Outlook Magazine - Fall 2021

Outlook Magazine for Alumni and Friends - Fall 2021

Magazine for Alumni & Friends • F all 2021


FOCUS2030 strategic goals

Polar bear research by alum at 3M

Business and industry alum recovering from pandemic










Chris Cooper University Photographer

Abbey Goers Communications Specialist, Marketing Communications

Fall 2021 • University of Wisconsin-Stout

William Johnson Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Alumni Relations

Cheryl Keyes ‘92 Production Manager, Marketing Communications AJ Liedl Creative and Brand Manager, Marketing Communications Jerry Poling Communications Manager, Marketing Communications Pam Powers Communications Specialist, Marketing Communications Gary Schuster ‘15 Interim Director, Marketing Communications Jennie Smith ‘11 Alumni and Donor Relations Coordinator Cade Walters ‘14 Graphic Designer, Marketing Communications


M E S S A G E F R O M T H E C H A N C E L L O R 2 A message from Chancellor Katherine Frank

A L U M N I N E W S 19 20 22 24 25 26 27 28 29 C L A S S N O T E S 30 33

Hospitality leaders bouncing back from COVID challenges It’s a dream – working at DreamWorks 3M researchers stick it with polar bear project

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New vice chancellor and Inside Stout podcast

Impactful military, education careers

Snapshots of the 2020-2021 academic year

Milwaukee special ed teacher makes a difference

FOCUS2030 10-year strategic plan


‘Bluetiful’ color discovered by a Blue Devil

Academic programs added, updated

We’d love to hear from you, and your fellow alumni would too! Drop us a line about your promotion, a reunion, or just to reminisce. S T O U T T R A D I T I O N S Your Alumni Association is interested in learning what traditions were part of your days on campus. Were there bon- fires after the hockey games; did you have weekly dances; what event(s) did your fraternity or sorority hold each year? As you think back to those events, please share them with us.

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Special family bond inspires graduate

Kidney donation helps save friend’s life

Graduate’s positive experience; chancellor’s investiture ceremony

Food science meets Midwestern farm

Podcast on social issues gains national attention

More sun power harnessed at Price Commons

Stout Proud numbers

Class notes

Campus briefs

Professor’s research contributed to space race

S T O U T U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D A T I O N 16 17 18 Career in education inspires new scholarship

E M A I L alumni@uwstout.edu

Message from Vice Chancellor William Johnson; Foundation supports employee success

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P H O N E (715) 232-1151

Spring season ends with a bang

Alum supports new Digital Process Lab

O N L I N E Share your news or ideas at www.uwstout.edu/alumni

Hall of Famer, athletic directors pass away


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O N T H E C OV E R One of the new campus banners hangs in front of the north side of Jarvis Hall.

facebook.com/stoutalumni @uwstoutalumni_official

Homecoming events


I t is with hope and gratitude that I write the welcome for this edition of the Outlook alumni magazine. After a year and a half of great challenges, we are looking forward to a fall semester that is as much a return to regular university operations as possible. Our ability to navigate the complexities of the last academic year as successfully as we did is due to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff, students, partners and friends of the university. We were creative, resourceful, patient and supportive of one another, and we remained focused on our mission and delivered on our promise to students. I am proud to report that we graduated more than 1,600 students during a collection of virtual, hybrid and in-person commencement ceremonies held during the 2020-2021 academic year. I hope you will enjoy the images and inspiring stories from these ceremonies included in the magazine. As graduates and supporters of our special university, you know that at UW- Stout we use the problem-solving and critical thinking skills that we teach our students as part of our own everyday operations. This was apparent in our commitment to designing and launching a new university strategic plan while we were dealing with the many immediate issues associated with COVID-19. FOCUS2030, launched officially in May 2021, is a 10-year strategic plan designed to allow us to position ourselves and lead as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University in a post-pandemic landscape. We have aligned many of the stories featured in this edition of Outlook with the five goal areas of the plan: 1. Student Success; 2. Employee Success; 3. Institutional Sustainability; 4. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity; and 5. Identity. Many of you will likely recall that we remain the only four-year university to have ever received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (2001), and the robust and inclusive planning process and accountability system associated with this status continues to guide our planning, implementation and assessment processes. The stories featured in the magazine are evidence of our strong institutional foundation that helps position us for success as we work toward achieving the goals of FOCUS2030. I encourage you to take some time to read through the new strategic plan at www.uwstout.edu/focus-2030, follow our progress and continue to offer ideas through your participation on advisory and university committees, via university connections or by emailing ideas to focus2030@uwstout.edu. We are excited to be returning to in-person university events like homecoming, featured in the magazine, and I hope that you will find time to visit Stout during one of these events and/or as your travels bring you to the area. The university community is always delighted to welcome you back to campus, to listen to your memories, to show you how far we have come and to share plans for the future. Thank you for all that you do for UW-Stout. It’s simple: Our students — past and present — are why we are here and able to do what we love as educators and supporters of public, higher education.

