Campus News

Berquam announces departure from UW, encourages students to make the most of life

Image By: Robert Darlington and Robert Darlington

Dean of Students Lori Berquam will be leaving her position at UW-Madison in August to participate in a fellowship program.

Berquam has worked with UW-Madison’s Division of Student Life since 2002 and has served as dean and chief student affairs officer since 2007. She has been undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and has a positive prognosis.

In a Wednesday blog post announcing her retirement, Berquam said her experience with cancer has taught her that life is short and the importance of following her dreams. Berquam shared that her cancer treatment will end in April, adding that she plans to visit Peru and climb Machu Picchu in July before heading to Florence, Italy to race a dragon boat with other breast cancer survivors.

“The experience has given me so much perspective and I’m grateful for the support and kindness that has helped me persevere,” she said. “What I’ve learned this past year is that there is so much to look forward to and so much life to live and I plan to take full advantage of every opportunity.”

Berquam said she has been exploring the fellowship through the American Council on Education for about a year, around the same time she was diagnosed with cancer. She will be assigned to a senior role at a new campus as part of the program’s leadership development component.

While Berquam said this move is “a natural next step, both professionally and personally,” she added that it will be hard to leave the UW-Madison community.

“My time in the Division of Student Life has been incredibly rewarding,” Berquam said. “Our students are amazing people and I’ve been inspired by them. I’m also grateful to my colleagues and staff, who are committed to making this campus a place where all students feel they belong and can be successful.”

During her time has dean of students, Berquam was known for her approachable style, appearing at events, snowball fights, in social media and in quirky videos that showcased her sense of humor, according to a news release.

Berquam also managed student affairs through critical issues such as student safety, bias incidents, diversity and inclusion, sexual assault and expansion of services to marginalized students.

In her message to the UW-Madison campus community, Berquam encouraged students to try new things and to live with humility, curiosity, intellectual confidence and purpose.

She told students to make the most of every minute and said to anyone who would like to get in touch with her that she is just a Tweet or an email away.

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