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00:00:00 - Start of Interview 00:00:51 - How Tom came to work at UW-Madison

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Partial Transcript: So the first one I want to start with is the first one on the list

Segment Synopsis: Tom got notice from a friend about an outreach job in biotechnology, so he jumped at the opportunity. He was very excited to return back to Madison.

Keywords: Plant pathology; UW-Madison; UW-Platteville

00:03:11 - How Tom became interested in plant pathology

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Partial Transcript: So you talked about plant pathology...

Segment Synopsis: Tom talks about working with his dad and his grandpa in their gardens, which prompted his interests in plants. In high school, he took agriculture classes, which got him involved in FFA. His high school agriculture teacher prompted his interests in plant experiments. Eventually, he went to UW-Madison for undergrad degree.

Keywords: Agriculture; Future Farmers of America; Gardening; Tomato Plants; Undergraduate Degree

00:08:23 - The ways Tom tries to communicate science to others

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Partial Transcript: So the other thing I want to talk about in terms of your work reach...

Segment Synopsis: While Tom is not a science communicator, he does spend much of his time trying to make people more scientifically savvy. He says the most important way of doing that is by listening rather than speaking. He tries to figure out what we don't know rather than communicating what we do know. Tom also says that the years of the pandemic have been the most important years of science communication in his career.

Keywords: Covid-19; Pandemic; Science Communication

00:13:57 - Tom's work at UW-Madison over the years

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Partial Transcript: So the next question, I think you've kind of answered...

Segment Synopsis: Tom says he's made his job into trying to make all people in Wisconsin more scientifically savvy. He doesn't try to recruit young people to become scientists. Rather, he takes a very liberal arts approach to talking about science. He works with lots of people across all ages and tries to emphasize that all citizens of Wisconsin are co-owners of the University of Wisconsin. Early in his career, Tom worked on the road, organizing speeches and events for other extension workers. Then, when the university created the new biotechnology research center, he got to head two outreach labs. This new building gave him the opportunity to do public events at the biotechnology center. He then speaks to the difference between his work and science museums.

Keywords: Academic Staff; Biotechnology Research Center; Cooperative Extension; Land Grant University; Liberal Arts; Sales Tax; UW-Madison; UW-System

00:25:23 - How Tom defended his space in the Biotechnology Research Center/brought people in to interact with the science centers at the university

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Partial Transcript: I have a question about what comprises a typical day...

Segment Synopsis: Tom tried to bring in elementary school students to UW-Madison. He worked with other people on campus to organize "round robins" for hundreds of elementary students, including stops at Discovery Building, Union South, the Physics Museum, etc. He then organized "Wednesday Night at the Lab" events for the public to come to the university. Tom also speaks about how he had local, publicly-funded television record and televise lectures at "Wednesday Nite @ the Lab." Now, Tom works with more extension programing including 4-H.

Keywords: Biotechnology Research Center; Discovery Building; Land Grant Research University; PBS; Television; Union South

00:36:49 - The BioTrek Public Outreach Program

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Partial Transcript: And I want to make sure there's a couple specific...

Segment Synopsis: Tom explains the origin story of the BioTrek name. He talks about all the significant science/technology landmarks around campus. Tom says he doesn't try to recruit people to come to UW-Madison for college; rather, he tries to promote life long learning through the land grant university.

Keywords: Campus tours; Life Sciences

00:40:27 - Tom explains the origin of the Science Alliance

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Partial Transcript: Thanks Tom. The other one that I had written down...

Segment Synopsis: In 1998, the campus was preparing many events to celebrate the University of Wisconsin's 150th birthday. But crashes in the stock market led the university to stop many of the events. So, a few years later, when Tom got the opportunity to put on another biotechnology event, called UW-Science Expeditions, he agreed but only if they would continue every year. The UW-Science Expeditions committee ended up founding the science alliance. The science alliance is composed of academic staff, faculty, and other people looking to promote science. Even during the pandemic, the science alliance has continued to due a strong foundation.

Keywords: Covid-19; Science Alliance; UW-Science Expeditions; University of Wisconsin

00:48:42 - How the Covid-19 pandemic has changed Tom's work

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Partial Transcript: We're past forty-five minutes, but we do have a few more minutes...

Segment Synopsis: Tom recalls hearing a Wednesday Nite @ the Lab talk from 2018 about how the university and city of Madison didn't handle the 1918 Spanish flu well. During this pandemic, the university backed away from their commitment to youth programing, which Tom found very frustrating. Tom says that the switch to online meant that he could communicate with colleagues in the counties more often and more effectively. However, he says programing suffered at first. He also said that it took UW-Madison a while to come around and use zoom technology, which is what the people in the counties were using. Tom also talks about how Wednesday Nite @ the Lab didn't have access to broadcast quality streaming for a long time, meaning it was off the air. Eventually, they figured out how to create a mobile broadcast quality system, but it took a long time.

Keywords: 4-H; Covid-19; Pandemic; Spanish Flu; Zoom

00:59:14 - Start of Interview Part II 00:59:54 - Importance of bringing youth to campus

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Partial Transcript: So we already have a list of things we would like to talk about...

Segment Synopsis: Tom says that hospitality is a really big deal for UW-Madison as a public land grand university. He points out that because of the pandemic, there have been two lost summers of youth programming. Tom says he thinks the university could have done more to let youths continue to come to campus during this time.