Message from the Chancellor KATHERINE FRANK

With gratitude,


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Enrollment, strategy leader New university unit led by new vice chancellor, Laura King

Laura King began work in June as UW-Stout’s new vice chancellor of Enrollment and Strategic Initiatives. King was vice president of Student Affairs at Saint Paul College, a community college in St. Paul that is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. “Joining the University of Wisconsin-Stout is an honor,” King said. “My belief

“Dr. King’s experience developing and implementing strategic enrollment plans, overseeing accreditation and managing data collection and analysis processes positions her well to lead the new unit and advance UW-Stout’s mission as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University,” Chancellor Katherine Frank said. King has a Ph.D. in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota; a M.S. Ed. in college student development and administration from UW-La Crosse; and a B.S. in music performance with a minor in biology from UW-River Falls.


Laura King

in the power of education, to change the lives of students and positively impact our communities, aligns with the spirit and commitment demonstrated in UW-Stout’s mission. I look forward to working with the campus community to focus on enrollment and student success.” King is providing leadership and strategic direction for the newly formed unit, which includes Admissions, Advisement Center, Financial Aid, Registration and Records, Stout Online, Professional Education, and Continuing Education.

Goal 3. Institutional Sustainability — achieve financial stability that systematically strengthens the university’s short-term and long- term financial, social and environmental outlook in a way that is transparent and responsible to the university’s mission.

Inside Stout will be recorded from a studio in Sorensen Hall with co-hosts Pam Powers and Rachel Hallgrimson, who work in MarCom, UW-Stout’s Marketing Communications office. Powers is a communications specialist, and Hallgrimson is the university’s social media coordinator. Occasional episodes or portions of them also may be recorded on location. New episodes, typically 20 to 30 minutes in length, will be available every other week during the fall and spring semesters. Watch the university’s news and social media outlets for announcements about and links to the latest episodes. Inside Stout also can be found on the podcast platform Buzzsprout, where episodes will be archived.

A new way to follow what’s happening at UW-Stout will be available this fall when the first universitywide podcast, Inside Stout, will debut. Inside Stout will feature recorded interviews with a variety of individuals from across the university community. Topics will include news, current events, trends, issues, personal stories, history and more. The goal of the podcast is to provide personal, in-depth accounts of life at Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University through the voices of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university.


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Emerging from the pandemic, UW-Stout already is boldly moving forward, guided by a new 10-year strategic plan


W-Stout has never met a challenge it couldn’t overcome — a major fire six years into its existence, the death of its founder and patron 13 years later, keeping the doors open during the Great Depression, and ongoing expansion and academic renewal to meet the needs of an ever-changing society. Then came 2020 and 2021. Once again, UW-Stout met head-on the numerous and rolling challenges over 18 months caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The university’s hallmarks of stability and innovative progress, symbolized by the Clock Tower and quill, have withstood the tests of time. So, how has UW-Stout prepared itself to emerge into a post- pandemic world? During the height of the pandemic in 2020, an external stakeholder visioning session was held, followed by feedback sessions with the university community, resulting in FOCUS2030, UW-Stout’s blueprint for the next decade with the tenets of “recovering, rebuilding and reimagining.” The plan, believed to be the first time UW-Stout has created a strategic vision of such length, was launched in May 2021. The session produced five goals that already are guiding short- and long-term university decision-making: student success; employee success; institutional sustainability; equity, diversity and inclusivity; and identity.


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The process is part of UW-Stout’s adherence to the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework, which values people, management by fact and a focus on the future. In 2001 UW-Stout became the first and remains the only four-year university to be the recipient of the Baldrige National Quality Award. “Our strategic planning process is the cornerstone that integrates the major components of the Baldrige framework, including our approaches to leadership, student and employee success, and operational effectiveness,” Frank said. “For example, through our strategic planning process we have established UW-Stout as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University; created a new leadership structure for equity, diversity and inclusivity efforts; launched substantial technology upgrades, including a new customer relationship management and student laptop program; and grown to 100% of students graduating with an experiential learning experience.” At the beginning of each multiyear strategic planning cycle, UW- Stout also collects feedback from external partners and internally to determine whether changes are needed in the university’s mission statement. The process identified a need to refine the statement to sharpen UW-Stout’s focus on its polytechnic designation. The revision process, which includes two reviews by the UW System Board of Regents and a public forum, is expected to be completed during the fall semester. With FOCUS2030 as a guide, UW-Stout is ready for the challenges of the future.

