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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Blank’s Slate: Archive

End of Semester Notes

As we reach the end of another semester, I want to look back for a moment and acknowledge a few of the many great individual and collective student achievements over the past academic year.

At UW-Madison, we have 43,000 students from across Wisconsin and around the world, pursuing degrees in more than 200 fields. In this academic year, we have conferred more than 10,500 degrees, both undergraduate and graduate. (By the way, we are among the top five schools in the nation for the number of Ph.D.s we graduate — among the most sought-after workers in our economy.)

And we’ve had an outstanding year in education. The 2016-17 freshman class was our largest and most diverse ever, and we’ve just had a record-breaking number of applications for next fall’s class, with more than 35,000 students applying for about 6,400 slots.

Our retention rate is excellent: 95.4 percent of freshmen return for sophomore year, which means they have a good experience on campus and get the support they need to succeed here.

Graduation rates are also at an all-time high. Our average time-to-degree has now fallen to just over four years, which means students leave school with less debt. In fact, more than half our students graduate without any student loan debt.

Among our student-athletes, our football, men’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s golf and women’s hockey teams all earned NCAA awards for posting Academic Progress Report scores in the top 10 percent of all Division I teams in their sports. That’s remarkable.

But the statistics aren’t as impressive as the personal stories I experienced at commencement celebrations this past weekend.

I encountered student after student who had wonderful stories to share about their time at UW-Madison and what they hope to achieve in the future. I want to share two that I found especially meaningful.

Deshawn McKinney of Milwaukee came to UW-Madison with support from our PEOPLE program, a pre-college pipeline program that identifies talented young people from communities that have historically been underrepresented on this campus. He not only excelled academically, he seized many opportunities to get involved in campus life. He joined the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community; he worked to promote equity and diversity on campus; and this year he served as president of the Wisconsin Union Directorate. He received two prestigious national awards ­— the Truman and Marshall scholarships ­— and was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship. Now he’s headed to Britain, where he’ll pursue a master’s degree in social policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

James McGowan made it to UW-Madison despite thinking as a young man that he’d never be able to get here. He’s from Portage and spent about 20 years as a blue-collar worker in manufacturing and construction before deciding at age 42 to go to college. Through persistence and hard work, he achieved his dream and received a bachelor’s degree with a major in personal finance. Now he hopes to launch a career helping other students finance their education.

Not only have James and Deshawn achieved some meaningful personal accomplishments, it’s also clear that they are dedicated to the Wisconsin Idea. Reaching out to serve others is a proud tradition at UW-Madison. This past year, more than 5,600 students volunteered in our community through programs supported by the Morgridge Center for Public Service. Our fraternity and sorority members raised money for cancer charities and also worked on programs aimed at preventing sexual assault in the community, and our student-athletes frequently participate in the “Badgers Give Back” program. While at UW, our students gain valuable knowledge and leadership skills that will remain with them for a lifetime. After graduation, they make meaningful contributions to their communities around the state and around the world.

Our commencement speaker, Steven Levitan, gave a great address — both funny and smart. (View it here.) But I really appreciated the student speech, given by Senior Class Vice President Martin Barron Weiss. Martin talked about the real difficulties he faced when his dad became unexpectedly ill and died during Martin’s time at UW. At first he thought he had to deal with this alone, but when his friends learned what was happening he realized how much support this community could provide to him. Martin learned that we can always deal better with challenges as well as opportunities when among a community with friends.

Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates — and to all on campus who have taught or supported them.

As our graduates enter the next stages of their lives, whether that’s pursuing an advanced degree or beginning a new career, I hope they will find that their time at UW was well spent, even when it brought challenges. As I said to them at commencement, they have been part of UW during their time here and I hope that UW is a part of them after they leave.

2017 Commencement address

Good afternoon.  Welcome to Camp Randall Stadium and to the 164th spring commencement of the University of Wisconsin at Madison!

Today, close to 7,000 bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates will become alumni of one of the world’s greatest universities.

This year’s graduating class is one of the largest in our history and congratulations to each and every one of you!

Camp Randall Stadium is marking a major milestone of its own this year—its 100th birthday.  And just for the record, our first game here in 1917 was a shutout—when we trounced the University of Minnesota.

If the iconic setting and the outstanding graduates aren’t enough, we also have a remarkably talented and successful keynote speaker—UW alum Steven Levitan, who is also here.  Steven, thank you for coming.

The Wisconsin Experience

Class of 2017, you have earned a degree from one of the top 25 universities in the world.

