UW Oskhosh Wordmark

Strong recruiting has turned a rebuilding season into a national tournament berth for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Women’s Rugby Club. The club team has advanced to the Round of 16 at the 2017 USA Rugby Women’s Collegiate Division II National Championship at Miami University (OH).


“This weekend we really hope to make a statement in Ohio,” Beth Pokorny, team captain, said. “We have not been recognized at this level before, so while we many not know what to expect, ultimately we know our own team’s strengths and weaknesses and we plan to use that to our advantage.”

UW Oshkosh Women’s Rugby ended its regular season with five wins and one loss and claimed the title of division champions. They qualified Nov. 4-5 for the chance to advance into the national playoffs Round of 32 (32 teams competing in bracket play.)

Pokorny said the team traveled 4.5 hours on a school bus to play Illinois State University Nov. 11. They did not know much about their opponent and went into the game with the mindset to “play our game” and “do our best.”

They had an outstanding game, crushing their opponent 62-24 to advance to the Round of 16.


Strong recruiting class

“We, like other teams in our conference, went into our season with the mindset that we would be rebuilding our club,” Pokorny said.

With the help of a 4imprint sponsorship—the employer of new coach Catherine Lewis—the team was gifted recruitment materials with a UWO Women’s Rugby logo. Pokorny is convinced the recruitment was a vital part of their season—resulting in about a dozen hardworking new players.

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NBC 26, Nov. 15

WBAY, Nov. 15

WBAY, Nov. 15

Those small, uncomfortable seats had to go.

Students surveying with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Business Success Center kept hearing potential visitors to The Grand Opera House talk about a need for better seating. Leaders with the historic venue considered the student’s results and took action.

“The Grand Opera House has had new premium seating installed because of this feedback and has seen a sharp increase in these seats selling out for the upcoming season,” said Carrie Rule, outreach program manager with the Business Success Center (BSC).

The project involved market research that used the UW Oshkosh survey call center. It involved data mining to round out a partial call list provided by the client and collecting data through survey calls to help determine the perception of The Grand Opera House.

Surveyors wanted to learn if community members were attending performances and if there were changes The Grand could make to entice more people to attend performances.

Attendance had been increasing, but they wanted more.

“Attendance has been on an upward trend for several years, but the balcony was flat in terms of growth,” said Joe Ferlo, chief executive officer of The Grand. “Faced with a ‘ceiling’ and a desire to increase the attendance and earning potential of the hall, this project made sense. Even with 100 fewer seats, the earning capacity of The Grand was improved. Less desirable seats were replaced with premium seats.”

Ferlo said people are pleased with the comfort, leg room and services.

As of Nov. 1, 44 percent of the suite seats were sold for shows presented by The Grand Oshkosh. (There are other shows presented by schools or community organizations that are not part of that average, as suite seat beverage service is only provided for Grand-presented events this first season.)

Alan Hartman, UW Oshkosh College of Business dean emeritus, who is past chair of the Oshkosh Grand board of directors and current executive committee member, said seat sales are much stronger than they were with the old seats.

A strategic plan done in August 2016 identified possible upgrades to the facility and a need for input on ticket prices. Hartman said they learned some people were willing to pay more. They also knew the seats in the balcony were a deterrent to ticket purchases.

“With data in hand saying that comfort in the balcony was important to people and that they were willing to pay more in ticket prices for that improved experience,” Ferlo said, “I felt prepared to go to donors to underwrite the project and to the board of directors and, eventually, to the City Council with a plan to improve the audience experience in the balcony.”

Student impact

UWO senior Hannah Wilson of Crystal Lake, Illinois, who is majoring in international studies, made survey calls to business owners and upper-level business professionals.

Rule said the market research project was a great experience for Wilson, who described herself as very shy and uncomfortable in conversations with business professionals.

“This project helped her overcome her fear and develop important communication skills that will be essential to her achieving success in her field of study,” Rule said.

Wilson said she made calls to a number of people, asking questions about how they heard about events at The Grand and where they saw them posted. She also would ask about their overall opinion of The Grand.

She noted more people were willing to answer questions when they heard free tickets were offered for completing the survey.

“Doing this survey forced me to get out of my comfort zone, even though I was just talking with people over the phone,” she said, adding that the process of surveying helped her gain confidence in herself and her speaking ability and communication skills.

Sophia Savage, of West Bend, a senior majoring in communications in UW Oshkosh’s sales program, worked on data mining for the survey project and compiling a complete call list for the market research survey.

Researching and compiling a specific demographic to call on, is an important skill in sales and directly related to her studies while giving her real-world experience, Rule said.

“This project definitely aided in my project management, communications and analytical thinking skills. I spent upwards of 18 hours on that specific database and it makes me so happy to hear the results implemented from the feedback we acquired.”

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The Northwestern, Nov. 14

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh student Alyssa Herman, of Omro, is using poetic analysis to unlock the emotions of friendship and love preserved in a 1849 poem by Alfred Tennyson.

A senior in the UW Oshkosh English department, Herman is working with a research grant provided by the UWO Office of Student Research and Creative Activity to conduct an analysis of In Memoriam, a 133-part elegy written to mourn the death of the author’s friend Arthur Henry Hallam.

In her analysis of the poem, Herman is specifically focusing on the expressions of Tennyson’s feelings of friendship, love and desire toward Hallam that she finds within the text. A large part of Herman’s work consists of understanding the culture of 1849 England from her own vantage point of 2017 America.

