You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
top story
Night walks, masks and navigating new spaces: Meet UW-Whitewater’s new chancellor


Dwight Watson likes to walk at night.

Sometimes when he’s restless, he’ll go out at midnight or 1 a.m.

It’s therapeutic for him.

Watson is new to the area—he started this month as UW-Whitewater’s 17th chancellor.

But he knows—as “a large-body black man in a predominantly white space”—his title alone can’t keep him safe. So he’s taking precautions in his new home.

“I told the campus safety and the police officers, I said, ‘If you see me at night, I’m not some sort of vagrant.’ I’m on campus because I live right down the street,” Watson said. “I’m walking around, and I have sneakers and shorts on and a T-shirt—and I’m a bit of an anomaly in this neighborhood.”

Watson doesn’t really fit in, but that’s kind of the point.

“Those are the skills I want our students to have—know how to navigate your space,” he said in an interview with The Gazette last week. “This is a welcoming, affirming, supportive community. But you still need to know yourself, and you need to know others.”

His plan to address decreasing enrollment—what he said is the biggest issue facing the university—is about recruiting more diverse and nontraditional students who don’t look like most others on campus and who might not have thought college was possible for them.

And that’s not entirely different from his own journey in education.

Growing up as the youngest of six, Watson has said his family didn’t have much money. He spent a lot of time helping to raise his nieces and nephews, and today he remains connected to them (there are 10).

As a child, he loved to read. He still does. His dissertation was on bibliotherapy, the use of books as therapy for mental illness.

To this day, he starts and ends his days with reading and writing. Recently, he’s been writing thank-you notes and reading “Educated” by Tara Westover—a first-generation college student with a dramatic life story—and books by Toni Morrison and Quint Studer, a UW-W alum.

When it came time for college, Watson started toward an elementary education degree on the University of South Carolina-Sumter campus not far from his home before finishing up in Columbia, the flagship.

But like reading and caring for his nieces and nephews, Watson’s past influences his present. He said that personal history informs how he’ll manage the Rock County campus, which is entering its second school year under the UW-W umbrella.

He said his college experience gave him a dispositional understanding of students’ needs.

“What I bring to the table is I know about these alternative pathways,” he said. “I know also how it feels to be on the fringe.”

Anthony Wahl 

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Dwight Watson shakes hands with Bryan Martinez during a walk through the James R. Connor University Center on campus.

Watson is still learning—he’s been on the job for only about three weeks.

His favorite part so far?

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “It’s the people.”

On a walk through the University Center last week, he stopped to meet and chat with Brian Martinez, a member of Whitewater Student Government, and employees who worked at the bowling alley. He also jumped into a photo with resident assistants.

And he got a little lost.

“Is this where we came in?” he asked before eventually finding an exit.

Anthony Wahl 

UW-Whitewater resident assistants laugh and smile after taking an impromptu group photo with Chancellor Dwight Watson during a walk along campus Aug. 19.

Watson’s first few weeks have been full of introductory events—lunches, dinners, a retreat with his cabinet to Janesville, a Beloit Snappers game and a golf outing for scholarships in Milwaukee.

Those aren’t always natural settings for Watson. He said he’s a “really quiet and reflective person” who has to be conscious of his vibrancy.

He looks for “me time,” such as his night walks and reading, to recharge him.

He said his wide diet of magazine subscriptions includes Time, Sports Illustrated and People. He has 2,500 pieces of vinyl and 2,000 CDs. He watches a lot of movies—most recently “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and the new Dora the Explorer movie (his elementary school teaching days keep him connected to kids’ culture, he said).

“I have to eat right. I have to exercise. I have to sleep. Take my vacations,” he said. “I’m not going to let this job consume me.”

And that should help sustain him. Watson is 57. He said Whitewater is his last stop before he retires in 10 years.

He’s coming from Southwest Minnesota State University. He said he doesn’t have any wanderlust for another chancellorship. To move up in his career, he’s had to move out, and now he’s with “the right people at the right time in the right place.”