That wouldn’t have been possible without the love and support of the family and friends who are around us at Camp Randall.   Graduates, please join me in giving everyone in the bleachers a round of applause.

Before we talk about what’s next, let me invite you to just enjoy these last few moments together with your classmates, to remember:

  • Remember how unexpectedly delicious orange-custard-chocolate-chip ice cream is … especially when eaten on the Union Terrace.
  • Remember some seriously big Battles for Bascom.
  • Remember the Bowl games … the Women’s Frozen Four … back-to-back trips to the Final Four … and many more great Badger moments.
  • Remember marching side-by-side for justice … for equality … for women… or for science.
  • And remember some of the difficult moments. Moments that I hope have brought us together as a community to think about who we are, and how we want to live.

I also want to say a word in memory of a bright and talented member of the UW family, Wenxin Huai—better known as Wendy.  Wendy’s death by an alleged drunken driver less than a month ago, just weeks before she was to graduate, makes this a bittersweet moment—especially for the classmates, friends, and teachers who knew her best.

There are others in your class who also did not make it to graduation, and we remember them all.

Today is about celebrating your accomplishments.   The Class of 2017 is a remarkable group, with talented, diverse students like…

  • Catherine Finedore, who’s combining a degree in Biomedical Engineering with her interest in fashion design to create high-tech clothing for people with injuries and disabilities.
  • Deshawn McKinney, who won two of this nation’s most prestigious scholarships and is now off to the London School of Economics with a Marshall Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree.
  • And Helena Record and Jackie Laistch, who never imagined when they came here that part of their UW experience would involve bringing Wisconsin dairy cows to a village in eastern Africa. That experience convinced them both to pursue graduate work in public health.

Defining success

All of you are graduating at a time when this nation and world face enormous challenges.   I hope that you will be successful in bringing what you’ve learned here to meet those challenges.

How you do that will be up to you, but the first step is to figure out what “being successful” means.

Let me tell you how one of our alums answered that question.

How many of you own a “Sconnie” t-shirt?  I’m not going to ask how many of you are wearing one under their gown?

For those of you from out of town:  A “Sconnie” is anyone who loves Wisconsin … with extra points if you eat brats, cheer for the Badgers, know what a bubbler is, or own a mailbox shaped like a tractor.

The “Sconnie Nation” t-shirt was born in one of our freshman dorms – the invention of a student named Troy Vosseler.   Sconnie was a runaway success … but Troy wasn’t satisfied.   He realized that being successful meant more than just running his own start-up company.  It also meant sharing what he’s learned with others.  So he formed a business incubator called gener8tor to help entrepreneurs launch new businesses.

Each of you has been educated in the UW tradition of public service—what we call the Wisconsin Idea. I hope one of the things you’ve learned is that success means serving a cause – as Troy does – that is bigger than yourself.

Two rules for success

But knowing what success means, and becoming successful are two different things.  Kind of like the difference between wanting to be a doctor … and actually finishing medical school.

I can’t tell you exactly how to be successful, but I can give you a couple of rules for success.

First, ask the right questions

All of you have made some important choices so far in your life.  You chose to come to UW.  You decided what program of study you wanted to pursue.

You’ll face more choices at every step along the way, in your job, in your future schooling, and in your personal life.  When those choices are in front of you, here’s what you want to ask:

What do I love to do?  What am I good at?  Which of these choices will help me to come closer to the person I want to be?

These are the questions that will lead you in the right direction and help you set your next goal.

Now I know there are a few of you who have already asked these questions.  Some of you quickly decided after arriving at UW to combine what you loved to do … and you were good at … by sampling the menu on every food cart on library mall.

That’s good.

Now try asking these questions when you think about a slightly … larger … goal.  Find the place where your skills and your passion come together, and you’ll find where you can be successful.

Rule #2. Taking risks

None of us succeeds by playing it safe all the time.  I hope that we have taught you to push your boundaries – even when that scares you a little bit.

Trying new things will teach you a lot about yourself – even (and maybe especially) when you don’t succeed.

  • Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • And before he co-founded Microsoft, Bill Gates started another company called ‘Traf-o-Data” – a major flop.

The key to success is not avoiding risksit’s embracing them, and learning from the result.


Wherever your path leads next, I hope that you will define your success by the difference you make in the world.

I hope you will find work that you love, and have the opportunity to work with people you can learn from, and who in turn can learn from you.

