Student life – On Wisconsin For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Thu, 27 Jun 2019 17:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Rise of Women’s Studies Tue, 28 May 2019 14:48:05 +0000

Strength in numbers: a women-led UW faculty group meets in 1975 for the formation of what has become the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. UW Archives S17032

Before the 1970s, to study the history of the world was largely to learn of men fighting wars. Modern literature meant reading the best male authors. Insert any academic discipline, and a woman’s experience or perspective was scarcely to be found.

“Teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant, and the other half doesn’t exist,” said the late Gerda Lerner, a UW–Madison historian and women’s studies pioneer.

For nearly a half century, the UW–Madison Department of Gender and Women’s Studies has set out to shift that traditional paradigm in education and research. It’s grown into one of the most respected and robust programs in the nation, conferring an undergraduate major and certificate, an LGBTQ+ studies certificate, a master’s degree, and a doctoral minor.

Today, more than 400 undergraduates are enrolled in either the certificate or degree program. The department offers some 25 courses per semester, with 100 more cross-listed with other departments. Fifteen faculty members and nearly 50 affiliated instructors teach courses in a wide range of fields: from biology and psychology to law and politics; from literature and languages to history and religious studies. Increasingly, courses are exploring the intersections of gender identity, sexuality, race, and disability.

“We’ve always been strongly interdisciplinary across the humanities, the social sciences, and even the biological sciences,” says Janet Hyde, a professor of psychology and gender and women’s studies, whose research has debunked myths of biological differences between men and women related to personality and cognitive ability.

The field of women’s studies rose alongside the larger women’s movement in the late ’60s and early ’70s. On the UW campus, groups of female faculty connected demands for fair pay and hiring with a desire for a centralized women’s studies program. Following an effort across the UW System, a UW–Madison committee appointed by Chancellor Edwin Young MA’42, PhD’50 established a framework for what would officially become the Women’s Studies Program in 1975.

The program began with less than a handful of courses and faculty members who held joint appointments on campus. In 2008, the program became a full academic department, with the ability to hire faculty of its own and independently offer tenure. It’s currently in the process of establishing a PhD program, which would finish rounding out its academic offerings and no doubt please the foremothers of women’s studies.

“I want women’s history to be legitimate,” Lerner once wrote. “To be part of every curriculum on every level.”

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A Laboratory for Financial Aid Tue, 28 May 2019 14:48:04 +0000

Mackenzie Straub x’22 (pictured) was one of 796 incoming students during the 2018–19 academic year receiving free tuition through Bucky’s Tuition Promise. Jeff Miller

The first brainchild of the UW’s new Student Success Through Applied Research (SSTAR) Lab, Bucky’s Tuition Promise, has provided financial relief to nearly one-quarter of the Wisconsin-resident students in the 2018–19 incoming class.

By identifying a sustainable way to simplify the financial aid process for in-state undergraduates — covering four years of tuition and segregated fees for freshmen meeting income-level criteria — the SSTAR Lab created a solution to help the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) provide more student support.

And it aims to do more. Although the lab began research on Bucky’s Tuition Promise more than a year and a half ago, SSTAR celebrated its grand opening — with a new office and classroom space tucked into OSFA — earlier this year.

“We as financial aid practitioners really were looking for ways to be more creative and innovative with how we do business and how we award funds to students,” says Derek Kindle, the UW’s director of student financial aid. As a result, OSFA decided to bring in Nicholas Hillman — an associate professor in the School of Education who studies higher-education finance and policy research — to provide his expertise and to direct the SSTAR Lab.

With nationwide concerns about college affordability, the SSTAR Lab, which also employs graduate students, aims to conduct financial-aid research that leads to practical and lasting solutions. Its direct partnership with the financial aid office is a rare one in the field — to Hillman’s knowledge, it’s the only lab of its type at a university.

“There’s just a big gap between what we do as academics and what practitioners need to solve problems in real time,” he says. “I think people are doing a lot of really innovative work with financial aid, but nothing in this format where we’re working in partnership with practitioners to help solve problems.”

