Blank’s Slate – Office of the Chancellor – UW–Madison https://chancellor.wisc.edu Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:40:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Addressing racial inequities on campus https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/addressing-racial-inequities-on-campus/ Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:40:16 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2462 Read More]]> I first heard the term White privilege in 1975, when I was part of a student group at the University of Minnesota engaged in a weekend retreat sponsored by the University YMCA.  One of the ‘games’ we played that weekend involved negotiating with others over chips of different colors.  I ended up the winner, with more gold chips at the end than anyone else.  Of course, I wasn’t surprised.  I felt I was tougher than the other students, more determined to succeed, and negotiated harder.  But then we debriefed the game and it turned out that three of us had been given a very different set of starting chips than anyone else.  I hadn’t been a better, tougher negotiator, I just had an unequal head start.

I’ve never forgotten that game.  For many years, I taught classes on income inequality and the role of inherited wealth in shaping economic and social outcomes.  In class discussions of discrimination, I frequently drew on my own experiences as a woman in a highly male-oriented field of study.  I know what microaggressions can feel like and how tired you can get of being dismissed and ignored.

Almost all of us have experiences where we feel bullied, excluded or ignored.  But for most of us who are White, these are not constant experiences that permeate all aspects of our lives.   I have never feared for my life when I see police approaching; I am not trailed in stores or treated with suspicion by TSA or other security personnel.

The past seven weeks have seen an outpouring of millions of voices demanding justice and equity for Americans who are Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). Our university has been one focus of those demands.  It is incumbent upon all of us to re-examine our commitments to racial justice and marshal the energy and resources to do more and better.

As someone who has benefitted from White privilege, my first action must be to listen with humility and empathy – to faculty and staff, to students, and to others who love UW and also recognize its shortcomings. Although the Black Lives Matter movement was the catalyst, these conversations touched on many issues and identities – Asian and Asian-American, Latinx, LGBTQ+, Native American and people with disabilities.

These conversations reinforced the need for more work inside our campus community.  These are not issues that we have ignored in recent years.  Our fall Diversity Forums have grown every year with attendance from across campus; this year Robin DiAngelo, author of “White Fragility,” will deliver the keynote address.   We have successfully recruited 30 new faculty through the Target of Opportunity Program (TOP), which provides incentives for departments to hire persons from groups under-represented in their discipline and department.  This has included people of color as well as women in male-dominated science fields.   We’ve developed programs for incoming students in identity and implicit bias, aimed at both undergrads and graduate students.  If you want to know more about what we have been doing over the past five years to increase diversity and inclusion at UW, I encourage you to read this report.

But this is not enough.  Our Black students, faculty and staff have consistently shared the discomfort they experience negotiating spaces on campus that are defined by White culture, and about the regular stream of microaggressions they experience – comments and behaviors that show misunderstanding (at best) and hostility and disrespect (at worst).

Today I’m sharing with you a number of additional commitments we are making in our efforts to ensure that our university welcomes and fosters the success of all members of our community.  A number of these commitments require financial support and we are in extremely difficult financial circumstances right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Doing some of the things listed below will require cutting other programs.  But it is important that we find these funds.

Enrollment and Recruitment.  We must continue efforts to increase the diversity of campus by expanding enrollment and employment among underrepresented groups. We will do so by:

  • Developing a fundraising initiative with the goal of raising at least $10 million in new private gifts, working in partnership with the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. We will use these funds to recruit a more diverse group of students, faculty and staff, and to build a campus culture that welcomes and retains all groups, particularly people of color.
  • Continuing to invest in the TOP program, which has a proven record of success in attracting highly talented faculty who greatly enhance the quality and diversity of an academic department. Departments in 10 schools and colleges have utilized this program in the past two years. We need to keep this momentum going and expect to recruit additional faculty of color.
  • Ensuring that all schools/colleges require search committees to complete training on implicit bias and recruiting for excellence and diversity.  Many faculty searches already use the “Searching for Excellence & Diversity” workshops from the Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI); others have developed localized expertise. The goal is to ensure that search committee members are better able to recognize how stereotypes prevalent in our society can influence our evaluations of and behavior toward others, even without our awareness or intent. Research has shown the effectiveness of the WISELI workshops.

