On Wisconsin http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:36:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.7 Campus Reacts to WWII http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/campus-reacts-to-wwii/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/campus-reacts-to-wwii/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18460 A capacity crowd of students, faculty, and community members gathered inside the Field House on December 12, 1941. UW Archives S07306.

A capacity crowd of students, faculty, and community members gathered inside the Field House on December 12, 1941. UW Archives S07306.

No exclamation point was needed, but the editors of the December 9, 1941, Daily Cardinal used one anyway: “We Are at War!” The lead story following the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor noted that most on the campus were wondering, “What will happen to me?” Not long after, many UW students and staff left Madison to join the military. Some students would lose their lives on distant battlefields, including star football player Dave Schreiner ’43, a Marine killed on Okinawa.

UW–Madison Chancellor Clarence Dykstra tried to calm fears. In a letter on the student newspaper’s front page, he assured students that they would be ready if needed for national service. Later, students sang carols and “Varsity” at a convocation inside a packed Field House, where Dykstra gave a speech that expanded on that theme. “We are ready for a great all-out effort,” he said. “There is no question of sacrifice. There is only the deep desire to be useful to our common country in this period of crisis.”

Daily Cardinal sports pages were filled with stories about the future of Badger athletes, the possible disruption to team schedules, and historical accounts of how World War I affected UW sports.

Though it was a time of shock and dread, a Cardinal editorial published two days after the attack sounded a note of hope and reconciliation: “We may hate the war lords of Japan for plunging us into the blood bath we are facing, but at the same time, we must remember that the people of Japan breathe the same air, have the same desires, suffer the same sorrows, and shed blood very much like our own. We cannot hate our brethren.”

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Distinguished Lecture Series http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/traditions/distinguished-lecture-series/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/traditions/distinguished-lecture-series/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18553 Laverne Cox

Photo by Jeff Miller

UW–Madison’s long-standing tradition of fearless sifting and winnowing is rekindled each year through the Distinguished Lecture Series, which since 1987 has hosted intellectual jousts and provocations. More than 200 speakers have appeared over the last three decades.

The roster includes the late Kurt Vonnegut, who was 80 years old when he spoke on campus in 2003. The Slaughterhouse-Five author managed to elicit both chuckles and contemplation from the crowd at the Wisconsin Union Theater, even through a coughing fit. With unruly hair and a craggy face, Vonnegut bounced across topics from his career to his desired epitaph, “The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.”

But students have not always welcomed these speakers with open arms. When the late conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly visited campus in 1993 to speak about the “liberal media” and feminist movement, about 80 students protested her views on abortion and family rights.

Speakers visit campus with messages both inspirational and timely. They’ve included astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who in 2009 lamented how “scientific illiteracy” has bred a fear of the unknown.

“Here we are in a country professing to be advanced technologically, but there are people among us afraid of the number 13,” he told the crowd.

Other speakers have included the late conservative political commentator Robert Novak, the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, former South African State President F. W. de Klerk, and Roman Catholic nun Helen Prejean, a leading advocate for abolition of the death penalty.

Most recently, transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox (pictured above), who plays Sophia on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, called out North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill and declared that “trans is beautiful” to a crowd of more than 1,300 in May 2016.

During a Valentine’s Day visit in 1990, the late poet Maya Angelou urged audience members to embrace courage, to dispel ignorance, and to take advantage of the opportunities created by their forebears. “This is your life — yours alone,” Angelou said. “So, in this time, make use of it.”

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Pokémon Who? http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/pokemon-who/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/pokemon-who/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18571 istock_99165129_large

George Clerk/ISTOCK

Even if you didn’t spend the summer desperately seeking a Dratini, you’ve surely heard of Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality game that captured audiences when it was released in July. As reviews came in, there was overarching praise for the physical nature of the game — Vox.com called it the “greatest unintentional health fad ever.” But before Pokémon Go, a very similar augmented-reality game was developed on campus.

Researcher David Gagnon ’04, MS’10 and his team at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery’s Field Day Lab created Kkomoman in 2012. Their mission was to use smartphone technology to get kids moving. “How do we leverage this GPS-based technology that we’ve got,” Gagnon asks, “and create games that are intentionally designed to get kids to run around?”

In Kkomoman, a user has to be the first to arrive at a location to battle and catch the Kkomoman. In Pokémon Go, creatures show up in various locations and are caught by throwing virtual Pokéballs.

Gagnon welcomes the comparison. “It’s super honoring,” he says. “It’s really exciting to start thinking about ways that place and computers and information can start to intersect. Pokémon Go just gives us a shadow of that.”

