New Chancellor speaks about UW Eau Claire’s future

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- With college back in session for many schools on Tuesday, students all across the country are starting a new chapter. On the UW-Eau Claire campus, the day marks new beginnings not only for the students, but also for new Chancellor James Schmidt.

So what does the future hold, and what’s in store for the students and the University?

“I didn't come here to change direction of the ship, because it’s headed in the right direction,” started Schmidt.

Schmidt says the university's motto is “Excellence” and his job is to build on the great work that has been done before him.

“I'm a big believer in making sure that you learn carefully why things are done the certain way before moving to change,” explained Schmidt.

He says he has several ideas in mind on how to make UW-Eau Claire an even better educational institution. Chancellor says with the globe moving closer, expanding study abroad programs is one of them.

“By developing collaborative agreements, other institutions internationally; try to figure out a way to drive the costs down, while still insuring students will have that amazing emerging in a different culture,” said Schmidt.

He says his biggest challenge is state funding for the university. Schmidt says 30 years ago, the state of Wisconsin picked up almost 80% of the education tab, now it's around 20%.

“I will be a tireless advocate for state investment in our institutions. I will be a partner with our students to make sure that they're spending their tuition dollars wisely,” said Schmidt.

Chancellor says when it comes to Blugold’s leisure time, safety and wellbeing of students is always going to be his priority.

Schmidt says there are no plans to change UW-Eau Claire from a wet campus into a dry one; but he says he wants students to learn that underage drinking on his campus is not tolerated.

“It is about their future, it is about the society. But if we can stay focused on our primary constituent which is our students, we’ll make good decision for our university,” added Chancellor.

Schmidt says all the changes and improvements made to the university during his time here, under the Blugold’s roof, will always be done with students in mind.