Office of the Chancellor Fri, 22 Jun 2018 15:51:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Chancellor Blank column: Wisconsin and the future of undergraduate education Tue, 29 May 2018 16:18:14 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Chancellor Blank’s column on the future of undergraduate education appeared in Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal.

Public education has been one of our greatest success stories as a nation. Our country pioneered in making public elementary and high schools available to all children and created land-grant public universities that made college possible for citizens from all backgrounds.

The widespread availability of public education in the United States has been linked with the success of our society and economy over the decades. Today, almost 90 percent of high school graduates can expect to enroll in an undergraduate institution at some point during young adulthood.

But not all of the news is good. Graduation rates are not what they should be: Only 60 percent of those who start on a four-year degree will graduate within six years, and only 30 percent who attend two-year programs will complete a certificate or degree within three years. Those who start but fail to complete a degree are the primary ones who are unable to repay their student loans.

Read more …

Visiting Wisconsin manufacturing at Regal Beloit Fri, 25 May 2018 17:28:05 +0000 Continue reading ]]> There is a very good possibility that something in your home – from a hot water heater to your HVAC system – could have a part or motor manufactured by Regal Beloit. I recently got a chance to tour their Beloit facility with State Representative Mark Spreitzer and see first-hand how UW-Madison helps support their 1,800 Wisconsin employees.

From left to right: Nicholas Pasquarello, UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; State Rep. Mark Spreitzer; Jon Kaupla, Executive Director of the Center for Professional & Executive Development; Mark Gliebe, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank; Tom Valentyn, Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary; Tammy Randall, VP HR Corporate Learning.

Regal Beloit was founded in 1955 as a metal cutting tool company.  They have grown significantly through innovation and acquisitions and now have revenues in excess of $3.5 billion with about 24,000 employees worldwide. Their first location was a roller rink in Beloit and their global headquarters remains in Beloit today.

Innovation is key to Regal Beloit’s continued success.  They are building some really exciting low-energy, high-output motors.  Their partnership with the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) supports technological advancements needed for future growth. WEMPEC, a research center here on the UW-Madison campus, does innovative research that forms the technology foundation for future products for our corporate partners like Regal Beloit. WEMPEC’s research consortium has 86 corporate sponsors that support students doing the high-quality, long-term research necessary for products 5-10 years away from being commercially available.

The executive and professional development programs at the Wisconsin School of Business are used extensively by Regal Beloit as well. Employees from their plants all over the world come to our campus for specialized training tailored to the needs of their company. We also bring experts to them for training on site when needed. It was nice to hear that their relationship with our business school helps provide the Regal Beloit team with tools and skills to help their customers be more productive, energy efficient, and competitive.

I also had a good discussion with the Regal Beloit leadership about securing the next generation of employees for their company.

We have strong graduates who they want to attract into their company.

I am confident we will continue to find additional collaborations in the years ahead to help make sure they have the engineers and other professionals they need. Many thanks to the team at Regal Beloit for hosting us.

Spring 2018 Commencement Speech Sat, 12 May 2018 17:31:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]> As prepared for delivery, May 12, Camp Randall Stadium:

Good afternoon. Please be seated. Welcome to Camp Randall Stadium and the 165th spring commencement of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Thank you, Katie Anderson, for that beautiful performance and thanks to Professor Leckrone and the UW Band for leading us in.

Today, more than 7,000 bachelor’s, master’s, and law degree candidates will become alumni of one of the greatest universities in the world – making the Class of 2018 one of the largest in our history! And by the way, 6,520 of you are right here in the stadium.

I want you to know we did place an order for beautiful weather – the Director of the National Weather Service is a three-time UW alum so we like to think we have some influence – but we’re just thankful we’re not having a blizzard.

Despite the rain, friends and family have the best seats in the house – where fans have been cheering on the Badgers for 101 years (just for the record, that first game in Camp Randall was a shutout: we trounced Minnesota.)

To all of you who have supported our graduates on this amazing journey: Thank you!

Class Highlights

Class of 2018: What an experience it’s been!

