Blank’s Slate – Office of the Chancellor – UW–Madison Sat, 18 Jan 2020 13:18:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Visiting A Few of Wisconsin’s Star Businesses Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:30:21 +0000 Read More]]> Welcome back to a new semester, I hope you all had a chance to spend time with family and friends and recharge.

It was a busy winter break. A highlight for me was the chance to travel to Pasadena and see the Badgers compete in the Rose Bowl. It was good to see thousands of alumni and students who traveled to the game, and I was particularly proud of the many Badgers (and Ducks) who took time out of their visit and volunteered to package food for low income families in the Los Angeles area.

This month, I also did some traveling inside our state, visiting Stevens Point, Wausau, Eau Claire and Black River Falls. These outreach visits are an excellent opportunity to spread the word on the world-class education and research we do here, and to make businesses and communities across the state aware of the resources we can provide. Meeting with local and state officials, business leaders and alumni is a chance for me to hear about issues they are facing, leading to more collaboration on solutions that will positively impact their community and the rest of the state.

In Stevens Point, I visited Sentry Insurance, a company which has been in business since 1904 and continues to heavily invest in their community. I talked with them about our many talented students both in technology and the humanities.

In Wausau, I stopped by UAS Labs to meet with two proud UW alums, CEO Kevin Mehring and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Greg Leyer, for a tour of their production facility, where they manufacture and brand probiotics. This company is growing fast and they are doing increasing work in international markets. A fun part of the visit was that UAS leadership and our many alumni employees wore Badger red for the visit.

In Eau Claire, I met with senior leaders at Silver Spring Foods to learn more about the business and their involvement in the upcoming Farm Technology Days, which will take place at Huntsinger Farms on July 21-23. Huntsinger Farms is the world’s largest grower and processor of horseradish, bottled and sold worldwide under the Silver Spring brand. They work with our our Horticulture Department and the Division of Extension to improve their products. I did get a sample of one of their new products to take home and I can tell you it was a wonderful complement to the roast that Hanns and I had this past weekend.

While traveling home I stopped in Black River Falls, where I had the honor of presenting a framed gift titled “Our Shared Future” to Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle.

I was impressed with the creativity and business acumen of the leadership in all of these companies. I promoted closer ties with UW, offering them help in reaching and hiring our graduating students while asking them to help us communicate the career opportunities here in Wisconsin. I also advocated for research and knowledge collaborations with our faculty in areas where we share substantive interests.

I look forward to doing more travel around the state this year. Our impact on the state is large, and there is much potential for collaboration all over Wisconsin. You can find stories at and by searching the #UWChangesLives hashtag on Twitter. I invite you to share these stories widely and help us show Wisconsin residents the many ways that UW changes lives.

Renewing our commitments Thu, 09 Jan 2020 13:00:31 +0000 Read More]]> Welcome to 2020. The beginning of a new year offers an opportunity to create new resolutions and renew commitments we’ve made in the past. Last fall, a teachable moment around the student-produced Homecoming video reminded us that we must remain diligent to make diversity and inclusion a conscious decision in order to create a welcoming campus climate. At UW-Madison we are fortunate that our students, faculty and staff are rarely afraid to speak out and keep us honest on our progress toward the goals we’ve set and the values we espouse.

Last week, the New York Times covered the issues raised on the UW campus by the Homecoming video. We continue to acknowledge how much work we have to do on these issues and the pain and frustration the video has caused to our community. We are committed to improving the experiences of all our students, especially our students from underrepresented groups. But we would be less than honest if we didn’t share our level of disappointment with this most recent coverage, which lacked context and nuance.

The story overlooked both the ways we have responded to the video and made no mention of the multiple efforts we have undertaken in recent years to make campus a more welcoming and diverse place. It also did not recognize the fact that these issues are prevalent on campuses across the country and that UW is not alone in struggling with the differential experiences of underrepresented students on campus and in our community.

We have made a significant commitment to diversifying our faculty and those efforts are bearing fruit as we hire more faculty of color in current and future cohorts. A successful new hiring program called targets of opportunity, or TOP, provides central campus funding to make it possible for departments to go after people they’d like to recruit who are from groups not well-represented within their discipline.

We expanded the number of cultural centers to support the needs of our underrepresented students and renovations are currently happening for those spaces in the Red Gym (to be ready by fall 2020). We continue to invest in the long-term success of cultural centers on campus as a place for underrepresented students to build affinity and community.