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Mammoth Island http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/mammoth-island/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/mammoth-island/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18581 istock_54252888_large


By ten thousand years ago, woolly mammoths had gone extinct from mainland Asia and North America. But a population of island-dwelling mammoths survived on a remnant piece of land once part of the Bering Strait land bridge.

UW geography professor Jack Williams and graduate student Yue Wang MS’13 contributed to a new study that provides clear evidence of the mammoth extinction on tiny St. Paul Island around 5,600 years ago. A lack of freshwater and changing environmental conditions, including rising seas, drove the demise. The researchers say the findings have implications for low-lying islands, and the people and animals that live on them today.

“I can’t think of any other case where freshwater availability was the driver of extinction,” says Williams, who is also director of the UW’s Center for Climatic Research. “On small oceanic islands, freshwater can be a limited resource.”

Williams and collaborators from across the United States rode snowmobiles to one of the few sources of freshwater on the island off the coast of Alaska, a crater lake surrounded on three sides by steep rock walls. The scientists drilled through the frozen lake surface and took samples of sediments beneath the lake floor, which provided snapshots of the environment through time.

The UW researchers focused on the island’s vegetation and ruled out changes to their food sources as contributors to the mammoths’ extinction. However, sediment cores showed mammoths likely stripped the area around the lake of vegetation, potentially speeding up erosion and harming water quality.

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Diversity’s Complex History http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/diversitys-complex-history/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/diversitys-complex-history/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18562 long_harvey_archives16_8582

Jeff Miller

When some schools barred the door, UW–Madison welcomed black students from around the country who then went on to successful careers in journalism, law, medicine, and a host of other fields.

“When I told my dad I was going to Wisconsin, he said, ‘You could go to Chapel Hill; black people don’t live in Wisconsin,’ ” recalls Harvey Long PhDx’16, a doctoral student in library and information studies from North Carolina. “[But] black people have been coming to the university for a long time.”

Long — who recovered some of this campus history by completing an archives-based examination of the period between 1875 and 1940 — says the earliest known black student at the UW was William Noland 1875, who was born in Binghamton, New York. After graduation, he attended the law school for two semesters before dropping out and moving to Washington, DC. “He committed suicide in the 1890s. Not a lot is known about him,” Long says. Three sisters — Ida ’40, Carlita ’42, and Frances ’44 Murphy — came from Baltimore, starting in 1935. They earned journalism degrees and returned home to help keep their father’s newspaper, the Baltimore Afro-American, afloat.

Now, with increased calls for greater diversity and inclusion, Long wants the university community to understand black students’ long, complicated history at the UW and how race played a key role in their isolation from campus activities.

“The state was receptive, but it wasn’t perfect,” he says. “It’s like you get an invitation to a party, but you might not have the right clothes, or you might not be asked to dance. The University of Wisconsin was not paradise, but it was a step up for many of these students.”

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2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_alumni/2016-distinguished-alumni-awards/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_alumni/2016-distinguished-alumni-awards/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18499 For 80 years, the Wisconsin Alumni Association has honored exceptional alumni with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Early recipients include actor Fredric March ’20 of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fame and Helen C. White PhD’24, the beloved English professor whose name now graces College Library. More recently, alumni such as Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson LLB’42, scientist Carl Djerassi PhD’45, and fashion icon Iris Apfel ’43 have joined their ranks. We imagine they’d be as proud as we are to welcome this year’s honorees into the fold.

Learn more about the award winners. The deadline for 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award nominations is December 16.

John Daniels Jr.

John Daniels Jr. was the first African American lawyer in the United States to start as an associate in a major law firm and become chair.

John Daniels Jr. MS’72

John Daniels Jr. is chair emeritus at the national law firm Quarles & Brady. As chair, he grew the law firm significantly during the worst downturn since the Great Depression. A nationally recognized expert in real estate and business law, he has been involved in some of the nation’s most complex real estate redevelopment projects. He is the former national president of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and has represented major corporations such as General Electric, Kraft Foods, and Xerox.

After earning his MS in education, Daniels received his JD from Harvard University. Over the years, he has been a major force for civic good in Milwaukee. He has worked as lead lawyer on many signature downtown projects. He also helped organize an annual golf tournament, the Fellowship Open, that raises money to support children in need, and he has worked with his brother, a Milwaukee clergyman, on a number of community housing and education projects.

Judith Faulkner

Judith Faulkner, who earned her MS in computer sciences, serves on the department’s board of visitors, and the company she founded, Epic Systems, has endowed three computer sciences faculty positions.

