New Resources for Discovery

Dean Kate VandenBosch

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a mighty force for research by many measures, from its life-changing discoveries to its global reputation for scientific excellence. Yet another measure is the extent to which the university sustains its research enterprise.

In recent years, successive cuts at the state level have reduced UW’s overall budget, making the prioritization of core activities a major challenge. This hinders our ability to attract research funding, and the impact of this trend can be seen in national rankings. Between 1972 and 2014, the National Science Foundation (NSF) consistently ranked UW–Madison among the top five institutions in research expenditures. In 2015, following a steady four-year decline in those numbers, the university slipped to sixth place.

In response, Chancellor Rebecca Blank has called for a significant reinvestment in UW in a variety of ways. This means greater legislative and private support, but it also means the campus needs to find new, stable revenue streams. To boost our research endeavors, campus leadership has developed new seed funding mechanisms. These programs are designed to help our scientists do the arduous preliminary work that is necessary for securing major grants from large government agencies and nonprofits.

Today, we seem to be on the right track. In 2016, UW–Madison’s research expenditures rose, and the university’s NSF ranking held steady. Another encouraging fact: faculty, staff, and students at CALS are making the most of these new opportunities.

For example, the UW2020 Initiative was established in 2015 to fund high-risk, high-impact projects. Selected proposals receive an average award of $300,000 for two years, and CALS projects have been among the winners in all three rounds. In fact, in 2017, one third of the awardees hailed from CALS, with projects in areas ranging from artificial intelligence in dairy farm management to the role of the human gut microbiome in health and disease.

Speaking of the microbiome, UW’s Microbiome Initiative was established in 2017 with goals similar to that of UW2020. But it was also designed to encourage interdisciplinary work in an area where UW has a high concentration of expertise. Twelve of the 13 microbiome proposals selected for funding involve CALS faculty, many of them as principal investigators. These projects, covering topics such as how gut microbes might influence Alzheimer’s disease and the role of the tomato’s microbiome in pathogen resistance, have the potential to make transformative discoveries.

UW2020 and the Microbiome Initiative are both made possible by funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and other sources. But university funds will support yet another program to encourage interdisciplinary work that will make UW–Madison more competitive in garnering extramural research support. Over the next three to five years, around 70 faculty will be hired in 20 different strategic “clusters” — groups of scholars, chosen for their shared research interests and specialties, who can collaborate and pool resources from where they are situated in departments across campus. A campus committee is now reviewing proposals for these clusters, and many touch upon areas of expertise that can be found in abundance at CALS. I look forward to updating you on this initiative in the future.

I know that our exceptional researchers will continue to experience great success with these programs. Their efforts will keep CALS in the vanguard of the agricultural and life sciences while helping UW–Madison retain its traditional place as a premier research university. I am excited for what the future holds.

In Vivo: ‘There is Nothing So Stable as Change’

Kate VandenBoschThroughout its remarkable 128-year history, CALS has continually embraced change. To keep us at the forefront of the agricultural and life sciences, our leaders have seized new opportunities just as other endeavors have passed from the picture. In fact, our college formed in response to great change, during a time when Wisconsin’s farmers began to recognize the vital role of scientific agriculture in their success.

But one does not have to delve far into the past to find other examples of such adaptation. Only a decade ago, the departments of Forest Ecology and Wildlife Ecology merged, partly to put themselves in a better position to address new challenges related to natural resources.

Today is no different. We face a constant flow of change — in higher education, in funding, in scientific advancement, in our disciplines. Except the changes seem to have picked up the pace. Now the need for expertise is growing ever more rapidly as our challenges expand, from the threat of new invasive species to the difficulties of feeding a growing population. And the tools we use have advanced dramatically in the last two decades. We find our-selves in a postgenomic era where the mining of massive data sets has become as commonplace as microscopes. What, then, do we do?

The answer: we become more flexible, more responsive, more focused. But this cannot be achieved without careful thought about how we select and support our priorities in CALS. This is why, in late 2016, we began an orga-nizational redesign process for our college. Led by a multidisciplinary team of our faculty and staff, we are undergoing a thorough analysis of the trends that affect our work as well as the strengths of our departmental programs. Based on their findings, our team will propose a new conceptual design for the college, one that helps us concentrate our work where it can have the greatest impact, and one that positions us to be more responsive to global challenges, changing scientific opportunities, and student needs.

As we go forward, this proposal will be thoroughly vetted by the CALS community and guided through the implementation phase. This fall, our team is presenting the design options it has distilled for CALS, which will be followed by exciting discussions about shared priorities and vision, and how we can work together in the future. We look forward to reporting on all of this activity as this process continues. And if you would like more detail about the redesign now, please visit

In the meantime, one important change has already happened. After much deliberation over the past two years, including discussions among the faculty and administration and consultations with students and alumni, the departments of Landscape Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning have merged to form the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, effective July 2017. This new department will be housed in the College of Letters & Science, but we will always embrace those who earned their degrees from CALS as our alumni.