Efforts like #IamUW feature the many ways in which our students, faculty and staff share their passions and celebrate what it means to be a part of the Badger community. In similar fashion, we’re highlighting important alumni who have made significant contributions in their respective fields through a series called Why I Love UW. In our first installment we feature the story of Reverend Dr. Alex Gee Jr. and his family’s journey to 13 UW degrees (soon to be 14 when his daughter Lexi Gee completes her PhD.)

This past October we held the largest and most successful Annual Diversity Forum on campus in its 20-year history. Over 1,300 people participated in the forum, nearly double the 700 participants in the forum just four years ago. This event has continued to grow, meeting the professional development demands of our campus community and beyond.

But we recognize that we are a majority white campus in a majority white state. That means we have to make exceptional efforts to diversify our campus, to educate our students on how to prepare for a career in an increasingly global and diverse world, and to make sure our staff and faculty know how to teach and work in an inclusive environment.

It also means we need to do our part to help prepare underrepresented students in the K-12 schools to be successful in college. Our PEOPLE and Business Emerging Leaders programs are examples of UW-Madison programs designed to enrich high school students’ skills to prepare them for college. And we partner with other pre-college programs like Posse, bringing these students to our campus.

We recognize we have more work to do. Working towards greater diversity and inclusion is not something you finish. It’s an ongoing process … every time we take one step, we need to think about the next step after that.

And this is work that must engage the entire campus community. While those of us in leadership can make commitments that help move these issues forward, conversations, education, and change must happen at every level. This is one reason we asked all of our Schools and Colleges to develop and implement their own diversity and inclusion plans.

Diversity is a source of strength, making us a better community and preparing our students better for their post-college lives. We want all members of the UW-Madison community to feel welcome and supported on our campus.

As we look toward 2020 the leadership at UW is committed to continue making this issue a priority. We want the outcomes on this campus to measure up to our aspirations. We know we aren’t there yet. We hope that you will join us on that journey.

Rebecca Blank, Chancellor

Patrick Sims, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion



What does the Rose Bowl have to do with the future of the global internet, earthquakes and wildfires? Tue, 31 Dec 2019 20:06:27 +0000 Read More]]> The Blank’s Slate post below is co-written with Michael H. Schill, the president of the University of Oregon.

It’s been eight years since our two schools last met on the field at the 2012 Rose Bowl and we’ve both been eagerly anticipating the rematch.

While most people will see University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon as fierce gridiron competitors, off the field our faculty collaborate on work with global implications.

UW and UO represent two of America’s leading research universities and proud members of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Our work has lasting impact far beyond our home states. For example, in the years since the last Rose Bowl, our faculty members have been teaming up to save the internet.

A study produced jointly by our researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon suggests internet infrastructure may be under water within the next 15 years as the result of rising sea levels.

The most susceptible U.S. cities are New York, Miami and Seattle, but the effects would not be confined to those areas and could ripple across the internet, potentially disrupting global communications.

You might be surprised that both of our universities have a reach far into California and are shaping life there in positive and remarkable ways. UW-Madison is evaluating the effectiveness of laws around vaccines, protecting spotted owls and studying attacks by coyotes.

Both our universities are working to curb and detect wildfires. The UO’s effort in AlertWildfire uses a network of fire cameras in California designed to spot wildfires before they flare out of control.

UO is also a partner in ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system that detects significant earthquakes so quickly that alerts can reach many people before shaking arrives. Many California residents received the first public alert on their cell phones from the system when a magnitude 4.3 earthquake ruptured in the mountains between the Central Coast and San Joaquin Valley.

Scientific research is the foundation on which future advances in technology, health and productivity are built. But scientific advances don’t happen by accident—they require investment by public and private entities to succeed.

U.S. global leadership in science, technology and innovation has been threatened in recent years, as other countries rapidly increase their investments in research and grow their STEM workforce.

This is not inevitable; together, and with the support of organizations like AAU, we can take steps to maintain our long-term leadership in innovation and discovery.

With a strong and sustained commitment by the federal government to scientific research our nation can continue to be a world leader. Such investments will drive the U.S. economy forward and lead to improvements in the human condition around the U.S.

To be successful public research universities need people in our states and across the nation cheering for us, advocating for resources and partnership from state and federal lawmakers, agencies, industry and private donors—to help keep our life-changing work on track in California, Oregon, Wisconsin and across the globe.

At the Rose Bowl, we’ll be cheering on our respective teams. UW has wagered our state’s famous cheese and UO is putting Oregon’s excellent pinot noir wine on the line. Regardless of who wins, when you pair our two schools’ research together for the greater good, it’s like pairing fine wine with good cheese—and everyone wins.

Semester’s End Mon, 16 Dec 2019 20:50:49 +0000 Read More]]> Another semester has come and gone. We graduated 1,770 students at the end of December, many of them joining us in the Kohl Center for the ceremony. The Winter Commencement address was delivered by Jason Gay, columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a proud (and humorous) UW-Madison alum. (I also encourage you to watch the remarks from our student speaker Lisa Kamal, she did a wonderful job.)

Seeing a Kohl Center full of graduates reminded me of the incredible successes of all our students. Taken as a whole, the numbers we use to track that success continue to show improvement to historic levels.

Here are several reasons I’m so proud:

  • Undergraduates are taking less time to complete their degrees, setting a new record – 3.96 calendar years – the lowest since the university began actively tracking the measure in the 1980s. This is the first time the number has dropped below four calendar years.
  • The six-year graduation rate (the standard measure used across higher education) for freshmen entering the university in 2013 rose to 87.6 percent from 87.4 percent. This puts us among the top 10 public universities.
  • The freshmen-to-sophomore retention rate is 95.2 percent, the seventh-consecutive year the figure has been above 95 percent.

Our students continue to reach remarkable personal achievements, as well. Senior Claire Evensen, who is majoring in biochemistry and mathematics with comprehensive honors, is the recipient of a Marshall Scholarship, one of academia’s most prestigious honors.

Evensen, a native of Verona, Wisconsin, was also among the three finalists in the Rhodes Scholarship awards from UW-Madison, which itself is an extraordinary achievement and a signifier of the quality of students we have on our campus.

The other finalists were, Kevin Crosby, a senior from Brandywine, Maryland, majoring in nutritional sciences, with a certificate in environmental studies; and, Lauren Jorgensen, a May 2019 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and community and environmental sociology, with certificates in environmental studies, food systems, and global health. Jorgensen is from Stillwater, Minnesota, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public affairs through an accelerated program at the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs.

Congratulations to Claire, Lauren and Kevin on this impressive accomplishment and on all they’ve achieved, and thanks to them for reflecting so well on this institution and on the many opportunities we offer to learn in and outside the classroom.

Lastly, like many of you I am cheering on  our volleyball team as it competes in the Final Four of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. And I will be in Pasadena on January 1 to root for our Badgers at the Rose Bowl against the University of Oregon.

I’ve reached out to Oregon President Michael Schill and “wagered” our finest Babcock cheese against some Oregon wines over the outcome of the game. I will enjoy drinking his Oregon wine in 2020—I suspect it pairs nicely with our own cheddar.

I want to wish you all a safe and restful winter break, and I will see you back on campus in 2020.

Winter 2019 Commencement Remarks Sun, 15 Dec 2019 18:00:14 +0000 Read More]]> Prepared for delivery at the Kohl Center
Sun. Dec. 15, 2019

Good morning and welcome to the winter 2019 commencement of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Congratulations to the new graduates, and a warm welcome to family and friends.

I also want to welcome and thank our guest speaker.

Jason Gay is a Wall Street Journal columnist and sports reporter, and a UW alum who has built a career around arguing why the University of Wisconsin Badgers are better than the University of Michigan Wolverines…and every other Big 10 team.

In other words, he’s figured out how to get paid to do what many of you do for free.

Jason, we’re all looking forward to hearing from you, and I want to thank you for being here.

2019 Milestones
Class of 2019, you are graduating in a historic year for this university.

We are marking the anniversaries of two important events that changed our campus.

First, 2019 is the 150th anniversary of the graduation of the first women to earn bachelor’s degrees from UW-Madison. There were six of them. You will hear more about them, and their legacy, in a brief video we’ll show in just a few minutes.

Second, 50 years ago – following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – students here at UW and around the country staged protests to draw attention to systematic discrimination that was excluding students of color (and faculty of color) from higher education. Here in Madison, the Black Student Strike ultimately involved close to 10,000 faculty, staff and students. It led to the creation of our Afro-American Studies Department and prompted the administration to make diversity and inclusion a priority.

Both of these anniversaries remind us that we are a public institution that opens its doors to provide a college degree for everyone who can show that they’re ready to take on the academic rigors of this place.

While we have not always lived up to that promise – at times we have excluded groups or been less welcoming than we should – it is imperative that we remember our history and learn from it, to become an even better and more inclusive institution. Whoever you are, if you want to engage in the learning that takes place on this campus, you are welcome here.

Today’s graduates
Today we confer 1,770 degrees upon our undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students. About two-thirds of you are here in person – many others will participate in the ceremony next spring.

December graduates are an interesting group. As our student speaker several years ago pointed out – it’s pretty unlikely that you came to UW planning to graduate in December.

Some of you took a little more time to reach this milestone because you did internships and studied abroad.

Some of you took a little less time because you focused like a laser on completing your degree.

And some of you have overcome great challenges to reach this moment. For you, today has special meaning – and I want to share just one of your stories.

Uma-ima Mohammed Saed was just 11 years old when her family had to flee their home in Baghdad after a threat from Al Qaeda.

For the next 7 years, they were refugees. There was no opportunity to work or go to school, so Uma-ima’s mother homeschooled her and her siblings. And then, in 2014, the United States granted them asylum and they settled in Wisconsin.

Uma-ima worked hard to build her academic skills, and finally achieved her goal of admission to UW-Madison.

Today, she earns her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the School of Human Ecology, and hopes to go on for a master’s degree at our School of Medicine and Public Health.

She is here with her proud parents and her siblings (who are also now UW students) – congratulations!

The value of a college degree
Today I want to make a few observations about the value of the degree you are receiving, which represents one of the biggest investments you (or your parents) will ever make.

As one of our students described his December graduation:

I am definitely hoping this is the most expensive ticket I’ll ever buy to the Kohl Center.

In your time here at UW, there’s been debate about whether a college education is worth it. In the last year alone, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post all published pieces questioning the value of a college degree.

Before I became chancellor, I was trained as an economist and have spent much of my life studying how the U.S. labor market operates. As an economist, I am entirely mystified by those who question the value of a college degree.

Simply put, you have just made the best investment you will ever make.

The monetary returns on a college degree are higher now than they have been in the past 50 years. College graduates earn far more than non-college graduates, and this remains true even if you adjust for differences in who does and doesn’t go to college. It’s clear that university training gives you skills that this global economy values more and more each day.

It’s not by chance that unemployment among college graduates is far lower than among other groups.

But it’s not just about the money. College graduates are more satisfied with their jobs and express greater life-satisfaction than people without college degrees.

• They are more likely to marry and less likely to divorce.

• They’re healthier and live longer than non-college-grads.

• They’re more involved in communities where they live, and more likely to do volunteer work and vote.

• And good news for all of you, college grads are far less likely to end up in jail.

The value of a UW degree
You have chosen particularly well, because you are graduating from a school that is consistently ranked as one of the best values in the U.S.

But the value of a college degree reflects more than the educational quality and the price of tuition at the institution you attend. It also sends a reputational signal about who you are.

So what will your diploma from the University of Wisconsin-Madison tell the world about you?

Let me start with the obvious answers. A UW degree tells the world:

• That you understand the appeal of deep-fried cheese curds

• That you believe shorts are not an unreasonable clothing choice on a 40-degree day in March

• That you will always root for Badger teams

• And that you know there’s no better place on earth on a warm summer evening, than the Union Terrace.

To be more serious – this is one of the top 25 universities in the world. The credential you receive today is a signal of excellence. It tells the world that you have deep knowledge of your academic field, and the ability to function in a big, complex, and sometimes daunting institution.

But there’s another thing that makes UW-Madison special. And that is our profound sense of responsibility to be involved with the world and to be part of changing the world for the better. That’s the Wisconsin Idea.

The class of 2019 has embraced this ethic in a big way.

• You’ve helped make UW the #1 school in the country for Peace Corps volunteers.

• You’ve helped make the Madison community a better place by doing 31,000 hours of community volunteer work in the last year alone.

• And you’ve set a new record for voting on this campus – and turned out to vote in far higher numbers than your peers at most other schools.

As one of our alumni said recently:

People like to talk about all the things “someone” really ought to be doing … at UW, they’re actually doing those things.

But very few people can tackle serious problems on their own. To make a difference in the world, you also need to know how to collaborate. There is a growing body of research that shows that groups solve problems faster than individuals. And diverse groups solve problems even better.

