Saturday, October 20, 2018


Authors offer reworking of the Wisconsin Idea

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    Staff Photo by Steve Kinderman
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The opening paragraph of a recent op-ed piece available at acknowledges the authors’ divergent backgrounds.

“We first met two decades ago — a Republican governor from the small town of Elroy ... and a Democrat University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of biochemistry from New York.”

The writers — Tommy Thompson, who served as Wisconsin governor from 1987-2001; and Michael Sussman, a professor who helped launch a successful technology startup company — penned the piece as part of a Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation effort. Available in its entirety​y6vrs7mu, it focuses on a new Wisconsin Idea, a philosophy championed by the UW System.

“Wisconsin is where the concepts of unemployment and workers compensation were first developed, along with Medicaid and Social Security,” the column reads. “It’s where scientists discovered that vitamin D foods cure rickets and that warfarin prevents blood clotting. Campus research developed into constructive public policy and beneficial products — cooperation in the name of progress.”

The column also details past measures taken by Thompson and Sussman to address a lack of faculty and lab space at the university.

“Two decades on, however, we look around our state and find ourselves at a crossroads,” the authors write. “Wisconsin’s population is growing older. Enrollment in the UW System campuses is declining. New jobs demand technology skills many of our people don’t have.

“We bring both a political and academic perspective to this challenge, and have concluded that Wisconsin has slipped into a micromanagement mindset that undermines our strenths.”

Specifics put forward by Thompson and Sussman include reworking how industry and universities engage with each other, turning different four-year universities into specialized centers for excellence, a new integrated system that acknowledges that “the future of education is virtual” and a series of economic summits around the state “to generate enthusiasm and excitement about the work coming out of our universities.”

A bipartisan effort to take advantage of one of our state’s top resources? A laudable effort to say the least.

“We need to think big and have the courage to live up to our potential,” the column reads.

Well said.

Vernon’s band lauded

On a lighter note, Bon Iver performed recently for a capacity crowd at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. The event celebrated the 10th anniversary of the band’s album, “For Emma, Forever Ago.”

“The pristine beauty of the music was just as radiant as when he first recorded those songs, and his vulnerability was just as raw and relatable,” wrote Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviewer Piet Levy. “And the audience, in turn, was as still as the Wisconsin woods after a winter’s snow, repeatedly absorbing the 90-minute performance with a kind of stunned silence I’ve never experienced at a packed arena concert.”

Frontman and Eau Claire Memorial graduate Justin Vernon’s band played “For Emma, Forever Ago” in its entirety but added several other songs to its playlist as well. Collections of Colonies of Bees and Field Report opened the show.

“Saturday’s show proved that that first magical Bon Iver album is as meaningful as it’s always been,” Levy wrote.

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