Judith Greenfield Faulkner MS’67

Judith Faulkner is the founder and CEO of Epic Systems, which she launched in 1979 in an apartment-house basement. Epic has since grown to become a leading provider of integrated health care software, with clients that include the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, CVS Health, and Walgreens. More than half of the U.S. population has medical information in an Epic system. Faulkner has kept the company privately held and has built a sustainable corporate campus in Verona, Wisconsin, with 9,900 employees.

In 2013, Forbes magazine called her the “most powerful woman in health care.” Faulkner has pledged to donate 99 percent of her assets to philanthropy. UW–Madison awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2010, and she is a member of the National Academy of Medicine’s Leadership Roundtable. She also served on the Health Information Technology Policy Committee, a federal advisory group that helps to shape IT-related health care policy, and its Privacy and Security subcommittee.

Doris Weisberg

Doris Weisberg serves on the Memorial Union Building Association and is helping to position the Wisconsin Union to use locally grown products in its food-service operations.

Doris Feldman Weisberg ’58

Doris Feldman Weisberg was part of the team that launched the Food Network, where she produced numerous shows and was the managing editor of food news. She has also produced cooking shows for Lifetime Television. Prior to that, she was on the faculty of City College of the City University of New York, where she taught for 26 years. She was director of the Speech and Hearing Center and retired in 1992 as chair of the speech department.

Weisberg earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and went on to receive her MS and PhD from Columbia University. She serves on the political science department’s board of visitors, and she is also on the board of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association and is a member of its Women’s Philanthropy Council. She and her husband have created a planned gift to establish the Doris Feldman Weisberg and Robert Weisberg Center for Progressive Political Thought. They also established the Doris and Robert Weisberg Current Issues Symposium Fund at the Memorial Union to bring relevant and timely speakers to campus.

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Dorri McGhee McWhorter ’95 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/recognition/uber-advocate-for-women/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/recognition/uber-advocate-for-women/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18560 mcwhorter

Photo by Alissa Pagels

As the CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, Dorri McGhee McWhorter ’95 is garnering headlines for reimagining the 140-year-old nonprofit’s business model with new ideas and technology. The group’s mission is to empower women and eliminate racism, and providing jobs is one way to achieve that.

McWhorter has initiated a partnership with Uber, which connects people who need rides with freelance drivers via smartphones. Hiring women is vital to Uber’s expansion goals, and it wants to add a million female drivers around the world by 2020. Chicago is a key market, where three times as many women as expected signed on to become drivers after the collaboration began.

McWhorter sees Uber as an economic opportunity for women who need flexible work schedules. “I feel such a sense of urgency,” she says. “I see possibilities everywhere. We can create solutions and value for everyone, and because we can, we should.”

Born in Chicago and raised in Racine, Wisconsin, McWhorter was a partner at the accounting firm Crowe Horwath before joining the YWCA.

Among other innovations, she created the online marketplace YShop.org, which supports the YWCA by promoting partner companies that donate a portion of their sales to the organization. The site, which offers everything from couture diaper bags to gourmet brownies to consulting services, has had 9,000 unique visitors in just over one year, helping the organization to reach a new audience.

McWhorter also started Myrtle’s Club, which provides business classes, group purchasing, and other services for childcare providers. The club supports the people who offer critical support to the workforce, she says, adding, “Without them, how would parents work? We need them to stay open. We want to make sure these child care providers have the support to run efficient businesses.”

Although McWhorter was an accounting major at the UW, she took many courses outside the business school, including geology, English literature, anthropology, and African American studies.

“All those courses I took were playing into my social-justice side,” she says. “[Scientists are] working on a spaceship to get to Mars, but we have not yet solved some fundamental human-rights and social-justice issues here on Earth. It just fuels me to work fast and get it done.”

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Planet IceCube http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/vision/planet-icecube/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/vision/planet-icecube/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18454 This eerie, moonlit setting looks like it could be on another planet, but it’s right here on Earth. At the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica, UW–Madison operates the world’s biggest telescope, buried deep in the ice, and detects tiny particles that could help unravel how the universe was made.

Photo by Emanuel Jacobi/NSF

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Pioneering Glass Artist http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/exhibition/pioneering-glass-artist/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/exhibition/pioneering-glass-artist/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:07 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18535 Audrey Handler. John Hart photo.

Audrey Handler was one of the early students of famed UW professor Harvey Littleton, who pioneered the studio glass movement. John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal

Audrey Solomon Handler MA’67, MFA’70 is in fine company: when she earned the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award, she joined honorees Frank Lloyd Wright x1890 and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Handler was an integral part of the studio glass movement, an artistic revolution that began in the 1960s with UW–Madison professor Harvey Littleton. He and his students experimented and learned together, renting old glass-blowing films from the Corning Museum of Glass and trying to emulate the techniques. “It was so exciting,” Handler recalls. “Every day was something new.”

