Incoming UW–Madison chancellor Jennifer Mnookin.

Mnookin brings deep experience, wide perspective to UW–Madison role

By John Lucas, UW–Madison

Every incoming University of Wisconsin–Madison leader professes to understand the Wisconsin Idea, the guiding principle that the activities of the university should have a positive and lasting impact on the state and world.  

Chancellor-designee Jennifer L. Mnookin, who on Monday was named the 30th leader of UW–Madison, grasps it in a deeply personal way. 

Eighteen months ago, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mnookin donated a kidney to her father, Harvard law professor Robert Mnookin. A transplant solution developed at UW–Madison allowed the organ to be shipped from Los Angeles to him in Boston for successful transplantation. He’s doing well today. 

Following her visit to campus and meetings with shared governance in early May, she was struck by the commitment to the Wisconsin Idea and the spirit of the academic community that she’ll be joining on Aug. 4. 

“There are two things that make this place so special. One is just the incredible range of research activities across so many fields at such a high level,” Mnookin says. “The second is just how much people care about each other, the community and the institution. From the students I met with to faculty to staff, there were an enormous number of people who clearly really care about this institution and making it as strong as possible. 

“That makes me just incredibly excited and inspired to become a Badger,” she notes, adding that she feels deep appreciation both to the Board of Regents for selecting her and to outgoing Chancellor Rebecca Blank for her years of leadership.  

While Mnookin offers perspective on and understanding of UW and the opportunities it offers, current and former colleagues went out of their way to share accounts of the leadership attributes that make her a match for a new role. Read more …