Priorities:University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Priorities

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UWM has a uniquely vibrant culture. It is a diverse hub for research and hands-on experience which is immediately embedded in a great city that offers a wide range of ecological, historical, intellectual, and monetary resources and opportunities. Pragmatism, optimism, and social empathy are written on the DNA of the city, and accordingly, the university. There are many young, knowledgeable faculties on the campus, and students have a hunger to learn and create.

We think student priorities need to be addressed on three main stages.

  1. Solving Problems
  2. Building Upon Existing Assets
  3. Creating New Opportunities

Each stage can be further explored on two levels of strategic and tactical. It should be noted that there is a considerable degree of overlap between these three stages, however, they also have distinct characteristics. While each of these stages can stand on its own, they are presented in a suggested sequence under the assumption that each stage represents a level of experience before going on to the next stage.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: A History of Development, a Future of Innovation


            In order to know where you are going, it is important to know where you’ve been…


  • 1885 – the Wisconsin State Normal School is founded
  • 1911 – Wisconsin State Normal School absorbs the Milwaukee School of the Arts and the Wisconsin School of Fine and Applied Arts
  • 1951 – Curriculum is expanded to include liberal arts
  • 1956 – the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is established
  • 1956 – College of Letters & Science
  • 1961 – UWM’s first building is opened, Lapham Hall, named for the state’s greatest 19th century scientist, Increase Allen Lalpham.
  • 1962 – UWM founds more diverse programs in the College of Letters and Science   
  • 1962 – Peck School of the Arts
  • 1963 – UWM offers its first PhD degree in Mathematics
  • 1963 – School of Education
  • 1964 – College of Engineering & Applied Science
  • 1965 - Helen Bader School of Social Welfare
  • 1966 – Lubar School of Business
  • 1966 – School of Information Studies
  • 1969 – School of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • 1974 – The UWM Foundation is established
  • 1975 – College of Nursing
  • 1976 – College of Health Sciences
  • 1981 – School of Library and Information Sciences opens
  • 1994 – UWM is ranked as a Research II University by the Carnegie Foundation
  • 2000 – UWM is named among the top 102 public doctoral research universities in the nation
  • 2006 – UWM Research Foundation is created
  • 2008 – School of Public Health is established
  • 2009 – School of Freshwater Science is established
  • 2011 – UWM purchases land for its Innovation Park
  • 2011 – UWM CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization) is created
  • 2012 – First UIF cohorts
  • 2012 – first UWM Student Start Up Challenge
  • 2013 – University Innovation Fellows Launches a wiki
  • 2014 – UWM UIF cohorts: Alex Francis, Carton Reeves, Robert Salamon
  • 2015 – UWM UIF cohorts: Aaron Davis, Amin Mojtahedi, David Gallenegos, Garry Jean-Pierre, Nicole Green, Tahereh Hosseini
  • 2015 – UWM is ranked one of two top research universities in Wisconsin
  • 2015 – TEDxUWMilwaukee is founded
  • 2015 – Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex opens
  • 2016 – UWM Innovators Expo
  • 2016 – UWM UIF cohorts: Alycia Doxon, Hoda Barzegar Ganji, Seyedehmahshid Jalalianhosseini, Tou Jim Lee, Brayden Cutler
  • 2017 – Prototyping Club at UWM is created
  • 2018 – Opening of the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center
  • 2018 – UWM UIF cohorts: Madeline Horinek
  • Forward!
  • Forward! – UWM UIF’s continue to hold the UWM Innovators Expo
  • Forward! – UWM UIF’s host pop ups, new workshops, and engage stakeholders
  • Continued development of the overall community of I&E at UWM


As the Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) culture at UWM continues to build and develop a sense of community becomes even more important. As more events are created, and others continued, there will be a large push for more students from diverse branches of academia to participate. UWM has many organizations and programs, but they hardly ever interact outside of their majors. If UWM hopes to grow further, bridges will need to be built between majors. Future events will work to bring in more branches of academia in a way that encourages students to network and work with people outside of their branch of academia.

UIF Cohort 2021 

In 2021, the UI Cohort identified three key terms to outline their strategic priorities that work to support the continued innovation of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: student connections, transitions to the university (e.g., starting a new program, etc.), and entrepreneurship development. From this starting point, the team focused on four strategic priorities to develop further throughout the year.

