Whether it’s football or academics, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is recognized in a number of ways. If you google the university, you will come across the description of “known for its fields of activity and education”. As such, many graduates of UW-Whitewater have continued their careers in business and continue to live their lives today using the knowledge UW-W had acquired in them.
One of those alumni is Ray Jacobsen, a 1976 graduate, who is the speaker at the start of December of this year for the class of 2021. Jacobsen is a firm believer in mentoring and has that point of view because he himself has been mentored while studying here at UW-W. His mentor at the time was a football coach named Willie Myers, who would eventually join the UW-Whitewater Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. Myers provided Jacobsen with a tremendous amount of stimulating advice that anyone would want to use to live their life in an ethical and moral manner.
âYou can say that he practically changed the trajectory of my life in a very positive way. He was an incredible human being that we lost about a year ago. He was truly the one singular person who had the most impact in my relationship with UW-Whitewater, âsaid Jacobsen.
While there are a variety of different people, the university could have applied to be a speaker, but there is no doubt that Jacobsen was chosen after looking at his professional accomplishments over the past 45 years. Although it took a little while after graduating from graduate school, Jacobsen’s goal was to work in the private business sector for the long term. Jacobsen was fortunate enough to work as a CEO in his thirties and over a period of several years found himself running several different companies, either as CEO or chairman. He joined the board of directors of the UW-Whitewater Foundation in the 1990s and was invited to join the foundation three years ago. For the past seventeen years, Jacobsen has worked as a business consultant for an international company.
âI am very actively involved in athletics in Whitewater and I think more than anything I am committed as a person and have given my time as a resource to spend with the people in Whitewater. The greatest resource we have is our own time, âhe said.
For Jacobsen, deciding to become a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater all those years ago wasn’t difficult for him. The time he sought to attend college was tumultuous, as many universities across the country faced the violence sparked by the Vietnam War protests. Growing up in Fort Atkinson, Jacobsen knew from visiting Whitewater how peaceful it was in the 60s with the community that made it.
âThe people were kind, generous and helpful. This is what really attracted me to coming to Whitewater. Going from a mid-sized town to another mid-sized town, âsaid Jacobsen,â Everything around seemed like an attractive environment and it continues to be the same today. Almost every time I come back, some 45 years later, there is still this same friendly atmosphere, the same environment of sharing, where people are generous with their time and very community and family.
On December 18, Jacobsen will speak at the launch ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. at Kachel Fieldhouse at the Williams Center. He plans to speak about his mentorship with Myers and how leadership can guide the personal and professional lives of graduates in the future.
âI will give advice that I consider relevant today,â said Jacobsen. âGive them food for thought about their careers, their leadership and the opportunities they have at the peak of the situation we find ourselves in with the coronavirus. “
To learn more about the launch, visit https://www.uww.edu/commencement.