This job, however, asks him to be “on” a lot. As the face of the university, he sometimes will have to put on that mask.

And if you spend time with Watson in his office, you might see a mask—or 30.

Kids made the set of colorful, decorative masks at an event with the Children’s Defense Fund back in the 1990s. They were therapeutic, allowing the kids to tell stories through the masks.

He said he takes them with him to each job.

They remind him of where he came from.

Anthony Wahl 

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Dwight Watson talks about his collection of ceramic masks he’s kept since the 1990s and plans to display in his office.

Powerful, obscure law is basis for Trump 'order' on trade


President Donald Trump is threatening to use the emergency authority granted by a powerful but obscure federal law to make good on his tweeted “order” to U.S. businesses to cut ties in China amid a spiraling trade war between the two nations.

China’s announcement Friday that it was raising tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. imports sent Trump into a rage and White House aides scrambling for a response.

Trump fired off on Twitter, declaring American companies “are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.” He later clarified that he was threatening to make use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in the trade war, raising questions about the wisdom and propriety of making the 1977 act used to target rogue regimes, terrorists and drug traffickers the newest weapon in the clash between the world’s largest economies.

It would mark the latest grasp of authority by Trump, who has claimed widespread powers not sought by his predecessors despite his own past criticism of their use of executive powers.

“For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977,” Trump tweeted late Friday. “Case closed!”

The act gives presidents wide berth in regulating international commerce during times of declared national emergencies. Trump threatened to use those powers earlier this year to place tariffs on imports from Mexico in a bid to force the U.S. neighbor to do more to address illegal crossings at their shared border.

It was not immediately clear how Trump could use the act to force American businesses to move their manufacturing out of China and to the U.S, and Trump’s threat appeared premature—as he has not declared an emergency with respect to China.

Even without the emergency threat, Trump’s retaliatory action Friday—further raising tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S.—had already sparked widespread outrage from the business community.

“It’s impossible for businesses to plan for the future in this type of environment,” David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.

The Consumer Technology Association called the escalating tariffs “the worst economic mistake since the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930—a decision that catapulted our country into the Great Depression.”

And trade association CompTIA stressed the logistical strain that would follow if companies were forced to shift operations out of China, saying it would take months for most companies.

“Any forced immediate action would result in chaos,” CEO Todd Thibodeaux said in emailed comments.

The frequent tariff fluctuations are making it hard to plan and are casting uncertainty on some investments, said Peter Bragdon, executive vice president and chief administration officer of Columbia Sportswear.

“There’s no way for anyone to plan around chaos and incoherence,” he said.

Columbia manufactures in more than 20 countries, including China. This diversification helps shield the company from some fluctuations, but China is an important base for serving Chinese customers as well as those in other countries, Bragdon said. The company plans to continue doing business there.

“We follow the rule of law, not the rule of Twitter,” he said.

Presidents have often used the act to impose economic sanctions to further U.S. foreign policy and national security goals. Initially, the targets were foreign states or their governments, but over the years the act has been increasingly used to punish individuals, groups and non-state actors, such as terrorists.

Some of the sanctions have affected U.S. businesses by prohibiting Americans from doing business with those targeted. The act also was used to block new investment in Burma in 1997.

Congress has never attempted to end a national emergency invoking the law, which would require a joint resolution. Congressional lawmakers did vote earlier this year to disapprove of Trump’s declared emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, only to see Trump veto the resolution.

China’s Commerce Ministry issued a statement Saturday condemning Trump’s threat, saying, “This kind of unilateral, bullying trade protectionism and maximum pressure go against the consensus reached by the two countries’ heads of state, violate the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and seriously damage the multilateral trading system and normal international trade order.”

top story
Chance encounter leads to dream day at ballpark


Val Schnulle has a story about the amazing things that can happen when you put down your phone and start a conversation.

When she returns to Janesville’s Kennedy Elementary School on Sept. 3, she plans to share with her students how she sang the national anthem before a Cubs farm team game in South Bend, Indiana.

