Dr. Jennifer L. Mnookin was selected as the next Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin System announced this morning.
After a thorough search that reviewed candidates from all over the United States, the UW System Board of Regents unanimously approved Dr. Mnookin.
The UW detailed her background in a press release, highlighting her extensive experience in higher education, initiatives she has taken in previous roles and her commitment to the Wisconsin Idea, which particularly resonated with her when she visited the campus in early May.
“I’m honored and humbled to be named the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” Mnookin said in a video message. “I’m incredibly excited to have this tremendous opportunity to lead one of the world's greatest public universities.”
Mnookin, who has served as the Dean of the University of California, Los Angeles Law School since 2015, will succeed outgoing Chancellor Rebecca Blank. In a Twitter post, Mnookin shared that while she feels “bittersweet” about departing UCLA, she is excited to assume the helm of UW-Madison.
For Mnookin, the Wisconsin Idea is a clear vision of what a public university is and should be.
“I’m ready to pour my energy to amplify the Wisconsin idea, sharing the great work done on this campus and how it makes a meaningful and tangible difference in the lives of people throughout all of Wisconsin and well beyond,” she proclaimed. “It’s my goal to keep our teaching, research and outreach mission strong to support our students, and to make the university a more diverse and inclusive place to live, learn and work.”
Mnookin was born in Massachusetts and grew up in Berkeley and Palo Alto, California. She received an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard University, a law degree from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in History and Social Study of Science and Technology from M.I.T.
She spent the past 24 years working for the University of Virginia and the University of California, where her focus was law. She served for six years on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science, Technology and Law, and in 2020, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the chair of the investment committee of the Law School Admissions Council and also serves on the advisory board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
The search for a new chancellor began after Chancellor Blank announced her plan in early October to leave UW-Madison to become the President of Northwestern University. In December, a search committee was formed to identify candidates, and on April 20th, UW announced the final list of candidates, which included Dr. Mnookin.
In a statement, the Vice-Chair of the Search and Screen Committee, Susan Hagness, expressed optimism about the passing of the torch to Mnookin.
“UW-Madison is going to be in great hands under Jennifer Mnookin’s leadership as she takes the baton and builds on the strong legacy of Chancellor Blank,” Hagness declared. “Collaborative leadership is at her core and she has extensive prior experience with shared governance. She brings vision, high energy, a deep appreciation of the Wisconsin Idea, a passion for students who are at the heart of all that we do, a genuine commitment to fostering an inclusive campus and an impressive understanding of the opportunities before us.”
Mnookin will officially become the 30th Chancellor of UW-Madison on August 4th. She will take over from UW-Madison Provost John Karl Scholz, who will serve as interim chancellor after Blank’s last day on May 31st.
In her message, Mnookin said she was looking forward to listening to students and faculty to better improve UW.
“I absolutely can’t wait to spend more time with our remarkable students, faculty, and staff, and to hear more of your ideas about how we can work together to make this great university even stronger,” Mnookin said.
Gavin Escott is a photographer and staff writer for multiple desks at The Daily Cardinal, focusing on city and state news. Follow him on Twitter at @gav_escott.