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Interim Extension official to lead division permanently

April 28, 2020 By Greg Bump

Karl Martin, who has served as interim dean and director of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension since June 2018, has been chosen to serve as the permanent dean and director of the division.

“Karl has thoroughly demonstrated his leadership qualities since arriving at Extension, and his term as interim has shown that he is the right choice to lead the unit in the long term,” UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says. “Extension plays a critical role in the communities and economy of the state, and the lives of Wisconsin citizens. I look forward to continuing to work with Karl and helping him carry out his vision for continuing to serve the state of Wisconsin.”

Photo of Karl Martin

Karl Martin Photo: Jeff Miller

Martin joined Extension in 2014 as the Cooperative Extension program director for the Community, Natural Resource and Economic Development (CNRED) branch of Cooperative Extension. Prior to coming to Extension, Martin worked as chief of the Wildlife and Forestry Research Section in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Martin has a doctorate in forest ecology and a master’s degree in wildlife science from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology from UW–Madison.

After nearly 50 years as part of a separate unit within the University of Wisconsin System, the Division of Extension was reunited with UW–Madison in 2019. Extension is one of the primary agencies dedicated to the “Wisconsin Idea” — the commitment to outreach and public engagement activities that partner with communities to extend and apply the university’s research, education and practice-based knowledge to help solve problems and foster learning.

“We are excited about the integration of Extension into UW–Madison,” Provost John Karl Scholz says. “I look forward to working along with Karl on the continued progress that Extension is making with its NextGen reorganization, and enhancing relationships, both within the organization and between Extension and the citizens of Wisconsin.

“Moreover, in partnership with the broader campus, I know the Division of Extension will continue to be a leader in living the Wisconsin Idea and in so doing, show the value Extension brings to rural, suburban and urban communities and residents across the state,” Scholz says.

A search committee was launched last fall to identify and select candidates for the next dean and director for the Division of Extension. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finalists held virtual campus visits this month.

The dean reports to the provost, working in collaboration with the vice provost for extension and public media and will be responsible for providing creative, inspiring leadership to more than 700 faculty and staff located in 72 county offices, five tribal nations and several University of Wisconsin System campuses. The dean will oversee an annual budget of approximately $80 million.

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