The University Committee met Monday to hear from various University of Wisconsin leaders and discuss the New Chancellor Brief, which will help the incoming chancellor adjust to their position.

The New Chancellor Brief will outline the structure of the UC and its current top issues. Topics will include how UW handles COVID, potential future problems and the importance of clear communication between the chancellor and the UC.

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Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor and Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Steve Ackerman joined the UC members at Monday’s meeting to discuss the brief.

Blank said at the meeting that the new chancellor will be announced in the coming weeks. There are currently five finalists.

During the meeting, Reesor announced plans for “a more intentional and greater partnership with religious advisors.” This would consist of giving organizations such as Upper House, a Christian gathering center, and UW Hillel, a Jewish organization on campus, a table at the Resource Center at SOAR in order to raise awareness for students and parents who are interested, Reesor said.

While these organizations are not directly a part of UW, this partnership would aim to incorporate student-associated religious organizations under the umbrella of Diversity Equity, and Inclusion, which UW has fallen short on in the past, Reesor said.

The start date of the fall 2021 semester highlights the university’s shortcomings in working with religious groups when UW scheduled the first day of class on Rosh Hashanah, sparking backlash from Jewish community leaders, faculty and students.

Reesor said Student Affairs is also preparing for Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration for the fall 2023 semester, also known as SOAR. Currently, Student Affairs is working to make SOAR more accessible for students who cannot attend in-person by implementing more alternative and virtual options. 

In his report, Ackerman said the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation is wrapping up the scholarship process as the academic year comes to close.

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Ackerman said the Schmidt Family Foundation, founded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2006, has expressed interest in funding a post-doctoral program that would incorporate artificial intelligence into research programs of varying fields and sciences. If chosen, UW would be able to fund 10 post-doctorates in the first year and 23 post-doctorates in the second year.

Blank expressed excitement for in-person graduation this year and the opening of Divine Nine Garden Plaza at East Campus Mall. Blank said she also looks forward to sharing her insights with UW’s next chancellor in the coming weeks..

The University Committee will meet again May 9 at Bascom Hall.