Chancellor Katherine Frank is excited to see UW-Stout not just move on from the pandemic, but also move ahead, using the lessons of COVID-19 and inspiration from the entire UW-Stout community and our many external stakeholders as the guide. “A 10-year strategic plan encourages innovative, visionary thinking that often doesn’t occur with plans that cover a shorter time period. This type of innovative thinking is of particular importance because we must challenge our traditional ways of knowing and doing to be successful in a post-pandemic environment,” Frank said. The five goals align with a series of Action Plans managed by the Strategic Planning Group, made up of faculty, staff and students. The Action Plans include initiatives for fundraising, inclusive excellence, marketing, strategic enrollment, student retention, employee success, sustainability and academic planning. Each academic year, Action Plan leaders will identify and implement three to five major initiatives. Assistant Chancellor Meridith Wentz, Office of Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality (PARQ), called FOCUS2030 a “living, breathing document. This means that we are continuously reviewing our progress, implementing new initiatives, demonstrating agility in responding to changes in the internal and external landscape, and adjusting our strategies to ensure success.” She will oversee progress toward goals by using metrics as measuring tools. PARQ will track:

• Efforts to improve equity, diversity and inclusivity

• Employee engagement

• Employer rating of graduate work readiness

• Employment rate of graduates

• Enrollment and retention

• Experiential learning impacts

• Graduation rates

• Sustainability progress, such as reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions.


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Student Success — Deliver valuable holistic support and integrated learning experiences that engage students in envisioning new possibilities, achieving their goals, and excelling in our global and diverse society.


Employee Success — Foster an equitable environment that invests in, supports, encourages, and values diverse faculty and staff development opportunities.


Institutional Sustainability — Achieve financial stability that systematically strengthens the university’s short-term and long-term financial, social, and environmental outlook in a way that is transparent and responsible to the university’s mission.


Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity — Invest in, and ensure access to, equitable, diverse, and inclusive learning, student living, and work environments that reflect our regional and global connections.


Identity — Advance UW-Stout’s reputation as a polytechnic university by providing students access to cutting edge technology, innovative programs, and collaborative partnerships that support the development of interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, including a humanistic understanding necessary to live and work in a diverse, interconnected, and rapidly changing world.



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W-Stout is known for its cutting edge, relevant and industry-backed academic programs. That focus Moving forward in the classroom Academic programs stay current with two new and two updated majors, along with a preprogram U Fashion and retail: The revised program blends two former programs, apparel design and development; and retail merchandising and management. Students can choose from three concentrations in fashion and retail.

continued unabated during the pandemic. Two new academic programs, two updated and renamed programs, and a new preprogram are available to students. “True to our core mission as a polytechnic, we continue to evolve and innovate,” said Interim Provost Glendali Rodriguez. “The pandemic allowed us to broaden our networks with employers, program advisory committees and partners in new ways. Our 97%-plus employment rate continues and reflects the remarkable dedication of our faculty and staff to student success and our partnerships.” Arts administration and entrepreneurship: The new Bachelor of Science blends courses in the arts and management to prepare graduates to lead cultural organizations, such as museums and arts centers, and independent arts-based businesses. Students will be educated to work in a society where the arts are integrated into science, business and the community. The job market in the industry is expected to grow 11% through the decade. M.S. nutrition and dietetics: The new online graduate program, designed for working adults, includes curriculum in nutrition counseling, research, clinical nutrition, food service management and more. Beginning in 2024, the registered dietitian credentialing exam will require a master’s degree.

Graduates will be trained to work in a variety of roles within the fashion and retail sector, which has undergone major changes because of online shopping. Animation and digital media: The former entertainment design program has been renamed to focus on animation, which was a concentration. Demand for animation in big screen films, streaming programs, network TV shows, video games and more has increased 20% in recent years and surged during the pandemic. Pre-BFA: The School of Art and Design has developed a first- year experience to help students create a portfolio and decide if one of the six Bachelor of Fine Arts programs is right for them, or transition to another major. The goal is to make a fine arts degree more equitable to incoming students, regardless of prior art and design background.

Student Marilla Von Haden adjusts clothing in a UW-Stout fashion and retail lab.


Student Joe Leider discusses ideas in the Animation Production class.


