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Photo gallery New chancellor enjoys UW favorites: Babcock ice cream, UW Marching Band and “the W”

August 4, 2022 By Greg Bump

A warm and sunny August day drew large crowds of students, staff and faculty to Bascom Hill for the chance to enjoy Babcock ice cream and to meet Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin on her first day leading the University of Wisconsin–Madison.   

As she headed to the ice cream stand, where people were lining up well before the 2 p.m. start time, Mnookin said her favorite Babcock flavor is orange custard chocolate chip. 

“Of the ones I’ve tried so far,” she said. “But I have further empirical research to do.” 

One of the first in line was Nyah Love Thomas and her mother Makeda Thomas, who were at the ice cream social with Christopher Walker, the Director of the Division of Arts. Love, 5, was having vanilla ice cream. 

Walker said the event is a fantastic way to welcome Mnookin to the UW community. 

“This event is so special, this is really the Wisconsin way,” Walker said. “The ice cream social is such a Wisconsin event.”  

Mnookin began her tenure as UW–Madison’s 30th leader on Aug. 4 and hit the ground running with a busy schedule of engagement and outreach. She started off her day with a breakfast meeting with student leaders, followed by a tour of the College of Engineering to get an overview of the building and learn about expansion and renovation plans. 

Mnookin sat for interviews with media later in the morning, then met with faculty representatives over lunch before welcoming the campus community for Babcock ice cream on Bascom Hill. 

More than 3,100 cups of the Babcock treats were served, but that was just the tip of the ice(cream)berg. There was also spike ball and cornhole, along with an appearance by members of the UW Marching Band, who played fan favorites, including Varsity.  

As she served them ice cream, junior Jenna Kroeger, from Sparta, and Tia Hebbring, a senior from Menomonee Falls, told Mnookin, who joins UW–Madison from UCLA, that she needs to invest in a good winter coat.  

“During the selection process, I thought she was very mindful and willing to learn, which I like a lot,” said Hebbring, who is a student employee working as an undergraduate researcher, tennis instructor and social justice intern. “She is willing to get to know Wisconsin and its people.” 

Mnookin stepped away from the ice cream stand to chat with Elise Fjelstad, a senior from Stoughton, and Brelynn Bille, a junior from Waupun, two students involved in efforts to establish a Disabled Students Cultural Center on campus. They came to the event to let her know about their efforts.  

“She definitely seems interested in hearing our voices,” Bille said after the talk.  

Jun Li and Yujing Mao, both students from China, posed for a selfie with the chancellor. Mao said her first impression of Mnookin is that “she was really nice.” 

“We want to show her warmth and make her feel welcome,” Li said.  

“If we could have a chance to have a 10-minute talk with her, that would be great,” Li added with a laugh. 

But time was tight and Mnookin continued her busy first day, but not before taking a group photo with dozens of revelers still on the hill as the event wrapped up at 3:30. 

“I’m excited to be here, on a beautiful day, getting to know campus,” Mnookin said. “I am learning a lot and it’s been really great getting to meet so many wonderful people in this vibrant place.” 

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