Campus History.  Understanding our past is important to changing our future.

  • Two years ago, I committed $1 million to a public history project, designed to explore the experiences of more marginalized groups on campus, focusing on particular events or time periods. A central part of this project involves confronting and discussing the history of racism and other forms of exclusion/marginalization on campus.  A year ago, we hired a project director.  While the closure of the University Archives due to the pandemic has slowed the work, it is proceeding and information is being made publicly available.  I will periodically use my social media accounts to highlight the uncomfortable truths of the university’s past, and work with this project to make sure that its results are publicly available, both through physical as well as virtual displays.

Education, Training and Student Support.  We are an educational institution and it is important to engage our campus community, particularly our White community members, in learning experiences that build self-reflection about how we are all shaped by racial inequities and systemic racism in our society.  This self-reflection should, if it is to have an impact, lead to changes in behavior and structure.  To help us in these efforts we will:

  • Make mandatory the Our Wisconsin training program for all new entering undergraduate students starting this fall. Similar to trainings that are already required on alcohol safety and sexual violence prevention, it is critical that we provide students with an understanding about culture, identity, and difference, as well as the skills and commitment to create a community that is inclusive of all people.
  • Create a new Office of Inclusive Education within Student Affairs. This new office, which will work closely with the Center for Leadership and Involvement and other campus partners, will develop programming to increase our capacity to educate students around issues related to race, marginalization, identity and inclusion. Incoming leaders in student organizations will be one target group for this training.  Creation of the new office comes out of conversations with diverse student leaders including the Student Inclusion Coalition, Wisconsin Black Student Union, and others who have shared their experiences and helped us develop strategies to improve the campus climate for BIPOC.
  • Strengthen training opportunities for all graduate students, graduate programs and the research and service centers overseen by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.  These professional development experiences will build on the work of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Funding in the Graduate School to address the specific challenges and needs of graduate students who function as both employees and students.
  • Implement an Exceptional Service Support Award. Underrepresented faculty spend a great deal of time and energy supporting students outside the classroom. For instance, right now our Black faculty are disproportionately called upon by Black students who turn to them for mentoring, advice, and support as they deal with recent traumatic events.  This puts an added burden on these faculty, reducing the time they have available to advance their own research and careers.  Following a successful pilot program this past year, department chairs or mentors may nominate faculty to receive an Exceptional Service Award, which provides release time from teaching for those who have provided exceptional service.

Research.  One of our fundamental missions is to advance research on key issues.  We have a long tradition at UW of supporting faculty and researchers who work on social inequities.   To name only a few, we have prominent historians, education specialists, sociologists, public health researchers, social work and public policy scholars who have national reputations in studying racial inequities.  To further support this work:

  • The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education will provide $1 million in research funding in the next academic year to support faculty and PIs whose research helps us understand race in America, including the public health impacts of racism, systems which perpetuate racial inequality and the physical and social impacts of racism. Particular preference will be given to scholars who have new projects that require seed funding to make a project more competitive for outside funding; creative projects that involve interdisciplinary teams; and projects with the potential to generate real-world implications for combatting racism and its adverse effects.
  • We will recognize excellence in the full range of scholarly activities.  This past spring each Divisional Committee added new language to tenure guidelines that recognizes the importance of community engaged scholarship and scholarly activities in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion as noteworthy endeavors to be considered as part of tenure and promotion.  These additions will help us remain a great university and underscore just how significant it is when our faculty establish meaningful engagement with these areas as part of their contribution to the campus community.

Policing.  We want our campus police to be a national model for how campus police departments should train and perform.  The University of Wisconsin Police Department  recently shared how its practices and policies meet the guidelines laid out in Campaign Zero’s #8Can’tWait project.  In addition, over the course of the next academic year UWPD will implement its Racial Equity Initiative — a comprehensive action plan for identifying, adopting and continually assessing needed changes within the department in the short-and-long-term.  A core part of this plan will be to specifically ensure the department demonstrates its commitment to racial justice in policing in ways that are meaningful to members of our community, particularly those from marginalized groups.