I can’t wait to hear what each of you does next.  But wherever you go, be sure to come back and visit us every so often here in Madison.  You will always be part of UW and I hope that UW will always be part of you.

Thank you for making this university a better place while you were here.

Congratulations to all of you. And On Wisconsin!

Urging renewal of research partnership

I’m just back from the AAU meetings, which include the 60 big research universities in the U.S., both public and private. At that meeting we unanimously adopted the following statement on the importance of research to this country.

American science has put a man on the moon, ended polio, sequenced the human genome, connected the world through the internet and then placed it in the palm of your hand, and allowed us to diagnose countless medical conditions with the aid of an MRI. The partnership that has enabled this now faces an existential threat. At the same time our nation’s greatest economic competitors are rapidly gaining ground. We must reaffirm our commitment to the extraordinary partnership the federal government has built with American universities that has fostered unprecedented scientific achievement and economic growth in the United States since WWII. This partnership has generated untold job growth, greatly improved our national health, and reinforced our national security.

The federal government forged a unique partnership with American universities to perform innovative research to advance our economy, improve public health, strengthen national security, and at the same time train our nation’s next generation of scientists and engineers. In return, the federal government provides universities with peer-reviewed and competitively awarded grants to support the people, tools, and infrastructure necessary to conduct the highest quality of research for the American people.

There are now proposals in Washington to slash the federal research budgets that have propelled America to be the global leader in innovation. This would cripple our ability to do our part in generating economic growth and providing more jobs for Americans. If these cuts are enacted, the partnership that has been reinforced through both Republican and Democratic administrations over the past 70 years could literally collapse. Our nation’s research agencies cannot survive deep budget cuts and sustain the promise of America’s leadership in scientific, technological, and economic advancement.

We call on every American who cares about the welfare, security, and prosperity of our nation to join us in urging our nation’s leaders to renew and strengthen this partnership. Our economy depends on our ability to create the technologies, cures, and jobs of the future.

Establishing outcome metrics in the next budget

As most readers will know, under the budget proposal by Gov. Scott Walker, new funding for the UW System is tied to performance metrics that would rank UW campuses and distribute the funding based on how well each school does in comparison to the other system schools. Tying funding to performance metrics has been tried by a number of states in the past and has been much discussed in higher education.

Let me start by being clear about language. I much prefer the term “outcome-based metrics” rather than “performance-based metrics” because that makes it clear that funding is tied to results. For instance, the number of teaching hours or the number of students admitted to a particular program (metrics that are sometimes proposed) are inputs, not outputs, and do not belong in an outcome metric.

A recent analysis done by UW-Madison Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Nicholas Hillman shows that UW-Madison does very well under the funding proposal laid out in the budget, but I strongly believe that it would be better for the state as a whole if our campuses were not pitted against each other for funding.

Each campus in the UW System has its own mission and serves a different student population.  Other UW System schools complement UW-Madison’s undergraduate offerings much more than they compete against them and this diversity benefits our state workforce. By comparing us to each other, the new funding formula could mean only a few schools would receive most of the new funding.

I have no problems with accountability requirements. Indeed, the entire UW System already reports on a series of accountability measures that can be found here. But the devil is in the details when you start trying to figure out how to tie the distribution of dollars to these metrics.  To do this right – without unforeseen and negative consequences – requires some real thought and some knowledge of the UW System schools and how they operate. That’s why we are asking that the Board of Regents be given the authority to define and operationalize a set of metrics and a process by which they might be used to distribute funding.

As state legislators consider this proposal, it’s important to note that outcome-based funding experiments did not work as intended in several other states that put them in place. For example, in order to meet its outcome metrics, Indiana’s university system became far more selective in admissions. This made the campuses less diverse and didn’t increase the number of degrees awarded. Neither Tennessee’s graduation nor retention rate increased under this type of funding formula, and Pennsylvania didn’t see an increase in degrees after using outcome-based funding for over a decade. In the end, these states were forced to make significant changes to their performance metric systems.

Even once a set of outcome measures is agreed upon, the biggest challenge is to decide how to operationalize those measures. This has to be done with some nuance. Here are the principles I’d recommend:

  • Compare each school with its defined peers on these measures.
    1. If the school is above its peers, the distribution formula should reward maintaining that positive differential.
    2. If the school is below its peers, the distribution formula should reward progress toward the peers’ average outcome.
  • Because of the substantial differences among schools within the UW System, do not establish a single set of metrics that each school should meet, but allow schools to choose among a set of possible metrics. This is what the technical colleges in the state currently do.

