Wisconsin Public Television will broadcast a series of community lectures sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Letters and Science throughout the year.
Eight presentations by the college’s faculty will be filmed at the Portage County Library Pinery Room in front of a live audience. The lectures are free, open to the public and will air on WPT’s University Place program.
Presenters will draw on their own research and experience, covering a variety of topics. The series is meant to serve the public and give community members the opportunity to interact with professionals.
Dean Chris Cirmo said organizers try to cover interests within the three general areas of the college, which include humanities, social and natural sciences, as well as mathematics.
“I’m very proud to say our faculty has some really fun and interesting topics to present,” Cirmo said. “It’s really focused on ‘how is this relevant to your life.'”
WPT was initially interested in covering only one aquaponics lecture by Dr. Chris Hartleb, professor of fisheries biology, Cirmo said. The broadcaster later decided to add the entire series to their program, at no cost to the university.
“The caliber of our speakers has been so good lately that they started getting wind of it,” Cirmo said.
The series has grown since it began in 2007, and lectures routinely draw crowds. Cirmo is excited by the opportunity to further promote the university and its faculty.
“What we’ve done is we’ve built a substantial audience in Stevens Point and Portage County of regulars,” Cirmo said. “We’re going to have a tremendously expanded audience.”
Tina Hauser, executive producer of the program, said University Place has been airing since 2008 and records between 100 and 150 lectures per year. The Stevens Point recordings will join more than 1000 free-to-view videos in the online archive.
“When I look at our huge archive of lectures, I’m looking for new topics,” Hauser said. “We’re trying to find topics where the university has expertise.”
The aquaponics lecture interested producers because the topic has not been covered on the program before. Hauser said producers also seek lectures that appeal to a broad range of people, particularly Wisconsinites.
Dr. Jamee Hubbard, associate professor of biology, spoke on Oct. 13 about the life of mosquitoes in Portage County.
“I love that topic. Everybody wants to know about mosquitoes and we have nothing on mosquitoes,” Hauser said.
WPT’s coverage of the series is sponsored by a two-year UW-extension innovation grant, which funds film crews recording outside of Madison, where the majority of lectures are filmed. Both Hauser and Cirmo are uncertain whether the coverage of the series will continue when grant funding runs out.
“Our intention from day one was to cover the whole state, but we haven’t had the resources,” Hauser said. “Part of the purpose of the grant is to make this sustainable.”
Uncertainty aside, Hauser is pleased to add UWSP’s lectures to the program and said the university has been accommodating for the filming crew.
“Everybody’s been just so enthusiastic,” Hauser said. “They’re a fabulous partner.”