Blank recommended as UW-Madison chancellor

Board scheduled to vote April 5

Dr. Rebecca Blank, acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce, has been recommended as the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly and a special committee of the UW System Board of Regenst announced their recommendation on Monday afternoon.

“Dr. Blank is uniquely prepared to lead UW-Madison, coming to us with broad national and international experience in roles where big science and big research intersect with job creation and commercialization,” Reilly said in a statement. “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.”

Blank was among four chancellor candidates who visited the UW campus in March. She said she was “honored and delighted” to be offered the job.

“This is a world-class school, and I have been continually impressed by the caliber, dedication and enthusiasm of its students, faculty and staff,” Blank said in a statement.

“One of the many attractions of this job is the school’s strong commitment to the Wisconsin Idea of engaging the state and its communities,” she continued. “The University is integral to the economic future of the state and must continue to be a strong partner in the effort to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.”


Blank has been with the U.S. Department of Commerce since 2009, serving first as Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, then as Deputy Secretary and Acting Secretary, according to UW officials. Prior to joining the Commerce Department, she served as a fellow at the Brookings Institution. From 1999-2008, Blank was Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, where she also worked as a professor of public policy and of economics. Before Michigan, she was a faculty member at Northwestern University and served as a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors from 1997-99.

Blank holds a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She earned her undergraduate degree, also in economics, from the University of Minnesota.

Governor Scott Walker released the following statement after Blank was recommended as UW-Madison’s next chancellor:

“Dr. Blank is a great pick for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has excellent academic credentials and strong leadership experience. Equally as important, she has a keen knowledge of economic issues that can help the UW promote great prosperity in the state.”

The UW System Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on the appointment on April 5. If confirmed by the full board, Blank will succeed UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward, who has served in this position since July 2011.