The efforts outlined above mark an important next step in our ongoing work to confront racism and advance equity and justice.  We have a moment of opportunity on campus right now.  I believe that more of our faculty, staff and students – particularly those who are NOT from marginalized communities – understand the need to engage in these efforts.  We need to take advantage of this opportunity.  This is not something that our underrepresented communities can or should be burdened with; it is on all of us to listen, read, reflect and work towards change.

We are working on some further actions, including more extensive training and professional development opportunities for our faculty and staff to engage in conversations about these issues. We expect to announce these efforts in the coming months.

Finally, I have to note that change can be slow.  This is particularly true when we are talking about deep change in the ways people see the world or in the ways that institutions operate.

Change is made even more difficult by the fact that our community is constantly being recreated.  Each year about 10,000 of our students leave and another 10,000 new students arrive.  Hence there are always large numbers of new people arriving on campus and we must engage with them afresh.  All of this means our work will never be complete.  We have to marshal the will and the persistence to embed these efforts into the fabric of the institution.

Thank you to everyone for the various ways in which you are engaged in creating a campus that is welcoming, diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist.  I pledge to increase our efforts to make the changes needed at our university.  I hope you will join me.

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Planning a Smart Restart for UW-Madison https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/planning-a-smart-restart-for-uw-madison/ Wed, 17 Jun 2020 18:52:08 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2455 Read More]]> Chancellor Blank announced plans to welcome students back to the UW-Madison campus this fall. Classes will resume on campus as scheduled on Sept. 2, with COVID-19 testing and safety measures in place to protect the health of the campus community. Instruction will be offered through a mix of in-person and online courses, and residence halls will feature enhanced safety protocols for shared spaces and an overall reduction in density.

Chancellor Blank’s full message to the campus community and more information on reopening can be found at the Smart Restart web page.

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A message to our community https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/a-message-to-our-community-3/ Sun, 31 May 2020 15:35:00 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2435 Read More]]> The events happening this week in the Twin Cities, across the nation and here in Madison demonstrate the anger that members of our community feel over years of unequal treatment.  This anger demands meaningful action, particularly for those of us who are in positions of privilege.

I recognize that words condemning the tragic and inexcusable death of George Floyd are not enough. UWPD Chief Kristen Roman and her fellow Dane County chiefs are already engaged with the community to reduce trust gaps and improve safety through the Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration. I appreciate the work that UWPD has done to ensure that its training and policies protect and serve our communities of color as effectively as they protect and serve other members of our community.

Our work extends beyond law enforcement to every facet of our institution. Although most of us cannot physically be on campus because of the coronavirus, we continue to work on creating a more inclusive and diverse community through the efforts of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement; admissions and recruitment; faculty/staff recruitment and retention; Student Affairs; Human Resources, our schools and colleges as well as within individual departments and units.

Each of us – particularly those of us who do not face the daily challenge of living amid inequity and injustice – must contribute to and lead the change that is needed. There are many ways to become more aware and involved. A list of resources is available on the DDEEA website.

Our campus has a long and proud tradition of helping bring about lasting change through peaceful protest. Thousands of people gathered peacefully at the Capitol Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, a small number chose to engage in destructive acts that attacked already-struggling local businesses. I condemn this violence; it drowns out the message that needs to be heard and is likely to create backlash and more anger on all sides, rather than promote the changes that are needed.

I urge anyone participating in protests to engage in peaceful activism that drives towards systemic change. Use the power and privilege of your education to speak up, reject hate, racism and violence and use respect to build our community. Please take care for your own safety and those around you in this time of COVID-19.

Finally, I encourage those who are anxious or angry about recent national events to connect with the campus resources that are here to support you. These include the Multicultural Student Center, DDEEA, University Health Services and the Employee Assistance Office.

To our Black and Brown students, staff and faculty, I want to say unambiguously: You belong here, you are important to this campus, your lives matter and I am committed to your safety.

This is a time of unprecedented challenge but I remain steadfast in the belief that together, we can move forward toward a more just future.

