University of Wisconsin-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer announced Monday, March 4, that he is retiring on Aug. 18 from the institution where he has worked for a total of 32 years.
“It is time for me and my wife, Debbie, to enter a new phase in our lives,” Meyer said. “We will miss the students, faculty and staff at UW-Stout who have meant so much to us over the years.”
Meyer, 62, became the seventh chancellor at UW-Stout on Aug. 16, 2014, succeeding the late Chancellor Emeritus Charles W. Sorensen. Meyer announced his plan in a statement sent to students, faculty and staff:
“At the end of my time on campus, I will have worked for UW-Stout for 32 years, as a faculty member, college dean, special assistant to the chancellor and, finally, chancellor. I feel very privileged to have worked with an exceptional group of faculty, staff and students over that time and have formed many lifelong friendships.
“UW-Stout will always have a special place in my heart. It is where I met my wife when we were both students here in the 1970s, and both of us have bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW-Stout. One of my daughters, Erica, also is a proud Blue Devil alumna.
“I am excited about the present direction of the university. We are well on our way to meeting the goal of our Pathways Forward comprehensive campaign, and our enrollment outlook is favorable for fall 2019. We have incredible faculty and staff who are committed to our students’ success, continuous improvement and innovative programming and delivery.
“Therefore, now is the time for me to step away and accept some new challenges and opportunities in life.”
Meyer said President Ray Cross has indicated that the UW System will commence a search for his replacement in August. UW officials said that an interim chancellor will be named to lead the campus throughout much of the 2019-20 academic year.
“I am confident this search will result in the appointment of an excellent leader as my successor at UW-Stout,” Meyer said. “I will do everything I can to make this transition is as smooth as possible.”
Concerning his accomplishments, Meyer said he is proud of the new programs that have been added under his administration, which have built upon UW-Stout’s polytechnic mission. The new undergraduate programs are in mechanical engineering; digital marketing technology; applied biochemistry and molecular biology; and video production. Also, electrical engineering was added to the computer engineering program. The university began a master’s degree in construction management and is considering programming in welding engineering technology.
“I’m also very pleased that our employment rate for new graduates has increased every year since I became chancellor,” Meyer said.
The last reported employment rate for recent graduates was 98.2 percent, and that is expected to go up this year, he said, adding, “This is a reflection of the outstanding work our faculty and staff are doing, day in and day out.”
Another milestone, Meyer said, was establishing the Robert F. Cervenka School of Engineering; the opening of the Joe and Tina Pregont Packaging Laboratories; and the establishment of the Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation, all through generous private donations.
“I made it clear from the outset that one of my top priorities was going to be increasing the amount of private support the university receives from donors,” Meyer said, adding that the current Pathways Forward comprehensive campaign is nearing its original goal of $35 million. An aspirational goal of $40 million has been established for the campaign, which runs through June 30, 2020.
Meyer also said he is pleased that the new Blue Devil Guarantee scholarship program, which freshmen will automatically receive if they meet eligibility requirements, has been an initial success. That program is partially responsible for the dramatic increase in freshman admissions the university is forecasting for fall 2019, he said.
“All in all, UW-Stout is in an excellent position for the new chancellor to take over the leadership mantle,” Meyer concluded.
Cross issued the following statement:
“Bob understands the history, the importance and the value of UW-Stout and its polytechnic mission in a way that few others can. For decades, he has been a proud member of the UW-Stout community as an undergraduate, a professor, a college dean and as chancellor, which gives him a unique perspective and insights. In the broader community, Bob also understands the manufacturing world and the changes it is facing and how higher education must evolve to serve those needs. Under his leadership, UW-Stout’s reputation has soared both in the state and beyond. Bob has been a thoughtful, dedicated leader, and it has been our privilege to work with him. We wish Bob and his wife, Debbie, all the best in his retirement.”
UW System Regent President John Robert Behling also issued a statement:
“It has been a great privilege to work with Bob, and we have benefited from his wisdom and experience over the years. He has a keen understanding of the evolving needs and challenges facing students and employers, and he has always shown an unwavering commitment to helping students succeed. On behalf of our university community, I want to thank him for his exemplary service and dedication to the UW System. We will miss working with him, and we wish him well in the future.”