I had the opportunity to stop by a few residence halls last week and chat with student staff, and students and parents as they were moving into University Housing. It’s something I like to do every year. The enthusiasm of the incoming freshmen is contagious.
This fall, we have some new leaders in key positions — Provost John Karl Scholz, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Steve Ackerman, Interim L&S Dean Eric Wilcots, new Wisconsin School of Business Dean Vallabh Sambamurthy, new Dean of Students Christina Olstad and new University Health Services Executive Director Jake Baggott. Welcome to all of them. And we have a new marching band director, Corey Pompey.
For those who were here all summer, you already know that it was an active several months. For those of you who were away (or just so engaged in your summer work that you didn’t pay attention) I want to offer a brief recap of campus headlines you may have missed over the summer.
- We’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first class of women to earn bachelor’s degrees at UW — six women graduated in 1869, following a contentious discussion over the previous decade about whether women should be admitted as regular students. A special fund called “In Her Honor” has been established to gather and share stories and raise funds for campus programs designed to help improve women’s lives.
- As you may know, this university sits on the ancestral homeland of the Ho-Chunk people. We took the first step to begin telling that story in June, when we joined with Ho-Chunk leadership to put up a heritage marker in front of South Hall on Bascom Hill. The marker will travel to other units on campus for the first year both as part of an effort to share this story to as much of campus as possible and also because of a construction project to replace the 100-year-old steam tunnels under Bascom Hill.
- You will be seeing a lot more construction around campus in the coming years, as we had five construction projects — the School of Veterinary Medicine expansion, Sellery Hall addition/renovation, Natatorium replacement, Field House exterior renovation and Kohl Center addition — all approved in the 2019-21 state budget bill that was signed by Gov. Tony Evers in early July.
This budget also approved 2 percent raises for all faculty and staff in January 2020 and January 2021.
- UW–Madison has been prominently featured in a number of key rankings that have been recently released. The Center for World University Rankings ranked us 25th worldwide, up from 27th last year. Shanghai Jiao Tong University also ranks us 27th in the world and 19th in the U.S., up one spot internationally from last year and two spots nationally. And Washington Monthly magazine has us ranked 23rd nationally.
I hope you all had a chance to unplug and recharge at some point over the summer. (I had a fun visit to Southwest Wisconsin.) We are a great university because of the talent and energy you bring to this campus.
I look forward to the coming academic year. And I look forward to hearing from all of you about the many things you are doing in your work to strengthen our reputation, enhance our quality, and expand our ability to continue changing lives.