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Special family bond

Inspired by her Stout Proud grandfather, student was one of more than 1,600 graduates in 2020-21


“I love Stout so much that writing this speech was challenging because my passion is so deep I could barely put it into words,” she said. Truly surprised, Christensen couldn’t hold back the tears when she spoke. “I’m extremely proud of Alexa for completing a successful UW-Stout experience. She is a very driven individual and has a tremendous competitive desire to work hard and to be the best, all traits that are encouraged by Stout’s hands-on approach to learning,” said Christensen, who also earned a master’s from UW-Stout in 1977. The tradition is continuing: Gravunder’s sister, Ava, is a sophomore at UW-Stout, majoring in early childhood education. Spring commencement featured four in-person ceremonies for graduates only, plus a virtual ceremony. Virtual ceremonies only were held in March 2020 and December 2020.

othing says Stout Proud more than commencement. During the 2020-21 academic year, more than 1,600 graduates received undergraduate and Graduate School diplomas. At May commencement, the pride stretched back a half-century. Alexa Gravunder, one of two virtual student speakers, explained that her love for UW-Stout dates to her childhood. She often would visit campus for athletic events with family, led by her grandfather, Gary Christensen. He graduated 50 years ago. “When I say Stout Proud, I did not understand the true impact of that phrase until this last summer. I spent a great deal of time with my grandpa, and we always ended up talking about Stout. I realized how much his face changed when he talked about this university. I could see that Stout had impacted him more than just with an education. “Stout … is about educating the whole person. Today, I can say with pride — like my grandpa and thousands of others — that I am a UW-Stout alum,” said Gravunder, who had a co-op, was a Stout Ambassador and involved in athletics and clubs. Gravunder, a supply chain management major who has been hired as a buyer at Curt Manufacturing in Eau Claire, kept her speaking role a secret from her grandfather until the big day. They had been having a family competition to see if she could surpass his undergraduate accomplishments. She called it one of her biggest accomplishments.


Goal 1. Student Success — holistic support and integrated learning experiences that engage students in envisioning new possibilities, achieving their goals, and excelling in our global and diverse society.


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May graduate thrived in campus climate of inclusivity, caring Empowering experience

Stolen also loved her educational experience, especially the “interdisciplinary approach. At Stout I learned it is about the broader perspective and learning to look at issues from a different angle. It’s education at its best.” A week after graduating, Stolen began work at Northland College in Ashland as creative services coordinator.

After one visit, Grace Novie Stolen knew that UW-Stout was for her. “It felt like a really queer-friendly campus. There were all- gender bathrooms. There was a very visible queer community. I felt comfortable and I saw that others felt comfortable.” She had earned an associate degree elsewhere and chose UW- Stout to finish her bachelor’s, graduating May 8 in applied social science. UW-Stout’s climate of caring for equity, diversity and inclusion helped Stolen thrive. She was the lead student at the Qube, helping organize LGBTQIA+ events; received the Scott Griesbach Award for Excellence in LGBTQIA+ Advocacy; and was director of communication for the Stout Student Association. “It really felt like people cared and valued the work I’ve done,” Stolen said. Nicole Eastman, program coordinator for the LGBTQIA+ program, said Stolen worked diligently to make UW-Stout “a better place for underrepresented students.”


Goal 4. Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity — Invest in, and ensure access to, equitable, diverse, and inclusive learning, student living and work environments that reflect our regional and global connections.

Investiture ceremony in March to formally install Katherine Frank as chancellor Making it official

Frank became the eighth leader, and first female, in the school’s nearly 130-year history when she began work March 1, 2020. Most investiture ceremonies are held within a year of chancellors beginning their duties, but the ceremony for Frank has been delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings. Frank’s long career in higher education includes, most recently, two vice president positions at Central Washington University and serving as a college dean at Northern Kentucky University and at Indiana University East. She has a Ph.D. and M.A. in English from the University of Washington and a B.A. in English from Bates College. She succeeded former interim Chancellor Patrick Guilfoile, who served after Chancellor Emeritus Bob Meyer retired in August 2019.

Katherine Frank will be formally installed as chancellor at UW- Stout during an investiture ceremony on Friday, March 25, 2022, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. The starting time, details of the ceremony and related events that day are being finalized and will be announced at a later date. University, local, regional and state officials and leaders are expected to attend.


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Employment and continuing education rate for recent graduates. Down only 1.1% despite the pandemic. 97.8%

$149,000 Smart manufacturing pilot project grant given to UW-Stout’s Discovery Center by the U.S. Department of Defense. 130 Years UW-Stout has been in operation as of Jan. 5, 2021. TOP 30 UW-Stout ranked among best in U.S. for strong industry connections by College Values Online. 264 Art kits created by staff so students could learn 3D Design remotely in spring 2021 during the pandemic.

NO. 5 IN U.S. Game design and development program ranking , by Princeton Review, among all public U.S. universities. 7 TONS Office paper UW-Stout shredded in 2020. It is being sent to Cascades in Eau Claire, Wis., to be made into tissue paper. 2ND IN U.S. The place four packaging majors took in the Student AmeriStar Package Awards for their coconut oil container concept. 89 Steep steps inside the Clock Tower to reach the top level, the open-air belfry.