This class has set new records for community service … and helped make UW-Madison the #1 public university in the nation for students studying abroad.

You’ve also helped us consume 400,000 gallons of Babcock ice cream … battled for Bascom in an epic snowball fight … and inspired an explosion of UW memes powered by one of today’s graduates. Shane Linden – wherever you are out there – I trust that the Milk-Chugging Teens will continue to drive our ‘meme’ economy.

You have worked harder than you thought you could. One member of the Class of 2018 has even set what might be a new record for number of majors. Daniel Quigley liked Anthropology, Astronomy, Linguistics, Mathematics, and Physics so much he just couldn’t choose. So he majored in all five.

Daniel is also the first generation in his family to earn a college degree.

Congratulations, Daniel!

This has been a particularly great time to be a Badger. That Final Four victory over Kentucky in your freshman year was pretty unforgettable. Not to mention the back-to-back trips to the Women’s Frozen Four and football bowl games.

You have helped teach the nation the meaning of Jump Around!

But I want to recognize that for some this is also a very bittersweet moment. There are members of this class who passed away before graduation. They were friends and colleagues and we pay tribute to their memory.

The Real World

One of today’s graduates spoke last month to a group of high-school students visiting campus. Ross Dahlke told them how odd it feels when people ask him what it’s like to be entering the “real world.”

He said: UW grads don’t need to enter the real world, because we never left it.

You have been educated in the proud tradition of the Wisconsin Idea – our commitment to public service. Which is why each of you has spent the last four years learning to address real-world problems.

Brianna Young came to UW as a Posse scholar to study nursing, but some of her most meaningful work has happened outside of the classroom, working to change public perceptions about the nursing profession and mentoring students interested in healthcare. Last year, Brianna became the first undergraduate ever selected for our Outstanding Women of Color Award. Congratulations, Brianna!

Kai Rasmussen had a life-changing experience when he started working in our astrobotany lab. He thought figuring out how to grow plants in outer space would be pretty challenging … but it turned out an even bigger challenge was trying to explain to his family and friends what, exactly, he was doing. So he launched a one-man campaign to explain astrobotany … designed T-shirts …  started a YouTube talk show … even wrote a hip-hop song and got it played at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Kai, if astrobotany doesn’t work out, I suggest a career in public relations.

For Kai and Brianna – and every one of you – the real world is right here.

My question to you is: How will you stay engaged with the world once you leave this place?

It actually gets a little bit harder to make time for ‘real world’ problems when you’re focused on graduate school or building your career and your life … but the world needs you.

So let me offer you three pieces of advice:

First, think small. You don’t have to end world hunger or save the planet (at least, not right away …). Find something close by that you care about, that you can help with in some way.

For Angeline Mboutngam, that’s been supporting and advocating for non-traditional students. Angeline is an immigrant from a small village in Cameroon where girls had little chance for an education. She learned English just a few years ago, and earned her degree while raising four children. Congratulations, Angeline!

Like Angeline, pick something to work on that you care about and are able to make time for in your life. It’s always satisfying to work on something a little bigger than yourself.

Second, unplug once in a while – you will be amazed how much time you suddenly have when you aren’t always on your phone … and I promise those Reddit memes will still be there when you return. You need time to think – time when you’re not always distracted by videos or text messages. This is precious time … make sure you find it in your life.

And third, whenever you have the chance, help somebody else learn something new.  You will find that teachers learn as much from their students as students learn from their teachers. And you don’t have to be an education major to be a teacher – you just have to care deeply about something.

When Andrew Hanson, Justin Beck, and Forrest Woolworth sat where you are sitting just a few years ago, their first thought was, “We care deeply about playing video games.”

And, like many of you, they had a fair amount of experience.

But they’d noticed there weren’t enough games they could play on their phones – and the ones they tried weren’t all that fun.

With degrees in computer engineering and computer science, they decided they could do better.

Today, they have a business here in Madison called Per Blue that designs video games.  They’ve made lots of headlines all over the country … they’ve been honored at the White House for their work to support entrepreneurs … and now they’re collaborating with Disney on a new role-playing game.

