Mackenzie Peterson –
University of Wisconsin-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer announced that he will be retiring on 18 Aug, 2019.
One of the biggest reasons he decided to retire was that he had promised his wife, Debbie, that they would talk about their future in year five. Meyer said, “She’s been a really great partner with me and supported me through … being chancellor. It’s a job that’s very demanding, and she has been there for me every step of the way.”
When Meyer and Debbie started talking about their future in year five, Meyer explained that she thinks there are a lot of neat places they could travel to. He said, “I came home one night and she had a map up with all the destinations to go through and a route. I thought to myself, ‘I think she’s trying to give me a message.’”
They would like to do a circle tour around Lake Superior, but Meyer said that she extended that to Nova Scotia, down the east coast, and all the way across the golf. “Stay tuned, it’s going to be fun,” he said.
Along with doing some traveling, Meyer and Debbie have a cabin on the Gunflint Trail, so a lot of fishing, hiking and canoeing are on the docket too. Meyer said, “We love the outdoors, and so we’ll have a chance to do more of that.”
Besides traveling and being outdoors, Meyer said, “We have a lot of good projects here at Stout that are started, and there are a couple of them that I want to keep in contact with and help as much as I can. I always tell people, you can take Bob out of Stout, but you can’t take Stout of Bob.”
Meyer said that he’s a little jealous of his wife sometimes because she is retired and gets to sleep in, so it will be nice for him not to set his alarm clock and sleep in once in a while.
He said, “But again, we’re doing such great things here that it’s pretty easy to get up and go to work. It’s pretty special. Being chancellor is a real privilege.”
Meyer said he has had so many great memories as chancellor at UW-Stout that make him proud. He said, “The thing that I am most proud of is how we managed our way through the budget cut in 2015. That was a $5.3 million base budget cut, the largest reduction that Stout has ever faced in terms of dollar amount.”
In terms of percentage, it was near what happened during the Great Depression. UW-Stout’s strategic planning group worked with stakeholders across the university and found ways to protect the classrooms as much as they could and navigate the cuts so that they could get to the other side with as little harm to the students as possible.
During this time, they were even able to still grow some programs, which really amazed him. He said, “It shows the fortitude that we got from our faculty and our staff to really make things happen.”
Meyer said, “You would think that budget cuts wouldn’t be one of your favorite memories, being how difficult and tough it is, but it was a very special moment for me. It took a lot of teamwork, and I saw a lot of people pulling together at the university.”
There were nearly sixty positions that were eliminated, which meant people either retired or went to other jobs. He explained that it was very difficult, but they managed throughout. He said, “When you have really good people like this, I think you can get through that and it’s something that you really have to celebrate when you do get through it as a team. It’s a big deal.”
Meyer said he was pleasantly gratified with the continued emphasis on student success and the way students are helped compared to the time when he was a student or a faculty member. He said that, coming back as Chancellor, UW-Stout was still just as devoted to student success and student learning. He said, “I think we have a terrific staff and it’s been really delightful for me to be the chancellor and work with them.”
Meyer said he is really proud of the quality of the staff has been advocating for a raise package for employees. He said, “It’s really important to keep our faculty and staff paid well so that students have a good experience here as well as to help our faculty and staff understand that we really do value them and support them.”
Meyer explained that state funding is improving. He said, “The budget’s looking better in the year ahead which is one of the reasons I think it’s good timing for me to pass the torch.”
He also explained how the connection through the advisory committees with employers had made UW-Stout’s employment rate, skyrocket to 98.7%. He said, “It’s a great employment rate and the employers know that, which is why they’re stepping up, helping out and providing private funds, which are greatly appreciated and something that is going to have to be a part of Stout’s future.”