Monday, October 30, 2006

Communication Department Copes with Staff Departures

The communication department at UW-Whitewater is missing some familiar faces entering the 2006-2007 academic year. Professors Bill Cassidy, Leo Chan, and Gay Davidson-Zielske all left to pursue careers elsewhere. Department chair Bill Weiss and his wife, Dotte (the communication computer aide) retired last year. The year before, lecturer Norma Coates departed as well. Rae Miller also left as Royal Purple adviser a couple years before that.
"It's unfortunate that we can't hang on to them," newly appointed assistant chair John Luecke stated. "Better opportunities, along with lighter teaching loads, are compelling professors to go elsewhere. UW-Whitewater pushes eight to ten clasases on professors per year, depending on how long they've taught. Along with teaching, professors also must advise students on their academic progress, which can be a tedious process. Other colleges often provide more advancement chances as well.
"I wanted a place where I could teach fewer classes, but faculty research requirements are more stringent and research is considered more important," print journalism professor Cassidy said. "Faculty research, in my opinion, isn't emphasized very much at UW-W. That's not a knock on the school, it's just that some universities are more teaching oriented and others are more research oriented," said Cassidy. Cassidy tested the market and found a spot at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.
The pay scale at UWW is actually quite competitive with other colleges. While some students and other uninformed people believe that it is a low salary that is driving professors away, but that's not the case.
"We're going to keep doing what we always do. There is always a demand for teachers. We'll always have the right tools to teach you guys," said John Luecke.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The little red schoolhouse - more than just little...and red.

Built on top of a drumlin, the little red schoolhouse is one of the more historical points within UW-Whitewater's campus. The building, measuring 30 x 20 feet, sports a weathered red paint job and is designed to honor pioneer life. According to the virtual campus website, no official records exist as to when the school was built. Alas, student records date the building back to the 1870's.
The little red schoolhouse originally existed in the Menominee Falls / Brown Deer area on the corner of W. Bradley and N. Granville Roads.

Once UW-W professor and historian Walker D. Wyman made it possible for the Red Schoolhouse to stand where it is today. In a book titled "A History of Wisconsin State University Whitewater" by Janette Bohi, the little red is actually mentioned. The book, published in 1967, discussed the future plans for UW-W.

"Proponents of a 20,000 seat stadium have settled for a more modest goal, indicative of the enrollment slowdown as the century draws to a close. Amidst all these destinies and dreams stands the Red Schoolhouse, brought to campus in 1966 by the institution's second historian president". (Bohi, 237)

With Halloween just a day away, the rumors of someone who hung themselves in the schoolhouse resurfaces. "It's not true", said building maintance caretaker Steve Barnes. "Not quite sure how that one started."

The little red schoolhouse, along with the log cabin, continue to sit behind the University Center, which is currently being redone. They will continue to be historical icons on an ever-expanding campus.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Profile Story: Deanne Thorsen

In most cases, secretarial work tends to be mundane. For Deanne Thornsen, head secretary for the UW-W police department, it's emphatically the opposite.
"I like my job because it's never boring," said Thorsen. What used to be a one-person job has now expanded to three. Deanne has a full-time assistant secretary, along with student workers who come in between 7:45a.m. and 4:00p.m. to answer phones and fill out reports. When asked what her job duties are, Deanne said, "What don't I do?"
She deals with the public on a daily basis, as police departments and other people request police records. She's also in charge of keeping the seven computers operating and up-to-date on the first floor of Goodhue hall, where the police department is located. She's also in charge of payroll and deposits for all sectors of the police force as well. Along with police staff payroll, she also manages all student workers and 'safewalkers' - a student-run walk-along service on campus. There are currently 15 safewalkers, who patrol from 6:00p.m. to 2:00a.m. "Safewalk doesnt get used much, but I do believe it makes campus a bit safer than it would be without them," Thornsen said. In addition to endless clerical work, she also attends court proceedings in Walworth county once a month.
Thornsen has a long history in secretarial police work. "I started my law enforcement career as a dispatcher at the Tomah police department," she says. "I didn't care for the hours of law enforcement, which are nights and weekends, so I went to work in the records office at Jackson Correctional Institution." After her stint at Jackson, she took a pay cut and worked as a program assistant at the State Patrol Academy. "It was closer to home, and I wanted to get out of the prison setting," Thornsen says. Her husband, Oran Thornsen, then got a job in the Janesville ara, and Deanne interviewed for and won the head secretary position.
Communication is key to her position. "A good relationship with fellow employees is always important," she says. "I have contact with the officers and management staff and must work closely with both. It would be hard to do my job effectively without a good relationship with all of them," Thornsen said. The student workers are also very important to her, as she can't stay productive without them. "I have to answer phones and monitor the check-in counter when they're not in," she says. "I don't get much done." She also said that the student workers do a lot of time-consuming jobs, such as filing mail and magazines and filling out accident reports, which she greatly appreciates.
Deanne is just now finding time for hobbies. "For the first time in 20 years, my husband and I are alone in the house. It's kind of nice!" Deanne says with a smile. Her two kids, Becky and Tom, are both away at different colleges. She loves to swim in the summertime, and in her spare time she enjoys reading. The Thornsen family also has a vacation home in Northern Wisconsin, which they travel to frequently during the summer months.