Blank: Political divide is greatest threat to UW-Madison

February 10, 2022 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s outgoing chancellor is warning regents that the state’s bitter political polarization is the greatest threat to the school’s existence.

Rebecca Blank made the remarks during a farewell address to regents on Thursday. Blank is slated to leave Madison this summer to become president of Northwestern University. She has served as UW-Madison’s leader since 2013.

She called the political polarization in Wisconsin “the greatest existential threat” to UW-Madison. Politicians are using the university as chips “in their partisan wars.” Conservatives are losing trust and confidence in the university, she said. That translates to less state aid and, in turn, fewer federal dollars that hinge on a state match, she said.

“This is all not helpful to our institution,” Blank said.

She said regents need to advocate for the university with politicians on both sides of the aisle to refute unwarranted criticism and make it clear that UW System schools are important to the state.

The regents gave her a standing ovation.