Rebecca Blank, who led the University of Wisconsin-Madison for nearly a decade through budget battles and a pandemic, died Friday after a seven-month battle with cancer. She was 67.
One of the longest-serving chancellors in recent UW-Madison history, Blank is credited with gaining the ability to enroll more out-of-state students, launching a full-tuition scholarship program for low-income Wisconsin students, and leading a $4 billion fundraising campaign. She’s remembered for smaller gestures, too, like bringing commencement back to Camp Randall Stadium.
“Our community has lost a brilliant leader who cared deeply about making this great public research university stronger, more accessible, better connected to the community and the state, and better positioned to make a difference in the world,” Blank’s successor, UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin, said in a statement. “Becky inspired faculty, staff and administrators with an approach to problem-solving that combined vision, creativity and pragmatism.”