Following Chancellor Bob Meyer’s retirement, Patrick Guilfoile took office as interim chancellor on August 19, 2019. Prior to assuming this role, Guilfoile was provost for four years on campus, which he said made for a very smooth transition into this position.
Guilfoile grew up in Wisconsin, making him already familiar with the University of Wisconsin system. Guilfoile said, “UW-Stout’s polytechnic focus was a key thing that drew me to the university; applied learning and a career focus dovetail well with societal expectations for higher education in the U.S. ” The focus that the staff and faculty have on student success at the university was also something that Guilfoile said he really appreciated at University of Wisconsin-Stout.
A little over three weeks, that Guilfoile has been in the role thus far, he said he is most proud of the connections he has made with supporters and potential supporters of UW-Stout and getting the word out about how great the institution is.
Guilfoile said that the most challenging part of being interim chancellor is ultimately being responsible for all the 8,000-plus student’s education. He said, “As a student, higher education [has] changed my life. I want to help ensure that same transformative experience for UW-Stout students.”
Until Guilfoile plans to retire in 2020, he has three main priorities that he wants to work on this year. He said, “One [priority] is to ensure financial sustainability for the institution. A second [priority] is to ensure a successful conclusion to the comprehensive campaign, Pathways Forward. [T]he third [priority] is to reinforce the positive culture at UW-Stout.” In addition to these three priorities, Guilfoile will also be working on ensuring that the budget is in good shape for when the new chancellor is appointed. He is focused on making sure that the next chancellor who takes office is positioned for success. Besides these priorities, there are many other goals for the year that he wants to find time to work on. Yet, there are several demands on his time which he said makes it difficult for him to find a balance between working toward long-term goals and completing short-term goals which results in a never-ending balancing act.
Many people see the chancellor as a key representative of the university, and that creates a certain responsibility that Guilfoile said he hasn’t had in other positions that he has held. Guilfoile said with his extensive experience in higher education as a student, faculty member, and administrator he brings in many positive attributes to the role. He also took pride in his ability to listen and carefully consider a variety of viewpoints of different issues.
Guilfoile has had many memorable moments at UW-Stout thus far, two big moments that come to his mind are climbing the Leap of Faith on the UW-Stout Challenge Course and driving a steamroller for the art printmaking event.
Last summer, Guilfoile broke his ankle hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail with his wife in California and had to end the trip early. Once he retires in 2020, he plans to finish the rest of his backpacking trip with his wife. They plan to also spend some time visiting the 20 national parks and get together with friends and family.
The students Guilfoile said he has had the privilege to meet are committed and focused on their future. He continues to be impressed by the respectfulness and courtesy of the students on campus that he sees. Two big events on campus in the near future that Guilfoile suggests students mark their calendars for are the career conference on September 24th and 25th, and homecoming on October 5th. “Students, thank you for choosing UW-Stout. You’ve made a great choice, and I look forward to hearing about all the great things you will accomplish on campus and beyond the walls of the university,” said Guilfoile.