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Chancellor Mnookin offers her vision for UW–Madison at Board of Regents

February 9, 2023 By Greg Bump
Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin addreses the UW System Board of Regents.

“UW–Madison needs to be protected and nurtured – not only for the good of the university, but for the good of our great state of Wisconsin,” said Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin in her address to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Feb. 9. Photo: Althea Dotzour

In an address today to the Board of Regents titled “UW–Madison: Enhancing Excellence, Overcoming Obstacles, Pursuing Partnerships,” Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin said that the university is thriving across many dimensions, but that its excellence can’t be taken for granted.

In her speech, Chancellor Mnookin described the University of Wisconsin—Madison is an extraordinary place, with world-class academics and research, educating record numbers of students, with top faculty and staff producing life-changing knowledge and innovation — and with a new commitment that will bring a UW–Madison degree within reach for more Wisconsin families.

“UW–Madison needs to be protected and nurtured — not only for the good of the university, but for the good of our great state of Wisconsin,” Mnookin said. “At the same time, if we work together, in effective partnership, I am confident that we can not only maintain our great strengths, but we — and the entire UW System — can be better tomorrow than we are today.”

Mnookin said the university faces obstacles in five key areas that need to be overcome to maintain, and build on, its excellence, including modernizing aging facilities; ensuring students can thrive as learners and community members; growing research further through more expansive partnerships and greater engagement with industry; and advocating for increased state investment and flexibilities that will allow the state’s flagship university to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Mnookin discussed how future success will depend on partnerships — external partnerships with industry, government and other academic institutions, as well as cross-disciplinary partnerships within UW–Madison and across the UW System.

At the same time, Mnookin said there is lots of good news to share:

  • UW–Madison received a record-setting 60,000-plus applications for fall 2023.
  • Diversity of the student body, long a goal of UW–Madison, continues to improve. After welcoming the most racially diverse freshman class in its history last fall, UW–Madison saw an 18% increase in applications from students of color for the next freshman class.
  • UW–Madison welcomed 168 new faculty last year, the second highest number in more than a decade.
  • And the university maintains a position in the top 10 of many rankings of the best public universities, as well as in research expenditures.

“Both here in our great state and all across the country, many young people and their families recognize that very exciting things are happening here at Wisconsin,” Mnookin said.

“There is an amazing version of our future, where education, research and outreach all flourish in an innovation ecosystem built on partnerships that are broad and deep, to the benefit of our students, our university and our state,” Mnookin said. “This is an achievable future, but it is not an inevitable one. And it depends on all of us.”

To close her address, Mnookin announced Bucky’s Pell Pathway (BPP), a program to provide UW–Madison’s Pell-eligible, Wisconsin resident students a pathway to complete their four-year degree without debt to cover educational expenses. The university expects more than 800 incoming students will be eligible in the upcoming year.

“[Bucky’s Pell Pathway] is an important additional step in creating opportunities and access here at UW–Madison and helping to ensure that the amazing resources of our university offer transformative possibilities to talented students from all across our state, regardless of their means,” Mnookin said.

The program will be funded by institutional, private and external sources. No state tax dollars will be used, she said.

BPP builds on the success of Bucky’s Tuition Promise (BTP), which has benefited nearly 5,000 students. Mnookin also announced that the eligibility threshold for household income for Bucky’s Tuition Promise will be raised from $60,000 to $65,000, meaning even more Wisconsin students will qualify.

“If we’re going to live our values of creating real access and opportunity, we need to do more for our students from Wisconsin’s lowest-income households — our Pell grant recipients,” she said.

Watch the full video of Mnookin’s address or read the full text of Mnookin’s address on the Chancellor’s website.

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