Panel recommends Rebecca Blank as next UW-Madison chancellor

A special committee of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has recommended Rebecca M. Blank as the new chancellor of UW-Madison.

Blank, the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, was recommended over three other candidates forwarded by a campus search and screen committee.

“I am both delighted and honored to receive this offer and delighted and honored to accept it,” said Blank, a native of Roseville, Minn. “Wisconsin is a world-class university, and the opportunity to provide leadership with first-class groups of staff and faculty is exciting.”

The full Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on the recommendation April 5. If confirmed, Blank will succeed Interim Chancellor David Ward, who has served since July 2011. Blank hopes to start in late July.

Blank was a visiting fellow at UW–Madison’s Department of Economics and Institute for Research on Poverty in 1985 before moving on to teaching positions at MIT, Princeton University, Northwestern University, and the University of Michigan. At Michigan, she served as dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy from 1999-2007. She also earned a Ph.D. in economics at MIT.

In a prepared statement, UW System President Kevin P. Reilly said Blank is uniquely prepared to lead UW-Madison, noting her broad national and international experience in roles where science and research intersect with job creation and commercialization. “She also has a strong track record of educational innovation, having created interdisciplinary graduate programs, and a new undergraduate public policy major, at the University of Michigan,” he noted.

Gov. Scott Walker also praised the recommendation, citing Blank’s academic credentials, leadership experience, and knowledge of economics.