I have always been a strong believer that the power of education is its ability to change people’s lives.  One of my daily joys is to work at a university, surrounded by hundreds of people helping to provide education to thousands of people eager to get it. I frankly don’t know of a better place to work, where ideas swirl, where people are optimistic about the future they are helping create, and where society — mostly — respects, even celebrates the impact of education on lives.
Each year I’m privileged to read applications for the 500 scholarships the Stout University Foundation provides. While I don’t read all 1,000-plus applications, I see enough to know that students’ dreams hinge on getting a degree from UW-Stout and the knowledge and employability that come with that degree.
Our students overcome all manner of challenges to be UW-Stout students — financial, lack of family tradition, being restricted at home because of job or family, health and more. But studying they do, and graduating and going on to change the world, thanks in no small measure to their UW-Stout education.
The Stout University Foundation continues an important role to make that education more accessible, or the facilities better, or the preparation of faculty and staff more pertinent to their disciplines, or the programs appropriate to Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. During 2010, the foundation continued to support the important work of UW-Stout’s Discovery Center thanks to generous gifts. The Discovery Center has rocketed off its launch pad with new faculty and student research, new service to business and industry and some groundbreaking research, especially in medical device manufacturing.
The foundation also supported a new chair in ethics, again thanks to generous private financial support. In February, UW-Stout welcomed Elizabeth Buchanan as the holder of that endowed chair. She has hit the ground running in her work to infuse ethics across campus and curriculum, a goal of the generous donors.
I noted the scholarship program earlier in this narrative. As befits a polytechnic university, we moved our application and review process totally online this year, making it easier for students to apply, easier for reviewers to consider and rank applications and making us greener. New computer applications are never totally flawless and our process wasn’t either, but we did make progress and will be even better at this next year.
Fortunately, the stock market recovery has helped foundation investments. Like much of the endowment world, we saw about a third of our assets disappear while the stock market slipped to its nadir in early 2009, but by end of 2010 we were back almost even with our endowment value before the decline. We continue to nurture our endowment, add additional gifts and seek better ways to direct foundation support to the university and students.
As readers probably know, uncertainty is the watchword in Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin.  While we aren’t sure what the structure of the UW System will be going forward, we are indeed very certain that UW-Stout fills a critical niche in our state and region. We have worked hard for the past several years to solidify UW-Stout’s brand, a brand backed by credible performance.
Our financial support from alumni, friends and the corporate community reflects the understanding that UW-Stout does well at what it has done progressively since 1891, providing an outstanding career-focused education for men and women seeking  to better their lives and their society. We at the foundation are committed to continue support of that UW-Stout education.
Finally, on a personal note, I have announced my plans to retire from the university at the end of the summer of 2011. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve UW-Stout on two occasions in my career and to know this institution well. Wisconsin doesn’t know how fortunate it is to have Stout providing the education it does. Thanks to all our alumni, friends, faculty and staff for your support of this noble experiment in higher education.

Summer Outlook 2012