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Planning for a safe return to campus https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/blanks-slate-planning-for-a-safe-return-to-campus/ Mon, 18 May 2020 15:27:54 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2414 Read More]]> This blog entry is being emailed to the entire campus community and will be translated into multiple languages.

Shortly after this entry was posted, Public Health Madison & Dane County released Forward Dane, a new plan for community reopening. We appreciate our ongoing partnership with local and state health authorities, who are providing important data and guidance through initiatives like the Forward Dane plan. As Chancellor Blank says in her message below, UW–Madison is also undertaking a phased approach to reopening that is tailored to the needs and resources of our campus and employs strong measures to protect students, faculty, staff and the broader community. While the PHMDC order does not apply to the university because it is a unit of a state agency, we will continue to work closely with the city and county as our plans progress.

We recently ended a very strange semester and celebrated the achievements of more than 8,500 students who received degrees as part of the Class of 2020.  No one could have anticipated the incredible change and challenges presented to us by the COVID-19 pandemic and I can’t tell you enough how impressed and proud I am of our campus’ response.

As we’ve emerged from dealing with the immediate issues of this crisis, we are now looking forward. I want to tell you how we are preparing for a phased reopening over the course of the summer and what we are doing to make decisions about the fall semester.

We all want to be on campus and yearn to restart some of the in-person instruction and social interactions that make UW-Madison so wonderful; however, we are in an incredibly fluid situation with a great deal of uncertainty.  Wisconsin and other states are just beginning to experiment with reopening some businesses and over the next month we will learn whether that can be done without triggering a new wave of infections. We are all still learning more about how COVID-19 is spread, and the ways to mitigate that spread. We certainly know more now than we did in mid-March when we largely closed our physical campus and we will use that knowledge as we begin to reopen.

I can also tell you that UW-Madison will be open this fall, offering a full suite of educational programming to ensure that our 45,000+ students are able to continue their education.  We will certainly make sure that our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment is as strong as ever.  What I can’t tell you quite yet is the mix of in-person versus online instruction that we will be able to offer.

Whatever the modality of instruction, we expect there will be thousands of students in Madison.  Most of our graduate students have their permanent addresses here.  And many undergraduates will choose to be in their apartments in Madison no matter how classes are delivered. The more that we can offer some face-to-face instruction in smaller discussion sections or seminar courses, the more that those students who are in Madison will benefit.

But there will be some students who want to pursue their studies and who can’t be here. Some of these will be international students; some will be students with underlying health conditions that make it important that they stay in a more isolated environment.  On the other hand, there are also students who must be here in order to complete the requirements for their degree.  This includes students who have to do clinical, field or laboratory training.  We have a group looking at these courses and how we can offer them safely.

All of this suggests that this next year we will likely be offering some hybrid mix of educational offerings.  Larger lectures will almost surely be offered remotely, but we hope to offer face-to-face section meetings for students who can attend.  We need to make a substantial share of the curriculum available remotely.  At the same time, we should try to give as many students a small class/discussion experience as possible, whether in-person or online, to foster the learning and connections that small groups are so well-suited to provide.

In short, it won’t be a normal semester next fall.  And let’s be clear, we’re not just talking about the fall semester.  As we’re looking forward, we’re preparing for an entire academic year where concern over COVID-19 affects our educational programming.

We can also anticipate other changes that affect student life.  We are looking at all the ways we can operate residence halls and dining facilities safely.  We are exploring how to offer student events in new ways, including virtually. Smaller classes would likely need to be held in larger rooms that allow greater physical distancing, which in turn may require scheduling changes. Other events, gatherings and activities may need to be modified or reduced in size to mitigate transmission risk.  And, we’ll all be asked to take steps as individuals to protect our community, such as staying home if we don’t feel well.

Of course, it’s not just about students and classes.  We will need to change the way we do business.  We need to look at cleaning protocols, distances between desks in our offices, masking requirements, testing availability and many other issues.  We need to keep our employees safe.  For some faculty and staff who may face particular health risks, this may mean working from home for much of the next year, if that is possible.

We are thinking through all of these issues, both as we plan for a carefully phased reopening of campus over the summer and as we think about students on campus this coming fall.  As the pandemic has continued, it’s become clear that this is an enormously complicated task. To prepare, we’ve pulled together people with different expertise to advise us and develop plans.

