From the Chancellor

National publications and rigorous rating systems prove it: We have earned a reputation as a beacon for sustainability in higher education. Our commitment to operational efficiency, renewable energy and environmental stewardship is highly regarded. We are a national leader.

Meanwhile, we continue to strengthen our identity as an institution that enriches the educational experience and success of all through collaboration. We do it through initiatives such as the development of high-demand engineering technology programs, designed in partnership with regional manufacturers and Northeast Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA) faculty. We do it by opening a second remote executive education center and blazing an executive MBA path answering organizations’ call for leaders ready to ascend to the next level. Those are just two of dozens of examples.

And, with every day, we draw closer to a national distinction as champion of a new, revolutionary kind of general education designed and launched right here. The University Studies Program (USP) is already proving how a more engaging, connected and community-focused academic experience for every first-and-second-year student here can help us achieve our goals. We will strengthen retention rates, boost graduation numbers and instill in all of our students a deeper appreciation of cultural understanding, sustainability, citizenship and lifelong learning.

Economic conditions have posed historic obstacles. Demographic and economic downturns are depriving us and our sister institutions of the infusions of high school graduates and state funding we have enjoyed in the past. Yet the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh continues to beat the odds, this academic year posting a new, record enrollment of 13,902 students.

We are an excellent, but not yet great, place.

Our continued success requires us to stay laser-focused on three main objectives, or, as a recent, inspiring student Commencement speaker put it, “the odds waiting to be beat”:

  • Enhancing the quality of education while closing student achievement gaps.
  • Addressing college affordability.
  • Remaining committed to enhancing employee compensation, as we can, to ensure that our designers and providers of the highest-quality education are fairly rewarded for their effort and dedication.

To do this, we are guided by the essential student learning outcomes, the governing ideas and the examples of university-wide (horizontal) and college-by-college, division-by-division (vertical) distinctiveness you will learn more about in this Strategic Plan Update & Annual Report and online. We share our progress, but we also acknowledge the “odds waiting to be beat.”

As we once again report to you, our many stakeholders, we affirm our belief that knowledge is the tool, not the target. Knowledge alone is insufficient.

Our ultimate objective for students is the attainment of wisdom, or “knowledge applied” – the ability to live sensibly, sensitively and successfully. We clearly need more graduates exercising sound judgment, while developing creative, clever and resourceful solutions for the current and future challenges facing our communities, our state, our nation and our times.

Chancellor Richard Wells—signature


Richard Wells, Chancellor
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh