Blank’s Slate – Office of the Chancellor – UW–Madison Thu, 12 Dec 2019 19:41:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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.

Celebrating Community this Veterans Day Wed, 06 Nov 2019 22:43:30 +0000 Read More]]> A guest post from Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor in honor of Veterans Day

We walk by iconic spaces like Camp Randall, Memorial Union, and the Red Gym every day on campus, but few of us think about their connection to the university’s military heritage. Similarly, we often pass each other bustling to class, meetings or elsewhere without acknowledging there are entire human histories and experiences passing us by.

This Veterans Day, let us pause to see and to recognize the nearly 900 student veterans, active and reserve military students at UW–Madison today. They are veterans of war; some are moms or dads; they are individuals who will drop everything to help strangers in need when disaster strikes. In fact, we have 10 students currently away on military orders. Needless to say, they don’t take the typical path here.

Being a student with a military identity at UW–Madison is honorable. It can be a source of strength and camaraderie. But it can sometimes be lonely.

We know that feeling a sense of belonging is an important factor to academic success, and we see a need for this among our student veterans. This past year, we initiated some important changes in Student Affairs to strengthen our support for military-connected students at UW–Madison — especially around building community. Those opportunities are taking place within the newly minted University Veteran Services, which moved from the Division of Enrollment Management to Student Affairs to align with our identity and inclusion programming.

Student veterans and those with military connections now have an organizational home and community on campus akin to the Multicultural Student Center, Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, McBurney Disability Resource Center, and International Student Services. These programs offer safe and welcoming spaces with people who understand their needs and actively connect students with resources to succeed both within and outside the classroom.

Our Badger diversity occurs in many ways. The unique student veteran experience adds depth and perspective to our classrooms and to our larger campus identity. We enjoy the personal freedoms we exercise every day because they stood up to fight for them.

I encourage you this Veterans Week to pause your routine and to engage in one (or a few!) events to honor our veterans and to really hear their stories. University Veteran Services, the Wisconsin Union, and our Student Veterans of America have organized several activities aimed at building community and making meaningful connections.

Again, thank you to our military-connected students, staff, faculty, and alumni for your sacrifices to safeguard our freedoms. I admire your dedication. I appreciate your unique stories. And I am honored you are part of our UW–Madison community.

UW taking new steps on sustainability Mon, 04 Nov 2019 20:43:27 +0000 Read More]]> This last year we did something we’ve never done before as a campus – we pulled together information on all our sustainability efforts, and submitted them for a Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (or STARS) rating. It’s an important step that will help us to organize and track our efforts to make this campus greener.

STARS is a national program that rates colleges and universities on a number of different measures related to campus sustainability. To get a rating, you have to submit a very long and detailed report.  The process took about 1,500 faculty, staff, and student hours over 8 months.  More than 150 members of the UW–Madison community spent eight months compiling a report.

In our first year, we received a “silver” rating, which is not as good as gold or platinum, but better than bronze. And it is a position many big, public institutions are placed in when they begin to measure their sustainability efforts.

To be honest, we’re behind the curve on this effort. Many of our peer schools completed a STARS evaluation several years ago.  The main reason to do this is not the rating level, per se.  The entire process gives us a strong sense of where we’re doing well and where we need to improve.  It provides the data we need to map out a strategic plan to improve sustainability in our community.

A little over a year ago, we hired Missy Nergard, the first full-time director of sustainability on campus. Missy is working with Professor Cathy Middlecamp from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to develop that strategic sustainability plan for the next three to five years.  If we do this right, we can raise our STARS rating over time.

We’re convening two new groups – both of which will include faculty, staff, students, and community members – to work on different pieces of this plan and to start implementation.  We also have to make sure we’re not working at cross purposes with the city and county’s sustainability efforts.

This initial STARS ranking is only one step in a process. I am very committed to making sure that we steadily improve our greater sustainability practices at UW-Madison.

Reaction to UW System President Ray Cross retirement news Fri, 25 Oct 2019 16:41:48 +0000 Read More]]> Chancellor Blank shared the following reaction to the Oct. 25 announcement that Ray Cross is planning to retire:

Chancellor Blank and UW System President Ray Cross greet student Isabel Markowski
UW-Madison student Isabel Markowski, center, is pictured with UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Ray Cross before Markowski’s presentation as a spotlighted student during the UW System Board of Regents meeting at Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Feb. 9, 2018.

Congratulations to Ray Cross on his retirement from a long and distinguished career in higher education.

Ray has provided steady and valuable leadership to both UW System and prior to that, UW Extension and Colleges, during times that were frequently challenging. He did this with a warm smile and sincere interest in supporting the work of our students, faculty and staff.

Ray has been a standard bearer for the Wisconsin Idea, believing that the education and research we conduct at the university should reach beyond the boundaries of the campuses and benefit the people of the state and beyond.

I will miss Ray’s wisdom, humor and dedication to service in the state of Wisconsin. I wish him all the best in retirement.

Video: Breakfast with the Chancellor 2019 Tue, 15 Oct 2019 18:32:28 +0000 ]]> AAU survey highlights need for continued action against sexual violence, misconduct Tue, 15 Oct 2019 16:01:15 +0000 Read More]]> Sexual assault and misconduct remain serious problems on every campus across the country. Ensuring the safety of our students is a fundamental priority for all of us at UW–Madison.

Today our university released results from the 2019 American Association of Universities survey on sexual assault and misconduct. When our university participated in this survey in 2015, it was a first-of-its-kind effort nationally.

The results from 2015 led to the campus investing in a number of new and enhanced programs. These included hiring of additional staff in the Title IX Office and University Health Services; mandatory prevention training for all faculty, staff and graduate students; and additional in-person mandatory education for undergraduate students.

Surveys like this one are a critical tool for assessing and improving our efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence and to support all survivors.

I am deeply grateful to the students who took the time to share their experiences, understanding how difficult that can be. Your courage and honesty will help our campus become a safer and more supportive environment. To those students from communities that are disproportionately affected, including LGBTQ+ students and students with disabilities, I want to let you know that we hear you and are committed to supporting you.

It is encouraging to see that in comparing our 2019 survey results to 2015, both undergraduate and graduate students report significantly higher levels of knowledge about sexual assault and campus resources; the levels of knowledge at UW-Madison are also higher than at other universities.

Another positive development is that most students who see concerning behavior report taking some action to prevent further harm. Student involvement is essential in both preventing assault and misconduct and supporting survivors.

Rates of sexual assault at UW-Madison remain similar to other universities. While rates of sexual assault for undergraduate women rose between 2015 and 2019 for other AAU institutions, there was no significant change at UW-Madison. However, our numbers remain distressingly high – and even a single incidence of sexual assault is too many.  In 2019, 26.1 percent of undergraduate women at UW-Madison reported having experienced some form of sexual assault; 11 percent reported experiencing assault by penetration.

Going forward, we must strengthen our efforts to reduce these rates and to increase the number of students who seek campus support after experiencing assault or misconduct. Currently 87 percent of all sexual assaults go unreported to any campus resource, even including confidential resources. This means that students are not able to access critical support such as mental health services and academic accommodations.

As we did in 2015, we will be using the 2019 survey results to refine campus policies and programs. I urge students, faculty and staff to attend campus forums in November to share your feedback, questions and concerns.

Reducing sexual violence at UW will require changes in behavior and culture as well as in resources and the campus environment. All of us need to understand the importance of consent, watch for warning signs and be willing to intervene.

We are committed to doing all we can to ensure a safe living and learning environment for all of our students. When sexual assault occurs, we will respond swiftly and with compassion, providing resources and support. Together, we can reduce sexual violence.