Blank elevates student affairs role

November 15, 2017 By John Lucas

Chancellor Rebecca Blank plans to strengthen student services and the student experience at UW–Madison through the creation of a vice chancellor for student affairs.

This new leadership role will ensure that the various units that provide student-related services on campus are strategically aligned to meet the broad needs of UW–Madison students and that the university continues to expand upon its nationally recognized student experience.

“Historically, UW–Madison has been a leader in providing innovative and effective student services,” Blank says. “Our staff who work in student services on campus are among the best in the nation. This new position will allow us to further enhance the coordination and delivery of our services at a time when we’re educating a large and diverse student body.”

The vice chancellor model is one employed by nearly all of UW–Madison’s Big Ten peers and all other UW System four-year degree granting schools.

Under the existing structure, units and programs that are centrally involved with student life on campus are organizationally located across a variety of different functional units, including the provost’s office, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for University Relations.

Aligning these units within a single functional area that has student services as its core mission will increase collaboration, improve strategic planning, and allow greater synergies between departments. The largest units reporting into the new Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs would be the Division of Student Life, led by the dean of students, the Wisconsin Union, the Division of Recreational Sports, and University Health Services.

The new reporting relationships will take effect no earlier than July 1, 2018, to align with the start of the fiscal year and the hiring of a permanent vice chancellor of student affairs.

Effective Dec. 1, Blank has named Dean of Students and Vice Provost for Student Life Lori Berquam as interim vice chancellor for student affairs.

By early next year, the university will launch a national search for the new vice chancellor.

“I’ve had the honor of serving students here for the past decade,” Berquam says. “I’m thrilled to guide this transition that will set up our university’s future success.”

In the weeks ahead, Chancellor Blank and her leadership team will be finalizing the precise organizational design for the new student affairs office in consultation with leaders across campus, including students, faculty and staff.