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Campus briefs

Future looks bright Senior interior design major Michaela Cook was named to the 2021 Metropolis Magazine Future 100, the New York publication’s list of the top 50 interior design and top 50 architecture students in the U.S. and Canada. The portfolio she submitted for the competition included a library design for teenagers. “I’ve always wanted to make an impact on society. With interior design, I can have a direct impact on how people live,” said Cook, who is hoping to design professionally in the hospitality industry, such as hotels and restaurants, but also is interested in corporate office spaces and branded companies. Three degrees in four years In May, Abi Gardiner became the first in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree — and went two steps further: She earned three degrees. She did it in four years, with honors, by taking extra classes, winter and summer classes and testing out of courses to receive diplomas in graphic communications, digital marketing technology, and information and communication technologies. “What got me through it were the amazing people I’ve met at UW-Stout and the support I’ve had. Of course, I faced many long nights,” said Gardiner, who plans to use her skillset to expand her business, Abi Jane Photography, in the Twin Cities. Menards: corporate kudos Menards, the Midwest home improvement chain, is Career Services’ inaugural Employer of the Year, recognizing the company’s engagement, recruitment and hiring for co-ops, internships and full-time professional roles. Menards takes part in the Career Conferences, Employer in Residence program, Cooperative Education and Internship Program, and new Partnership Program.

Bicycles welcome For the second time, UW-Stout has been named a Bike Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists. The bronze level designation recognizes the university’s efforts — bike racks, bike lanes, repair stations, bike lockers at two buildings, covered bike parking at two other buildings, StoutBikes rental program and a bike registration program. “Being recognized as a Bike Friendly University signals to our students, transportation and recreation,” said Sarah Rykal, sustainability manager for the UW- Stout Sustainability Office. Golf course owner at 23 Indiana “Indy” Thompson likes the grass to grow – just not under his feet. In March the 23-year-old golf enterprise management major purchased the nine- hole Pine Crest course about 50 miles north of UW-Stout. He graduated in May 2019 but already had been general manager of a resort course in northern Wisconsin for eight months. With entrepreneurship in his family and his education, he felt ready for an even bigger challenge. “Your days get really busy, but it’s been very rewarding,” the former Blue Devil men’s golf team member said. “Business ownership runs in the family. I always wanted to be a farmer; this is kind of the closest thing to it.” Bowman Hall project cited The renovation of historic Bowman Hall and the Clock Tower (featured in the 2019 and 2020 Outlook magazines) has been recognized. Architects Mead & Hunt received an Excellence in Restoration Masonry from the Wisconsin Masonry Alliance. The nearly $9 million project from 2018-20 included replacing about 30,000 bricks and special masonry shapes, new mortar throughout, new copper Clock Tower roof, renovated quill weathervane, renovated south annex interior, new historically accurate windows and doors and more. 6 employees and community that we prioritize biking as a mode of

The 1897 structure was built by school founder James Huff Stout. “We are excited to enable iconic Bowman Hall to stand strong for years to come with an exterior that is historically accurate,” said Justin Utpadel, Facilities Management director. Ojibwe game preserves history Eleanore Falck, majoring in game design, has helped preserve Indian history and traditions with her game Growing up Ojibwe, the result of a summer internship with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Players embark on a journey through northern Wisconsin to learn Ojibwe life and culture, including treaty rights and sovereignty, maple sap gathering, spearfishing and wild rice harvesting. As a descendant of the Oneida Nation, Falck grew up harvesting wild rice and maple sap and is pleased to help pass on those traditions. “I’m pretty proud of what I made,” she said. Goat Milk? gets recognized As a track athlete, Daniel Nesja is familiar with the GOAT acronym in the sports world. It stands for greatest of all time. In his Advertising Design class, he created a campaign called Goat Milk? to tout its health benefits and add a twist to the old Got Milk? dairy campaign. His results were great — Best in Show in the student division of the Advertising Federation of Minnesota contest, then a silver award in the national contest. “This is a good sign that I am going in the right direction, and it was a much-needed confidence boost in a stressful pandemic time,” Nesja said. 7 8


Goal 5. Identity — Advance UW-Stout’s reputation as a polytechnic university by providing students access to cutting edge technology, innovative programs, and collaborative partnerships.


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Donors support faculty, staff career development


W-Stout encourages and supports professional development among the more than 1,100 faculty and staff. It has a partner in that endeavor, Stout University Foundation. The Foundation, through the generosity of donors, funds eight professorships and endowed chairs; the Chancellor’s Fund for Teaching Excellence and Student Success; the Celene Frey Endowed Fund for Non-Instructional Academic and University Staff; the Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center endowed fund; and more to help employees perform at the highest level. Pranabendu Mitra, food science, in 2020 used the Maybelle Ranney Price Professorship to conduct research on a cranberry by-product. His paper was named the best of 2020 by the Journal of the Saudi Society for Food and Nutrition. Mitra’s experience then benefited a graduate student, whose similar research received a 2021 WiSys Innovation and Commercial Relevance Award. The 2020-21 Frey Fund recipient was Darren Ward, student adviser, who used his award for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification for educators and career counselors. The personality test helps people understand their strengths and communication and decision-making styles. With his training, Ward can administer the test to students in the Advisement Center to help them explore majors and careers, especially first-year students, to improve retention and student outcomes. U Pranabendu Mitra, right, works with a student in a food science lab.


