By UWM Chancellor Michael R. Lovell
A public, urban university like UWM has many opportunities to make a difference. One of the important differences it can make is strengthening the economy of the surrounding community, plus the region and state. To help create more jobs, a university must focus on working with the businesses, industries and nonprofit organizations that are already strong contributors to their community.
Those who were University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee chancellors before me understood that very well, and created important partnerships. I am very happy to build on their accomplishments, and an announcement made this summer is a perfect example.
Johnson Controls Inc., a global corporation with its headquarters just 15 minutes from our campus, employs 142,000 people around the world. When I came here from the University of Pittsburgh three years ago, I met with Johnson Controls officials during my second day on the job. I had done a lot of work in the energy field during my career and knew that working closely with this world leader in energy technology would be important to the university’s future.
Our relationship has grown stronger since then, and together we have created state-of-the-art battery research laboratories within our College of Engineering & Applied Science on our East Side campus. In June we announced another important step forward. We will add another laboratory on our campus, hire a professor to lead our battery research activities and create additional student scholarships.
The University of Wisconsin- Madison is involved in the relationship, too, as the partnership will create a research laboratory for similar purposes on the Madison campus.
The creation of this new professorship and the addition of the scholarships will allow UWM to attract an internationally known scholar and very talented students. These are critical steps toward making Wisconsin a recognized hub for energy-storage technology and devices. It will also be one more area in which UWM educates and graduates students with very useful skills. And research shows that where there are talented, skilled workers, employers will expand or relocate so they can hire them.
Our partnership with Johnson Controls is another example of how UWM is strengthening its expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—what are often called the STEM fields— through campus initiatives. We have other initiatives in place that seek to educate more than just university students on our campus. Some are designed to help teachers in Milwaukee Public Schools better understand how to help their K-12 students get better educated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Through an improved focus on students of all ages and their teachers and professors, partnerships like the one we have with Johnson Controls will have a ready supply of individuals at all levels who are qualified to get involved. This, in turn, will make them better prepared for the good jobs that make use of the outstanding education they receive here at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.