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Sunday, May 28, 2023
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The University of Wisconsin-Madison community gathered at the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall of Hamel Music Center on Friday, April 14, 2023 to celebrate the official investiture of Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin, the 30th leader of UW-Madison. 

UW-Madison celebrates the investiture of Chancellor Mnookin

Chancellor Mnookin’s investiture featured student performances and speeches from state leaders.

University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin was formally ranked as chancellor and the 30th leader of the university at her investiture Friday morning.

The investiture took place at the Hamel Music Center, and there were a variety of speakers, including past chancellors, students, UW System faculty and Gov. Tony Evers.

The Park Street Quartet played music during the ceremony’s prelude and recessional. A handful of student performances throughout the event included the National Anthem sung by student Jerzy Gillon, a performance from university a cappella groupThe MadHatters” and  poetry performed by student Aurora Shimshak.

After the academic and inaugural procession, UW System President Jay Rothman gave his welcoming speech and introduced Mnookin.

“Jennifer Mnookin is the right leader at the right time,” said Rothman. “She brings an incredible intellect and has served as a faculty member and leader at some of the nation's preeminent public universities.” 

Evers complimented Mnookin on her strong ability to better the university.

“Central to her vision she brings a principled approach and an unwavering commitment to working collaboratively to build a future where UW-Madison, our flagship institution in the system, is not just good, not just great, but it is exceptional,” he added. “Quite simply, Jennifer Mnookin is made for this university.” 

Following Evers’ speech, past chancellors Donna Shalala, David Ward, John Wiley and Carolyn “Biddy” Martin shared their favorite memories and words of advice for Mnookin. 

“Remember, the taxpayers of Wisconsin will continue to invest with great pride in this world class university only if you put their children first,” Shalala said.

University Committee Chair Lauren Papp gave remarks for the faculty, followed by Associated Students of Madison Chair Ndemazea Fonkem on behalf of the student body.

“Chancellor Mnookin and I have met several times since she arrived on campus. Each time, I have been impressed by her ability to listen,” Fonkem said. “[She] has always listened directly to students, and this to me marks her as a true leader.” 

Shimshak then read her poem about the importance every person plays in making Madison the city that it is. Northwestern University President Michael Schill, who was chosen due to his high rank and relationship with Mnookin, then discussed his friendship with Mnookin and provided words of advice in a keynote address.

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During her address, Mnookin gave thanks, spoke about hopes for the future of the university and reasons to embrace the present. 

“Let’s celebrate all of this and so much more, but let’s also never be self satisfied,” said Mnookin. “The needs are great, and we must commit to growing our ambitions in years ahead.” 

Mnookin then expanded on what she plans to do with the university.

“What will that mean? It will mean growing our faculty, further amplifying the impressive $1.3 billion of funded research we do each year. It will mean building deeper partnerships with both industries and communities in the state,” Mnookin added.

In Mnookin’s closing remarks, she shared a quote from UW-Madison historian Bill Cronon.

“There are many things we did together that were impossible — they couldn’t be done, but we didn't know they couldn’t be done,” said Mnookin. “So, we figured out a way to do them, and that’s the way the world works.”

Mnookin concluded with a call to action to the campus community.

“That’s my job, as your chancellor, to figure out how to do impossible things, and it’s your job, too,” said Mnookin.

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