Let me give some examples here at UW-Madison. What if one metric were retention rates for our students between their freshman and sophomore years? Right now we have a retention rate of almost 96 percent, well above our peers’ average retention rate. We should be rewarded for maintaining this exceptional rate. Indeed, if we were told we had to improve this metric, we simply couldn’t do it.

Alternatively, what if one metric were research dollars expended on campus? It is possible that in the next few years there will be major cuts in research funding at the federal level. In this circumstance, we should be judged on how well we do relative to our peers. If our research funding falls less than research funding among our peers, we should be rewarded for that … even though the metric is declining. It means we’re doing better than others at retaining research dollars in a tough environment.

These are two examples of the nuances that one needs to bring to outcome-based measurement. Simple rules (“if the metric goes up, you’re doing well, and if it goes down, you’re doing poorly”) do not work.

We should also be particularly careful about writing outcome measures into state statute. If we need to make adjustments to respond to the changing workforce and research needs of our state, it would be quicker for our legislators to work with the Board of Regents to make changes than to pass a new law through the state Legislature.

A good example of how this could be a problem happened just last week. After a Canadian company announced it will no longer buy Wisconsin milk after May 1, numerous state legislators sent UW System President Ray Cross a letter asking him to direct UW System researchers to explore alternative uses for milk. UW System campuses can respond quickly to requests like this right now. However, if this response diverted resources away from activities that enhanced the outcome measures on which campus funding was based, campuses may be reluctant to shift any resources toward the new research out of fear they will lose state funding.

The good news is UW-Madison has many researchers working on dairy issues and they are also creating new milk-based products. Just this week we announced a new ice cream with ingredients designed to help athletes recover after a workout. The Florida Gators may have Gatorade, but athletes will probably enjoy Badger Babcock ice cream after a tough workout even more. You can see the video here:

I’m confident UW schools and the Board of Regents can work with state leaders to identify ways we can ensure education dollars are being spent effectively for students, taxpayers and individual institutions. I look forward to working with legislative leaders on this issue as it moves forward.



After successful pilot, Our Wisconsin will launch more fully in the fall

Our Wisconsin is a program for incoming students that started last fall as an effort to build understanding and community on campus in the areas of culture, identity, diversity and inclusion. I am happy to tell you that the pilot sessions we ran this past fall were successful, based on the evaluation results we received. We’re moving forward with changes that will allow the program to reach even more incoming Badgers.

The Division of Student Life created Our Wisconsin as a two-part, in-person inclusion workshop for new students. The workshops, led by teams of student, staff, and faculty facilitators, featured structured dialogue, activities, and reflection. About 1,000 undergraduate students – from throughout Sellery, Cole, Leopold, and Sullivan residence halls – participated in the fall workshops.

A survey compared the participants to non-participants living in the residence halls. The results indicate that 80 percent of participants reported that more students on campus would benefit from participating in the workshop, and that 75 percent of participants found the workshops to be somewhat to extremely informative. Compared to those who did not participate in the program, participants showed greater interest and openness to conversations and interactions with diverse groups.

We want to expand on that success. This summer, the Our Wisconsin curriculum will be introduced at Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR), which means that 99 percent of incoming students will be introduced to Our Wisconsin key concepts before classes begin. An Our Wisconsin workshop will be held in residence halls within the first couple weeks of the semester, with all freshmen encouraged to participate.

As we introduce new students to Our Wisconsin, we are introducing them to their new home at UW and in the dorms and to the expectations we have for our community. As I have said many times in this space, a top priority of mine is that we have a campus where all students feel welcomed, valued, and supported.

Our Wisconsin is not mandatory, but participation is an expectation. We expect participation at SOAR to be close to 100 percent, and very high participation in the workshop in the residence halls – similar to participation levels among targeted students during the pilot program last year. The rollout of Our Wisconsin is like two other highly successful campus orientation programs, AlcoholEdu and Tonight.

Our Wisconsin invites students to “lead the Badger Way” by fostering an environment of inclusion and respect. Thank you to all the students who participated this past fall and who responded to the survey. And thanks to all the students, faculty and staff who have helped shape the program. I look forward to even more students having an opportunity to reflect on their own identity and on the opportunities and challenges they face as they enter a much more heterogeneous community here at UW.

If you are interested in becoming a facilitator, please visit the Become a Badger Way facilitator page at the Our Wisconsin site.