Andrew, Justin, and Forrest are successful business executives, entrepreneurs and computer scientists … but their favorite (and most important role) is teacher. They advise young entrepreneurs … mentor UW students … and guest-lecture on campus. They understand that a credential from a top university is more than a ticket to a great career or graduate school … it’s a passport to a new world of opportunities to share what you have learned – to move from student to teacher.


Fifty-three years ago, one of the greatest teachers in our history – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – spoke just down the road at the Stock Pavilion. He thanked our students and faculty for their work to register voters … and urged the audience to stay committed to making a difference.

As our nation marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death, I want you to take a moment to contemplate what he called “Life’s most persistent and urgent question.”  That is: What are you doing for others?

If you keep asking that question, you will keep finding ways to use your knowledge and skills to make the real world a little better.

So we wish you all the best as you move into the next phase of your life. Keep in touch.  Let us know how you’re doing.

And remember to come back and visit. You will always be part of UW and I hope that UW will always be part of you. I can’t wait to hear what you accomplish in the years ahead.

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

Our students are achieving great things Tue, 08 May 2018 14:06:12 +0000 Continue reading ]]> As we close out another academic year, I want to acknowledge some of our students who have been particularly successful here at UW-Madison.  I also want to thank our faculty and staff for the role they play in making this a great place to innovate and learn.

I had a chance to meet and honor more than 150 students on May 1 at the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Awards Ceremony, a showcase of academic excellence, public service and outstanding undergraduate research.

Among those honored:

  • We also had many students and recent graduates claim prestigious national awards, including Jordan Madden(Truman Scholarship), Phoenix Rice-Johnson (Marshall Scholarship), HaoYang “Carl” Jiang (Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans) and Fangdi Pan (Schwarzman Scholarship).
  • In addition, we had two Goldwaterand two Udall scholarship winners, and two finalists for the Rhodes and one finalist for the Gates-Cambridge scholarships.
  • A total of 103 students received Wisconsin Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowships, which support undergraduate research done in collaboration with a faculty or staff member.
  • Also at the ceremony, four students received Carleton and Mary Beth Holstrom Environmental Scholarships, 21 students were awarded Sophomore Research Fellowships, 20 students earned University Book Store Academic Excellence Awards, and two seniors won Theodore Herfurth and Teddy Kubly Awards for Initiative and Efficiency. (View a full list of this year’s chancellor’s award recipients.)

Separately, 18 students have been selected to receive grants through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2018–2019 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Last but not least, 151 UW–Madison students were inducted into the Alpha Chapter of Wisconsin Phi Beta Kappa.

In short, we have an amazing group of students here, and the above list only identifies a few of them!

Something that should make all of us proud who work at UW-Madison is the success our students achieve. Meeting these students and hearing their stories brings it home in a different way than simply reading our very impressive stats about retention and graduation rates.

I also want to note that whether you work in facilities, student services, advising or the myriad other roles at UW, everyone on campus plays a part in supporting this success. It’s the reason we’ve been listed by U.S. News as one of the top ten public schools for “A Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching.”

Our greatest showcase for student achievement will come next weekend at the Kohl Center and Camp Randall as we confer degrees on the Class of 2018.

On Friday night in the Kohl Center, we’ll be giving about 1,000 degrees to students in doctoral, M.F.A. and medical professional degree programs. On Saturday morning, we’re expecting 6,500 undergraduate, law and master’s degree students to fill Camp Randall with all their friends and relatives.

You are all invited to Saturday’s ceremony. We’re expecting a great speech from ABC News anchor David Muir, but also an enthusiastic celebration of our students and a fitting end to the academic year.




Address to UW Cooperative Extension staff Mon, 30 Apr 2018 21:05:03 +0000 Continue reading ]]> As prepared for delivery at the Cooperative Extension All Colleague Conference on Monday, April 30.

Thank you, Karl for that kind introduction. And thank you for inviting me and others from UW-Madison to be part of today’s conversation.

I want to thank everyone who’s been working on this transition. Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf and Casey Nagy have been heading up the team for UW-Madison, and you’ll have a chance to meet them and hear them talk about the transition plans in much greater detail later this morning.