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Chancellor Blank’s To-Do List Tue, 28 May 2019 14:47:34 +0000 One thing was clear in Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s February address to the UW Board of Regents: the landscape of higher education is changing rapidly, and UW–Madison must keep up to maintain its status as a top public research institution.

Blank outlined several key goals and investments for the university. One is to build on educational outcomes by offering greater flexibility for students. An increase in online courses is helping students meet credit requirements while they’re studying abroad or doing an internship. The UW is exploring all-online degree programs for nontraditional students, with the hope of developing at least one undergraduate program by 2020. It’s expanding early-start programs, which allow incoming freshmen to earn credits during the summer, and rolling out gap-year programs, which will accommodate those who earn admission but wish to delay full enrollment so they can travel, work, or volunteer.

A second priority is accessibility. The UW established Bucky’s Tuition Promise last year to reduce the financial burden on low- and middle-income families. Four years of tuition is now covered for any incoming Wisconsin student whose family’s household income is below the state median of $58,000. Noting that the university has tripled its investment in scholarships over the past 10 years, Blank said that it still faces shrinking state and federal aid. “I want every student who can qualify for admission to UW–Madison to be able to afford to come,” she said.

Blank identified research as an area of concern, with the UW’s expenditures lagging behind its peers over the past decade. Despite an 11 percent increase in research dollars during the past two years, the UW has dropped to sixth in national research expenditures, following decades among the top five universities. To address the trend, the UW is increasing stipends to attract top graduate students and establishing industry partnerships with the likes of GE Healthcare, Johnson Controls, and Foxconn.

Above all, the quality of the university “rests on its faculty,” Blank said. A cluster-hire program, which recruits cross-disciplinary faculty members with aligned interest in high-demand research areas, will hire more than 50 faculty members over five years. Another program is giving departments new tools and financial support to recruit faculty members from underrepresented groups in their respective fields. The biggest barrier remains the lack of competitive pay. “We’re number 14 of the 14 Big Ten schools,” Blank said, noting that UW professors earn, on average, 10.4 percent less than those at peer institutions. “That does not reflect our reputation and our strength.”

All of these key areas, Blank said, require reinvestment from the university as well as a renewed commitment by the state. She concluded by quoting former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “If you want to create a great city” — and a great state, she added — “first create a great university, and then wait 100 years.”

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Dance, Dance Revolutionary Tue, 28 May 2019 14:47:34 +0000 “There are times when I believe ‘Bunny’ was born to dance,” said Cordelia Chew Hinkson of her daughter in a 1952 interview.

A year earlier, Bunny — as Mary Hinkson ’46, MS’47 was known to her family and close friends — had broken through the almost exclusively white world of modern dance when she earned a lead role with the Martha Graham Dance Company.

But if she was born to dance, she also learned — through her own effort and through her study at the UW. Between her youth and her debut with America’s leading modern dance troupe, Hinkson came to Madison, where she discovered the science of movement as well as some of the complicated realities of what it means to be black in America.

Hinkson was born to a storied African American family in Philadelphia on March 16, 1925. Her mother had been a public- school teacher, and her father, DeHaven Hinkson, was a prominent physician and the first African American to head a U.S. Army hospital. Hinkson’s aunt, Mary Saunders Patterson, was famed contralto Marian Anderson’s first music teacher.

A 17-year-old Hinkson arrived at the University of Wisconsin in February 1943. She chose the UW, in part, because it offered an extensive curriculum in physical education — the subject she aspired to teach. But Madison was far different from Philadelphia, and the transition wasn’t easy.

Although African Americans had matriculated at the UW since 1862, they were often excluded from white social events and faced ardent racism. An unwritten but widely acknowledged policy excluded African Americans from dormitories and most rooming houses. A 1942 survey conducted by the Daily Cardinal revealed that 95 percent of housemothers on the university’s list of approved rooming houses preferred not to rent rooms to black students. “Many Negro, and to a lesser degree Chinese and Jewish, students have been denied rooms that are vacant and have been forced into outlying districts or have been forced away from the university altogether,” the study noted.

