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Chancellor Mnookin visits Continuing Studies to hear the value of lifelong learning

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin visited the Division of Continuing Studies (DCS) on July 13. She attended two Badger Precollege classes and discussed with DCS faculty and staff how the division provides educational access to a variety of learners and helps them flourish and succeed.

“The extraordinary range of [students DCS serves] enriches this university tremendously,” Mnookin said to DCS faculty and staff. “I loved thinking about where learners are and how an amazing R1 research institution like ours can connect authentically and meaningfully with different kinds of community members.”

Precollege experience

The Badger Precollege classes she attended were part of the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), a three-week summer camp that offers college-level classes to high school students. In addition to gaining academic knowledge, students who attend the program also learn independence and responsibility by being immersed in a college-like environment.

Chancellor Mnookin in a lab classroom talking with high school students
Chancellor Mnookin visiting with precollege students in a campus lab.

“We are honored to have had the opportunity to highlight Badger Precollege and our work to support K-12 learners and precollege initiatives, especially our outreach efforts to provide programming for students who are often overlooked and underserved,” said Christopher Pevey Harry, assistant dean of Badger Precollege. 

Mnookin took part in ALP’s Forensic Science and Human Body and Disease courses. The laboratory-based Forensic Science course allows students to develop their logical thinking and scientific inquiry skills by analyzing criminal evidence. The Human Body and Disease course is for young scientists to gain new understandings about genetics, pathology and epidemiology. 

“During their time with the chancellor, students showcased their passion for STEM exploration and shared their journeys to the program this summer; many from across Wisconsin, the U.S., and from around the world,” said Harry. 

Time with staff and faculty

After attending the classes, the chancellor headed to the DCS offices at 21 N Park Street where staff were full of excitement. The chancellor moved through three stations, each focused on a different theme – accessing education, flourishing at UW and succeeding in life – for Mnookin to learn about how DCS serves its students. 

The “access” station focused on DCS’s commitment to serving underrepresented, historically marginalized and other returning adults and nontraditional students, said Autumn Sanchez, student services coordinator of Adult Career & Special Student Services. Staff shared stories from the Odyssey Project, UW–Madison Online and Badger Ready.

Chancellor Mnookin talking with two staff people at DCS offices
Chancellor Mnookin talking with DCS staff about how they help offer access to education.

The “flourish” station shared programs that provide opportunities for students of all ages to thrive and foster belonging, such as Summer Term, Badger Precollege, and noncredit classes and certificates.

“Our [station] felt she was very engaged and interested in the amazing and varied work we were describing,” said Sarah Stilp, assistant dean of Admissions and Student Services. 

DCS faculty and staff at the “succeed” station discussed ways in which the division supports their students to find success in their jobs and careers through programs such as Professional Degrees and Certificates, UW–Madison Online, the School for Workers and the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions.

“She was happy to hear of the successes we’ve had in helping our broad community of learners reach their goals,” said Continuing Education Program Director John Fons. 

DCS staff also treated Mnookin to slide shows showcasing their students, informal conversations about programs and priorities, and of course some snacks. At the end of the visit, she spent some time in a brief meeting with DCS leadership.

Understanding “opportunities, priorities and challenges”

Mnookin’s visit was the first stop of her tour of schools, colleges and divisions at UW–Madison.

“I am visiting each of the schools, trying to take a deeper dive and get a better understanding of opportunities, priorities and challenges,” Mnookin said to the division. “You did a beautiful job of helping me understand a lot more about what you’re up to … there is a lot of it.”