Here are a few of the key ad hoc planning groups of faculty, staff, and students that are at work:

  • Instructional Continuity, which worked on the successful completion of spring semester and finals and is now supporting a fully online summer term.
  • Fall Semester Instruction, which is analyzing scenarios and planning for how we would operate in-person, remotely or in a hybrid model as changing circumstances require us to adapt.
  • Research Reboot Team, which is planning how to resume on-site research and scholarly activities on the Madison campus, at University-owned facilities, and at non-University field sites.
  • The COVID Testing Workgroup, which is identifying the best strategies for using testing to enhance the safety of the campus community.
  • Resumption of Campus Operations Workgroup, which is planning for a phased return of employees beginning early summer, and the protocols necessary as more employees return to campus.
  • Student Affairs, which is planning and coordinating with the advising community to virtually deliver SOAR, adapt student engagement programming to remote delivery and increase the availability of medical, counseling and wellness services by phone and online.

This is only a partial list of some of our major campus planning efforts.

Some of these plans, like our delivery of SOAR, will be ready soon. Others, like our fall semester instructional plans, cannot be completed until further into the summer when we can better gauge the state and national situation, which changes by the day.

We have targeted a date no later than the end of July to make a final decision on how many in-person classes we can run, in consultation with UW System and state and local health officials. I want to acknowledge the frustration that this lack of certainty causes students and parents. We’re balancing everyone’s desire to plan for the fall with our need to provide a safe environment for our community. We’ll continue to provide updates with as much information as we are able throughout the summer months.

While we face some big challenges, so does every other college and university around the world. I believe that we are better positioned than many because we came into this on a sound financial footing, and because of the innovative and hard-working faculty and staff and the dedicated students and alumni we have at UW-Madison.

We will find a way through the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis. We certainly will offer a full educational program for students next year.  We will emerge from this with some new skills and knowledge that may make us a stronger institution in the long run.

And when this virus is defeated, we will all gather again on the Terrace to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate our shared community.

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Catching up with alumni on WAA video chat https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/catching-up-with-alumni-on-waa-video-chat/ Thu, 23 Apr 2020 15:10:21 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2404 Read More]]> I was pleased for the opportunity Tuesday night to connect with hundreds of alumni on a livestream sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. The alums had great questions, and I enjoyed the conversation with UW Foundation President Mike Knetter. There’s also a great chat between Mike and UW Men’s Basketball Coach Greg Gard.

Click the video below if you want to catch up.

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Earth Day 2020: Celebrating 50 Years of the Nelson Institute https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/earth-day-2020-celebrating-50-years-of-the-nelson-institute/ Tue, 14 Apr 2020 17:31:54 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2399 Read More]]> The COVID-19 situation has changed a lot of plans and postponed a lot of events in our lives. One side-effect of this has been to substantially reduce all types of travel, which has in turn reduced air pollution and smog. Instruments that measure seismological changes — tremors in the earth — have detected much greater ‘quietness’ in the past couple weeks.

It should not take a pandemic to improve the environment. Here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we’ve been paying attention to the water, land, and air around us for many decades.

Our own Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies has been at the forefront of research since its founding 50 years ago. Historic environmental leaders John Muir and Aldo Leopold have roots at UW-Madison. Restoration ecology emerged as a field of research on our campus, and we are a world leader in wildlife conservation, water resource science, and many more disciplines that promote environmental protection.

In 1970, Wisconsin U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, the namesake of our institute, proposed the worldwide environmental holiday, Earth Day, which is now celebrated in 193 countries.

In celebration of this year’s Earth Day, I want you to know about an opportunity to participate in a virtual Earth Day conference sponsored by the Nelson Institute. This conference will be held on Monday, April 20, beginning at 8:30 a.m. You can find out more and register for the conference here.

I also urge you to learn more about the history of the Nelson Institute as it celebrates 50 years by visiting 50.nelson.wisc.edu. The current On Wisconsin magazine also features a cover story featuring the Nelson Institute.