I am primarily here this morning to say welcome. Or perhaps more appropriately, welcome back, since Cooperative Extension in Wisconsin started at UW-Madison. We were all a single organization for more than 50 years until the UW System was created and Cooperative Extension was pulled into a different organizational structure.

I’m particularly happy to be involved with this. I am the child of two extension agents. My mother was a Home Agent – a title that doesn’t exist any more – for a decade before she was married and had children. My dad spent his entire career in Extension. So I grew up understanding the value of Extension programs and the importance of the work you do for our state.

The history of Extension in Wisconsin is important. We were the first state to fund extension education and the leadership of UW-Madison was deeply committed to the idea of bringing education and services to rural areas of the state.

Charles Van Hise outlined his mission of taking education beyond the classroom in a 1905 speech to the Wisconsin Press Association. You’ve probably heard the most famous line of that speech. “I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every family of the state.”

Once Van Hise committed to making practical, outcome-focused public outreach part of UW-Madison’s mission, Extension was the logical next step. Together, UW-Madison and Extension created a model for the nation, based on what we’ve now come to call the Wisconsin Idea.

The early work of our institution caught the attention of many people around the world. Educators traveled here to study our approach to outreach. In 1909, just as Wisconsin was getting extension education going, journalist Lincoln Steffens visited the campus. He came away impressed.

After his visit he wrote an article that called UW-Madison “the realization of the ideal of a university.” He wrote, “The disposition at Madison now is to learn and to teach anything that anybody knows or wishes to know.”

That early commitment to teaching anyone, anywhere started a long tradition of building partnerships to bring the university to every community and address issues facing our state.

It lives on today when Extension faculty and staff partner with teams from our campus on joint projects like the UW Environmental Resource Center to build community-based volunteer networks to collect critical data that informs campus research.

Your continued dedication to the Wisconsin Idea now generates over 1 million contacts a year, in programs that deliver educational resources to all 72 counties where people need it…on the farm, in their community centers, libraries, public gardens, and at their local schools.

You are an important link between the education and research that we do on our campus and on other campuses across the UW System and the lives of Wisconsin residents, no matter how far away they live from a campus.

Many of you have heard of Professor Stephen Babcock after whom Babcock Hall and Babcock Ice Cream is named. Long before his name was synonymous with your favorite ice cream, he was famous for inventing a butterfat test that transformed the dairy industry by ensuring that farmers were paid not by the quantity of the milk they sold, but by its quality.

But when Babcock sent his invention out to farmers, he found it wasn’t being used. Many farmers threw it on a shelf if they didn’t get it to work on the first try…they had too much to do to worry about some contraption from the university.

So Babcock sent people out to talk with the farmers and see why this device wasn’t working as well in the field as it did in the lab. The farmers educated Babcock, and Babcock made some tweaks to his invention to make it a little more user-friendly … and together they perfected the Babcock Butterfat Test, which became widely used across the U.S.

That was an early lesson in the value of having good people on the ground connecting the work in the lab to real-world applications. It’s a story repeated often in our shared history.

Alan Koepke is a farmer and a UW-Madison alum and his story sums up nicely the importance of UW-Madison and Extension still working together.

After getting his degree here at UW-Madison, Alan returned to the farm…working with our faculty and the local extension agent to send data from his farm to researchers on campus to improve his crop yields. His bottom line about why it worked so well? “We’ve learned a lot from the university, and they’ve been able to learn a lot from us.”

That is the type of partnership we are eager to continue building with you in communities across the state…with counties and tribes, with schools and businesses.

If we do this transition right, we will both end up as stronger institutions. I hope that a closer affiliation with UW-Madison will strengthen Cooperative Extension by making it easier to create connections between your work and the research and teaching that takes place across campus.

But I also hope that we on campus will be able to learn from you. You bring connections to communities across the state that can help inform us about crucial issues, and can better connect some of our researchers and teachers to what’s happening around the state.

For instance, you bring a network of 4-H clubs to our campus each year to learn about the college application process, financial aid, and career planning. And our renewed partnership can help our teams from admissions, financial aid and advising build on those trips to make sure 4-H chapters have all the information they need for their members.

