TUE AM News: New consortium aims to expand opportunities for women; UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank getting praise after departure announcement

— A new national effort will seek to expand opportunities for women in traditionally male-dominated fields such as manufacturing and construction, through federal funding provided to a Milwaukee workforce organization. 

“Our main goals are to really convene partners from across the United States to share best practices on how we can raise women’s success in apprenticeship and nontraditional occupations,” said Lindsay Blumer, president and CEO of WRTP | BIG STEP. 

The Milwaukee-based group has received a $750,000 grant from the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau to launch the disruptHER Consortium. In an interview, Blumer explained WRTP | BIG STEP is an intermediary group that works with job seekers, employers and unions to support workforce development. 

“Our vision is that traditionally underemployed people — particularly women and people of color — have access to employment training and equitable opportunities,” she told WisBusiness.com. 

She said the organization was notified of the funding earlier this month, and will begin programming through the national consortium by the end of October. Other partners in the effort will be given a portion of the funding as sub-grantees, while the Milwaukee group will retain a percentage of the funds to create a “best practices library” for sharing ideas on how to accomplish the consortium’s goals. 

Along with other groups around the country, a Milwaukee-based talent attraction effort called The Commons will receive funding to help identify hurdles for women pursuing apprenticeships or other opportunities in various sectors. Blumer pointed to issues such as child care, transportation and the workplace environment, adding the effort aims to “be innovative in how we can drill down to actionable solutions” to these challenges. 

Other partners include the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, West Oakland Jobs Resource Center, California – Workforce & Economic Development Program, Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO, Equus Workforce Solutions, and the Machinist Training Institute 751. A planning meeting will be held this week to begin determining the specific funding breakdown, Blumer said. 

The consortium’s goals include enhancing training programs to prepare women for apprenticeship, exploring “myths and realities” about occupations within targeted industries, providing technical assistance to employers and unions on recruitment strategies to increase the number of women in “apprenticeable and nontraditional occupations,” and coordinating networks for female professionals in apprenticeship programs. 

Given the labor challenges that were exacerbated by the pandemic, Blumer says the national effort “is very timely and very needed and we’re very excited to take this brand-new approach.” 

The consortium will be funded through August 2023 with the federal grant, the release shows. 

WRTP | BIG STEP was formed by the partnership between the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership and the Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program, formalized in 2014 when the organizations merged their boards of directors. 

See details in a release: https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/WRTP_WANTO_disruptHER_PressRelease_FINAL.pdf 

See more on WRTP | BIG STEP here: https://wrtp.org/about/ 

— UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank is getting praise as she prepares to become president at Northwestern University.

Blank is staying on at UW-Madison until the end of the 2021-22 school year before taking her new role at the Evanston, Ill. campus.

Gov. Tony Evers in a statement thanked Blank for her work at the university, adding he is confident the UW Board of Regents will select a replacement who will continue UW-Madison’s legacy.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also thanked Blank for her service.

“Many thanks to Chancellor Blank for serving the people of Wisconsin and for her leadership at the university,” he said. “During her eight year tenure, Chancellor Blank has been committed to educational excellence, academic innovation, and enhancing community and business outreach.”

UW System President Tommy Thompson said Blank helped build on UW-Madison’s legacy.

“The University of Wisconsin is one of the finest universities in the world, and Chancellor Blank’s tenacious advocacy and strong leadership have helped build on that legacy during her tenure,” he said.

UW System Board of Regents President Edmund Manydeeds III said Blank has left UW-Madison “well-positioned for success.”

“Chancellor Blank is an extraordinary leader whose commitment to the Wisconsin Idea, including her efforts to expand the University’s outreach to every corner of the state, have UW-Madison well-positioned for success in the future,” he said.

Blank has served as chancellor since July 2013. According to the university, she has the second-longest tenure for a chancellor behind Irving Shain, who served in the role from 1977 to 1986.

“Leading UW-Madison and serving the people of Wisconsin has been an honor and a privilege,” Blank said in a news release. “Now it’s time to let someone else step into leadership. I have many connections with Northwestern and am excited about this new opportunity.”

Read the UW-Madison announcement:

— Leaders in the state’s business community are highlighting Blank’s contribution to research and technology development following the announcement that she will be stepping down after this school year. 

Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still points to the creation of UW-Madison’s new School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences under Blank’s tenure as “recognition that such sciences are fundamental to success” in the modern economy. In a statement, he also underscores rising enrollment in engineering programs and growth in the university’s medical science, veterinary science, nursing and pharmacy programs. 

He added that research expenditures at the university continue to increase “at a time when federal R&D spending has leveled off and even decreased” in some areas. 