The Nelson Institute is an interdisciplinary division of the UW-Madison that trains students, performs ground-breaking environmental research, and engages communities across Wisconsin and the world. Its faculty have been critical in helping improve air quality in the U.S., developing fair land tenure policy throughout Latin America, documenting the tumultuous history of the Galapagos Islands and the rich story of African American farming, improving sustainable transportation options in cities, and addressing critical water quality issues on tribal lands.

Nelson alumni serve in leadership roles at organizations like the Nature Conservancy, agencies like the EPA, and companies like Baxter International, Inc. Finally, innovative Wisconsin Idea programs at the Institute include work with farmers, municipal leaders, and communities as they begin to adapt to Wisconsin’s wetter summers and warmer winters.

Here at UW, we have long studied our environment and tried to interpret what that means for our actions and our policies. Our limnologists have monitored Wisconsin’s lakes and streams for decades. Our soil scientists have monitored environmental changes and how they impact soils and crops. And our Extension program has taken this knowledge out across the state. That’s the Wisconsin Idea in action.

I am proud that that UW is a leader in ecological and environmental research and particularly proud of the 50-year history of the Nelson Institute.

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Supporting our campus community https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/supporting-our-campus-community/ Fri, 03 Apr 2020 17:51:36 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2392 A New Strategic Plan for the Next Five Years https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/a-new-strategic-plan-for-the-next-five-years/ Mon, 09 Mar 2020 20:30:21 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2387 Read More]]> Strategic plans provide a blueprint for where an organization wants to go.  At UW-Madison, we’ve typically updated our strategic plan every five years.  In the past year we’ve recently completed a new strategic framework for 2020-2025, and I’d encourage you to take a look.  (If you want a one-page summary of the elements in this strategic plan, you can download it here.)

We want the University of Wisconsin-Madison to be a model public university in the 21st century, fulfilling our responsibilities for excellence in teaching and research, acting as a responsible community that serves students, staff and faculty well, while also reaching out to the state and nation to enhance quality of life and fulfill the Wisconsin Idea.

Our strategic plan provides guidance by outlining the key issues we need to be working on in the next five years in order to be a model public university.  Each school, college, department, and other unit can build their own strategic plans off of the template provided by this university-wide plan.  For instance, while we outline key ways by which the university can maintain and expand on its excellence in education, a school or a department can outline the specific steps they are taking to maintain and improve educational excellence in their own unit.

There are five primary priority areas in this strategic plan:

Under each priority area, we provide a few bullet points that indicate the strategic areas that we will be emphasizing in order to pursue these priorities over the next few years.  For instance, under a vibrant campus community, we want to focus on health and wellness, diversity, and learning that encompasses experiences both in and out of the classroom.

In each area, we identify several initiatives that we are currently pursuing.  Please keep in mind, there are many great initiatives and programs happening across campus and that we have chosen only a few to illustrate how this is being implemented.  These featured examples are just that – examples – and the lists are far from exhaustive.   Each school, college and other unit will have their own lists.

Creating a good, actionable strategic plan is a big challenge. I’ve seen them done in a variety of ways and all too often the process can take time, or focus, away from doing the hard work required to improve the organization. This plan is specific enough to give clear direction on the issues we plan to work on in the years ahead and how we want to get there.  But it’s also broad enough to allow almost all units to use the framework to develop specific plans for their unit that integrate with this larger plan.

I hope you’ll take the time to review our website. I want to thank everyone who’s worked on this round of strategic planning. If you have feedback on the 2020-25 strategic framework, please send your thoughts to chancellor@wisc.edu.

The strategic plan is just the blueprint. The work of turning that blueprint into a reality is what we must engage in every day.

 

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Citizen participation in 2020: Voting and being counted in the census https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/citizen-participation-in-2020-voting-and-being-counted-in-the-census/ Tue, 25 Feb 2020 13:00:45 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2382 Read More]]> The Wisconsin Idea commits UW-Madison to being involved in our community, our state and our nation. One way to fulfill that commitment on the educational side of our mission is to prepare our graduates for a life of civic engagement as active and involved citizens.