I hope you’ve learned something about how to work with people from many different fields and different backgrounds while you were here…while living in the dorms, being part of a student club, or participating in group projects in class.

There are plenty of big problems that need to be addressed and that will require many people working together. Like improving how we educate children. Dealing with climate change. Developing better treatments for disease. Or tackling inequities in our society.

No matter what school, college, department, institute, or research center you’ve been part of, I hope you have experienced an extraordinary community of scholars collaborating across many different fields.

I hope that you will stay connected to your friends and colleagues here at UW.

And I hope that you will use your education to make this world a little better.

Let me close by asking you to do something for me. Friends and family, this means you too.

Take a moment to look at the people all around you.

Today, we are all part of something incredibly rare in this country – and on this planet – a peaceful and joyful gathering of people from across the world, of every race and every religion … people from Beijing, China … Miami, Florida … Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and every point in between.

And people whose families started on every rung of the economic ladder.

All members of one big Badger family.

This community is what a great public university can create. Our doors are open wide to Wisconsin and the world.

Families, thank you for the support and love and advice you’ve given your students over these years – and thank you for sharing these wonderful people with us.

Students, thank you for making this university a better place while you were here. Keep in touch. Let us know how you’re doing. I can’t wait to learn what you accomplish in the years ahead.

Congratulations to each and every one of you … and On Wisconsin!

Holiday Greetings Thu, 12 Dec 2019 19:41:16 +0000 ]]> UW-Madison’s commitment to the state in admissions Fri, 06 Dec 2019 16:19:33 +0000 Read More]]> UW-Madison was created to provide a public university for the state’s high school graduates who wanted to pursue further studies. That remains one of our highest priorities.

An enrollment policy approved today by the Board of Regents reaffirms our commitment to in-state students.

Before I get into the details on this policy, here’s some background. Prior to December 2015, Regent policy required that no more than 27.5 percent of the undergraduate student body be out-of-state students. (Under the Minnesota-Wisconsin reciprocity agreement, Minnesota Compact students were treated as in-state students for admission purposes and thus were not included in the 27.5 percent.)

In December 2015, the Board established a new enrollment policy lifting the cap for UW-Madison and instead required that the campus enroll a minimum of 3,600 Wisconsin students in its fall freshman class each year. This recognized the demographic shifts in the state that were reducing the number of high school graduates over time as well as the rapid growth in out-of-state applicants to UW-Madison.

A 3,600 minimum was a strong standard, higher than the average number of Wisconsin high school graduates we enrolled over the previous 10 years.

Note, however, that this new policy was quite different along several dimensions. It focused only on new freshmen students, ignoring our substantial number of new enrollees who transfer into UW-Madison, most of them Wisconsin students. It also ignored students who started in the spring rather than the fall. And it dismissed our Minnesota Compact students, even though they are treated as in-state for admission and tuition purposes.

The newly approved policy revises slightly the enrollment policy for UW-Madison moving forward. It reads:

UW-Madison must enroll a minimum of 5,200 new in-state undergraduate students each calendar year, based on a three-year rolling average…In-state students are defined as Wisconsin residents and Minnesota reciprocity students…The Board of Regents expects UW-Madison to continue to honor its commitment to enroll 3,600 Wisconsin freshmen within this broader policy but recognizes UW-Madison’s commitment to in-state students is best measured by more than just incoming freshmen and should include reciprocity and transfer students alike.

Since the policy change in December 2015, our admission of Wisconsin freshman has stayed strong. We have enrolled between 3,617 (Fall 2015) and 3,797 (fall 2019) Wisconsin freshmen in each fall of the past five years. As a result, the share of Wisconsin high school graduates coming to UW-Madison the fall after they graduate has increased steadily. In 2010, it was 4.9 percent of all Wisconsin high school graduates; in 2019, we are at an estimated 5.8 percent.

There are other clear indicators that our commitment to Wisconsin is stronger than it has ever been:

  • We are admitting about two-thirds of all Wisconsin applicants in recent years. This is well above the percent of out-of-state applicants who are admitted.
  • We launched the Wisconsin PRIME program, a high-touch recruiting program aimed at high test-score Wisconsin students. In fall 2015, we had 883 Wisconsin students with an ACT score of 31 or higher (the top 10 percent of ACT test-takers). By fall 2019, we had increased this number by almost 30 percent to 1142 Wisconsin students
  • We have created both Bucky’s Tuition Promise (which assures that all Wisconsin students from families below $60,000 in annual income will have their tuition and fees covered for four years at UW-Madison) and Badger Promise (which assures that all Wisconsin transfer students from first-generation families will have two years of tuition and fees covered at UW-Madison.) These programs substantially expanded our support for lower-income Wisconsin students.

