By Jeff Pederson – Pedal Down Promotions
(University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Foundation) May 15, 2017 – The quality, value and convenience of the educational programs offered at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan was showcased on center stage as the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Foundation held a special Community Engagement, Awareness and Outreach Event at Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan Thursday, May 11.
The first-time event drew 150 public and private sector community leaders and business professionals for an evening dedicated to the important role the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan plays in shaping the vitality of the area.
The highlight of the evening was a formal presentation in the Acuity theater in the round, featuring speeches from Acuity Insurance President and CEO Ben Salzmann, Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne, Sargento Foods CEO Louie Gentine, UW-Colleges Southeast Region Regional Executive Officer and Dean Dr. Jackie Joseph-Silverstein and UW-Sheboygan Sophomore Michaela Possley. Allyson Meredith Olivier, Executive Director and Development Officer, UW-Sheboygan Foundation, served as the events Master of Ceremonies.
Salzmann, who led tours of the 1-million-square-foot Acuity facility following the presentation, spoke about Acuity’s commitment to UW-Sheboygan.
“We are great believers in the UW system,” Salzmann said. “At Acuity, we’ve hired 700 college grads in the last five years. I like to think we are the pied pipers of the UW system.”
Payne spoke about how the UW-Sheboygan campus has evolved over the years due to support from the local business sector.
“UW-Sheboygan is one of the county’s best-kept secrets,” Payne said. “Many people may not realize it, but UW-Sheboygan has actually been around since 1964. Through a partnership between Sheboygan County and the state of Wisconsin. The County owns the buildings and the grounds, while the state operates the school. It has been a strong partnership that I’ve taken a lot of pride in as county administrator.”
Payne went on to note the addition of the Brotz Science Building in 2004, Acuity Technology Center in 2007, and Plenco Engineering Building in 2014.
“Through the support of the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Foundation, Brotz Family Foundation, Acuity and Plastic Engineering Company, a total of $15 million dollars has been invested in our educational system at UW-Sheboygan since 2004,” Payne said. “I was born and raised in Sheboygan County, and I know how when there is a problem, people come together, collaborate and get things done. That’s what has happened here. It is truly remarkable, because it’s not like that everywhere.”
Michaela Possley, who is scheduled to graduate with an associates of arts and science degree on May 22, spoke about how UW-Sheboygan has served as a launching pad for her blossoming college career.
“I am from Cedar Grove and starting college at UW-Sheboygan has been perfect for me,” Possley said. ”
It is close to home, affordable, has quality professors that are highly accessible and giving of their time and has given me the opportunity to be involved in many student organizations and activities, including serving as a math mentor, library assistant and vice president of the campus student government association.
“My time at UW-Sheboygan has helped me to gain strong leadership skills and allowed me to explore my academic interests and discover how much I enjoy math,” she said. “I am pleased to say that I will be graduating from UW-Sheboygan with an associate’s degree and next fall I will be continuing my education at UW-Oshkosh, where I plan to major in marketing and finance with a math minor.”
Louie Gentine noted the emphasis area high schools and colleges have put into forging connections with the manufacturing sector.
“We are blessed to be in Sheboygan County,” Gentine said. “This is such a strong and healthy community and education is at the top. The efforts of the high schools with the Ag Center at Elkhart Lake, Red Raider initiative at Sheboygan North and South and the Plymouth Tech Center are commendable. The work that UW-Sheboygan is doing to elevate college education in Sheboygan County is the crown jewel for the area.
“Not everyone is cut out for a four-year or even a two-year degree, but it is important to expose kids to all opportunities and that is what our schools are doing in Sheboygan County,” he said. “We all need to do what we can to educate young students and our future employees about what UW-Sheboygan has to offer.”
Dr. Jackie Joseph-Silverstein said UW-Sheboygan plays a key role in keeping the dream a college education alive for many local students.
“UW-Sheboygan gives students the ability to start college locally,” Silverstein said. “These are students that have jobs and family responsibilities locally. Others just need some extra time close to home and they want to get started with their college education. Through UW-Sheboygan, these students are able to get a quality UW education that truly prepares them for the future.
“They leave UW-Sheboygan with a strong foundation for success as they move on in college and in the workplace,” she said. “In fact, UW-Sheboygan students have a 10-percent higher four-year graduation rates than regular students at four-year colleges. The only thing I have noticed is that due to our relatively small size at UW-Sheboygan, there is a real connection between the students and professors. There is a true sense of pride on the UW-Sheboygan campus that is hard to replicate at larger universities.”
Many members of the audience left the presentation impressed with what they heard.
“I never realized that UW-Sheboygan has opportunities that go beyond a two-year institution,” Kohler Co. CIO and Vice President of Sustainability Davor Grgic said. “I was impressed that now there are four-year degrees offered at UW-Sheboygan in engineering. It is really a great economical way to get started on a UW system degree.”
Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen said he has always been a big supporter of UW-Sheboygan.
“I worked very closely with UW-Sheboygan during my time on the Sheboygan County Board,” Vandersteen said. “It has been great to see all of the donors that have offered their support to the UW-Sheboygan Foundation to enhance the facilities on campus. We need to continue to raise awareness be sure people believe in the importance of UW-Sheboygan, because it is a great asset for our community.”
In between speakers, videos featuring current students commenting on their experiences at UW-Sheboygan were displayed on the Acuity theater’s screens.
UW-Sheboygan Foundation Executive Director Allyson Olivier was thrilled with the response to the inaugural event.
“This is the first time that we’ve put on this type of community awareness event for UW-Sheboygan,” Olivier said. “We looked at this event as a friend raiser. Our goal was to give people a good opportunity to view UW-Sheboygan through a whole new lens. I am very pleased with how the event turned out and thankful for everyone who helped to make it happen.”
The event also featured a gourmet buffet, tours of the Acuity Insurance facility and rides on the Acuity Ferris wheel.
For more information on the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Foundation, contact UW-Foundation Executive Director and Development Officer Allyson Olivier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-459-6612.