ast year will be remembered as a time of challenges, opportunities, and successes at UW-Stout. When the challenges arose because of COVID, we collectively looked for solutions, and our alumni and friends responded. As opportunities appeared, alumni and friends stepped forward to provide the financial support and creative ideas to address student needs. At the end of this fiscal year, we can celebrate student successes and the dedicated work of our faculty, staff, alumni and friends who answered the call for support. Thank you! As we continue to build a strong base of scholarship support to attract and retain students, you have continued to respond. When we challenged you to participate in our annual Day of Giving, you responded to support the needs of students, provided scholarship support to allow students to study abroad, and backed our general fund for campus projects. Your support was a critical part of the university’s successful navigation of a truly unprecedented year. Throughout UW-Stout’s history, when the need has presented itself, alumni and friends have always responded. You have been an integral part of our proud past and will shape our future through your involvement in the FOCUS2030 strategic plan. We are excited about what the new year brings and confident the support for our students that was so evident last year will continue into and through the upcoming academic year.

Warm regards,


Goal 2. Employee Success — Foster an equitable environment that invests in, supports, encourages, and values diverse faculty and staff development opportunities.


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S chool of Art and Design students have a new hub on campus — the expanded, upgraded Digital Process Lab in the Applied Arts Building. Ten times the size of the old print lab, it houses new state-of-the-art printing equipment, thanks in large part to an in-kind gift valued at $100,000 from alum Bill Flesch, a 1981 business administration graduate. Flesch’s gift came through the Pathways Forward comprehensive campaign, which wrapped up in 2020; he was on the steering committee. The gift includes three state-of-the-art Canon printers: a wide-format inkjet, a color copier and a high-volume Canon imagePRESS, the latter essentially a digital printing press. “The lab will be like a town square. Everybody taking art and design classes can access it for their projects,” said Dave Beck, associate vice chancellor for Partner and Student Engagement. Flesch is chief development officer and treasurer for the Gordon Flesch Company, one of the nation’s largest independent providers of office technology solutions. “The lab has the latest and greatest equipment from the digital processing and digital imaging world. Students will be learning about digital processing at the highest level, so they’ll have experience that others typically won’t get. We had the opportunity to help, so we were in,” Flesch said. Students will be trained to operate the lab’s machines but also can upload files remotely and simply stop by and pick up their project from a lab manager, be it a full-color comic book, graphic design project or interior design poster for a class, industry presentation or portfolio. The previous print lab, in another location, was visited about 15,000 times a year by students. “I foresee even more visits because now students will have room to lay out their prints, make cuts, discuss their work and more,” said Beck, noting that there are 50-plus art and design labs on campus. In addition to being an open lab, the new space will be used by more than 1,000 students from all School of Art and Design majors and four related programs that have classes within the school. Other new equipment in the lab includes four 3D printers, thanks to a grant from 3M Foundation; and two new laser cutters, thanks to a grant from Kohler Corp. “It’s a space where students will enter with ideas digitally on their computer and leave with their ideas in their hands,” Beck said.


Gift from alum Flesch spearheads state-of-the-art Digital Process Lab for School of Art and Design

Cindy Pawlcyn


Photo: Kerstin Nye, a Master of Fine Arts in design student, tests one of the new printers in the new Digital Process Lab.


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Advocates and agents of change

New scholarship to support first-generation early childhood education students

J oan Herwig started her education in a one-room country school in Deansville, Wis. Her experiences there and in Lodi, Wis. schools led her to pursue a degree in home economics education at UW-Stout. “I had long wanted to teach. I never had any doubt,” Herwig said. “Stout opened so many doors for me.” Herwig, a first-generation student from a large family, graduated with her bachelor’s in 1965. For the next four years, she taught home economics and English to seventh- and eighth-graders in Port Huron, Mich. In the summers, she taught and led the district’s Head Start program. She earned her master’s from Iowa State and her Ph.D. from Purdue, both in child development, and taught child development at Iowa State from 1971 until her retirement in 2003 as professor emeritus. In that time, she had opportunities to travel the world as an educator, researcher and early childhood advocate.