Hinkson made arrangements to live off campus. Discriminatory housing policies coupled with the wartime economy — students were often displaced to accommodate military trainees — made securing campus housing nearly impossible. During her undergraduate years, Hinkson lived in the Groves Women’s Cooperative at 150 Langdon Street, where she shared a room with fellow dancer Matt Turney ’47. The interracial boarding house named for noted agricultural economics professor Harold Groves 1919, MA1920, PhD1927 brought together women from all over the world. Groves was Madison’s first women’s cooperative house, and it opened the year Hinkson arrived. Already well traveled, Hinkson likely thrived in the multicultural co-op, which provided vivid evidence that blacks could live with whites. Members worked together as part of a single household, cleaning floors and scrubbing toilets. Hinkson washed dishes and swept floors to defray the cost of lodging.

“World War II and its immediate aftermath led mid-century Americans to reconsider the nation’s democratic principles and the backdrop of unprecedented political, social, economic, and ideological changes,” Groves later recalled.

UW Dean of Women Louise Greeley wrote to President Clarence Dykstra in 1943: “We believe … that if a group of Negroes, Jews, and Gentiles such as this … can demonstrate ability to live successfully together, it will be worth trying.”

Hinkson dances in the Union Theater. Her experience with Margaret H’Doubler brought her to the attention of major dance troupes. UW Archives S16295

While at the university, Hinkson succeeded academically, earning mostly As and Bs, and she reveled in Madison’s robust dance scene, joining Orchesis, the UW’s modern dance troupe that had been founded in 1918. She studied English, French, history, zoology, and PE, and she impressed physical education professor Katherine Cronin with her “good mind and sincere attitude toward her work.” Hinkson soon changed her major to dance after taking a course with Margaret H’Doubler 1910, MA1924, and when she told her father of the change, he was reluctant but supportive. “If that’s what you want, go to it,” he said. And so she went: in 1945, she appeared in Orchesis’s production of Orpheus and Eurydice. The Baltimore Afro-American newspaper covered the performance, describing Hinkson and Turney as the group’s first “colored dancers.”

“[Mary] was in heaven,” her sister commented some years later.

Hinkson would long remember the remarkable teachers in the physical education department and courses with H’Doubler, a pioneer educator who had created the nation’s first academic program for the study of dance.

Though campus could be unwelcoming, Madison did attract African American artists and thinkers in the 1940s: anthropologist and choreographer Katherine Dunham and her dancers performed Tropical Revue at the Parkway Theater in 1944; Alain Locke was appointed visiting professor of philosophy in 1946; Pearl Primus and her “primitive modern dancers” appeared in 1948; and actor Paul Robeson was a regular feature at the Union Theater.

And Madison offered opportunities: it was at the UW that Hinkson was introduced to the Martha Graham Dance Company, which performed at the Union Theater in March 1946. H’Doubler had required her dance students to attend the show, and Hinkson said she was “completely blown away.”

Hinkson graduated in 1946 but continued with graduate courses. After a year of studies and writing a thesis, she earned a master’s degree and then became an instructor in the Department of Physical Education for Women — one of the first black women to teach at any majority-white university. Hinkson and three other students then formed the Wisconsin Dance Group, touring Toronto and across the Midwest in a 1933 Buick. The group included Turney, Miriam Cole ’46, and Sage Fuller Cowles ’47.

In 1951, Martha Graham asked Hinkson to perform a “demonstration” — a combination recital and audition. Graham then asked Hinkson to join her company, and by 1953, Hinkson held the title of principal dancer, starring in a production of Bluebeard’s Castle in New York. For 20 years, Hinkson was one of Graham’s leading dancers, and she also taught at the Juilliard School and at the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Hinkson may have found a challenging environment at the UW, but she left prepared for a key role in the world of dance. When she passed away on November 26, 2014, her obituary lauded her as “an influential teacher both in the United States and abroad,” “highly versatile,” and “one of Martha Graham’s most important leading dancers.”

