Henderson praises faculty in University Address


Mason Thompson, Assistant Campus News Editor

After an initial rescheduling, Interim Chancellor Jim Henderson held his State of the University Address Monday, Feb. 28. In this event, Henderson made note of the people that have been at Whitewater for 10 or more years, a few people with some interesting inventions, and then went into the status of the school as a whole. 

Henderson started the address by having numerous people come up for their years in the school system, acknowledged university award winners, UW System award winners, governance leaders, college deans and the Chancellor’s Cabinet. Following the acknowledgements, Chancellor Henderson gave an update on the current conditions university. 

“It’s been a difficult time,” Henderson said. “It’s been difficult because of COVID, budget cuts, changes in leadership and enrollment declines. You’ve handled all these with grace and perseverance.”

He continued this trend by talking about how the university has maintained a high level of excellence throughout the difficult times these last few years. 

“The state of this university is not only good, but it is also strong,” Henderson said. “Your future is very bright.”

He continued stating that the campus had a good fiscal situation, enrollment, and ensured that the university was on a path to hire a chancellor that would be there for the long term. 

The chancellor continued to explain the current budget in detail. Henderson has met with UW System Vice President for Finance Sean Nelson about the struggles and deficits the campus was experiencing. Nelson has offered to have specialist Jeff Arnold look into the situation.  

“I hadn’t met him in a professional setting,” the chancellor said with a laugh. “The only time I had met him was when he was tailgating at a Warhawk football game. I knew that he put out a good spread, but budget-wise, I wasn’t sure.”

Henderson recalled that his conversations with Arnold talking about the budget were “about even.” 

“I felt at home because my father in south Louisiana would go out and play a gambling card game,” Henderson said. “When he would come home, he’d say he broke about even. I’m really satisfied when Jeff says we’ll be about even because it gives me a sense of confidence.”

The chancellor continued to talk about how the campus will have more in their cash balances than they had expected due to a few vacant spots, followed by the school’s increasing enrollment. 

“The incoming freshman class will be larger than it was this year,” Henderson said. 

He continued to talk about the learning communities returning to the campus and hiring staff to develop them for the fall of 2023. The chancellor explained new mental health assessments for both students and staff that would be included soon, emphasizing that as many people should complete the survey as possible. 

One of the concerns for Henderson was the decline in African American students. He stated that the student population has dropped by about one percent in almost 10 years. So campus recruitment will focus on the regions between Milwaukee, Madison and Racine to encourage those students. 

“I was really struck during one of the football games when I had some alumnus from Milwaukee say that they saw that we didn’t have the same pipeline coming from Milwaukee,” the chancellor said. 

Overall, Henderson was very pleased with the direction the campus was heading in, praising the faculty with optimism for the future.
“Congratulations on what you’ve done to create a truly phenomenal university,” Henderson said.