Making a foundational difference

Now in her late 70s, looking back at her career, Herwig wants to support students seeking a similar path. Through the Stout University Foundation, she has established the Dr. Joan Herwig Early Childhood Education Endowed Scholarship, designed for first- generation early childhood education juniors. Herwig’s gift of $50,000 will award a $1,750 scholarship annually, starting in the 2022-23 academic year. “For first-generation students, support systems are different. You don’t have that connection at home to help you navigate and feel more confident,” Herwig said. “You rely on the university, your adviser and your fellow students to show you options and to help believe in yourself.” Herwig hopes the scholarship will help alleviate some financial pressure for recipients to help them focus on academics and internships rather than work. “Internships are critical to making a good launch into their careers,” she said. She believes early childhood education is the foundation in building a child’s developmental, social and academic progress. She has seen countless early childhood education students make a difference in the lives of children and their families. “I hope they see themselves as change-agents in the broader world around them, wherever they are. I hope they dream big and dare to adventure. There’s a big world out there,” Herwig said. “I could not have envisioned the possibilities without my Stout experiences.”

Joan Herwig


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The intersection of art and technology

orking at DreamWorks Animation in sunny Glendale, Calif., or remotely from their homes in the

Pease joined DreamWorks as a technical director in 2015, and Rigotti, in 2018. They’ve worked on films like “Abominable” and “Trolls.” With minors in computer science, Pease and Rigotti act as intermediaries between artists and research and design teams, design artistic workflows, maintain software and update custom tools. “I like that no two days are the same,” Pease said. “While we encounter some recurring tasks or problems in programming, most days bring fresh ones for us to tackle. Involving co- workers in discussions is helpful for both motivation and inspiration.” “The intersection of art and technology has always been interesting to me,” Rigotti added. “There’s always new technology to learn and integrate. I enjoy the constant collaboration with artists and the fact that I get to do something different almost every day.”

Hollywood hills, four School of Art and Design alums are helping to create some of the highest profile animated productions on the planet. The “Dream Team” members are Chris Grun, graphic design, 1995; Benjamin Pease, game design and development, 2015; Margaret Rigotti, game design and development, 2018; and Hue Vang, master’s in design, 2018. Falling into the dream As the field of animation surged in the 1990s, graphic artists were in high demand, and Grun wanted to be part of it. He joined DreamWorks as a matte painter in 2013, creating environments like the Capitol City in “The Hunger Games” and computer-generated dinosaurs in “Land of the Lost.” Now, as head of locations, Grun facilitates communication, environments and props through different departments. He thinks what makes DreamWorks special is its sense of humor, helping people feel connected even during the pandemic. “That always goes a long way in times of need. Nothing like a good belly laugh to bring your spirits up,” said Grun, who received UW-Stout’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2016. Grun was instrumental in bringing Vang onboard at DreamWorks in 2018. Vang grew up developing animations, comics, and games and dreamed of working on animated feature films. As a matte painter, he creates 2D assets like skies, clouds, mountains, rocks and vegetation in films like “The Croods: A New Age” and “Spirit Riding Free.” He also created Barb’s map in “Trolls World Tour.” “3D animation is a digitally and financially expensive process. So, instead of rendering the entire environment in 3D, areas that extend into the background are created to match the overall feel for the sequence,” Vang explained.

From left, Margaret Rigotti, Chris Grun, Benjamin Pease and Hue Vang.



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Three alums in restaurant, hotel industries persist in their passion as the pandemic eases

cooking is my way of being able to do that,” she said. “The culture, the art of it. I like that conviviality you get around the table with family and friends.” Pawlcyn graduated in 1977. She later studied cooking in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne. And although she was told she was too small to be a chef, she opened her first restaurant, Mustards Grill in the Napa Valley, in 1983 when she was just 28 years old. “Anytime someone would tell me something I couldn’t do, I’d do it,” she said. So, when the pandemic struck in March 2020 and business at Mustards dropped more than 90%, the James Beard Award-winning chef never thought of giving in. Mustards survived on carryout business and the staff of 70 was cut to four. Then in September, the Glass Incident Fire, which destroyed much of Napa and Sonoma counties, burned down

As families begin to arrange travel plans again and friends gather mask- free at restaurants, the pains of the pandemic felt by the hospitality industry are still very evident. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, more than 4.6 million hospitality jobs were lost in 2020, along with billions of dollars in revenue. For UW-Stout hotel, restaurant and tourism management alums, chef and restaurateur Cindy Pawlcyn, and hoteliers Rik Blyth and Scott Stuckey, this is all too familiar. But their passion for people and good hospitality drives them on. Rebuilding from scratch With the joy of serving people good food in a memorable setting, Cindy Pawlcyn’s sense of hospitality is at the heart of all she does.

Cindy Pawlcyn

“I love making people happy, and


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he joined Omni Hotels and Resorts and managed properties in Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania. He started at Omni Louisville in May 2017 and saw through its construction and grand opening. He also saw it through the pandemic when it closed for more than five months in 2020. “Having to furlough and eventually terminate more than 400 employees was heartbreaking,” Stuckey said. This past February, after more than 30 years in hospitality, Stuckey became general manager of Omni Nashville, which has a leading reputation in the market, he said. “I look forward to surrounding myself with great people as we build the hotel and business levels back to where they were in 2019.” Stuckey, who serves on the HRTM advisory board, believes the opportunities in hospitality are endless, despite challenges like the pandemic.

