This month marks a significant expansion for our campus as Cooperative Extension, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR), Wisconsin Public Television (WPT), UW-Extension Conference Centers and Mailing Services, and the Department of Labor Education all become part of UW-Madison.  These units together will bring 958 new employees into UW-Madison, and will add $103 million to UW-Madison’s budget.

I strongly believe this move can improve the opportunities for each organization. It connects UW-Madison more closely with units that work across the state, helping us do better outreach and research that fulfills the Wisconsin Idea. And it will connect Cooperation Extension, WPR, and WPT more closely to our researchers and educators, which can help deepen their programming.

As many of you know, Cooperative Extension, WPR and WPT were created at UW-Madison and were part of our university for many years. It’s good to welcome them back and to think of all the ways in which we can work together.

The integration of these units into UW-Madison is progressing well and I’m happy to report that UW-Extension Conference Centers and Mail Services have fully transitioned. The leadership of the other units has also transitioned, and we have operational management of those organizations, even though the transition of the majority of these employees will not occur until next spring or early summer.

This integration is a complex process that touches everything from hiring and billing to branding and websites and there is still a great deal of work to do to fully transition the remaining units to UW-Madison. However, we have teams from UW-Madison and these new units who are working together to ensure a continuous delivery of programming and services. There are teams working on financial issues, on HR issues, on governance, on IT issues, and many more.

I want to thank the more than 250 individuals who are working through all of the details that need to be dealt with as part of this integration. Particularly, thanks are due to Casey Nagy, who is overseeing all of this work and who was appointed interim vice provost, Division of Extension and Public Media, effective July 1.

The Department of Labor Education is integrating into the Division of Continuing Studies. Discussions have already begun on coordinating programming goals, providing marketing support for the Department of Labor Education’s fall programs, and other opportunities for future collaborations.

Cooperative Extension, WPR, and WPT are moving to UW-Madison as the Division of Extension and Public Media. The mission of Cooperative Extension and Wisconsin Public Media will not change as they transition to UW-Madison and I am confident this transition will improve what we are all able to accomplish together.

For example, Cooperative Extension brings connections to communities across the state that can help inform research happening at UW-Madison. One recent example is the study from the UW-Madison Applied Population Lab on how some rural Wisconsin communities attract young adults. Local Extension educators helped guide this research to success by identifying local leaders in 12 different communities for our researchers to talk with.  There will be many more opportunities like this once the transition is completed.

The statewide network of 4-H clubs supported by Cooperative Extension already comes to our campus each year to learn about the college application process, financial aid, and career planning. Our new partnership can help our financial aid team get 4-H clubs the most up-to-date information on new programs like Bucky’s Tuition Promise that guarantees scholarships and grants to pay for tuition and fees for students whose household adjusted gross income (AGI) is $56,000 or less.

As we move forward with this transition, we will continue to look for new ways to improve and integrate services while identifying new partnership opportunities for the benefit of citizens across the state. I look forward to working with all of the new units that are now part of UW-Madison as we build upon our statewide commitment to Wisconsin residents.