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Interim Chancellor Bousquet outlines spring priorities

February 14, 2013
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Interim Chancellor Bousquet

EAU CLAIRE — Talent and economic development, internationalization and global engagement, New Century Initiatives, and campus climate will be among his priorities during the spring 2013 semester, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet told the University Senate this week.

Gov. Scott Walker has said that his budget will include a more than $100 million investment in higher education as a way to ensure that state residents have the skills necessary to meet workforce needs, Bousquet said, noting that UW System and system Board of Regents leaders also have indicated that institutional funding will be tied to talent and economic development outcomes.

"We must position ourselves to capture these funds, because as a liberal arts institution we play a crucial role in attracting and nurturing the creative talent that is at the core of competiveness in an innovation economy," Bousquet said during the University Senate's first meeting of the 2013 spring semester.

Bousquet outlined a multi-pronged approach to help the university better meet talent and economic development needs of the state. Strategies include:

  • Strengthening the university's ability to collect and organize data that show UW-Eau Claire's impact on the economic, social and cultural growth and well-being of the region.
  • Appointing an ad hoc Rapid Action Taskforce on Liberal Education and Talent and Economic Development to help the university identify ways it can better demonstrate the university's impact on the region.
  • Amplifying advocacy and relationship building.

"I'm exploring ways in which our universities in the region and economic development organizations at the local, regional and state levels can partner to take action on strategic areas of talent and investment," Bousquet said. "Together, we will be in position to drive economic growth, attract new funding for the region and expand our relationships with business, nonprofit, government and health care organizations, making UW-Eau Claire a central player and resource in this new focus on talent and economic development."

Bousquet also told the senate that internationalization and global engagement will continue to be a major focus this semester. He noted his appreciation of the many faculty, staff and students who joined in meetings and open forums this week with Madeleine Green, an internationally recognized expert on internationalizing campuses.

Building on the campuswide momentum regarding global engagement, Bousquet announced the creation of an Internationalization and Global Engagement Committee, which will be led by Dr. Paul Kaldjian, associate professor of geography and anthropology and member of the University Senate. The committee will guide the university as it creates a vision for internationalizing the campus and a plan for achieving that vision, he said.

Work will continue this semester on many of his New Century Initiatives, which are projects and programs that will help shape UW-Eau Claire well into the future, Bousquet said. The Confluence Project and The Priory are among those initiatives, he said, noting that planning for both projects is continuing.

The New Century Initiatives also include changes that will strengthen existing academic programs to better meet the needs of current and future students, Bousquet said. For example, work is under way on an initiative that would align the university's many outstanding pre-professional and degree-granting professional health care programs into a health care education cluster.

"This cluster would enhance student recruitment, improve and sustain academic program quality, provide immersive learning experiences for students, and provide additional research opportunities for faculty and students," Bousquet said.

The political science and foreign language departments also are exploring the possibility of expanding the Asian studies minor to create an interdisciplinary program that would expand language offerings as well as Asian history, culture and politics, Bousquet said.

Strengthening the campus climate also will be a focus during the spring semester, Bousquet said.

"I want to use the beginning of this new semester to refocus our attention and dedication to ensuring that UW-Eau Claire is a safe, welcoming and nurturing campus for all students, faculty and staff," Bousquet said. "We have identified short- and long-term strategies to help us with our diversity and inclusivity efforts."

Examples of those efforts include an additional diversity workshop for residence hall directors and resident assistants, a renewed effort to make the campus more aware of how to report bias incidents on campus, and ensuring that professional development opportunities are available to faculty and staff in areas related to campus climate, Bousquet said.

"While much work has been done around campus climate in the past, there is much more to do," Bousquet said. "We are all committed and mobilized to continue engaging in conversations with faculty, staff and students around climate issues."

Bousquet, who will serve as interim chancellor until June, also told the University Senate that he looks forward to welcoming to campus the next UW-Eau Claire chancellor. He said he will work to ensure the new leader's transition will be smooth. Finalists for the chancellor position are expected to be announced this week.

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