Pawlcyn’s home. She and her husband, John Watanabe, fled in the middle of the night. “I’ve never been so scared. It pretty much charcoaled everything,” she said. “But you might as well get up and get going.” They’re rebuilding their home, and Mustards reopened this spring with new menu options Pawlcyn spearheaded, a new outdoor seating area and a staff that’s back up to 65. “All these phases, ups and downs … it’s been a good life,” she said. “Stout gave me the confidence I could go do it, do whatever my dream was.” A workplace is family Rik Blyth was bartending at a small resort while taking pre-veterinary classes in Madison. But he knew he wouldn’t be accepted into vet school after failing his chemistry courses. “The bar manager was a graduate of UW-Stout and told me I was a natural for the hotel and restaurant business,” Blyth said. “I transferred to Stout a few weeks later.” Blyth graduated in 1980. He and his wife, alum Shelley Anderson, raised their sons in the Caribbean, where he managed hotels for 25 years. He’s run resorts in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. While four of his hotels were destroyed by hurricanes, “no challenge compared to the pandemic. The previous disasters were financially impactful, but the pandemic was about people’s health,” he said. Blyth is vice president and general manager of La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, N.M., one of the few hotels in Santa Fe that never closed its doors. Although the pandemic dramatically changed the way La Fonda operated, Blyth never forgot the human element. The hotel kept the employee cafeteria

open for working and nonworking employees, paid for health insurance and assisted with unemployment claims. Blyth’s weekly email became a lifeline. “It allowed us to reassure everyone that La Fonda had survived for almost 100 years and was not planning to close or eliminate their jobs. “I could never imagine myself doing anything differently,” he said. “It seems trite to talk about your workplace as ‘family,’ but in 2020, that phrase was never more true.” Moving on to the Music City Scott Stuckey is a people person. He wanted a career in hospitality in high school when he worked at McDonald’s. “I started college at Winona State in pre-law, but in the back of my head I knew I wanted to be in hospitality,” he said. “I visited Stout to see a friend and knew that was where I belonged.”

Stuckey graduated in 1988. In 2005,

Scott Stuckey

Rik Blyth


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Alum, 3M colleagues use creativity, collaboration to further research on bears in the Arctic


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The prototypes ranged from mechanical solutions to adhesive ones and others with a little bit of everything, Jon said. All needed to be able to withstand extreme cold, snow, saltwater and bears rolling in snow. “Polar bears will walk through anything,” BJ said. “You’ve got an 800- to 1,800-pound animal rolling around on your transmitter.” One idea called the “burr on fur” approach allows the device to latch onto and stick to a bear’s fur with a brush that entangles the fur. Jon worked at 3M for nearly 40 years after graduating from UW-Stout in industrial design. To be able to work on a project with his son has been a great opportunity, he said. “This is just the beginning. If we can make something stick to a polar bear, it can stick to just about anything.”


W-Stout alumnus Jon Kirschhoffer spent his career at 3M, a company known for making things stick, like

Post-It Notes and other adhesives.

When his son, BJ Kirschhoffer, director of field operations for Polar Bears International, contacted his father, an advanced research specialist in the 3M Corporate Research Systems Lab, about needing a better way to track polar bears in the Arctic, 3M became the bearer of necessity and developed prototype tracker tags to help the nonprofit organization conserve the bears across the Arctic. Traditionally, scientists have used satellite collars to follow movements. However, collars can only be placed on adult females, BJ said. Adult males’ necks are as wide as their heads and the collars don’t stay on. Young bears grow too quickly to be safely collared. Transmitters could go on ear tags but require minor surgery and are permanently attached. BJ sent a polar bear pelt to his father at 3M headquarters in St. Paul. “I walked it out into the hallway and unfurled it on the floor and invited people to come see it,” said Jon, who retired from 3M at the end of December 2020. “They came out of the woodwork. It became a catalyst for me to engage other researchers in the project.” 3M has an organization called Tech Forum, a gathering of technology special interest groups where ideas and findings can be exchanged, Jon said. The group created a workshop called Tag a Bear Challenge and met for two days to brainstorm a better way to attach a tracking tag. Tech Forum met with polar bear experts, developed ideas and created crude prototypes. In December, the nearly two-year project moved into the Arctic when testing began on four prototype tags in western Hudson Bay in the far north of Manitoba, Canada.

Devices designed by 3M for Polar Bear International help track the animals for research. The designs must attach to the bear fur and survive extreme weather conditions.


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