A Message from UW–Madison's Chancellor

Rebecca M. Blank

Dear Friends,

The past year presented campus with greater challenges than at any point in the past 50 years. With support from our alumni and friends, we were able to continue our operations in the midst of a global pandemic, prioritizing our students’ safety and the quality of education at UW–Madison.

Despite the numerous disruptions to campus life and operations, we still notched up some notable achievements. Students continue to want to be Badgers — we recently set a record for new freshman applications to UW–Madison. We are among the top 10 public universities in the country in our six-year graduation rates. And our research activity grew over the past year. In fall 2020, 923 students started at UW–Madison as recipients of Bucky’s Tuition Promise, which provides scholarship aid to cover four years of tuition and fees. And we opened two brand-new facilities on campus in 2020 — the Nicholas Recreation Center and the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery Building — that will improve the campus experience for students and researchers.

This, of course, was all done in the shadow of COVID-19. In the spring of 2020, we changed our entire instructional model in just 10 days and redesigned 8,000 classes to be taught remotely. In the fall, we reopened with updated ventilation systems; cleaning and masking supplies; and a robust testing, quarantine, and isolation system.  At the height of the school year, we ran more than 60,000 COVID tests each week, ensuring all persons on campus had recently tested negative for COVID. We vaccinated the majority of our campus faculty and staff and have high hopes that the student experience in the fall will look much more like the student experience many of you recall.

All of these efforts shine a light on the resilience of our students, faculty, and staff, who have dealt with every challenge they’ve faced with determination and grit. They’ve been asked to do things never done before on this campus, and they’ve risen to the occasion. Our success would not be possible without the generosity of UW alumni and friends. When asked to help provide resources to frontline health care workers and students in crisis, you responded — and we could not be more grateful.

Although the future looks brighter each day, we will have difficult budget days ahead as we deal with the financial effects of the pandemic. Know that we need your support now more than ever. Thank you for helping to keep our great university strong. We will weather this storm together.

On, Wisconsin!

Rebecca M. Blank
Morgridge Friends Distinguished Chair of Leadership

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