We recently began a campus-wide initiative to increase outreach outside of the Dane County area. One of those early trips took me to a cranberry bog in Juneau County with our Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Kate VandenBosch.

Extension and UW-Madison have a long partnership with cranberry growers…a fact highlighted by Bill Hatch, the owner of farm we toured. He noted that Wisconsin would not be the top cranberry producer in the world without the partnership among the growers, UW-Madison researchers, and the specialists at Extension.

We are continuing this type of outreach. Our Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, Mark Markel, was in the Sheboygan area last week showcasing the important work his team does supporting dairy and food production in our state, and learning from industry leaders about the challenges and opportunities they are facing.

And later this week Dean VandenBosch will be on the road again. This time to western Wisconsin to tour farms and meet with the team at Organic Valley to discuss our partnerships and the future of dairy in Wisconsin.

As I’ve travelled around the state in the past five years, I regularly hear about the great work that Extension is doing. I met with the Brown County Executive just last week and it was no surprise to hear he is excited about the work of the Brown County 4-H Youth Development Program.

And, like many others, he wants to keep young people in his community, bringing them back after they finish their schooling. Numerous counties have mentioned to our team the recent study released by the Applied Population Lab on examining what attracts young adults to certain rural communities. Local Extension educators helped guide this research to success by identifying local leaders in 12 different communities for our campus researchers.

These are just a few examples of the issues we can work on together as we help move Wisconsin forward.

I don’t want to underestimate the complexity of this transition. There are a lot of issues we need to work through. For better or worse, UW-Madison has some different policies and systems than Extension and Colleges. I know this is also coming on top of a major reorganization that you’ve all been dealing with. I suspect more than a few of you are pretty fed up with another set of organizational changes. I appreciate your patience. We will try to change only those things that we have to change, and leave you to do your work.

But once we get through the re-organization side of this, I am looking forward to being together. As many of you know, Cooperative Extension in almost every other state is located at the flagship university. So I’m very glad that the Board of Regents is placing Extension back with UW-Madison. I hope that you will hear from all of us at the university the same theme: welcome home.

I pledge that we will preserve what has made Cooperative Extension so valuable by honoring the work you do in Wisconsin communities and maintaining the quality programming you are known for across our state.

I look forward to working with you as we both move into this new chapter in our shared history. Thank you, and I’ll be happy to take your questions.

Seeing our impact on business in Green Bay Wed, 25 Apr 2018 23:27:22 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I traveled to Green Bay Monday to visit American Foods Group (AFG) with a group of state legislators. It was a great opportunity to see how the work we’re doing at UW-Madison impacts Wisconsin companies.

Chancellor Blank (center) with state Rep. Eric Genrich (far left), AFG President and COO Steve Van Lannen (second from left), state Sen. Dave Hansen (third from left) and state Rep. John Macco (third from right).

AFG owns a number of meat processing facilities around the United States and exports its products to more than 40 countries. It’s headquartered in Green Bay and has a ground beef processing facility there that we toured. They ship about 1.6 million pounds of ground beef each day from this plant, and more than 5 million pounds company-wide. It was fascinating to see the production process and to learn more about their business.

AFG recruits talent from UW-Madison and the company makes extensive use of the Meat Science Lab in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). President and COO Steve Van Lannen explained to the legislators the importance of having the new Meat Science Building on campus, such as the research in food safety that the new BSL-2 lab will provide or research that explores new commercial uses of by-products.

Steve has been instrumental in working with CALS and other industry partners to make the new Meat Science facility a reality. This is the building currently under construction across the street from the Nat and just in front of the Veterinary Medicine School. The old facility, originally constructed in the 1930s, was ancient and out of date. This new building would not have been possible without a strong public-private partnership.

When completed, the Meat Science building will not only be a state of the art research facility, but it will also be a full-service, federally inspected meat processing plant. It will have modern classrooms for learning meat processing with high food safety standards and practices, and specialized laboratory facilities where researchers will discover new medicines and other products derived from animals. We expect this building to be completed by the end of this year with classes starting in the facility in the spring semester of 2019.

