University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor finalist Rebecca Blank emphasized the importance of a strong fundraising campaign on a Friday conference call, in which she also spoke about her plans for her position as chancellor when she moves to Madison in mid to late July.
Blank said she is looking forward to working with faculty, staff, UW System officials and legislators to “make sure UW-Madison remains the prominent university its always been,” but acknowledged the fact that all public universities are facing declining state support, which places financial challenges on institutions such as UW-Madison.
By the end of her first year as chancellor on campus, Blank said in addition to building relationships, she hopes she can announce a number of initiatives for UW-Madison, including working with the alumni association and other organizations to launch a lucrative fundraising campaign.
“One thing chancellors do is really launch campaigns around gifts and strengthening that leg of the revenue stream so it becomes larger,” Blank said.
Regarding tuition cost, she said she hopes to balance the university “sticker price” and financial aid to low-income households, saying she is “sympathetic that Wisconsin incomes haven’t grown significantly, and a lot of people are stretching.”
In addition, Blank said she would remain open to discussion about whether UW-Madison has an adequate balance of in-state and out-of-state students at any given time and acknowledged how out-of-state students enhance the learning environment and diversity on campus.
She also addressed recent debate over majors such as history and english, which critics say do not necessarily lead to clear-cut career paths, saying she knows a lot of CEOs with liberal arts majors that teach one how to think critically.
“I think a university education means exposure to a variety of different ways to look at the world,” Blank said. “The humanities are as important as the sciences are in giving people a number of perspectives.”
Regarding student outreach, Blank said she looks forward to engaging with student leaders and plans to arrange face-to-face interactions with the student body, as well as potentially creating various social media accounts to communicate with students.
“It’s very important to reassure students feel they have a way to ask questions to me and get messages to me, and communicate with me back and forth,” Blank said.