally translates into winning more seats in Congress and state legislatures. According to that rule of thumb, the Democrats should have picked up 30 more seats in the House of Representatives than they actually did.

Democratic voters tend to live in densely populated cities. Burden said this presents a districting problem for Democrats even in “blue states.” The other problem for Democrats in Wisconsin and some other states is that the current voting maps were drawn by the Republicans who prevailed in the “Red Wave” of 2010.

Next year will be another exciting election year. With the Census taking place next year, the state legislators elected in November 2020 will get to draw the next set of voting maps in 2021. And, according to Burden, Wisconsin is the most competitive state in the nation and we can expect the presidential candidates to spend a lot of time and money here in 2020.

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

Alumni Park – A Must See on UW Campus

submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Paula Bonner 5 2 2018

From left: Regina Millner, Jeff Bartell, Roberta Gassman, President-Elect Jason Beren, Paula Bonner, Angela Bartell, Kristen Roman and Steve Wallman

Paula Bonner, former Wisconsin Alumni Association President and CEO, stepped out of retirement May 2 to talk to Rotarians about Alumni Park. This new lakefront gateway has had more than 21,000 visitors since it opened last October. Its purpose is to be a welcoming green space for students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members. It is not a big space but it features several distinctive and attractive exhibits that tell alumni stories. Bonner is particularly inspired by these in a challenging time for higher education.

The park is a gift to the University from its alumni and friends, Bonner said. More than 150 years after the University’s first campus master plan called for a green space in the area, the park completes the recent East Campus Mall development. It replaces an ugly surface parking lot between Memorial Union and the Red Gym. The land was initially part of the Ho Chunk Nation, which was recognized at the opening ceremony. Bonner thought of the development of the park as the reverse of the old Joni Mitchell song, Big Yellow Taxi, with lyrics that said, “They paved paradise and put in a parking lot” – and that became a marketing theme for the venture.

Approaching from Langdon Street, a visitor first sees the backlit granite fountain where water falls over ripples carved in stone. Then there’s the 80-foot long Badger Pride Wall depicting stories – some well-known and others quirky – from UW and state history. The Wall was designed by Nate Koehler and made in Green Bay. The Alumni Way exhibit has five 18-foot panels representing the five pillars of the Wisconsin Idea – service, discovery, tradition, leadership and progress. Alumnus William Harley (1908) is recognized with a sculpture of a vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle that visitors can “ride” for a photo. The multi-media Bucky Badger sculpture by artist Douwe Blumberg is contemplative yet still whimsical, said Bonner. At night it is lit from within.

The park is designed to celebrate Wisconsin. It has 75 trees and plantings of many native species. To the extent possible, the exhibits feature Wisconsin materials crafted by local artists. For example, Bonner recalled a cold February day when she went shopping up north for a big limestone slab, which was then carved by Madison’s Quarra Stone Company.

Information about the park, the exhibits, and upcoming educational and celebratory events can be found at www.alumnipark.com.

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

  

From Washington to Wisconsin

submitted by Mary Borland; photo by Mike Engelberger

Jo Handelsman 2 21 2018During the February 21 Rotary meeting, we heard from Dr. Jo Handelsman. She spoke to us about her time serving in President Obama’s administration as the Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in Washington D.C. and her return to Madison to become the Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at UW-Madison. In Washington D.C., her area included the following:

  • Office of Science & Technology Policy
  • Science Division
  • Levers for Change
  • Initiatives, most notably the “Precision Medicine Initiative”

She advised President Obama about science, which he is passionate about; managed science and technology in crises, the Ebola and Zika crises occurred in her 8 years in D.C.; managed her budget; scanned for gaps and opportunities; championed new ideas; increased visibility of science and technology; led committees/task forces (26 agencies were on the Ebola task force!); and recommended candidates for the Presidential Medals for Science and Technology.

Dr. Handelsman stated how fortunate she was to work for and with John Holdren, OSTP Director, and President Obama, given both of them digest information quickly and are able to articulate it in summary form extremely well. She also shared that diversity in the agency was extremely important for better outcomes.

The levers utilized to accomplish advancements included:

  • Executive orders
  • National monuments
  • Proclamations
  • Presidential Messages
  • Presidential Speeches
  • Event Commitments
  • Federal Agencies
  • Formation of Commissions
  • Compelling Arguments + Stature of White House

Regarding the Precision Medicine Initiative: the 21st Cures legislation contained $4.8 billion for this initiative, had bipartisan support and passed both houses in Dec. 2016.

Now at the WI Institute for Discovery (WID), she is able to continue many things she worked on in the White House.  WID is currently experimenting with new ways to catalyze interdisciplinary research; generate new research collaborations across campus; and build connections with the State of WI. It is exciting to put the word out to the entire campus to obtain ideas and input on particular issues – it elevates creativity and collaboration!

WID has a “Small World Initiative” course, which is a fusion of research and education to crowdsource antibiotic research in the hopes of discovering more antibiotics. Across the world, 10K students are taking this course and providing research to solve global problems.  This includes collecting soil samples in support of developing new antibiotics. Dr. Handelsman encourages us all to visit the WID.

