Meet Rebecca Blank

Bryce Richter photo

Photo: Bryce Richter

A new chancellor speaks of Badgers, budgets, and brats.

Rebecca Blank already knows that UW–Madison alumni are passionate about their alma mater. Before she arrived on campus as the university’s new chancellor, she heard from a lot of them by email. They shared treasured memories of football games at Camp Randall and warm afternoons on the Memorial Union Terrace.

But they also took time to express their concerns and hopes for the UW’s future.

“That’s gold,” Blank said of Badger devotion during an interview with On Wisconsin in her office this summer. “You cannot create that if it doesn’t exist. It’s the legacy of this university.”

And Blank says alumni must play a key role in financially supporting the UW if it is to weather one of its most difficult budgets in years. (See related article.) “If there’s any message I would send to alumni, it’s that the university needs your support, and even if that’s twenty dollars a year, that type of alumni support is important,” she says.

As chancellor, Blank will lead a major fundraising campaign and take steps to bring stability to the campus and its dealings with state government within the next five years. “I would like to establish really good relationships both on and off campus so people feel they know me, that we can work together,” she says.

Success will rely on what Blank calls the UW’s elevator speech, “a well-articulated vision for this university as to what it is and what it can be, where it should be going.” She’ll be sharing her thoughts her blog and on Twitter.

“That sense of direction and leadership is absolutely crucial to a capital campaign,” she says. “But it’s absolutely crucial to talking with the state legislature, to recruiting new students, to recruiting new faculty, and to energizing and motivating the staff and faculty who are here on campus.”

Tags: administration, Alumni

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