Strategic Priority: Design Thinking Living Learning Dorm

In order to support the connection of students to maximize innovative thinking while simultaneously attempting to close a gap the UI cohort identified in current Living Learning Dormitory opportunities on campus, one tactic currently in pursuit is the creation of a "Design Thinking: Living Learning Dorm". Led by Rudi, the UI cohort are actively prototyping the effectiveness of their design ideas in bringing students of all programs (i.e., business, engineering, art history, etc.) together in a dormitory setting to form a creative space that supports design thinking opportunities. Students that apply and are selected for this new venture will be surrounded by individuals of various backgrounds and expertise, yet find similarity in their common drive to create and innovate. In combining students of all backgrounds under one roof, students will contribute to the well-rounded creation of ideas to push the university forward, all the while mastering the practice of design thinking and applying such skills to both professional and personal growth.

Strategic Priority: Student Transitions

Nina looks to guide and encourage educational paths from high school, undergraduate, graduate and beyond. The key to unlocking diverse potential lies in identifying young talent and providing the opportunities and connections necessary for them to reach their goals. Each step along the way has milestones that are common between each person's unique journey.

Strategic Priority: The Idea Hostel

The Idea Hostel headed by Manny operates as an exchange of open spaces with and commuters needing space. This functions by applying an Airbnb-like platform to the campus, with shared spaces that allow for the development of innovative and entrepreneurial exploration.

Strategic Priority: CollIdeaScope

Allyn's CollIdeaScope aims to bring together ideators and skilled colleagues who may wish to challenge, expand, and collaborate upon the ideas presented. This is done through an online, forum-led platform in which new topics are introduced and visitors/peers are able to contribute however they wish. This helps shed light on innovation and helps build a network of those who are able to help but otherwise would not have been aware of the proposed topic, helping to strengthen student connections through cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Solving Problems

Strategic: Inspiration & Celebration

There are many undergrad and grad students that are skeptic of the value of what they receive as education in the university. Also, many graduate and PhD students gravitate towards merely conceptual research endeavors to maintain a place in the community of researchers. By framing “becoming innovative” as a legitimate knowledgeable identity for students, we can evoke the masses’ curiosity about the culture of I&E and encourage them to join the movement.  

Tactical: Storytelling

  • Seminars and workshop series
  • TEDx, Ignite Talk, PechaKucha

TEDxUWMilwaukee was founded in 2014 by a group of students from various backgrounds. The university innovation fellows at UWM we're instrumental in aiding the founding members of the group and serve as ambassadors in the community helping TEDxUWMilwaukee find new speakers and make industry conacts. 

  • Walls for Jotting Imaginative and Creative Ideas

Building Upon Existing Assets: Landscape Canvas


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Strategic Priority: Connection

== Increasing student exposure to other students with complementary skill sets in order to facilitate collaboration.

Tactical: Increased Initiative

In the fall of 2019, the UI Cohort put together a prototype for a website that would allow students with ideas to request help from students with complementary skill sets, such as a design student connecting with an electrical engineer and marketing major to combine efforts and create a marketable prototype. This would allow people from different backgrounds whose paths may never naturally cross to find those with common interests and the skills to make the idea work. 

The improved prototype and final product would be a fully editable platform where any student could make a profile, describe their interests, describe their ideas and skills, post preliminary sketches, and ultimately request that people with the necessary skills to reach out. This could be a game-changing tool for students across campus who shoot down their ideas simply because they don’t have the necessary training to realize it. 



Strategic Priority: Mission vs Major

== Increasing student confidence involving pursuing something that they are passionate about despite risk.

Tactical: Increased Confidence

The UIF cohort created a prototype to build a greater understanding of the origin of this fear of risk and what action can be taken to turn that fear into confidence. The prototype consisted of diverse questions that brought students into deep self thought, guiding them to reflect and ask themselves questions to help them discover the routes of their passions. After multiple interviews with the questions, first being done separately then followed up with discussion, the UIF cohort found a trend in the responses with certain thought processes and emotions. With each interview and discussion, they altered the questions to best help the student reflect and get the best, unbiased responses. These responses and discussions helped them come up with some answers to why things may be as they currently are, and opened up thought to what can be solutions. At the end of each interview, we discussed possible solutions on what would have to be true to progress forward.
Frequent and detailed discussion of students’ passions and the resources outside of the classroom available to allow students to actually pursue their mission, insighting opportunity, may be very helpful first steps for students. After discussing with the students, they said they may not have all the answers, but feel more confident and excited to move forward with discovering what their next steps are.

