The last two years were, perhaps, my busiest yet as chancellor of UW–Madison, at least in terms of alumni relations. I traveled thousands of miles — to Milwaukee, New York, and Naples, Florida — and those were just for the Wisconsin Ideas events. I also met with alumni around the state, at Badger sporting events, on campus, and elsewhere.
Alumni have never been more important to the health of UW–Madison. You may know that we’re in the middle of a comprehensive fundraising campaign. Titled All Ways Forward, the campaign aims to raise $3.2 billion for UW–Madison. So far, more than 132,000 alumni and friends have contributed.
But alumni involvement is about more than making financial gifts to the university. It’s also about investing your time and energy to keep abreast of your alma mater and the achievements of its faculty and students.
This is an exciting time of growth and discovery at the University of Wisconsin. Our campus has once again been named one of the world’s top 25 universities — and in terms of tuition, we are the least expensive U.S. school on the list.
That may be one of the reasons why UW–Madison is a hot ticket for undergraduates around the country. We have received a record-setting number of applications, and our retention rate is at an all-time high: nearly 96 percent of freshmen return for their sophomore year. That’s one of the best in the nation among public or private universities. Our graduation rates are at an all-time high, too — some 85 percent of the freshmen who arrived in 2009 had graduated within six years. That’s well above many of our public-university peers.
Our students continue to uphold the Wisconsin Idea outside the classroom as well: we rank number one among all public universities in the U.S. in the percentage of students doing a study-abroad semester, and number one in the nation in the number of Peace Corps volunteers.
These are pride points for those of us who work on campus, but alumni should be proud of them, too. You promote UW–Madison to talented students in your area. You uphold and pass along Wisconsin traditions of service, learning, and leadership. And you voice your support for the UW to leaders in government and business.
UW–Madison’s successes are due in part to you, and for your continued support, I’m deeply grateful.
Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Madison