She will tell them it all came about because of a chance encounter and her love of baseball and singing.

Val sings at weddings and funerals. She performed in musicals in high school and in show choir in college. She coaxes fine notes from the piano and saxophone.

“You can say music is in my blood,” she said.

As a kindergarten teacher, Val puts a lot of content to music because it helps children remember things.

The beauty of kindergarten is that kids love their teacher whether or not she can sing well.

In Val’s case, she sings with the clarity of a summer star.

And she has dreamed for years of singing the national anthem at Wrigley Field before a Cubs game.

Yes, Val is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. You can thank her father for that.

When Val was in middle school, she watched Cubs games while her dad worked. Later, she filled him in on all the details, including who scored and who hit homers.

Fast forward to earlier this summer. Val drove with several teachers to Madison for a funeral visitation. On the way home, they stopped at a restaurant and were seated next to a table full of people.

Here is how Kennedy Elementary colleague Michele Schroeder described it:

“It was close quarters, so I leaned over to the man next to me and said, ‘I apologize right now for our behavior. We are in education, and this is our first outing for summer.’”

A few woo-hoos followed. Then the two groups began to chat.

Two people in the nonteacher group wore Cubs shirts, and Val shared with the strangers that she also was a Cubs fan.

A woman spoke up and said: “You must know my son then.”

Her son John Vincent, who was in the group, quickly added: “Ma, no one knows me.”

Turns out he sings the national anthem before Cubs games at Wrigley Field and has a remarkable voice.

Val shared her lifelong ambition about wanting to sing at Wrigley Field.

“Sing,” he told her.

With some persuading, Val rang out “The Star Spangled Banner,” and Vincent joined her right there in the restaurant.

Later, Vincent reached out to his contacts to see if he could help Val get her day at the ballpark.

Vincent explained that a person doesn’t just start singing at Wrigley Field. A singer has to prove herself first. And she has to send in a video of her performance.

To Val’s surprise, she got a call from the South Bend Cubs, who scheduled her to sing Aug. 1.

“I kept thinking I can’t believe this is really happening and how lucky I was to be given the opportunity,” Val said. “So many things all fell into place to make this happen.”

She wore black pants and a neat shirt, no sports gear, to show reverence and respect.

On the rented bus ride to South Bend, filled with 22 supporters, Val didn’t even feel tense. When she walked through a tunnel that came out at home plate, she realized this was her largest audience ever.

The stadium holds 5,000, but it was not a sell-out crowd.

Val sang facing the stands and without accompaniment.

“I wasn’t nervous,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure I didn’t start too high because the song has a big range. If you start too high, you won’t be able to hit those high notes.”

Her friend Michele summed up the performance:

“She nailed it,” Michele said.

Val’s husband, Jeremy, was the first to comment on how calm Val was and how she hit every note perfectly.

Val’s mom cried through the song.

Val hopes the effort will open the door to her dream at Wrigley Field.

“I’m going to send a video to the Cubs to see if it pans out for next year,” she said.

She also hopes her experience will persuade young and old alike to put down their phones when they are out and about.

“Often when I go to a restaurant, I see everyone on their phones,” Val said. “If we had not had a conversation (with the strangers at the restaurant), all of this never would have happened. When you engage in conversation with people, it can take you to a lot of different places. It’s a good lesson to keep your chin up and to talk to people.”

Anna Marie Lux is a Sunday columnist for The Gazette. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264 or email

Obituaries and death notices for Aug. 25, 2019

Connie K. Atkinson

Denise I. Duce

Carolyn Ann Jones

Dawn Marie (Smith) Kohn

Judson Michael “Jud” Lowry

Colin James Lukas

Dorothy Elaine McQuillen

Francis A. “Punk” Nehls

Ronnie Richard Rubitzky

Ronald Everett Sanders Jr.

Donna M. Semrau

George Scharfenberg

Karen H. Walker