Strategic Priority: Academia

== Increasing student initiative to take courses that teach and encourage entrepreneurship and design thinking.

Tactical: Increased Initiative

Universities want to create “spaces” for students to be innovative. What is a space? Is it really a physical place or is it a culture within a space? Our team says the latter. It is the culture within a space that allows students to be innovative. We have the makerspaces, we have the Entrepreneurship building, we have access to a network of people looking to help and guide. What is the disconnect? Could it be that students don’t know about the resources? Only certain students are marketed to for the resources? Probably both. How do we bring innovative students from all disciplines within the university together to work with one another?

The UIF cohort wants to create a course that would satisfy a general education requirement that is centered around Innovation. Potentially coding it as a Social Science course would encourage students to get involved in entrepreneurship and design thinking early on in their collegiate experience.


Strategic priority: Diversity in I&E
Creating more natural interactions between different majors in I&E classes

Tactical: Increased Initiative

Universities know that there are benefits to interdisciplinary studies but I realized that a major roadblock to these interactions was that these classes have course titles that didn't allow for many majors like the courses are intended to. By changing the Course title from classes like Mechanical Engineering 490 that only count for credit for mechanical engineers, to something that can be counted towards graduation for all majors. If all students can take these classes for credit then you will yield a more diverse class.

The UIF Cohort wants to change the way I&E count towards credit at UWM. I&E is a skill that all majors can benefit from so with that logic I&E should count towards graduation for all majors.


Creating New Opportunities 

Strategic: Empowering Campus Crossroads

Campus crossroads are places where most serendipitous encounters occur.

Tactical: Identifying and leveraging existing crossroads on campus and creating opportunities for I&E-related discussions and activities

  • I&E Landscape Kiosk in the Student Union
  • I&E Hub in the Library

Virtual Reality Headset and Software

In order to enhance our I&E on campus, bringing Virtual Reality headset and software will be key. This technology would especially help out the architecture and engineering schools. By having this new technology, students in the field will be able to enhance their prototyping and knowledge on their field material. Non-architecture and engineering students are welcomed to use the technology themselves as the technology is versatile in all majors. Because this technology is so new and exciting, we are hoping it will get students interested about I&E.

We will need to: 1) find out if anyone on campus is doing research with VR (due 11-30-2016), 2) Determine cost of VR and how to fund it (due 12-30-2016), 3)-If there are grants, ask professionals to help us write it (due 1-30-2017), 4) Draft up grant writing (2-15-2017), 5) Review grant writing with professionals (3-1-2017), 6) Submit grant proposal (5-1-2017) 

Venture Captial (Dorm Fund)

During an assignment where we had to talk with fellows from other universities about our landscape canvases, one of the UWM fellows came across a fellow who had a venture capital fund running out of his school, Rowan University. After talking with him about this fund, and finding out about a similar student-run fund out of Marquette University, we think that a student-run venture capital fund might possibly be valuable on campus. We think this because, mainly, students wouldn't have to go all the way through a program to be funded by the university. The money that the university has right now to support innovative ideas is only at the end of competitions, or the culmination of different programs. If someone happens to miss a deadline, they may just be out of luck for funding their idea until the next term comes around.

We could start the potential planning of a student run venture capital fund by, 1) interviewing students to see the need for business idea funding, 2) conduct interviews with the students at Marquette university, 3) Talk to the people at our school that already have money to distribute, and see if they have any feedback, 4) Look at the track record for how many students have gotten or needed funding in the past. 5) Create a plan for gaining donations for the venture fund, 6) Find out the structure and logistical information about holding money at a university.<o:p></o:p>

Strategic: Think Outside the Campus's Box

Milwaukee is a great city with a wide range of resources. We need to plug into these resources and use the energy that is generated in the city.