“[In Memoriam] shows me about past cultures, like 19th century cultures,” Herman said, “and how that applies to me today, how our cultures have changed, how we’re still similar.”

Herman works on her research under the guidance of her faculty partner, UW Oshkosh assistant professor Pascale Manning. The partnership between student and faculty member is mutually beneficial: as Manning assists Herman in her research, Herman helps Manning to understand new viewpoints that she may not have thought of before.

“Alyssa’s work encourages me to look at the social dramas, for example, that the poem explores, and those aren’t necessarily where I go when I read it,” Manning said. “It’s enormously productive for me to be carried along on her train of thought because it produces new ideas that we can build on.”

“She’s a wonderfully responsive student and she’s also very self-motivated,” Manning said. “It’s a joy to work with someone like that.”

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The Northwestern, Nov. 14

A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh geographer is using a new method for gathering geographic data known as photomapping to document transportation challenges in the Fox Valley.

Associate geography professor Mamadou Coulibaly and collaborators Melissa Kramer Badtke, of the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, and Connie Kanitz, of the social justice organization ESTHER, shared the early stages of their work during a GeoQuest lecture on Monday, Nov. 13.

The lecture, which kicked off Geography Awareness Week on campus, focused on using geographic perspectives to explore the University Studies Program signature question of civic knowledge and engagement.

The project collaborators are partnering with Fox Valley Thrives, an alliance of public health workers, planners and faith-based community organizers, to use a photomapping app to gather stories and photos from residents impacted by limited access to transportation.

The mapping reveals challenges faced by residents who typically must walk, ride their bikes or take public buses to get to work or to access healthcare. Such challenges may include a lack of sidewalks or no bus route to a key location.

Moving forward with the project, the goal will be to provide a visual picture of transportation access issues to decision-makers in the Fox Valley.

Geography Awareness Week

Geography Awareness Week activities continue Wednesday, Nov. 15, as the campus community celebrates GIS Day, an international forum for users of Geographic Information Systems technology to demonstrate real-world applications that make a difference in society.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., students, faculty and staff can stop by a GIS Information Booth in the Reeve Union concourse.

In Sage Hall, Room 4422, a presentation about careers in GIS will take place from 1 to 2 p.m., followed by a demonstration about how to make a photo map of campus with a smartphone or tablet’s GPS from 2 to 3 p.m. Participants can then spend a few hours taking pictures for their map, before returning for a final map presentation and party from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 4422.

Send an email to gisclub@uwosh.edu to sign up to participate in the campus photomapping project.

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The Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) announced the eight finalists who will be presenting at the upcoming Culver’s Business Model Contest which will be held Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. 

Each team is given four minutes to present their ideas to an elite panel of hand-selected judges from across the state in this Shark Tank-like event.

 The 5th annual event will be held from 6 until 8 p.m. at the UW Oshkosh College of Business Sage Hall, room 1214. Winners will be awarded at the end of the event. All who attend will get free pizza and Culver’s custard.

CEI director Jordan Rhodes is excited about the judges and audience to meet the presenters and learn more about their ideas.

“This years group of contestants is our most diverse group yet. We really have an even blend of app ideas, services and products that cover all categories. What’s even more exciting are the types of students presenting. This year we are welcoming the largest number of women competing in our competition along with a variety undergraduates and graduates from diverse majors,” said Rhodes.
Following are the student contestants and their business ideas:
  • Dayne Rusch, a senior from Two Rivers majoring in finance, is pitching Pyxsee a mobile app to manage social media usage.
  • Shawn Erickson, a junior from Marinette majoring in finance, is pitching Nirsis a mobile app for on-demand at home nursing care.
  • Jon Bedell, a junior from Naperville, Illinois, majoring in finance, is pitching Pura Vita an at home aquaponics system.
  • Alex Burmester, a first-year student from Deforest studying business, is pitching Wildin Clothing an eCommerce clothing store that donates part of sales to environmental causes.
  • Madeline Vasseau, a senior from DePere majoring in human services leadership, is pitching Lucky 7 Dog Rescue, a business that rescues and rehomes animals
  • Justin Wiechman, a junior from Fond du Lac majoring in interactive web management and journalism, is pitching Winnebago Royal Marketing, a digital marketing company.
  • Eric Riggers, a graduate student from Appleton, is pitching Reinvent Ferment which produces fermented fruit and vegetable products.
  • Rebecca Timmins, a graduate student from Menasha, is pitching a resource for children with autism for the Oshkosh Autism Center.


The expert panel of judges of this event includes Neil Mix, president of Quadrant; David Trotter, director of the Winnebago Seed Fund; Rollie Stephenson, founder of Faith Technologies; Adrienne Palmer, director of G-Beta NE Wisconsin; and Eric Hoopman owner of The Grind Co-Working Space and founder of DealerFire.

Contestants will have four minutes for a presentation and two minutes of question/answer with the judges before winners are announced. First place will be awarded $18,600 in cash and in-kind services, second place receives $14,500 in cash and in-kind services and third place receives $7,900 in cash and in-kind services.

The CEI is located within Sage Hall and exists to provide students with business consulting services, opportunities to participate in several business idea contests throughout the year, a 12-week accelerator program that helps students turn their ideas into actual companies and a summer incubator program that allows for select teams to focus on the growth of their businesses.
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