Thanks to Steve and all at AFG for hosting us.

Confronting our campus history Thu, 19 Apr 2018 20:01:55 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Our university’s history includes much to celebrate, and we talk frequently about these positive stories. Today, however, we must reckon with something we should all regret: the history of racism and exclusion on our campus.

Last fall, following the deadly violence in Charlottesville, I charged an ad-hoc study group to look into the history of UW-Madison student organizations that bore the name of the Ku Klux Klan.

I asked them to help our campus in understanding this history and to suggest how we can best remember and redress it. If we are to be a welcoming and inclusive community, we have to confront the injustices of the past.

The study group has now completed its work and produced a report. Members found that between 1919 and 1926, there were two UW–Madison student organizations that took the name “Ku Klux Klan.” One group was affiliated with the national white supremacist group “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” The other was an interfraternity society whose members included many well-known student leaders and which was unaffiliated with any larger organization. (Read a news release about the study group.)

This report does not make for comfortable reading, nor should it. It makes clear that the history our campus needs to confront is not merely that of these two groups or a particular set of individuals, but “a pervasive culture of racial and religious bigotry, casual and unexamined in its prevalence, in which exclusion and indignity were routine, sanctioned in the institution’s daily life, and unchallenged by its leaders.” This was undoubtedly the case between 1919 and 1926, when the existence of these two groups appears to have been generally accepted (or at any rate broadly uncontroversial). It offers explicit, painful, shameful examples of the campus community’s treatment of Black and Jewish students and of Native Americans, who in this era were entirely excluded from the student body.

The study group considered the question of renaming campus spaces. Members concluded that before engaging in any such discussion, the university first needs to do some substantial work to both address this broader history and reinvest in institutional change, in part to assure that UW-Madison’s “reckoning with this history … consist of a great deal more than the purging of unpleasant reminders.”

Some members of the interfraternity society went on to careers of significance. Two of them — actor Fredric March and Porter Butts, the first director of the Wisconsin Union — have spaces named in their honor in the Memorial Union in recognition of contributions during their later lives, contributions that included working for greater inclusivity in different domains. Butts refused to allow segregated groups to use the Union. March fought the persecution of Hollywood artists, many of them Jewish, in the 1950s by the House Un-American Activities Committee.  This underscores the complex and even conflicting stories that are often present in people’s lives, as well as the potential for learning and growth.

The co-chairs of the study group, Dr. Floyd Rose and Dr. Stephen Kantrowitz, presented two proposals to acknowledge and address the wrongs of the past: a campus history project that seeks to identify and give voice to those who experienced and challenged prejudice on campus; and a commitment to current programs designed to increase diversity and create a more inclusive community.

Here’s how we’re responding:

  • I am committing significant university resources to a public history project that will document and share the voices of those on campus who endured, fought and overcame prejudice, not just in the early 1900s but throughout the history of the university. Dr. Kantrowitz, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History, and a second member of the study group, Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara, an associate professor of history in the Department of Afro-American Studies, have agreed to convene a group over the summer to design a process for the implementation of this project and to recommend ways to make the resulting information publicly available and visible. For instance, imagine an interactive exhibit in the Memorial Union that shares the experiences of Black students in the early 1900s, with a short history of what they faced on campus and first-hand accounts told by those who lived it (or by their children or grandchildren.)  We can similarly present the lived experiences of Jewish students in the 1930s, the experiences of Native American and Latinx students in the 1960s, the experiences of LGBTQ students before and after Stonewall, or the history of Vietnam protests on campus and the experiences of those who were part of that era.
  • To expand our curricular offerings that deal with the experiences of underrepresented groups in this country and to expand the diversity of our faculty, I am funding a proposal from the four ethnic studies divisions to hire four new faculty members, each of whom will be jointly appointed with other departments, over the next year.
  • In another effort to expand faculty diversity, we will be allocating new resources to the recruitment of top scholars from underrepresented groups in the coming year. Details of this initiative are still being developed and will be announced publicly in fall 2018, but it is clear that we need to expand diversity among our faculty.
  • Finally, we are already in the midst of implementing a number of new programs designed to expand both access and affordability among first-generation and lower-income groups. We are launching Badger Promise (aimed at first-generation transfer students) and Bucky’s Tuition Promise (aimed at all low and moderate-income Wisconsin students), and we expect both to increase underrepresented students from Wisconsin.