Change can be difficult, but this is an exciting time, and I am optimistic about the opportunities it will bring.


In Vivo: Passing the Torch

It was baptism by manure.

My first story for Grow, as the new editor, was talking with students in John Parrish’s reproductive physiology class over in the Old Dairy Barn during their first attempts to artificially inseminate a cow.

Grow editor Joan Fischer retires after more than six years with CALS.

This was only one of many hands-on tasks students performed as they learned the fundamentals of modern cattle breeding, including syncing a cow’s reproductive system and using ultrasound to determine pregnancy. But as students prepped for the procedure with gloved hands and arms, one could see it was the most daunting.

“The students are nervous,” I observed. “The cows, not so much. But only because they don’t know what’s coming.”

It was a great introduction to CALS. The openness and patience of the instructor, the enthusiasm and good humor of the students, the pursuit of knowledge that promises tangible improvements to our world: those were all qualities I came to recognize and value as the CALS signature, and I had the good fortune to see them again and again over the course of six-plus years and 20 magazines in stories that I wrote and edited.

As you may have surmised, I am moving on—heading off to retirement in California, where I grew up. In departing I am joined by two other retirees: Diane Doering, a graphic designer with CALS for 38 years—she designed Grow when it launched in 2007, and she’s designed every issue since—and Sevie Kenyon, whose superb photographs have graced so many issues (see the beautiful sunflower on page 2), in addition to his other communications and audiovisual work with CALS over the past 15 years.

But no worries, we will be succeeded by talented people who will keep Grow strong. I say this with certainty because we’ve already got a great new editor, starting with the next issue: Nik Hawkins (photo left), who comes to us from the UW–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, where he has been director of communications and public relations since 2012. His duties included serving as the chief editor, writer and photographer for the school’s flagship publication On Call, which Hawkins last fall transformed from a tabloid newsletter into a magazine.

Hawkins is excited about coming to CALS. “I’m a longtime admirer of Grow, and I’ve always been impressed by what it showcases within its pages,” he says. “CALS and its alumni seem to produce an endless supply of wonderful work that can improve the lives of people in Wisconsin and beyond. And so often this work engages the people it’s designed to help in the search for better solutions. Through Grow, I hope to continue telling compelling stories of these partnerships.”

It has been a genuine pleasure to highlight these compelling stories and share them with the wider world. Thank you, CALS community, for making my job so gratifying.

It’s time to reinvest in UW

Dean Kate VanderBosch

Dean Kate VandenBosch

By the time you get this magazine, early spring will be in the air. Time again to think about growing—about tending to and protecting the things we care about. This goes for institutions as well as living things.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is an engine for economic growth in Wisconsin. Every dollar spent on UW–Madison generates $24 for the Wisconsin economy by attracting other investments to the state, fostering startup companies that create new jobs and supporting nearly 200,000 jobs around Wisconsin.

As an institution, UW–Madison has been on a stringent diet, taking cuts in the last five out of six state budgets. While we have managed those cuts well—we still rank among the top 10 public universities nationwide—years of reductions without relief is impacting our students and threatening quality through
loss of faculty and reputation.

Our Board of Regents has made a budget request we hope you’ll
join us in supporting. The budget proposal seeks a total of $42.5
million in new state funding over the next two years, and assumes
that $50 million will be restored to the UW System that reverted
back to the state in the current biennium. This results in $92.5
million more in state dollars for the UW System in the next budget
compared to now.

A particular highlight for our college is that the proposal
includes funding for facility maintenance, which benefits all CALS
programs; it was not included in the last state budget.

How can you help? Now is the time for advocacy. Consider contacting
the governor and your legislators with a call or note of support. Attend
budget listening sessions that members of the Joint Committee on Finance
will be holding in communities around Wisconsin. Attend UW Lobby Day in
Madison on Wednesday, April 12. You can find information and supporting
materials for all these activities at

Meanwhile, in the midst of budget discussions, I always find it heartening
to take a look at what our researchers and students are accomplishing. One of
our top funding priorities is preparing students for the future. And one of the
most life-changing ways we do this is by providing “beyond classroom” experiences
such as research and internship opportunities and study abroad.

You will find excellent examples of those experiences throughout this
edition of Grow. Our story on page 28 highlights students who travel to
Washington, D.C. on behalf of rural health care, launch a peer-reviewed
journal to publish undergraduate research, make discoveries to improve food
safety and more. Our Field Note on page 11 features a student who worked
with orphans in Peru to start a hydroponic growing system. And our “Class
Act” story on page 10 highlights a student helping to make important strides
in stem cell research.

These are all fine examples of how CALS grows the future. With your
help during this budget season, we look forward to doing our best at this for
many decades to come.

New Facilities Sharpen Our Cutting Edge

Dean Kate VandenBosch

Dean Kate VanderBosch

Our researchers in the meat, plant and dairy sciences have for years been making cutting-edge discoveries in facilities that were anything but. Through their dedication and ingenuity, they have managed to do pioneering work in buildings that have not seen significant updates since the mid-20th century.

