International Initiatives

WAA President and CEO Paula Bonner visits with Shawn Li ’04

WAA President and CEO Paula Bonner visits with Shawn Li ’04 in Shanghai. Photo: John Lucas

Boosting the UW’s role on the world stage.

UW-Madison has more than 15,400 alumni who live and work internationally, and they are central to the university’s reputation as a world-class institution. Their talent and influence also help to position the state of Wisconsin as a powerful partner in the knowledge economy.

These graduates serve at the highest levels of international business, academia, and public sectors, and just as they benefit from their UW degrees, their work can benefit the university’s research, teaching, and public service. The Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) is working to maximize partnerships with alumni abroad to increase the UW’s international standing.

“By strengthening our international alumni relations program, we’ll better engage graduates in the university’s strategic initiatives for international education and help students understand the context of working globally with people from diverse backgrounds,” says Paula Bonner MS’78, WAA’s president and CEO.

WAA’s new director of international alumni relations, Kim Santiago de Madera ’88, notes that many alumni abroad are making meaningful connections with the UW by using their alumni status to foster relationships between the campus and institutions in their home countries.

And as these international graduates find ways to connect with their alma mater, Santiago says, they’re also connecting with fellow Badgers through alumni chapters, academic endeavors, and community service.

Official international WAA chapters number about a dozen, including one in France, one in the United Kingdom, and several in Asia. Santiago expects to see at least four new chapters over the next year as WAA strengthens alumni networks in areas with growing economies, including Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

UW-Madison is also hosting its second-ever International Convocation on campus July 26–28, 2011. The conference will welcome all alumni with global interests to engage in dialogue with distinguished alumni and UW faculty, students, and one another about issues such as global health, foreign policy and economics, and international philanthropy. (See

“This celebration of the great people, places, intelligence, ingenuity, and spirit that make UW-Madison a special place will give those who attend the convocation a stronger connection with the university,” Santiago says. “We know they’ll feel energized, and we hope they’ll share that great sense of pride with others they meet at home.”

Published in the Winter 2010 issue


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