For a complete list of actions related to these recommendations, visit this page.

I want to thank the members of the study group and especially the co-chairs Dr. Rose, president of 100 Black Men of Madison, and Dr. Kantrowitz, who has been involved in the Justified Anger Coalition’s African-American history courses. I am grateful for their thoughtful analysis and forceful recommendations, and for providing us a path forward. You can read the full report here.

I recognize that examining this history can be personally challenging and want to highlight the resources available through the Multicultural Student Center; the Dean of Students Office; Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement and University Health Services.

Remembering our history is necessary, even when painful. It gives respect to those who suffered, and it motivates us to do better as we go forward. Our task is to create a campus that encourages individual and institutional openness and inclusion for all its members.

Update on our response to sexual harassment on campus Mon, 09 Apr 2018 18:21:40 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Today the university released information in response to open records requests from several news organizations regarding complaints and investigations of sexual harassment over the past decade.

I understand the interest in how our university has responded to this issue. It’s part of a broad national movement that is rightly challenging institutions, public and private, to do better.

Every person on this campus – whether a student, staff member or faculty member – deserves a learning and working environment that is free from harassment. The attention being paid to sexual harassment and misconduct has given us a unique opportunity to raise awareness about our campus policies, resources and reporting options.

We know that sexual harassment can happen in any workplace. Here at UW, complaints arose in units across campus, both academic and non-academic, involving faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students. Of the 20 cases over the past the 10 years, some were resolved at the departmental level while others resulted in formal complaints and investigations or lawsuåits. Outcomes varied – some individuals were found responsible and faced action up to and including termination. In other cases, investigators concluded that there wasn’t sufficient evidence of a violation. In several of the cases the university paid financial settlements. Departments and units took steps such as additional training for faculty, staff and students or forming climate committees to address these concerns more systemically.

In January, I wrote a blog post about how UW–Madison is working to improve our response to these issues – through actions such as mandatory training for all faculty and staff, revising our policy on sexual harassment and sexual violence, and emphasizing centralized reporting to ensure that issues are handled consistently and patterns of problems are identified.

Historically, much of the reporting of and response to sexual harassment happened at the departmental level. We are now requiring that all such complaints have to be reported to the campus Title IX Coordinator, so all complaints are centrally known and appropriately addressed. In response to recent training efforts, we’re seeing departments reaching out earlier and with greater frequency, which is a significant step forward.

This summer, we will provide additional mandatory training to UW–Madison employees who are “Title IX Responsible Employees” and have a duty to inform the Title IX Coordinator about reports of sexual misconduct. I also expect recommendations by summer on how we can strengthen record-keeping. We believe these initiatives will further improve our response.

It’s likely that the number of sexual harassment complaints and investigations will increase as a result of these efforts. If so, that’s not cause for discouragement. We know that most incidents of sexual harassment, like sexual assault, go unreported but that as awareness increases, more people feel able to come forward. We are also in the process of augmenting the investigative staff within the Office of Compliance to assist with response to complaints.

As always, I want to emphasize that help is available, including confidential support, for anyone encountering sexual harassment or misconduct so they can choose a resource that is most comfortable for them.

Here at UW, our efforts to combat sexual harassment began before the issue made headlines and I assure you they will continue. I am encouraged by the momentum we are seeing and deeply appreciate the efforts of the students, staff and faculty who are committed to helping our campus move forward on this issue.





Women’s Hockey ‘culture of excellence’ shines, despite loss Sun, 18 Mar 2018 18:16:20 +0000 Continue reading ]]> It was a heartbreaking ending Friday night at the semi-finals of the women’s hockey Frozen Four in Minneapolis. As you might know, the Badger women fought through two overtimes, but finally lost to Colgate 4-3. It was the second longest game in our program’s history.