“In the fiscal year ending June 30, the university recorded an increase of more than 100 grant proposals compared to the previous year, demonstrating a breadth and depth of innovation,” Still said. “The UW-Madison also received $1.5 billion in federal grants, up 15 percent over the prior year.” 

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon praised the chancellor for her leadership “in a rapidly changing economy.” Blank is a member of the chamber’s board. 

“As an economist and former U.S. Commerce Secretary, she brought tremendous insight to understanding and engaging with the business community,” Brandon said in a statement. “As a fierce advocate for research, she also supported innovation both on and off campus, ensuring Greater Madison grows as a place that solves global challenges for years to come.” 

See Still’s statement: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/wisconsin-technology-council-blank-leadership-kept-uw-madison-strong-in-science-tech/ 

See Brandon’s statement: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/greater-madison-chamber-of-commerce-statement-from-chamber-president-on-the-resignation-of-chancellor-blank/ 

— Two UW-Madison researchers will be conducting a clinical study on a psilocybin-based drug being developed by a Canadian pharmaceutical company. 

Psilocybin is the psychoactive component of so-called “magic mushrooms,” which scientists around the world are studying as a potential method for treating mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Tryp Therapeutics is developing its psilocybin product for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and phantom limb pain, as well as other diseases, a release shows. 

The company recently announced the partnership with Paul Hutson, a professor with the university’s School of Pharmacy, and Christopher Nicholas, an assistant professor with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Hutson is also the founding director of the Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances at UW-Madison. 

The two researchers will lead a clinical pharmacology study of the company’s drug product called TRP-8803. It will focus on safety and how the drug interacts with the body in “healthy, volunteer patients.” 

Nicholas will contribute to the study’s design including measuring outcomes and psychological support for participants. In a release, Hutson notes that psilocybin-based treatments have “incredible clinical potential.”

“Our collaboration will explore important safety and dosing considerations with the potential to create a best-in-class psychedelic therapy with significant benefits to patients across a wide range of indications,” he said. 

See a recent story on the Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/new-center-for-research-on-psychoactive-substances-to-build-on-existing-momentum/ 

See the release: https://www.newsfilecorp.com/release/98790 

— Four research projects from UW-Madison scientists are getting a total of over $113,000 in funding from the Wisconsin Fertilizer Research Council. 

The projects will focus on things like plant nutrition, soil quality, surface and groundwater, and soil management. 

Matt Ruark, a professor in the university’s Department of Soil Science, is getting over $40,000 for two projects studying nitrogen availability of fall-applied manure in a silage system and exploring growth and nutrient uptake of potatoes. 

Carrie Laboski, another professor in the department, will receive over $47,000 supporting a long-term study of sustainable crop production. And Yi Wang, a professor in the university’s Department of Horticulture, is getting over $25,000 for research into aspects of potato production in central Wisconsin. 

A percentage of tonnage fees on fertilizer sales goes toward the Wisconsin Fertilizer Research Council. The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collects $0.62 in fees for every ton of fertilizer sold, and $0.17 of that fee goes to the council’s fund.

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/dept-of-agriculture-trade-and-consumer-protection-fertilizer-research-council-funds-over-100000-for-uw-projects/ 

See more on the council: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/About_Us/FertilizerResearchCouncil.aspx 

— Ed Lump, who led the Wisconsin Restaurant Association as its president and CEO for 36 years, has died. 

“He has inspired the respect of so many and leaves behind a remarkable legacy,” said Kristine Hillmer, the group’s current president and CEO, in a statement. “Through it all, no one could mistake his love for the restaurant and hospitality industry, his love for his job and his love for his family.” 

Lump was also the past chair and member of the WRA board. Hillmer describes him as a “strong leader and a passionate advocate” for the restaurant industry. 

See the obituary from the WRA: https://www.wirestaurant.org/news/remembering-ed-lump 

— Ossie Kendrix Jr., president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, has received the 2021 Herb Kohl Champion Award. 

This award is presented to a community leader each year who “demonstrates exemplary collaboration and commitments” to both Milwaukee and the state, according to a release. It was presented to Kendrix last week by Safe and Sound, a nonprofit community organization based in Milwaukee. Kendrix serves on the group’s board of directors. 

Safe and Sound Deputy Executive Director Bridget Whitaker says Kendrix has introduced new programming to provide greater support to small minority-owned businesses. 

“He is surely building a stronger Milwaukee, creating new entrepreneurs and

equipping business owners with skills to not only become sustainable, but also to create

employment opportunities within the communities we serve,” Whitaker said in a statement.  

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/african-american-chamber-of-commerce-of-wisconsin-ceo-ossie-kendrix-jr-receives-herb-kohl-champion-award/ 


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<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

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