UW-Whitewater students urged to break frames
WHITEWATER UW-Whitewater Chancellor Richard Telfer wasn’t busting up a picture frame to relieve stress when he delivered his State of the University address Monday.
Telfer was demonstrating the need to break through frames, which are the structures in our brains that we use to process information.
These frames can limit our creativity, he said, and we need to break outside them to expand our thinking, which is needed to be more creative and innovative.
“When we break out of our frames, we broaden our perspectives and see information in a new light,” Telfer said while breaking the picture frame. “The environment in which our university operates in is changing, and we will need to be creative and innovative to meet the challenges we face.”
Telfer identified four “particular” challenges the university must overcome including the changing nature of students and higher education itself.
“The first challenge facing higher education in Wisconsin is the growing variety of people seeking university degrees,” Telfer said. “They are older adults, veterans and full-time workers. For many of these individuals, the traditional model of a 16-week semester and an 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. school day does not work.”
In an interview after his speech, Telfer outlined alternatives to traditional higher education.
“Certainly online courses is one of the answers,” he said. “We have implemented many online courses and even entire programs such as our online MBA program. We need to look at expanding that to other colleges.”
Non-traditional students often need non-traditional scheduling, Telfer said.
“For example, should we be offering a program with classes scheduled four weekends in a row? There are other ways to deliver our services, and we need to be looking at them,” he said.
“The message should be that we can be around when you can be around,” Telfer said. “Too often our schedules are different.”
Telfer also suggested the university consider academic credit for work experience, flexible class start dates, self-paced learning and taking a portion of a class as a module.
Telfer was referring to the Wisconsin Flexible Degree Program.
“I continue to be skeptical, but I believe we should challenge our traditional views about education and give the new program a chance,” he said.