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With the darkest clouds of the pandemic behind us, there is an energy on UW Oshkosh’s campuses this fall that does my heart good.

The 2022-23 academic year is off to a great start. This enthusiastic reengagement of students in the full-fledged college experience is palpable. It has inspired me to pick up my pen and breathe some new life into this blog.

In the year ahead, I want to spend a bit more time discussing what UWO is about. You’ll also see me speak on the value of college not only to students but to the cities, regions and states proud to serve as their proving grounds. And, as the year progresses, I would love your feedback: What would you like me to address here? Send your comments and questions to

Beyond the numbers

Of course, the start of every fall semester brings the big tally. UW System releases enrollment data for all UW campuses. Across the three UWO campuses, also factoring our predicted enrollments in college credit courses we offer in high schools, we are about 6 percent down this year. It’s a trend at most UW System institutions.

We’re not shrugging our shoulders or sitting still. UWO has a strong first-year class. And we are digging into the challenge of student retention between those first and second years, which is a significant cause of student population declines everywhere.

Here are a few examples of how we’re responding:

  • You will see a new wave of advertisements in which our students are the stars. Expect to see and hear UWO on TV and radio (a welcome distraction to political ads!) and cropping up in your social media feed. I ask that you share our message whenever you have the chance.
  • Newly hired UWO navigators are strengthening connections between students and the institution. This innovative corps of colleagues are incredible allies. They help students troubleshoot and overcome challenges, access academic, financial and wellness resources and confidently remain on the path to graduation.
  • The new Titan Thunder Marching Band stepped off earlier this month. Honestly, it’s more than a band. It’s another rich student experience we invested in to recruit and retain students over time while building community and amplifying UWO pride.

Points of pride

We have a powerful story to tell. Each university in the UW System is unique. What makes UWO distinctive is where it resides and what it offers. Northeast Wisconsin remains the second most vibrant economic region of the state.

UWO is big enough to provide near endless opportunity. But we’re small enough so our students, and employees, don’t get lost in the shuffle.

We’re home, across three campuses, to more than 14,000 students, faculty and staff, focused on learning and growing through academics, research, activities, organizations, camaraderie and community connection.

We are a place of opportunity, where students can work as early as their first year with faculty on special projects and research that piques their interest. Students can also walk in or log on to our Office of Career and Professional Development and quickly find a local, paid internship or work experience that matches their studies and interests. This unlocks doors to careers.

Oh, and we’re affordable, committed to lowering financial barriers for students who want to pursue college.

We will always put student access and success at the forefront.

It is the most important job of every faculty and staff member here. I’ll share more examples in posts to come…

And now for something completely different.

I’ve participated in some incredible experiences at UWO over my seven-plus years as Chancellor. The chance to lead our aforementioned Titan Thunder Marching Band as it performed the National Anthem for the first time at a home football game earlier this month ranks right at the top. I hope you enjoy this video clip:

Chancellor conducts anthem.mp4 from UW Oshkosh on Vimeo.