In a Thursday address to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, newly-appointed Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin presented her customary speech to the board for the first time. Mnookin, the 30th chancellor of Wisconsin’s flagship university, was appointed to the role last August.
In her presentation, “UW–Madison: Enhancing Excellence, Overcoming Obstacles, Pursuing Partnerships,” Mnookin communicated the need for increased resources at the university.
Mnookin announced two major initiatives at the meeting — an increase in eligibility for Bucky’s Tuition Promise and the creation of Bucky’s Pell Pathway.
“We’re going a step further than Bucky’s Tuition Promise for Wisconsin families who are eligible for Federal Pell Grants. For these students, Bucky’s Pell Pathway will cover all remaining financial need, after their Pell Grant and other scholarships,” Mnookin said. “That means not only tuition and fees, but housing, meals, books and additional funds that will allow these Wisconsin students to be involved and engaged in some of the many life-changing experiences this university offers.”
Mnookin expressed hope for the future of the university and confidence in current students.
“We are the No. 6 public university in the country for our six-year graduation rate,” Mnookin said. “Our time-to-degree statistics are down again: Our average is now 3.85 calendar years — six weeks shy of four years.”
Mnookin highlighted research, including a $10 million grant from the Department of Defense for the Physics-based Neutralization of Threats to Human Tissues and Organs (PANTHER) project.
After Mnookin listed recent university achievements, the presentation shifted to focus on five necessary improvements for the school, including:
- Upgrades to educational infrastructure
- Helping all students feel a part of UW
- Bringing in talented students to the university, and keeping them in-state after graduation
- Increasing the budget for research
- Increasing state investment in the school
She also mentioned that UW-Madison is falling behind other top schools in annual reinvestment of capital, only fulfilling 21% of the institutional target budget.
“Their data also shows us that over the last 10 years, our total capital reinvestment has been roughly half of our peers per gross square footage for academic and research space,” Mnookin explained. “For every $3 we invested, they, on average, invested $6.”
Mnookin mentioned both STEM investments — the new computer sciences building and a need for a new engineering building — along with non-STEM investments, noting the need for new Letters and Sciences buildings to replace the George L. Mosse Humanities building.
The Chancellor also emphasized the need for increased research spending.
“In overall research expenditures, we rank No. 8 nationally. This is very strong — but it’s also down from No. 4 ten years ago,” explained Mnookin. “We have a goal, as part of the UW System strategic plan, to get back to No. 6.”
Mnookin also highlighted UW-Madison’s role as a major employer in the state of Wisconsin.
“[UW-Madison] supports one out of every 13 jobs in this state,” Mnookin said, underscoring that the school is aiming for more state investment. “According to one study, for every $1 in state money invested in the university, we return $26.73,” Mnookin said.
Chancellor Mnookin hopes this presentation, along with other steps, is able to increase resources for the school as Gov. Tony Evers plans to announce the State of Wisconsin’s budget next week
“The state has made deep investments in this university over the past 175 years, but in recent years we’ve fallen behind our peers — we unquestionably need ongoing and substantial state support in order to thrive,” Mnookin stressed. “UW-Madison is an extraordinary place, but we can’t take that excellence for granted. It needs to be protected and nurtured — not only for the good of the university, but for the good of our great state of Wisconsin.”
Jasper Bernstein is the Associate News Editor for The Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @jasperberns.