Tactical: Involving the City in & Involving in the City

  • Finding sponsors for Case Competitions
  • Creating internship opportunities
  • Exploring sites in the city that has social or ecological potential and value which can be used to the benefit of people, local businesses, etc.

UIF Cohort 2018 

Strategic: Education with Entrepreneurship

At UWM, we have many great I&E classes and a new Entrepreneurship Center but no program incorporates all of the classes together. This gap in education could be filled with an Entrepreneurship Minor. The addition of an Entrepreneurship Minor would give students the incentive to take a series of I&E classes to enhance the educational program that they are already in. With this program, we could have students take classes in an order that will enhance many concepts of I&E. 

Tactical: Encoorperating I&E classes into a minor

  • Get in contact with I&E professors to see what classes should make up the 18 credit minor
  • Conduct interviews with students to see what classes would create an interesting program
  • Begin conversations with the College of Letters and Science to see what is required to start a new minor
  • Gather all of the appropriate information and paperwork to start the program
  • Present the information to stakeholders such as the Dean of the College of Letters and Science

Expanding University Legal Clinic @ UWM

  • Current Information:
    • No communication between University of Research, Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, and University Legal Clinic
    • Currently they only do simple legal advice for things like citations, injury, and landlord issues
    • This could help the legal clinic out with more experience working with startups and businesses
    • There is not a good resource that you can just walk in to recieve help for patents, business documentation
    • Most people are directed towards Marquette’s Legal Clinic for these complicated things
    • If we incorporated these elements and legal clinic into the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, it could be a one stop shop for thinking, making, legal advice, and other resources
    • Legal problems can be some of the most frustrating/confusing things when starting up a company.
    • This could boost Entrepreneurship on campus because this legal problems holds many people back

  • General Actions:
    • Contact University Legal Clinic
    • Contact city-wide legal resources
    • Contact Lubar Entrepreneurship Center
    • Find a better space within LEC to house a new improved Legal Clinic
    • Find more paralegal help for the influx of entrepreneurs and students
    • Connect city-wide legal help with paralegals on campus to give training on businesses, patents, and tax information
    • Contact Marquette Legal Clinic for help on improving ours.

Innovating the Freshmen Orientation

Every school wants to get freshmen excited about coming to campus and beginning a new journey in life, but UWM's freshmen orientation feels like it's trying to do the opposite. The orientation gets the job done in terms of checking all of the typical orientation boxes, however, it lacks being the first step in creating lasting campus connections. 

To fix this, a few objetives have been identified to create a better experience for incoming students. 

First, changing the time frame from early in the summer to a couple days right before school starts will give students more time to get acclimated with the campus. 

Second, adding in more events where new students get to interact with clubs and other resources on campus will give them the opportunity to become part of a group and feel more comfortable as they adjust to a new place. 

Third, having optional trips around the greater Milwaukee area or staying on campus to do other events such as design thinking workshops would give incoming students the opportunity for discovery on campus and in the surrounding community. 

As a forward-thinking campus there are always room for improvement, and gving students a better first year experience is one way UWM can connect students to the campus and city. 

Diversity and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship: Zero Barriers

To increase diversity and inclusion at UWM by having different entrepreneurial presenters from different backgrounds come and present to cater to the needs of the community would be the strategic priority of this event.

It would allow those without a voice to be heard or anyone that may have been marginalized in the past. The faculty, staff, and students here at UWM to include directors, vice-chancellors, presidents, and numerous leaders to provide a network to use their connections to ensure a successful event of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Branding would be used for awareness and to use the "1 Million Cups" reputation to draw in the general public.

We would cater to the needs of the individuals and provide an open-forum, laid-back environment that is laissez-faire in nature where it is okay to fail and not know all of the answers. Our customer archetype would be those who are in the minority and from varying creeds, backgrounds, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, and more.

We hope that this event can be done in a quarterly fashion to increase its momentum and keep on going by celebrating diversity and inclusion on different months, like Black History Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, and National Coming Out Month.

Related Links

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Priorities

Nicole Green

Amin Mojtahedi

Garry Jean-Pierre

David Gallegos

Cory Engdahl

Aaron Davis

Rustin Bergren

Tahereh Hosseini

Tou Jim Lee




Madeline Horinek

Kate Jankowski