Q and A with new Chancellor Jim Schmidt

Story by David Heiling, News Editor

David Heiling: What are your plans on your first day of classes as UW-Eau Claire’s newchancellor?

Jim Schmidt: I could tell on my visit that the energy on this campus is fantastic. For my first day I just want to immerse myself in the campus. I want to be around as many people as possible. On the first day there are classes, I will walk across the bridge to see the people over there as well.


DH: What initially drew you to Eau Claire?

JS: Even before I stepped out on the campus, what drew me here is (Eau Claire’s) reputation. I’ve communicated with and known people who have worked there who have had glowing comments about the institution. I was drawn to Eau Claire even before I got there. Upon arrival there, the first thing I noticed was the warm and welcoming people that you meet. Everyone was so gracious in how they interacted with me and my wife. It was really fantastic.


DH: What do you think about the university’s Master Plan and how do you plan on making it a reality during your tenure?

JS: First of all I want to congratulate the people who worked on the Campus Master Plan, I’ve had a chance to look at the Campus Master Plan. I really need a chance to get on the campus and really get a chance to talk to people and get other opinions on it. I think the Master Plan is a great starting point. What I have learned from my experience is that it’s about setting priorities and how you can get these things accomplished. I was very pleased to hear Eau Claire received the go-ahead to begin planning and construction of a new residence hall. We will work together as a campus to continue to make the campus beautiful.


DH: What is one concrete objective, project or ideal you want to accomplish in your first calendar year as chancellor?

JS: My first goal is to really understand the campus and the surrounding community. I want to explore its needs, its treasures. What are the things that make Eau Claire, Eau Claire? To make sure we don’t harm that and then to identify other remaining strengths and improve them. The first year at Eau Claire will be really understanding the campus and start to exchange ideas. Find out where the intersections between some of my passions and the passions the community are and build on that.


DH: How will you try to combat rising tuition hikes as a steward of the students?

JS: First of all, UW-Eau Claire is entrusted by the state of Wisconsin and the investments of families of the students. We need to make sure that we spend those dollars wisely. Second, we need to be advocates for continuous state support for state universities. Thirdly, we need to have the dialogue with our students as we look at tuition increases, that the student has involvement, they see the necessity for those increases and that they have a role in the table in discussing that.


DH: What is one thing readers might want to know about you that they probably don’talready know?

JS: I’m a great fan of collegiate athletics; I enjoy the passion the student athletes bring to athletics. I enjoy the arts as well. Music and theatre are something I have great regard for as well. Personally, I love golf, don’t get to play it enough, but I do enjoy golf. Another personal quirk I have is that I love great coffee. People have sometimes told me I’m somewhat of a coffee snob as well. If you see me in the morning I’m likely to have my thermos along with me.


DH: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JS: I would only add that my wife and I are very excited about settling our family in Eau Claire. I am looking forward to meeting so many other folks there. I am hoping that when students see me on campus they will approach me and introduce themselves. I will definitely have a conversation with them.