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Stone Survivor Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:41:24 +0000 Sandstone statue in a garden

Bryce Richter

After 70 secretive years, a gargoyle has been reunited with its twin. One of the sandstone statues, which sat atop the old Law School, was thought to have been destroyed during the building’s 1963 demolition. But the children of Paul Been ’49 LLB’53 grew up hearing a different story. Been, along with a fellow law student, hauled it away in a wheelbarrow after a storm, according to the family. His children returned the statue in September.

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Langdon Street Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:15 +0000 In 1949, Officer Hector Naze poses with a seven-year-old Milverstedt on a State Street corner in Madison, WI

Arthur Vinje

Langdon Street wasn’t always the sole province of Greek-letter houses and student residences. Fred Milverstedt ’69, who grew up on the street, says, “I would sit on the front steps of the Pillars [apartment building], morning and night, and watch the parade [of] post-WWII students go by.” His mother would walk him partway to school and then have a police officer usher him across the street. In 1949, Officer Hector Naze posed with a seven-year-old Milverstedt on a State Street corner for a safety campaign. Milverstedt went on to major in journalism at the UW and spent time working for the Wisconsin State Journal, the Milwaukee Journal, the Associated Press, and the Capital Times. In 1975, he cofounded and became the first editor of the Isthmus, Madison’s free weekly, eventually becoming a writer and editor with the UW Foundation before his retirement.

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Memorial Library Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:14 +0000 The library was the state’s biggest building project since the Wisconsin Capitol in 1917. In the 1980s, plans for an eight-story addition were reduced by one floor to avoid blocking views of the capitol. Memorial Library is home to 3.5 million volumes — the largest single library collection in the state. Before the building’s construction in 1953, the library shared space with the Wisconsin Historical Society. Locked carrels, frequently called “cages,” are visible in this 1960s image. Second-year graduate students looking to avoid lugging books back and forth to the library can apply for one of the solitary study spaces. The library is known as one of the best places on campus to power through solo studying, a reputation reinforced by one review posted on Google: “Quietest public place for UW students. Not suitable for group work.”

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Slideshow: Madison Flood Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:14 +0000 Madison-area lake levels continued to rise after a record-breaking storm on August 20, 2018, dumped more than 10 inches of rain on parts of Dane County and caused flooding on the UW–Madison campus lakeshore. Street closures in the downtown area also complicated matters for students who moved into residence halls six days later. While other areas of Madison experienced flooding for weeks after the initial rainfall, campus remained open for normal operations.

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Wheelhouse Studios Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:13 +0000 What started four years ago as a small experiment meant to encourage the campus community to tap into its creativity has expanded tenfold into a hub for the skilled and newcomers alike to come together and make art. Wheelhouse Studios’ monthly Free Art Fridays draw between 300 and 400 people, and on the weekends it’s getting difficult to find an open pottery wheel.

“We exceeded all of our expectations, so organizationally, we’re figuring out what the sustainability plan is,” says recently retired director Jay Ekleberry ’77, MS’83. “How do we keep this going? How do we keep things fresh and new?”

Open 70 hours a week on the lower level of Memorial Union, Wheelhouse is available to students and union members and offers spaces dedicated to ceramic, 3D, and 2D art. The open-studio aspect is what sets the program apart, Ekleberry says. With other art spaces in Madison, “you can’t just waltz into your ceramics studio anytime between your class sessions and practice or work on a project.”

That time to pursue artistic passions was what inspired Wheelhouse’s predecessor, the Craftshop, which opened in 1930 after student Sally Owen Marshall ’30 used her senior thesis to petition for an art space on campus. It closed in 2012 for renovations to the union and Wheelhouse opened in 2014.

Close to 2,000 students and community members enroll in Wheelhouse classes during the year, and the studio attracts additional visitors when it hosts events to encourage conversation about contemporary issues. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the campus community was invited to drop in and create mixed-media collages representing their favorite quote from King. Wheelhouse has also hosted painting workshops to reinforce positive messages about body image.

