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UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank leaving for Northwestern


Chancellor Rebecca Blank will leave the University of Wisconsin–Madison at the end of the 2021-22 academic year to assume the presidency of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, according to a press release from UW.

Northwestern University announced Blank’s selection on Monday. She will succeed Morton Schapiro as the university’s 17th president in the summer of 2022. She has previously served on the Northwestern faculty.

Blank has served as chancellor since July 2013. Her tenure as chancellor is the longest since Irving Shain, who served for nearly a decade until his retirement in 1986. She has the second longest tenure of any current Big Ten public institution president or chancellor.

“Leading UW–Madison and serving the people of Wisconsin has been an honor and a privilege,” Blank said in a statement. “Now it’s time to let someone else step into leadership. I have many connections with Northwestern and am excited about this new opportunity. It was always my goal to leave this university stronger than when I came and I believe that together we have achieved that. I want to thank the many staff and faculty who have been partners and collaborators in everything we’ve done.”

“Chancellor Blank is an extraordinary leader whose commitment to the Wisconsin Idea, including her efforts to expand the University’s outreach to every corner of the state, have UW-Madison well-positioned for success in the future,” Board of Regents chair Edmund Manydeeds said in a statement. “The impact of her leadership has been felt throughout the UW System and entire state, and she will be sorely missed. I appreciate that she will continue as chancellor through this academic year as we prepare for a transition and know she will continue her record of excellence at Northwestern.”

“The University of Wisconsin is one of the finest universities in the world, and Chancellor Blank’s tenacious advocacy and strong leadership have helped build on that legacy during her tenure,” UW System President Tommy Thompson said in a statement. “On behalf of the University of Wisconsin System, I want to thank her for her service to our state and wish her well at Northwestern.”

The university has not announced plans for a search to replace Blank.