The very concept of the “Wisconsin Idea” is borne out of an innovative spirit.

The statewide tenet – that the University of Wisconsin should influence every family of the state – dates back well before it was voiced by UW President Charles Van Hise in 1905. When the wheat farmers of the late 19th century saw their land lose its richness, the university helped them transform into dairy farmers. That legacy graces our landscape to this day.

This relationship led to innovative policies like unemployment compensation, which Wisconsin was the first state to enact in 1932, and helped mold Wisconsin into a manufacturing and agriculture base for much of the 20th century.

This is our state’s history. But, today Wisconsin is struggling to keep our young people from leaving for better jobs elsewhere. We believe it’s time to channel the Wisconsin Idea and once again apply the brilliance of our universities to invigorate new industries.

We come to this view as a State Senator who is also a proud alumna and as an emeritus faculty member who is also a serial entrepreneur. In our view, the Wisconsin Idea is as much about helping businesses grow, supporting entrepreneurs and creating jobs as it is about inspiring government or bolstering our family farms. It is about working together, strategizing openly and creating solutions with voices from both academia and industry. As our state continues to transition toward a 21st century economy, we believe our universities are again poised to play a transformational and supporting role in driving innovation and economic success in communities across Wisconsin. Read the full story here.