Mash gets recognition in farewell speech

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Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said farewell to Wisconsin in his state of the state address on Jan. 31. In the process of doing so, he recognized UW-Eau Claire through Chancellor Donald Mash.

“It was a privilege and an honor to be invited,” Mash said of his attendance at the speech.

Thompson focused first on his accomplishments in the past before turning to the future of the state. About three-quarters of the way through the speech, Thompson recognized several individuals who were involved in programs that look to the future. John Wiley, chancellor of UW-Madison, and UW President Katherine Lyall, were honored along with Mash, each standing to be recognized.

“You stand up and the governor waves to you and you wave back,” Mash said of the experience.

The chancellor said he’s familiar with Thompson’s speeches where he sometimes calls for someone in attendance to stand and be recognized, but Mash still didn’t expect what occurred.

“I was very pleased,” he said.

Mash was recognized because of his involvement in the Chippewa Valley Initiative. The program emphasizes training more graduates in technology fields, such as computer science and management information systems, and then keeping those graduates in the state.

If funds for the program are allocated, they would bring about $4 million to Eau Claire. Mash said the initiative has a number of components to it.

“It would enable us to hire new faculty,” Mash said.

He also said it has money in it to create internships for students in technology fields, and to set up a couple labs.

The program is in conjunction with UW-Stout and area technical colleges. With new technological companies moving to the area, Mash said he sees the area becoming full of technology-based jobs and businesses.

“This region has been referred to as Wisconsin’s technology valley,” he said.

With more internships available in the area and more technology students, Mash said he believes the initiative will keep students in the Chippewa Valley.

“We’ll be able to keep our best and brightest graduates here,” he said.

This is not the first time Mash has been recognized by a governor.

When Mash first came to Eau Claire, the governor of Nebraska said of Mash, “Wisconsin’s gain is definitely Nebraska’s loss.”

“It’s always flattering when someone recognizes your work,” Mash said.