This is an election year, and there are extensive efforts here on campus to ensure students and employees have the information available to exercise their right to vote. But this year we have another important way to participate as citizens:  being part of the 2020 U.S. Census.

I have a deep connection to the census.  Although most of my career has been spent in academia, I have had several opportunities to work in the federal government, taking leave from campus. Ten years ago, I was the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs in the U.S. Department of Commerce, which meant I was overseeing the U.S. Census Bureau during the 2010 Census.

Being involved with the 2010 Census was in some ways one of the most fascinating projects I’ve ever worked on.  Every 10 years, the census is the largest domestic deployment of people and activities ever conducted.  In the space of about 9 months in 2010 we hired, trained, put to work, and decommissioned over 600,000 Census workers. Imagine the work required to gather information on every household in America … not 90% or even 99%, but 100%. Over that year, I learned a great deal about large event management, rapid response to emerging problems, outreach to very diverse communities, and much more.

Why is the decennial census so important? It is a constitutionally mandated count of everyone living in the United States, which is necessary for apportioning seats in federal and state government. Any democracy needs an accurate population count if it is to have representative government. But the census matters for much more. Census data is used to determine how much Madison and Dane County will receive in federal funds for schools, health facilities, transportation and local programs. Local governments use it to forecast demand for schools and medical facilities. Private firms use it to determine where they are going to site their next restaurant, store or manufacturing facility. And at UW–Madison, our researchers use this data in multiple ways to study demographic and economic trends.

Census forms will begin arriving at individual households in mid-March with mailed invitations to respond online, by phone or by mail. Students in campus residence halls will receive their forms in early April.

The count is based on where you live on April 1, 2020, so most UW–Madison students are counted at their campus-area addresses — not at the home of their parent or guardian. This includes international and nonresident students. To get an accurate count of everyone who is using public resources here, we need everyone to participate.

By law, the survey answers are confidential. The census does not share data on identifiable individuals with any other governmental units. It only releases data for aggregate areas or in a way where no individuals can be identified. (For the record, actual census data is released 70 years after the census. This has allowed for fascinating research that tracks individuals and families over time through the decennial census, looking at questions such as the occupational differences between parents and children in the 19th century, or the geographic movement among immigrant families over time after they arrive in the U.S.)

For more information, visit this City of Madison website.  Please be sure to watch for the form and participate in the Census. It’s an important part of our democracy.

Now, back to the issue of voting. Our campus voter information and registration drive will launch on March 6 and kick off registration efforts in advance of the spring presidential primary, which is Tuesday, April 7. The partisan primary for statewide offices falls on Aug. 11 this year.

UW–Madison students are again competing in the nonpartisan Big Ten Voting Challenge, vying against our Big Ten rivals to have the highest voter turnout rates and most improved turnout relative to the Nov. 3 presidential election. We finished with the second-best turnout in the Big Ten in the midterm in November 2018. (The University of Minnesota — otherwise known as the University of Western Scandinavia, an area with notoriously high voting rates — came in first.)  I’m proud of our students at UW–Madison for their engagement. While the earlier primary and state elections won’t count in the competition, the Badgers Vote Coalition is seeking strong turnout and registration in those as well. Information about the registration and voting places can be found here.

With the campaign season in full swing, I know some may be wondering about whether and how political activities can be pursued on our campus. General guidelines for employees and students can be found in this document, while this document provides more specific information about rules for political events and candidate visits, which generally can be accommodated with planning and the assistance of our staff.

If you have specific questions, please email chancellor@wisc.edu and we’ll be sure to answer.

I encourage every member of our campus community to be engaged and to participate in these essential functions of our democracy.

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How UW-Madison Is Navigating the Rapidly Changing World of Higher Education https://chancellor.wisc.edu/blog/how-uw-madison-is-navigating-the-rapidly-changing-world-of-higher-education/ Fri, 07 Feb 2020 16:58:53 +0000 https://chancellor.wisc.edu/?p=2377 Read More]]> On Thursday I delivered my annual address to the UW Board of Regents. I told the board how UW-Madison is responding to three important national trends that are challenging top research universities nationwide.

Click to view my notes and the slides from my presentation. (pdf)

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