The proposed budget for 2017-19

Gov. Walker’s recent budget proposal is an acknowledgment that the UW System plays a major role in spurring the state economy, and we are very thankful for the commitment he has made to reinvesting in higher education in Wisconsin. His investment in the UW System includes restoring $50 million that was lapsed back to the state in the last biennial budget and $42.5 million in much-needed new funding. This is a welcome change from the cuts in state support in 10 out of the last 12 years (under both political parties), which created serious challenges for the entire UW System.

We continue to analyze the entire proposal and as we have delved into details of the policy items it contains, there are several areas about which we have concerns. Here are a few of the items we are closely tracking.

Compensation plan: There is a general wage increase proposed for all state employees, but it appears the governor has tied funding of the increase for UW System employees to savings generated from the state moving to a self-insurance model for health insurance. This is not the case for raises for other state employees, and with some legislators questioning whether to move forward with a self-insurance model it could mean the increase for UW employees is not funded. I, along with System leadership, will encourage legislators to treat all state employees consistently for wage increases.

Performance metrics: We agree that accountability measures for System schools are important to ensure we align with state goals, including affordability and educating highly skilled graduates who will strengthen the state workforce. Those measures should be laid out by the Board of Regents, not in state statute, to ensure they function effectively and can be easily updated to meet changing state needs. In fact, the UW System already tracks performance. The reports can be at the UW System Accountability Dashboard. If there are additional factors the state would like tracked, we would be happy to work with them and the Board of Regents to make any needed changes.

Faculty workload reporting: UW-Madison faculty provide service to Wisconsin in three critical areas — teaching, research, and outreach. Each of these services is important so any method of tracking faculty workload, as proposed in the budget, should include all three areas, not merely time spent in the classroom. We are an educational institution and teaching students will always be a priority. However, we are also a research institution and our efforts at innovation help fuel outreach to Wisconsin businesses and communities, provide important benefits and economic returns to the state, jobs for Wisconsin residents and job training for our students.

Allocable segregated fees: We share the governor’s goal of keeping college affordable, but the proposal to let students opt out of allocable segregated fees may have unintended consequences and reduce the availability of needed services and programs including our on-campus bus services, VETS (Veterans, Educators, and Traditional Students), the Rape Crisis Center, GUTS (Greater University Tutoring Service), and support for programming among our registered student organizations.

Academic Freedom Policy: The governor has recommended codifying in state statute a commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression. The Board of Regents passed a similar resolution in 2015 that is now part of Regent policy. It will be important to have a conversation with the legislature on the impact of any differences between the proposed language and the existing policy.

Capital Budget: One area of substantial interest is the capital budget, which allocates dollars for facilities maintenance as well as support for renovation and building projects. The governor’s recommendations on the capital budget were just released and I’m pleased to see that there is substantial funding targeted to maintenance projects. This is especially important because in the last budget the state provided no funding for these projects, and we have been forced to use some educational funds to address critical maintenance issues. Unfortunately, the budget for renovation and construction projects is more limited and none of the requested UW-Madison projects are on the proposed list for funding.

These budget proposals will now be extensively reviewed by the Joint Finance Committee and a revised budget will be voted on by the Senate and the Assembly before going back to the governor for his signature, probably sometime in June. We will keep you updated on these and other issues as budget discussions progress. Visit for the latest news and information.

Exploring career opportunities

 If you haven’t been in Ingraham Hall lately, I encourage you to stop by and visit the expanded Career Exploration Center in its new space across from the Badger Market on the first floor.

This renovated space is where thousands of undergraduates from across the campus will find resources and expert guidance to finally answer that question they’ve been hearing since kindergarten: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Our incoming freshmen come to us with top grades, top ACT scores, and a mind-boggling list of extra-curricular activities. Some of them know just what they want to do and how to get there. But many arrive with multiple ideas about possible careers, and a wide array of subjects they’re interested in studying.

One of our most important jobs is to help them evaluate those ideas – to find the intersection that brings together what they love to do and what they’re good at doing. And then help them translate that into career possibilities, and map out a way for them to get there.

The Career Exploration Center supports undergraduate students from across the campus by connecting them with services and resources that help them make decisions about their majors and career paths. Students can access programming and career assessment tools through the center and schedule career counseling sessions with a professional career advisor.

Chancellor Blank addresses a crowd.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank speaks Monday during a grand opening ceremony at the Career Exploration Center (CEC) inside Ingraham Hall. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Offering good services that help connect students to a career is a priority for us at UW-Madison, as well as a priority for the Board of Regents and state leaders. This is why we continue to upgrade our career planning services to get students thinking about careers sooner than they have in the past.