Keywords: Covid-19; Pandemic; University of Wisconsin; Youth programing

01:02:40 - Explaining the differences between the liberal arts and the humanities

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Partial Transcript: There's one thing— actually a couple things...

Segment Synopsis: Tom thinks that conflating the liberal arts with just humanities education excludes all math and science, which are also part of the liberal arts. On his program, Wednesday Nite @ the Lab, he tries to bring in many speakers from across many fields, all of which are included in liberal arts.

Keywords: Humanities; Liberal Arts; Math; Williams College

01:06:10 - How technology has changed Tom's work over time

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Partial Transcript: Thank you for that, Tom. I want to get to...

Segment Synopsis: Tom recalls sending mail with stamps and writing on an electric typewriter when he first started working. But within six months, he was working on a computer on the internet, using links, browsers, and new softwares. He even organized conferences that taught people how to use the internet. Tom says sending PDFs revolutionized how documents could be sent. He also talks about how video conferencing first started and the pros/cons of early video conferencing. Finally, he talks about how great YouTube is, especially for Wednesday Nite @ the lab.

Keywords: Computer; Email; HTML; Internet; PDFs; Typewriter; Video Conferencing; YouTube; Zoom

01:16:02 - Tom's involvement in academic staff governance and groups

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Partial Transcript: So I do want to move. I'm going to try to get these other...

Segment Synopsis: Tom was involved in the committee on academic staff issues and academic staff assembly. He was already involved and familiar with shared governance from his time at UW-Platteville. Tom says one of the major issues is parking because it impedes visitors. He was very happy that the new biotechnology center had free parking attached (originally). In 2012, the director of transportation said they were going to charge more for visitor parking, which Tom felt was very inhospitable. He remembered reading that athletics got to keep some or all of the revenue of their parking, so Tom looked up statutes that said the athletics actually didn't have that right to keep the revenue. Through Tom's efforts, the athletic department had to give back revenue to transportation. Today, Tom really believes in the importance of academic staff governance.

Keywords: Academic Staff Executive Council (ASEC); Academic Staff assembly; Act 10; CASI Committee; Campus Transportation Committee; Committee on Academic Staff Issues; Parking; UW-Madison athletics

01:27:02 - The importance of Committee on Academic Staff Issues and Academic Staff governance committees

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Partial Transcript: So also within your notes that you gave me...

Segment Synopsis: Tom says he served on the academic staff assembly committee, which he liked because he got the chance to ask questions of the people who run the university. Tom also says CASI committees are another place where academic staff could talk to deans about issues they were having. He says that following Act 10, those advisory committees became more important to keeping morale up.

Keywords: Academic Staff Assembly Committees; Academic Staff Executive Committee; Transportation Committee

01:32:53 - Tom's views on the relationships between faculty and staff

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Partial Transcript: So my next question is do you think about the relationship...

Segment Synopsis: Tom thinks about it a lot because he was faculty at Northern Illinois University, but he's been staff in cooperative extension. Tom laments the lack of job security for academic staff, but he still thinks he has academic freedom, which he believes is very important. He is concerned about the power dynamics between faculty and staff though, especially when academic staff are working on controversial areas of study.

Keywords: Academic Freedom; Academic Staff; Faculty; Tenure; UW Extension

01:36:05 - Being nominated and winning an academic staff excellence award

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Partial Transcript: So we're interviewing you today and last week...

Segment Synopsis: Tom was very happy to learn that he was nominated in 2020, but he was not originally selected. Then, the next year he won. That said, he believes credit is infinitely divisible. Tom believes the university could do more to give credit to academic staff.

Keywords: Academic Staff; Faculty; Science Alliance

01:40:07 - Thoughts on the reception for award

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Partial Transcript: I've heard that the reception was virtual this year...

Segment Synopsis: Tom thought the virtual award ceremony was very classy and well done.

Keywords: Academic Staff Awards; Reception

01:41:19 - Tom talks about the City of Madison now attracts people instead of repelling people

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Partial Transcript: I want to get to a couple more of my follow up questions...

Segment Synopsis: Tom talks about how the City of Madison attracts retired people. He believes that's a 180 degree shift that brings in more wealth to the city. Now, he believes that more retired people with college degrees in the city mean that his programming will have a greater audience. He hopes that people will eventually build up the science museum on campus.

Keywords: City of Madison; Madison, Wisconsin; Midwest; University towns

01:47:30 - Notable highlights of Wednesday Nite @ the Lab

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Partial Transcript: Thank you. You've mentioned Wednesday Nite @ the Lab...

Segment Synopsis: Tom talks about the best talks at Wednesday Nite @ the Lab over the years. He recalls a professor telling his story of receiving a heart transplant from a student who died of meningitis. Finally, he remembers two speakers talking about the Missing in Action (MIA) program. He even talks about going to France to look for the remains of a soldier.

Keywords: Covid-19; France; Heart transplant; Missing in Action Program; Pandemic

01:55:29 - How Tom thinks about his legacy at UW-Madison

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Partial Transcript: Thank you Tom. We're getting near the end...

Segment Synopsis: Tom says he's not sure if he will be remembered, but he is very happy that there will be a university here for hundreds of years in the future. He thinks that he "moved the pile" by trying to make the university a welcoming place.

Keywords: University of Wisconsin

02:00:09 - End of the Interview