Our thanks to Dr. Jo Handelslman for her presentation and to Mary Borland for preparing this review article. If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Wisconsin’s Research Universities: A Case for Reinvestment

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photos by Mike Engelberger

Rebecca Blank 5 3 2017    Mark Mone 5 3 2017

Rotarians heard from not one, but two University of Wisconsin chancellors on May 3. UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone teamed up to talk about collaborations between their campuses and the challenges they face in maintaining the high quality our universities are known for. The two chancellors have been on the road with this presentation, having also spoken to the Milwaukee Rotary and the Wisconsin Technology Council. Mone is a fellow Rotarian.

UW-Madison has 43,000 students who hail from all 72 counties in Wisconsin, all 50 states, and 121 nations. This year they have a record number of applicants. Blank said the university has excellent retention and graduation rates, and less than half of its students graduate with debt because the university has focused on helping students finish in four years.

UW-Milwaukee has 26,037 students, 84 percent of whom come from Wisconsin. There were 5,300 graduates in 2016. Three-quarters of graduates continue to live and work in Wisconsin when they finish. The most diverse campus in the UW System, UW-Milwaukee has the most students who are veterans. Forty percent of its students are the first in their families to go to college. Mone noted that by 2023 the state is projected to have a six-figure worker shortage. He showed how UW-Milwaukee is producing graduates in the four areas most needed in the Wisconsin workforce: healthcare; business; computer science; and engineering and science.

Both chancellors credit the collaborations and pooling of resources between their campuses for making it possible for a state of Wisconsin’s size to have two great research universities. The two campuses are anchors along a 400-mile “IQ Corridor” between Chicago and the Twin Cities, which is known for its research, industry and technology.

The chancellors gave several examples of collaborations that have pushed the level of knowledge and innovation in the Midwest. Examples include the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and UW-Madison Sea Grant Institute and energy partnerships funded in part by Johnson Controls centered at the UW-Madison Wisconsin Energy Institute. Mone noted that faculty on his campus alone partner with such Wisconsin industry leaders as Rockwell Automation, Harley Davidson, Kohl’s, Manpower, Northwestern Mutual and WEC energy group.

The chancellors see a major challenge in continuing to attract and retain top talent to uphold the UW’s reputation for excellence. The UW System’s budget has been cut in five of the past six state budgets. Blank noted that currently the state provides about 15 percent of UW’s budget, compared to about 45 percent 20-30 years ago.

Fortunately, the biennial budget proposed this year by Governor Walker includes a modest increase for UW System. It’s not enough to make up for the cuts, but the chancellors stressed that it is greatly needed and appreciated.

The chancellors outlined the following priorities the state should implement to keep the UW strong:

  1. Reinvest in the University as a way to invest in the state economy and workforce;
  2. Provide compensation increases to attract and retain talent. UW faculty and staff have seen on average a 0.3 percent compensation increase, compared to two percent at other major state universities. The proposed budget provides compensation increases but they are tied to savings from self-insurance;
  3. Authorize building projects, in particular those that are funded with program revenue. Budget-neutral examples are the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine parking ramp and renovation of the Slichter Residence Hall.
  4. Don’t pit state universities against one another through performance-based funding. The campuses have different missions and serve different types of students. Each campus’s own performance can be compared from year to year, but it should not be compared with that of other campuses.

The chancellors said the UW is approaching the “tipping point” financially. Faculty and staff compensations are almost 19 percent behind those of peer institutions. Yet every state dollar invested in the UW generates three to four dollars in expenditures that stimulate the economy. And that does not even figure in the long-term economic impact of the university’s graduates who continue to live and work in the state. Truly, we invest in our state by reinvesting in our great state university.

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

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.

Is the US Becoming Increasingly Anti-Science?

–submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Scheufele DietramAt the April 20 meeting of the Rotary Club of Madison, our guest speaker, UW-Madison Professor Dietram Scheufele (pictured here at right with Club President Ellsworth Brown) presented an interesting insight into how polarized opinions have become as a result of an increasingly greater tendency for like-minded segments of our population — tribes, if you will — to subscribe to the news and information that fits their ideology.

Under the title of “Is the U.S. Increasingly Anti-Science?” Professor Scheufele claims that about half the U.S. population agrees with global warming and the other half does not.

Among the primary reasons for this split in opinion is a tendency for humans to associate with those who think like us — a phenomenon that in recent times has led to our media becoming opinion-driven, as is evidenced by the rise of Fox News on one end of the spectrum and MSNBC on the other end.

Media outlets such as these “give people what they want to believe in,” said Scheufele, although the consumption of information and research should really be a non-partisan endeavor. Scheufele illustrated our nation’s increasing polarization with various examples, including a study of political blogs published on the Internet that feature tremendously high cross-referencing with like-minded political blogs, but hardly any crossover between different ideologies. “We don’t go by content; we go by category,” said Scheufele. Social media, Scheufele said, is based on a business model that gives the consumers what they want. He said steering Internet traffic to the opposite point of view or need or want “doesn’t sell.”

To break through this polarization, Scheufele suggested that one method to unite various constituents of our nation is to focus on bottom-line issues we can all agree on. In the case of global warming, Scheufele said it would be most likely that we could get behind the idea of investing in green energy so that we can export green energy technology to other nations. Global competitiveness, Scheufele said, is something we can agree on.

 CLICK to watch the video on our YouTube Channel.