At the same time that we maintain a strong commitment to Wisconsin students at UW-Madison, the policy change first adopted in 2015 and reaffirmed by the Regents today allows us to take advantage of our very deep and growing pool of high-quality out-of-state applicants. Our out-of-state applications have doubled over the past 10 years at the same time as the quality of the average applicant has risen. Since fall 2015, we have increased our out-of-state enrollments by an average of 250 per year.

An increase in out-of-state student enrollment helps us fund high-quality programs for all students at UW-Madison, as well as scholarship aid for Wisconsin students.

As importantly, it brings high-ability young people into the state of Wisconsin. We brought about 3,500 non-Wisconsin students into UW-Madison in fall 2019. These are great students who will spend at least four years in the state. We work with local and regional businesses to provide recruitment opportunities for internships and full-time employment after graduation. At present, 21 percent of our out-of-state students are in Wisconsin one year after graduation. As Wisconsin faces major shortages of skilled workers, it’s important that UW-Madison be able to continue to bring young talent into the state.

The policy adopted today by the Regents reaffirms and makes permanent our current enrollment practices. It also encourages us to continue our strong commitment to in-state students and acknowledges that that commitment should count all incoming students – new freshmen, transfer students and Minnesota reciprocity students, regardless of whether they start on campus in the fall semester or spring semester. The 5200 number in the policy is consistent with where we have been over the past four years, counting all incoming Wisconsin and Minnesota students.

The policy also recognizes the importance of the Minnesota reciprocity agreement. Because Wisconsin students can attend Minnesota schools at in-state rates, more of them leave the state and go to Minnesota for college than would happen otherwise. Similarly, more Minnesota students come here because of the in-state tuition they pay. The reciprocity agreement notes that Minnesota residents should be considered in-state for the purposes of admission, and indeed the enrollment policy in place for other UW System schools uses this broader definition for in-state students.

I want to thank the Board of Regents for approving this enrollment policy for UW-Madison. It allows us to continue to serve a growing share of Wisconsin students, ensures that our classes contain students from across the United States and around the world, and will help us continue to expand our role as an economic engine and talent driver for the state workforce.


Every week is international week at UW–Madison Wed, 20 Nov 2019 20:44:52 +0000 Read More]]> November 18–22 marks International Education Week, a time when we celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange. UW–Madison has much to be proud of, not just this week, but because of the many ways in which the university distinguishes itself as a global institution throughout the year. A host of events over the past few days paints a picture of how the university engages the world.

The beginning of International Education Week brought two pieces of good news. The university continues to rank among the top 25 U.S. institutions for the number of students studying abroad, according to the Open Doors Report, an annual report that ranks universities’ engagement in global exchange. UW–Madison ranked #18 on this list, with 2,410 students pursuing their academic interests abroad during the 2017–2018 academic year. “Life-changing” is the word these students frequently use to describe their time abroad. They return with new perspectives on themselves, their academic field, and the ways that Wisconsin and the U.S. fit into the global picture.

The Open Doors Report also showed UW as #21 on the list of the top #25 U.S. institutions hosting international students. This is one more indicator that the university retains its strong reputation around the globe. International students enrich the residential experience of all of our students. International and domestic students both learn from each other, and the benefits that come out of this diversity are innumerable

Students worldwide see UW–Madison as an attractive place to study. UW–Madison had a record year of applications and enrollment for international freshmen, coming at a time when others are seeing a diminishing trend. As of fall 2018, international students made up 14% of the student body, according to our enrollment data.

UW–Madison Startup Week also afforded an opportunity for sensitive conversations between campus, community, and overseas partners during a one-day conference on China and U.S. University Intellectual Property. The conversations at this event, organized in collaboration with WARF, UW–Madison, and Nanjing University, offered constructive perspectives on pressing issues that can create a barrier as the U.S. looks to partner with and engage China. It was especially gratifying to see this conference taking place on campus as this was a follow-on event to a similar conference that I addressed when I visited the Nanjing University campus this past summer to sign a strategic partnership agreement.