“When you’re just sitting and talking when you’re working on an art project, the dialogue becomes deeper,” Ekleberry says. “It’s a whole different conversation because you’re engaged in this activity that’s activating the whole brain, forcing you to be creative. You have an instant common ground.”

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Wisconsin Quidditch Thu, 01 Nov 2018 15:47:21 +0000 Alison Pujanauski has the ball during a game of Quidditch with fellow students

“[Defenders] don’t always necessarily look at [the women], even if they’re standing wide open in the backfield,” says UW chaser Alison Pujanauski x’20 (pictured). “So it kind of makes you a secret weapon.”

On a chilly fall evening, the Wisconsin Quidditch team is trying to sell its game to the newest recruits: a pair of students who happened to be tossing a football on the Gordon Dining and Event Center lawn.

“It’s just like that, but with a volleyball,” one of the players shouts over to them. Her teammates chime in: it’s a combination of many sports, including rugby, dodgeball, basketball, and tag. They brag that a former UW football player has even joined their ranks.

Quidditch looks like organized chaos. Words can only start to describe it; YouTube videos do it much better. There are three chasers, who score points by passing and throwing a volleyball — or quaffle — through the opponent’s goals (three hoops propped up with PVC piping). There’s a keeper, who serves as the goalie and blocks scoring attempts. There are two beaters, who throw dodgeballs — or bludgers — at opponents to briefly knock them out of the game. Later on, there’s a seeker, who attempts to end the match and score a bounty of points by catching the snitch, a tennis ball wrapped in a sock dangling off the backside of an impartial runner. (Yes, quidditch is a contact sport.) Oh, and all the players must hold a PVC pipe — or broom — between their legs at all times.

“Wait.” One of the recruits reaches an epiphany: “Is this, like, the Harry Potter thing?”

Twenty years after the U.S. release of the first Harry Potter book, quidditch — sans the wizardry and magic — is still found on many college campuses. “We’re working on the flying,” says a deadpan Chris Noble PhDx’20, president of Wisconsin Quidditch.

The human — or muggle — version of quidditch was created in 2005 by imaginative students at Middlebury College in Vermont. In those early days, it stayed as true as humanly possible to author J. K. Rowling’s once fictional sport, with players using actual brooms and wearing capes. Quidditch has since evolved into an international phenomenon, with several governing bodies, a major league in the United States, and a world cup featuring nearly 30 countries. There are more than 150 college and community teams nationwide.

Quidditch is a rare coed sport. No more than four of the six active players (or five of the seven, when the seeker enters) can identify as the same gender. While intense and competitive on the pitch, the sport is known for its congenial spirit among players and teams. “There seemed to be so much animosity in some of the [other] sports that I tried to play,” Noble says.

The game first arrived at UW–Madison in 2009, when Nikki Powers ’10 and Mary Howard ’13 established a student organization. The club vanished after a year or two, but its Facebook page remained. Noble — who began playing quidditch in his native United Kingdom — arrived on campus in 2015. After posting on the Facebook page, he eventually mustered up enough interest to revive the squad. Around 20 players now make up the roster and compete against nearby schools, including Marquette, Loyola, and Columbia College. Last year, the team qualified for the Midwest regional tournament for the first time but fell short of nationals. The tournament was held at Breese Stevens Field in Madison.

As practice unfolds, it’s easy to tell the veterans from the beginners. Newer players often fall to temptation, channeling their inner Steph Curry and futilely chucking quaffles from 30 feet away. The veteran players strategically and patiently align, pass, and weave until they’re in Giannis Antetokounmpo dunking range. Skilled players can momentarily move with their brooms tightly tucked between their legs, freeing up two hands for catching and throwing.

It’s clear that the athletes take this game seriously, even if some passersby don’t. During practice, a few students on their way to the dining hall sneak a Snapchat or point and laugh with their friends. The Harry Potter charm comes attached with a nerdy stigma. But the longer you watch quidditch, the more you notice the feats of athleticism and teamwork and less the quirks of its fantasy origin.

Perhaps the best description for quidditch is that it’s simply a sport — as real as any other.

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