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Reaction to Chancellor Blank’s departure

October 12, 2021

Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced Monday that she will be leaving UW–Madison at the end of this academic year to become president of Northwestern University.

Reaction to the announcement flowed from federal, state, UW System and community leaders, who praised Blank for her transformative leadership since joining the university in 2013.

Governor Tony Evers

I want to thank Chancellor Blank for her service to our state, the UW System, and our flagship campus in Madison. Chancellor Blank is a distinguished leader and economist who has always been a fierce advocate for continuing UW–Madison’s proud tradition of excellence in research and innovation, especially in the midst of political headwinds and budget cuts during her time at the UW. I’m grateful for Chancellor Blank’s leadership during her near-decade as chancellor at UW–Madison, and I wish her all the best as president of Northwestern University.

As we work to ensure our state’s continued economic recovery, supporting higher education and our UW System—including our campus in Madison—must be a top priority. I am confident the UW Board of Regents, in consultation with faculty, staff, and students, will select a chancellor who will be a strong voice for investing in our kids, continuing UW–Madison’s legacy as a top-tier research institution, and the pursuit of the Wisconsin Idea.

University of Wisconsin Board of Regents President Edmund Manydeeds III

Chancellor Blank is an extraordinary leader whose commitment to the Wisconsin Idea, including her efforts to expand the university’s outreach to every corner of the state, has UW–Madison well positioned for success in the future. The impact of her leadership has been felt throughout the UW System and entire state, and she will be sorely missed. I appreciate that she will continue as chancellor through this academic year as we prepare for a transition and know she will continue her record of excellence at Northwestern.

UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson

The University of Wisconsin is one of the finest universities in the world, and Chancellor Blank’s tenacious advocacy and strong leadership have helped build on that legacy during her tenure. On behalf of the University of Wisconsin System, I want to thank her for her service to our state and wish her well at Northwestern.

Associated Students of Madison

The Associated Students of Madison would like to congratulate Chancellor Rebecca Blank on her new position as president of Northwestern University. We are greatly appreciative for her nine years of dedicated service to UW–Madison students and the state of Wisconsin. The chancellor has been with us in some of the most trying times in recent UW–Madison history. Despite a global pandemic and challenges from the state legislature, she led a historic expansion of the Bucky’s Tuition Promise program and promoted inclusion education by ensuring all new students attend Our Wisconsin. ASM is committed to collaborating closely with Chancellor Blank for the rest of the academic year and looks forward to working with the Office of the Chancellor to ensure UW–Madison is committed to student inclusion in the selection process for her successor. Regardless of who the next chancellor is, we hope they will share our goals of promoting student voices and making campus an equitable and inclusive environment.

Soyeon Shim, School of Human Ecology Dean (via Twitter)

It is an honor to work with you @BeckyBlank – we are better & wiser because of your leadership and empathy #Badgers

Laura Albert, David H. Gustafson Department Chair of Industrial & Systems Engineering (via Twitter)

Chancellor @BeckyBlank has been an incredible asset to @UWMadison and will be missed. Thank you for your service and best of luck at @NorthwesternU!

Jordan Ellenberg, John D. MacArthur Professor of Mathematics
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics (via Twitter)

Chancellor Blank has been a great leader for @UWMadison through complicated times. And I just plain like her. I wish her best of luck at the second-best school north of Chicago.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (via Twitter)

We are going to miss @BeckyBlank.

She has been a strong and effective leader for @UWMadison who has served our state well and I am thankful for all her hard work, partnership, and public service to our state.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (via Twitter)

I have always had a great relationship with @beckyblank at @uwmadison. I wish her the best, but maybe not for the @NorthwesternU football team!

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

Many thanks to Chancellor Blank for serving the people of Wisconsin and for her leadership at the university. During her eight year tenure, Chancellor Blank has been committed to educational excellence, academic innovation, and enhancing community and business outreach. We are grateful for Chancellor Blank’s service and wish her well on becoming the first woman president at Northwestern University.

State Rep. Samba Baldeh (via Twitter)

Wishing you all the best.

State Rep. Francesca Hong (via Twitter)

Thank you for your service @BeckyBlank.

State Rep. Mark Born

It has been a pleasure to work with Chancellor Blank over the past 8 years. Her advocacy and leadership at UW–Madison will be missed, but I wish her the best in her next endeavors at Northwestern University.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

I have greatly appreciated the chancellor’s calm, unflappable demeanor and smart, practical approach to many challenges facing the UW and our community over these past nine years. She had a tough job and she did it well in a very collaborative manner. Her wry sense of humor will also be missed. We wish her the best in her new position.

The City of Madison considers the university a key partner in all that goes on in Madison, and we look forward to working closely with Chancellor Blank’s replacement.

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon

For more than eight years, Chancellor Blank has served our state’s flagship university exceptionally and effectively while ensuring students were well-positioned to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. As an economist and former U.S. Commerce Secretary, she brought tremendous insight to understanding and engaging with the business community. As a fierce advocate for research, she also supported innovation both on and off campus, ensuring Greater Madison grows as a place that solves global challenges for years to come.

In particular, I have gotten to know Chancellor Blank as a member of the chamber board, where her expertise, thoughtfulness and passion for the university and our region were admired and earned the unending respect and gratitude of her colleagues. We wish her all the best in her next chapter.

Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still

Chancellor Blank’s contributions to the UW–Madison campus, the community and the state over her tenure have been enormous in many areas, but her work related to the research and development mission of the university deserves special mention.

At a time when federal R&D spending has leveled off and even decreased in some categories, UW–Madison’s research expenditures have continued to expand. In the fiscal year ending June 30, the university recorded an increase of more than 100 grant proposals compared to the previous year, demonstrating a breadth and depth of innovation. UW–Madison also received $1.5 billion in federal grants, up 15% over the prior year.

Partnering with industry and other academic institutions made those resources more readily available throughout Wisconsin, and those partnerships represented Blank’s interest in the state and its citizens far beyond the campus community. Although she will be departing for Northwestern in less than a year, her legacy in Wisconsin will endure.

Tags: chancellor