I was honored to be there for every last shot, along with hundreds of red-dressed Badger fans, a good representation from the band, and (of course) Bucky.

While it was a disappointment to fall a goal short of reaching the NCAA national title game, I want to appreciate the culture of excellence in this program, which continues to achieve great things nearly every season. They’ve won four titles and have 11 appearances at the Frozen Four since 2006. And I’m confident we’ll be back to earn our fifth very soon.

Our women’s hockey student-athletes also thrive in the classroom, with 13 named to the 2017-18 WCHA all-academic team, honoring those with above a 3.0 GPA for consecutive semesters. They conduct great outreach to local schools and hockey programs through the Badgers Give Back program.

While women’s sports don’t get the same attention as football and basketball, our women’s teams are thriving, with great recent performances by women’s hockey, volleyball, rowing, softball, soccer and swimming to name a few.

One of the best coaching selections in recent decades was to entrust the women’s hockey program to Mark Johnson, who has Badger red running through his veins as a student-athlete, Olympian and coach. In addition to being one of the nicest people you’ll meet, Mark has been a teacher and mentor to a generation of players and boosted the entire sport.

You only needed to turn on your television during the gold medal game in Pyeongchang to see our impact—nine American and Canadian Badgers participated in the game, with Hilary Knight even making an appearance on Saturday Night Live with Leslie Jones.

Both men’s and women’s hockey have had many successes at UW.  And in recognizing the consistently top performance of women’s hockey, I don’t want to ignore the upward trajectory of our men’s hockey team. Many of their players have gone on to NHL and Olympic success (Mark Johnson among them.) I was also proud to see their coach, Tony Granato, representing the U.S. as men’s Olympic coach.

Many things differentiate the University of Wisconsin from other top academic and research institutions. Our frozen lakes and state’s love for hockey – and our Badger hockey teams – are among them.

I can’t wait to see what next year brings in LaBahn Arena for the women Badgers.


Getting the word out on Bucky’s Tuition Promise Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:52:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I wrote an op-ed about Bucky’s Tuition Promise and it recently appeared in several local newspapers around the state. We launched the program as one of many efforts to dispel the myth that UW-Madison is unaffordable or unattainable for Wisconsin residents. I encourage you to share it with any prospective students or families who may be interested in becoming a Badger!

With ‘Bucky’s Tuition Promise,’ UW-Madison’s commitment to Wisconsin students expands

Over the last several years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has taken several steps to ensure that an education at the state’s flagship public university is accessible to Wisconsin students and affordable for their families. I’m very pleased to let you know that we’re expanding on that commitment. It’s called Bucky’s Tuition Promise, and here’s how it works.

Beginning this fall, incoming freshmen and transfer students from Wisconsin households with adjusted gross incomes of $56,000 or less will receive free tuition and segregated fees. For freshmen, that is a commitment of eight consecutive semesters tuition free, and for transfer students it’s up to four semesters free.

We’re doing this because we know many low- and middle-income families in Wisconsin are simply uncertain whether they can afford to send their child to UW-Madison. We don’t want even one Wisconsin high school student to automatically rule us out for financial reasons. Our goal is to ensure that anyone who is admitted can afford to be a Badger.

We’ve made eligibility as simple and straightforward as possible. It is based solely on one line from a family’s income tax form, called adjusted gross income. We chose $56,000 because it is roughly the state median household income. There are no other qualifying factors and no separate application process. All the information we need is contained in an applicant’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

I want to especially point out that only income, not assets, will be used to determine eligibility. This is important in an agricultural state where many farm families may have high reported assets but low incomes. We also know that, broadly speaking, incomes in rural areas have not kept pace with those in larger metro areas. We want this effort to be a boon for families in smaller towns and rural parts of the state. We believe we’ve structured it to achieve that goal.

With Bucky’s Tuition Promise, we are thrilled to be able to guarantee that students from so many Wisconsin families will know that their tuition is covered if they attend UW-Madison. You can read more about our promise at Or drop us a line with your financial aid questions to