Who is University President-elect Rebecca Blank and what experience will she bring to Northwestern?
While university leaders have applauded her appointment, some community members have raised concerns about her relationships with activists and marginalized communities as UW-Madison’s main leader. Here are five things you should know about the university president-elect.
Blank will make history as the first female president of the NU
Blank’s appointment follows a growing trend for women to serve as university presidents. In 2016, only 30 percent of university presidents across the country were women, according to a survey by the American Council on Education. However, the council, a non-profit university association, predicts that university presidents will achieve gender parity by 2030. She will work at the same time as Kathleen Hagerty, the NU’s first female professor.
It’s not the first time Blank has broken into a male-dominated profession. She was also the first full-time woman in the economics department of the NU, where she was employed from 1989 to 1999. According to a survey by the American Economic Association last year, only 22% of faculties with permanent and permanent tenure are women.
She has the second longest tenure of any current head of any Big Ten public institution
Blank was Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison for eight years. As Chancellor, she led several initiatives to improve educational outcomes and equal opportunities at UW-Madison.
Most importantly, Blank led the implementation of Bucky’s Study Pledge, which guarantees free tuition to Wisconsin-based students with gross household income of $ 60,000 or less. According to a press release from UW-Madison, more than 4,000 Wisconsin students attend the university with no tuition or fees.
At a time of pressing funding needs, Blank also led a capital campaign that raised more than $ 4 billion for the institution. She helped lead the Raimey Noland campaign, which included funding scholarships that increase the diversity of the student body, recruiting and maintaining a more diverse faculty, and research addressing social and racial issues.
In 2018, Blank started the Target of Opportunity program, an initiative for faculty diversity that additionally supports the recruitment of prospective faculty members from historically underrepresented groups.
US News and World Report ranked UW-Madison 41st when Blank took office in 2013 and 42nd in 2021. UW-Madison’s four- and six-year graduation rates are higher than ever, and applications to the University have doubled in the past decade.
She has served in three presidential administrations
Blank served in the Obama, Clinton, and Bush administrations in economic advisory roles. She was acting Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Secretary of Commerce under Obama, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers under Clinton and chief economist in the Council under Bush.
Blank also served as a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institute, Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University.
Student activists have criticized their response to racism and policing
In September 2020, the UW-Madison student government agreed to “distrust” the university’s police force. According to student activists at the facility, Blank responded that she had not heard any specific complaints about UW-Madison police.
In October 2020, the Graduate Worker Union and the BIPOC coalition of UW-Madison wrote one op-ed in The Badger Herald criticized Blanks’ refusal to disappoint university police and listen to student activists.
After announcing that Blank will be the next president of NU, several persons tweeted Above negative experience with the Federal Chancellor on issues of social justice. “My deepest condolences to all of Northwestern’s color students,” wrote one user. Blank “often remained silent when it came to racism in the facility,” wrote another.
In a private email obtained from The College Fix, Blank also expressed frustration with a member of the UW-Madison student government.
“Our student body leader is particularly opposition this year and it has been difficult to work with him,” wrote Blank. “That creates a lot of problems because the student administration is an important group for communication with the students.”
She has expressed mixed views on the removal of campus landmarks
In 2020, UW Madison students requested the removal of an Abraham Lincoln statue on campus on their campus. According to a student petition, one of the statue’s main donors frequently published articles inciting violence against blacks, and Lincoln ordered the execution of 38 Dakota men in 1862.
Blank resisted the removal of the statue and had a. free opinion argues that Lincoln’s legacy should be both celebrated and criticized. A Letter to the editor Published in the Badger Herald, Blank also said he would minimize the impact of the execution in a meeting with student leaders, and reportedly said Lincoln “could have killed more than him”.
NU had similar controversies. In March 2020 the Board of Trustees said it wouldn’t reconsider its decision to keep the name of founder John Evans in the John Evans Alumni Center. A 2014 University of Denver study found Evans “deeply guilty” of the Sand Creek massacre, in which about 150 people were killed by Cheyenne and Arapaho.
However, in August 2021, Blank approved the removal of a rock from campus that was referred to in a 1925 newspaper article with a nickname that included the N word.
“Creating a more inclusive environment at our universities and in our society is a difficult task, but a critical one in our controversial, polarized times,” wrote Blank in a opinion. “Progress is made incrementally, with real – not performative – changes.”
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