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UW Veterinary Medicine professor Ruthanne Chun receives 2021 LaMarr Billups Community-University Engagement Award

June 23, 2021 By Kristina LeVan

A veterinary student weighs Shenanigans the dog at a WisCARE clinic in Madison in 2015. The WisCARES program co-founded by Ruthanne Chun seeks to provide holistic health care and housing support to Dane County’s disadvantaged residents and their pets. Photo: Bryce Richter

Ruthanne Chun, clinical professor of oncology in the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, has been named the winner of this year’s LaMarr Billups Community-University Engagement Award.

The award recognizes a member of the Greater Madison community who has made outstanding contributions to campus-community partnership initiatives.

Ruthanne Chun

In 2014, Chun co-founded Wisconsin Companion Animal Resources, Education and Social services (WisCARES), a community veterinary clinic for low income and homeless families.

“One of the pillars of our mission at UW–Madison is to reach beyond the borders of the campus to share knowledge that improves people’s lives. Ruthanne Chun is a worthy recipient of this prestigious award. As the co-founder and director of WisCARES, she has created a national model for community outreach and collaboration,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

Since its inception, Chun has helped WisCARES grow from a street medicine project led by a single veterinarian to a fully functioning clinic. It is now open five days a week with a full-time dedicated social worker that extends the reach of care beyond the animal to their owner.

“I’m very proud of the work that we do in providing veterinary medical care, boarding, and fostering for animals that are such important companions,” Chun said during the virtual award ceremony on June 22. “There are wonderful things that happen on this campus and in this community and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

Chun has built partnerships to expand the program within and beyond campus, working with the UW Schools of Pharmacy, Social Work and Medicine and Public Health, as well as Madison Area Technical College and the Dane County Homeless Services Consortium, The Beacon, Community Action Coalition, Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin, Reach Dane, the VA, and other local organizations.

“Chun has spent much of her career dedicated to the betterment of the Madison community through her service and activism on the behalf of those that are housing unstable and their pets. There could not be a more deserving nominee award recipient,” says Mark Markel, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The LaMarr Billups Community-University Engagement Award recognizes contributions in the following areas:

  • Dedication to the betterment of the Madison community through service, activism, and/or professional pursuits;
  • Building strong connections between the greater community and UW–Madison through true collaboration and mutually beneficial partnerships; and
  • Commitment to the highest level of integrity, leadership, and pursuit of excellence.

The award was named in honor of the late LaMarr Billups, a respected campus and community leader. Known as a skilled ambassador between the university and city, he was deeply committed to key civic institutions and social causes. At UW–Madison, he served as director of the Office of Community Relations and senior special assistant to chancellors David Ward and John Wiley.

Watch the full 2021 LaMarr Billups Community-University Engagement Award ceremony online and learn more about the award, including past winners, here.