School loan

Fall 2021 Look Back – Chancellor’s Office – UW – Madison

Among the many tips we received at the start of this semester, one of my favorites came from the child of a member of our staff who quoted a line from the children’s classic The Little Book of Instructions ‘bear cub. It goes like this:

Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you risk stepping on a piece of forest that has been left out by mistake.

The past 21 months have tested our ability to move the university forward while trying not to step on anything by mistake. We were successful for many reasons: careful planning, the willingness of our students and staff to follow health protocols, the dedication of our professors and instructors, and our high vaccination rate. And driving all of these things is what one of our students recently called our “benevolent vibe.”

As this semester draws to a close, I reflect on how grateful I am to be part of a community that cares and cares for one another.

When we started planning for fall 2021, we were convinced we could bring back many of the events and traditions that make UW-Madison so special. Students and families told us they wanted as many in-person learning options as possible. But we also knew that the semester’s success would depend on things we couldn’t fully control, like students’ willingness to wear face covers and how many of us would get vaccinated in the absence of a warrant.

You probably already know that our immunization rates are among the highest in the country. The Washington Post recently named Dane County one of the most vaccinated counties in the United States, and the university has contributed to that. At the same time, we have kept infection rates low.

But we have a lot more to be proud of than just fighting COVID.

Fall 2021 is a semester in which we welcomed largest and most diverse freshman class in our history, selected from a record number of applicants. Our measures of student quality also continue to grow, with a five-year trend of more National Merit Finalists selecting UW-Madison. We remain a destination of choice for top students in Wisconsin, the country and the world.

Despite the stress of the pandemic, our school results also continued to improve. Our six-year graduation rate of over 89% is the highest on record and puts us in the top 10 of American audiences. And we once again set a new record for average time to graduation – 3.89 years – 40 days in less than four years.

The graduation gap between white and historically underrepresented students has been cut almost in half over the past 10 years (now a 7 point difference).

We have expanded support for institutional scholarships – from $ 25 million in 2007 to nearly $ 100 million this year. In this regard, more than half of our undergraduates (57%) graduated without student debt in 2020. Nationally, less than a third of students do.

And this month, we close the most successful fundraising campaign in our history – the All Ways Forward campaign raised over $ 4 billion for education, research and awareness on this campus. Much of this money is earmarked through grant agreements for scholarships, faculty positions or specific programs, all of which will help provide a margin of excellence to maintain the quality of this great university.

I’m proud of all of these accomplishments, but this semester’s story is best understood by looking at the accomplishments of our students, such as

• Lexi Luo, student in biochemistry and statistics, and Hawra Lajawad, student in chemical engineering and biochemistry, have just been appointed Rhodes scholarship finalists.

• Lydia Nyachieo, graduate in International Studies and Philosophy, with certificates in African Studies and French, was appointed Marshall Fellow 2022. Nyachieo intends to use the scholarship to earn a Masters Degree in International Development through the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester.

• A team of students from the College of Engineering and the Wisconsin Energy Institute just won first place in a Musk Foundation competition to find new ways to fight climate change. The team will receive $ 250,000 – the biggest prize available in the student competition – to fund further work on their plan to remove carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, from the air and to seal it where it cannot contribute to global growth. temperatures.

None of these accomplishments would be possible without the extraordinary commitment of our faculty and staff. Thank you all for the amazing work you have done this semester.

May this winter break be a moment of joy shared with family and friends, but also a moment of rest and renewal. As Pooh Bear once said, “When all else fails, take a nap.”