Two years ago the College of Letters & Science began offering a new course for sophomores called Career Development: Taking Initiative designed to give students tools to apply what they learn to future career and life decisions. Nearly 1,000 students have enrolled since the course launch, with outstanding participation among first-generation and targeted minority students.

University Housing’s residential learning community, Career Kickstart, is in its second year. Built around career immersion, it filled immediately and is again at capacity this year. We have expanded internship programs, and we are bringing in more businesses to connect with students at enhanced campus career fairs. Letters & Science has doubled the number of job and internship postings and campus interviews, and employers snapped up every spot at its latest career fairs.

We are also developing more ways to connect our alumni with our undergraduates, letting them provide advice and mentoring to students interested in their career paths.

Our career programs are getting noticed nationally. The L&S Career Initiative has become a national model – we’ve had inquiries from the universities of Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio State, New Hampshire, Rutgers, and even the University of Iceland. And just this month, Money Magazine named UW-Madison’s career services among the top five in public schools in the nation.

We know that students who sift through options and develop a sense of their career interests early stand a better chance of graduating on time, which in turn limits their student loan debt. These students are also more likely to pursue internships and field experiences that let them sample a career and be sure it’s the right fit for them.

Many of our alums have followed careers that brought them into very different areas than their specific major or their first job. Given how rapidly the world of work is changing, many of our students will work future jobs that are not even available today. That’s why we don’t train students for specific jobs in the way that many technical colleges do. We want to prepare UW-Madison graduates for lifelong careers, not for a single job.

But that doesn’t mean early career planning isn’t helpful.   By their sophomore year, students should be thinking about their specific skills and interests and planning how to put together a series of courses and outside classroom experiences that will best position them to job-hunt upon graduation. The Career Exploration Center makes that a little easier.

A visit to UW-Platteville: UW campuses working together for the Wisconsin economy

One of my priorities as chancellor has been to strengthen UW–Madison ties with other campuses around our state. I have traveled to numerous campuses over the last few months talking to area business leaders and alumni about the need to reinvest in the UW with the next state budget and the economic impact our campuses bring to the Wisconsin economy.

This month brought me to UW-Platteville in southwest Wisconsin. During our meeting with local leaders, UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields called UW-Madison our state’s biggest economic asset and he stressed how valuable it is to UW-Platteville to have a top-level research university in Wisconsin and part of the UW System.

How does it help his campus to have UW-Madison nearby? By partnering with us, UW-Platteville and other UW System campuses can benefit from our reputation as a world-class research facility to secure federal research grants. Working with other campuses benefits UW-Madison as well because campus collaborations demonstrate a larger potential impact for the federal research money by giving more researchers access to needed equipment.  And by working together, we can expand our outreach to the citizens of the state. For instance, our researchers collaborate at the Lancaster Agricultural Research Station, which serves farmers and other rural landowners in the southwest part of the state.

One recent example of our successful research partnership with UW-Platteville was just announced last fall and it brings big potential for creating the tiny products our economy has come to rely on. This partnership helps bring electron beam lithography to our campus. That’s a fancy way of saying we are getting a big machine that will help researchers create the tiny things we use in high-tech products, such as the chips that run our computers and medical devices. Having this machine at UW-Madison makes it possible for researchers all over the state to create new products.

UW-Madison was able to secure the grant funding for this new work based on our research reputation and because we were able to show a statewide impact by partnering with UW-Platteville, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Stevens Point on the grant. Getting the grant was the first step of a multi-campus collaboration that will further research in biology, engineering and medicine while providing our students with training for the jobs of the future.

Many thanks to Chancellor Shields for hosting us at UW-Platteville and thanks to all the alums of both campuses who came together to talk about how this next budget cycle can reinvest in UW.

Keeping our promises on diversity and inclusion

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on our campus in 1965, he made the following observation: “We find ourselves standing on the threshold of the most creative period in the development of race relations in the history of our nation.”

Dr. King was referring to the end of legal segregation. He spoke those words not long after James Meredith was denied admission to the University of Mississippi because of the color of his skin. Federal troops were sent in to uphold Mr. Meredith’s right to receive an education.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we can take pride in the growing diversity of our nation’s population and in the strides – legal, economic, and social – that we’ve made in this country. But we also acknowledge that there is still much work to do.

As I hope you know, people across campus have been working hard to make this community a more inclusive environment. Here’s some of what we’ve accomplished during the fall: Continue reading