Mone seeks ‘open door’ with business community

Just hours after Mark Mone, Ph.D., learned that he had been named University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s ninth chancellor on Monday, he addressed an audience of campus and community members, friends and media with a plan to forge “a new era” at the university.

Imbedded in Mone’s vision for the university’s future is an open door policy with the region’s business community.

UWM needs “continued open doors” with area businesses and executives to accomplish two objectives, according to Mone.

“One is to listen carefully to what those needs are on both sides – the types of talent, the types of employees, how we can help address that but also how we can help them solve issues, resolve the most challenging, vexing types of issues facing business and other types of organizations today,” he said. “And then we can help align how our faculty and staff can work with those partners. So the key to this is the open door – keeping those lines of communication going. And we have to do our part. We have to create something that’s easier for the university to be open and accessible.”

Like any large organization, Mone said, the university has several different streams of communication.

“It might be more helpful if we had either a common portal or a one-stop shop,” he said, adding that the university is currently working on developing a more central “corporate relations” hub to better serve the business community.

According to University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross, Mone’s affinity for grooming relations with the business community as well as other academic institutions was one of several factors that secured his appointment.

“His collaborative approach to developing relationships with business leaders and the business community and the importance of those partnerships with other higher education institutions – MATC, Marquette, MSOE, you can go on and on here – all of that’s important, and he’s really committed to that,” Cross said.

Mone touched on the need to strengthen relations with business and academic partners within the framework of a vision he has been cultivating since he was named interim chancellor last spring.

“When the interim chancellorship was first announced in April, I introduced you to a concept called ‘moving forward together,’” Mone said during his address. “And I’d like to add a word to that today…The vision that I’d like to articulate briefly today is ‘moving forward together boldly.’ I think it’s important for us to assert a future that is unlike what we’ve had in the past but building on the strengths of my predecessors. Going forward, we must keep the focus on our priorities, but I’d like to advance a new era at UWM.”

Mone said UWM must bolster its work in five areas. Along with continuing to increase student success, which encompasses doubling down on retention, graduation and student life, Mone said UWM needs to strengthen its research capabilities, reinforce its community and alumni engagements, improve its climate and culture while embracing diversity and inclusion, and elevate its brand and image.

Those priorities will be tended to through the university’s partnerships with businesses and academic institutions, a push to increase resources by carefully growing enrollment as well as a focus on increasing philanthropy. UWM also will continue to advocate for support from the state, expand campus collaboration across sectors, develop new leaders and promote more open communication, Mone said.

From a broader scope, the new leader has an overarching drive to advance the university’s mission, which he classified as unique in the UW System and the region for its attention to both research and access.

He acknowledged that his plans for the university are significant and substantial and cannot be accomplished overnight, particularly in light of challenges UWM faces with struggling enrollment rates, aging facilities and a need for more resources.

However, Mone is bullish for the university’s new era and believes that its best days are ahead.

“We can control our destiny if we work on these things together,” he said.

Erica Breunlin is a staff reporter at BizTimes Milwaukee.

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