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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin speaks to students at a Dec. 14, 2023 student media roundtable.

Mnookin announces initiative for hiring in AI, areas of ‘global challenge’

Chancellor Mnookin announced the RISE initiative to hire faculty in areas of “global challenge,” including artificial intelligence.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin unveiled a faculty hiring initiative in areas of “global challenge” in a Thursday afternoon UW Board of Regents meeting.

The Wisconsin Research, Innovation and Scholarly Excellence (RISE) initiative will hire between 120 and 150 new faculty over the next three to five years, increasing regular hiring by around 40%.

“Over the next three-to-five years, RISE will accelerate the growth of UW-Madison's network of AI innovators, adding up to 50 new faculty positions,” a UW-Madison press release read. 

Artificial intelligence will be the first RISE initiative, according to the press release. RISE will ultimately comprise of three to five areas of focus, with future initiatives determined through a collaborative cross-campus process. 

It’s currently unclear which specific initiatives will be added — students, faculty and staff can submit ideas for focus areas on the RISE website.

UW-Madison estimates doubled investments in campus AI initiatives, following increased investments across the UW System in AI-related programs. 

The AI program development comes after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, launched a task force on AI in August, and as some state Republicans are looking to reduce state agency employment through expanded investments in AI technologies.

Also on Thursday, Mnookin announced the university will launch a new initiative to address climate change and natural resource challenges in Wisconsin, which the release touted as “the most comprehensive environmental sustainability initiative in UW-Madison history.”

Created in collaboration with the Nelson Institute and ASM Sustainability, the initiative aims to achieve 100% renewable energy on the UW-Madison campus by 2030, net zero emissions by 2048 and a STARS gold ranking by 2025. STARS is a self-reporting tool college campuses use to measure sustainability performance.

A key component of the plan is the creation of an interdisciplinary research hub, which will offer various services, including grant writing and budget preparation, to facilitate “innovative, large-scale” sustainability research on campus.

The initiative aims to make campus a “living laboratory” for sustainable practices and to ensure all students have access to sustainability education by 2030.

“This is a space where we’ve been pioneers in many ways — from ecology and wildlife biology to land restoration and the use of satellite technology to detect changes in the environment,” Mnookin said. “We have an impressive list of accomplishments. But these, alone, don’t qualify us to be a world leader in sustainability.

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Mnookin also emphasized the importance of entrepreneurial development at UW-Madison and announced a working group of business leaders, which will release a June report with recommendations to support students, faculty and staff interested in entrepreneurship.

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Gavin Escott

Gavin Escott is a senior staff writer and photographer for multiple desks at The Daily Cardinal. Throughout his time at the Cardinal, he's written articles for city, state, campus and breaking news. He is the current host/producer of the Cardinal Call podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @gav_escott.


Liam Beran

Liam Beran is the Campus News Editor for The Daily Cardinal and a third-year English major. Throughout his time at the Cardinal, he's written articles for campus, state and in-depth news. Follow him on Twitter at @liampberan.

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