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Sunday, December 03, 2023

University officials consider future of ‘Wisconsin Idea’

UW-Madison representatives met Friday to discuss the future of the "Wisconsin Idea" as well as the relationships between the university and state and local communities.

According to the UW-Madison website, the Wisconsin Idea is "the principle that the university should improve people's lives beyond the classroom."

UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward said the Wisconsin Idea is "all about a vision of the connections that make the world work," but is a "very 18th-Century subject."

Ward said changes to the Wisconsin Idea would be a "vehicle to explore" the university's progress in the next decade.

"There are very few other states that have the kind of framework to do this," Ward said. "It also means that we can sometimes relax in the comfort of the tradition because we have a label that we can be proud of."

Ward said while he does not expect the university to receive increases in funding over the next few years, UW-Madison needs to update its connections with global and local communities through internalization, globalization and technology.

"The only way we can be uplifted by what we do is take charge of our own lives," Ward said. "With the right communication skills and the right patience, you can do virtue in almost any situation."

UW-Madison Dean of Division of Continuing Studies and Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning Jeffrey S. Russell said UW-Madison should better communicate and confront major challenges Wisconsin citizens face.

Katherine Loving, civic engagement coordinator for University Health Services and convener of Community Partnerships Outreach, said the symposium and reforms to the Wisconsin Idea would create an "engagement [that] should create new knowledge" to deepen the connection between the campus and the state.

Also at the symposium, community members displayed over 40 posters with suggestions for improving the Wisconsin Idea and UW-Madison's relationship with national, state and local communities.


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