University of Wisconsin-Stout

The state of Wisconsin has its first polytechnic university.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents Friday unanimously approved a resolution designating UW-Stout as Wisconsin’s polytechnic university. The board met at UW-Parkside, and it acted after the board’s Education Committee unanimously approved the recommendation Thursday.

UW-Stout Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen said he was pleased the regents approved his designation request, which will become the guidepost for how UW-Stout develops in the future.

“This designation will give UW-Stout, which already is a very good university, the tools to become a great institution,” Sorensen said. “We also intend to use the polytechnic designation as a way to organize the university and to plan its future.”

In his presentation Thursday, Sorensen laid out why he believes UW-Stout already is a polytechnic university, because it:

• Features an array of academic programs in the arts and humanities; education; social, natural and human sciences; math; computer science; engineering and related technologies; and management.

• Embraces an applied learning educational philosophy.

• Applies technology in all university functions.

• Promotes technology transfer programs, business incubators, research centers and a technology park.

• Works closely with the Wisconsin Technical College System and other universities.

Sorensen also told the regents Thursday that the designation will provide many benefits for the students at UW-Stout, the Chippewa Valley and the state. The designation would benefit the UW System by adding a polytechnic university to the system’s “portfolio” of institutions, he added.

The polytechnic designation “will be used in an aggressive marketing and branding campaign,” Sorensen said, which will raise the profile of UW-Stout statewide.

Most importantly, Sorensen said, UW-Stout will use the designation as the “organizing theme” for its planning in the future. That includes using the designation in program planning, fundraising, establishing an Honors College, facility planning and program alignment.

Sorensen emphasized that the designation request has been thoroughly discussed on campus and has been approved by the Faculty Senate, the Senate of Academic Staff and the Stout Student Association. UW System President Kevin Reilly also supported the designation request.

Faculty Senate President Forrest Schultz, an associate professor of chemistry, told the Education Committee that UW-Stout emphasizes an applied learning educational philosophy and applies technology in all of its university functions.

“Our Stout Technology Transfer Institute that engages faculty and students in solving real world problems reports an annual impact of $30 million dollars for western Wisconsin,” Schultz said. “Also on the first day of class, we open our laptops to the digital world” because all undergraduates are given laptop computers to use in all of their campus activities.

UW-Stout student Kristine Christofferson, an applied science–biotechnology major and sophomore from Eau Claire, told the Education Committee that her professors work hard to engage their students in the classrooms and laboratories.

“In all of my classes we have the opportunity to work in groups and participate in labs that have real-life applications,” Christofferson said. “The technological advances that Stout incorporated into their teaching are extremely valuable. I have never felt so involved in my schooling.”

Danae Davis, chairwoman of the Education Committee, told the full board Friday that the designation for UW-Stout “is a way to be competitive” with other polytechnic universities across the country. “It is a recognition of the future mission” of UW-Stout as a polytechnic university, she added.

“I support this one completely,” added Regent Michael Spector, Education Committee vice chairman.