We also recently received news that Wisconsin School of Business students Chase Devens and David Smith won first place in the IES Study Abroad Film Festival for their film Les Cinq Mois-The Five Months. The two Badgers connected in Paris during a study abroad program and captured some of the challenges, mishaps, and unforgettable moments that often come with an experience abroad. We are proud of these students for how they dealt with and ultimately triumphed in their experience abroad.

I could continue at length, discussing UW–Madison’s many faculty research projects that are jointly done with international partners, our many internships abroad, multiple language learning opportunities, cultural events, and other activities that take place every day. It is what we do each and every day as a university community that makes UW–Madison a global institution.

A robust international student body, engagement with global partners, faculty research worldwide, successful alumni who work all over the world, and students actively pursuing international experiences—all of these and more add up to a university that is globally connected.

That is worth celebrating.

New steps to address hostile and intimidating behavior Wed, 13 Nov 2019 14:00:55 +0000 Read More]]> The message below is from Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Provost Karl Scholz

For the past several years, our university has worked to prevent and address hostile and intimidating behavior through a new set of policies and trainings.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported recently on a serious case of hostile and intimidating behavior involving a College of Engineering faculty member. The situation came to light after the 2016 suicide of a graduate student in his research group. After an investigation that documented the problematic behavior, the faculty member was suspended for two years.

Our campus continues to take steps to address this specific incident and any others like it. As this situation shows, we must do even more to ensure a coordinated, consistent approach to hostile and intimidating behavior.

As a result, we are taking the following actions:

Increased communication regarding resources to report concerns: We will increase communication efforts to ensure that all campus community members are informed of campus policies prohibiting hostile and intimidating behavior, and that people know where and how to report such behavior so that it can be addressed in a timely fashion. We have begun important conversations with graduate students, in particular, to help us identify needed services.  Existing resources include staff in the Graduate School, Student Affairs, the Ombuds Office, and school/college deans’ offices.

Central oversight of reporting: We will put in place a system and process similar to what we’ve done to improve our response to reports of sexual harassment and misconduct. It will allow us to better track this conduct and to more systematically address concerns and be sure that people know where to turn for help. This builds on new guidelines that clarify the options for reporting this behavior.

In this specific case, the College of Engineering is also taking additional actions which Dean Robertson is sharing with faculty, staff and students.

Going forward, we call upon each member of the campus community to be a partner in identifying, addressing and confronting incidents of hostile and intimidating behavior. For too long in academia, these types of interactions have existed in the shadows or been discounted as “just the way it is.”  The problem is exacerbated when a power imbalance (such as advisor/student, or supervisor/employee) exists.

Let us be clear: hostile and intimidating behavior is unacceptable. We all deserve an environment where we’re treated with respect. Each and every one of us on campus has a responsibility to help confront hostile and intimidating behavior.

To learn more and view campus resources, visit

Support for Dreamers as Supreme Court arguments begin Tue, 12 Nov 2019 13:00:59 +0000 Read More]]> Today, the Supreme Court begins its oral arguments about the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

I want to restate my strong opposition to the decision to end this program and continued support for Dreamers, here and across the nation.

Over the past year, UW-Madison has shared its views on DACA with members of Congress, colleagues in the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and other organizations. As a member of AAU and APLU, UW supported the positions advanced in a joint amicus or “friend of the court” filing along with dozens of higher ed organizations.

In the amicus brief, the organizations emphasize the importance of the policy, which has made it “possible for countless Dreamers to get a postsecondary education and unlock the potential such an education affords.”

The brief argues that rescinding DACA would broadcast to students from around the globe a message of exclusion and could “irreparably damage the reputation of America’s higher education system in the eyes of the world.”

Wisconsin’s Attorney General separately joined the amicus brief of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of maintaining DACA.

We continue to provide support on this and related issues for members of the campus community. An FAQ specific to this topic has been established. For mental health support and assistance processing these events, students are encouraged to connect with University Health Services. For any further questions, contact the Dean of Students Office.

Lastly, I want to reiterate our values, which guide our student interactions:

  • UW-Madison will not provide information on immigration status of its students, faculty or staff unless required to do so by law.
  • UW Police Department will not participate in immigration enforcement actions conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers (ICE).
  • ICE officers must use appropriate legal processes if they are on campus and would like to contact individual students about enforcement-related issues.

We will be watching these proceedings closely and await the Court’s decision in 2020 in hopes of a positive resolution for all those affected.