In 1971, Handler and other classmates, including the late Marvin Lipofsky MFA’64, MA’64, formed the Glass Art Society. She is one of only a few women who were in the movement at the beginning, and one of even fewer from that era who are still working. “Glass blowing is very hard on your body, and I’ve been doing it since 1965,” she says.

Handler’s work embodies the studio glass movement’s mission of artistic individuality. When she creates glass bowls and platters, she introduces a spider-web pattern in the background. It’s a technique that is often achieved by accident, but she does it intentionally. “You want to make something distinctive, that’s your own,” she says. She’s also known for her Pear in a Chair series, which combines wood and blown glass with silver and gold cast figures — a collaboration with her husband, John Martner.

She is known for her glass fruits and vegetables, such as the bell pepper at left, as well as platters and vases (below).

Handler is known for her glass fruits and vegetables, such as the bell pepper (right), as well as platters and vases (left). Courtesy of Audrey Handler.

More recently, she has produced paintings that feature glass paint fired on tile, creating surreal landscapes.

Handler works year-round in her Verona, Wisconsin, studio — a converted 19th-century cheese factory that is one of the nation’s longest-running glass-blowing studios.

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Time for a Change http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/time-for-a-change/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/time-for-a-change/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 18:00:07 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=18589 sign

Billboards placed around the state that tout the contributions of UW alumni are part of an unprecedented effort ahead of the next state budget. Vincent Lyles ’84, JD’87 oversees the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee’s more than 800 employees and nearly 600 volunteers. Background Image ISTOCK/Photo Illustration

Five of the last six state budgets cut funding to the University of Wisconsin System, so Chancellor Rebecca Blank has a simple message for alumni and legislators this time around: it’s time to reinvest in the UW.

At a campus forum this fall, Blank told faculty, staff, and students that the cuts threaten the quality of the state’s flagship university. As some top faculty and staff depart, its reputation suffers.

Wisconsin is one of just nine states that have reduced support for higher education over the last two years. Thirty-nine states increased funds to colleges and universities. And, Blank noted, the UW’s peers are investing in new programs and research centers.

“My biggest challenge as chancellor is to first make sure this university can find a way to stabilize its finances so we aren’t constantly facing budget crises every two years of the sort we’ve seen this biennium,” Blank said. “But, second, I need to do better than that. I can’t just stop the cuts; we need to get ahead. I have to find the funds that help us reinvest in the university.”

Blank supports a board of regents request for $42.5 million in new funding to train students in Wisconsin’s most high-demand fields, such as computer science, business, nursing, and engineering. The proposal also emphasizes career initiatives, funding for building maintenance and renovation, and operational flexibilities.

That investment would be welcome news to professors who have seen some colleagues take positions at other colleges and universities. In a recent column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, geography professor Jack Williams explained why he explored a job at another university — which offered better pay and more time to pursue research — and why he decided to stay.

“UW–Madison and the state universities are one of the great achievements of our country,” he wrote. “In this accelerating world, our mission of world-class research and education is ever more important. I’ve stayed to serve this state, and I remain hopeful that the state will return to supporting its great university.”

UW–Madison receives funding through five main channels: federal revenue, state revenue, gifts from donors and nonfederal grants, student tuition and fees, and revenue from auxiliary operations, such as University Housing and the Wisconsin Union. The state share, which used to be the largest source of UW funding, is now the smallest of those five, at just under 15 percent. Blank noted that state funds remain vital to the UW’s teaching, research, and outreach missions because they leverage funds from the federal government and other sources.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is expected to deliver his budget proposal to the legislature early next year. He has indicated that there could be new funding for the UW System tied to certain performance measures, such as graduation rates and job placement.

During the last year, Blank has traveled across the state, meeting with legislators and business leaders and sharing the message that the UW is an economic engine for Wisconsin. A new ad campaign using private funds employs a variety of media, including billboards, to reinforce that theme by highlighting the contributions of UW–Madison alumni in each of the state’s 72 counties.

From a social worker in Grant County to a cranberry grower in Wood County to a language teacher in Menominee County, the stories are designed to demonstrate the influence of UW alumni on their Wisconsin communities.

“We won’t just be making our case to legislators,” Blank says. “We’ll go directly to the people of the state in new and creative ways. We can’t take for granted that everyone is aware of all of the ways in which this university and its alums are involved in communities across the state.”

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