We’re addressing that problem now with a state-of-the-art Meat Science Building that breaks ground this fall and a Plant Breeding Lab for which we have launched a vigorous capital campaign. These facilities, along with others now in planning, will greatly enhance the college’s research, teaching and public service work in disciplines that are crucial to meeting our world’s food, energy, health and economic development needs.

Grow readers may remember our spring 2013 cover story about plans for the Meat Science Building. Located near the Natatorium between Observatory Drive and Linden Drive, this facility will serve to advance research on all aspects of meat production, quality and safety. It will also allow researchers to develop high-value nonfood products for use in human and veterinary medicine, among other applications. Fans of Bucky’s Butchery can look for a name change to Bray’s Meats, in honor of our late beloved faculty member Bob Bray. The Meat Science Building is slated to open in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Plant Breeding Lab will find its home in the current Meat and Muscle Biology Lab, which will be repurposed into a sophisticated facility to process, analyze and store plant germplasm. Safe and reliable storage for seeds is a critical foundation for research in everything from plant breeding and genetics, plant physiology and molecular biology to crop protection and management and climate science. The Plant Breeding Lab will replace both the Seeds Building, which will be torn down this fall to make room for the Meat Science Building, and the Horticulture Annex. It will bring together plant scientists and their lab groups from agronomy, horticulture, genetics, biochemistry and plant pathology into one updated facility—an arrangement that will serve to increase both collaboration and cross-training among these disciplines.

The Plant Breeding Lab will include such features as storage chambers allowing for different temperature and humidity levels, seed treatment and cleaning labs and a grinding room to prepare plant tissues for chemical analysis. We seek to raise $3 million in private funds to support this significant renovation and remodeling effort.

As budgets tighten, it has been more important than ever for the college to prioritize its needs—and to invest our resources where we can have the greatest impact in both advancing research and meeting global challenges. These two facilities rose to the top through a long process that included consultation and partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders throughout the CALS community.

Neither venture would have been possible without alumni support. On behalf of the college, I offer you our heartfelt thanks.

To learn more, visit: and

Strengthening Our Global Engagement

Dean Kate VanderBosch

Dean Kate VandenBosch

“The boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state.” That belief has broadened since the inception of the Wisconsin Idea early last century. The boundaries of the university are now the boundaries of the world—and no college embodies this more than CALS.

CALS faculty members conduct research in some 80 countries around the globe. Their work includes everything from increasing vitamin A content in local produce and breeding hardy crop varieties for challenging climates to economic development and opening new markets for Wisconsin products. Their activities have resulted in a multitude of discoveries that benefit CALS, Wisconsin and communities around the world.

But could we be doing even better? That question was considered when we embarked on our CALS strategic planning effort, and it was answered with a resounding “Yes!” What followed was a thoughtful, committee-led process that included a wide range of voices from within and outside of the college. In a final report the committee stated that “renewed investment in international activities will produce excellence in CALS scholarship and teaching, advance the college’s strategic planning goals, have a significant impact on our stakeholders and generate a substantial return on investment.”

In order to achieve optimal results from that investment, they deemed that a faculty-led International Programs unit is needed—something CALS has not had for about a half-dozen years. Faculty leadership is essential, the committee said, to “reach the threshold level of coordination and expertise required to win large international research and training grants such as those recently awarded to our peer institutions.”

Enter Sundaram Gunasekaran (photo left), a professor of biological systems engineering who has been selected to serve as faculty director of CALS International Programs. Gunasekaran—or “Guna,” as he is widely known—is brimming with ideas and enthusiasm about his new role. This past spring he held a number of “listening and learning” sessions welcoming all CALS faculty, staff and partners to discuss their international work and how a robust reenvisioning of CALS International Programs could help them better pursue it.

“My vision for CALS International Programs is for it to become among the leaders in the nation’s land-grant colleges for international engagement—and for it to effect positive change in global agricultural and life sciences enterprises through research, education and outreach,” Gunasekaran says. “CALS is among the very best land-grant colleges in the nation. Thus it is very appropriate that we envision an international program of a similar stature.”

We’ll be hearing more about CALS’ “new and improved” International Programs in the coming months, including here in Grow magazine. In the meantime, on behalf of the CALS community on campus and around the world, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Guna in his exciting new role.

Addressing Our Food Future

Kate VandenBosch, dean of UW–Madison CALS

Kate VandenBosch, dean of UW–Madison CALS

In December, I was invited to attend a meeting hosted by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy focused on “Raising the Profile of Agriculture.” Leaders from across industry, education and government gathered to consider the increased demand for food as earth’s changing climate exacerbates constraints imposed by soil loss, pest and pathogen damage, and land and water availability. These are big issues that tax the imagination. It is one thing to say the oft-repeated phrase “feeding nine billion people,” but it is another to fully comprehend the many hurdles related to that challenge.

The leaders I spoke with in Washington agreed that meeting this challenge will require creative, environmentally mindful solutions and new agricultural technologies. It is clear that our ability to develop these innovations relies on agricultural research and education and also our ability to recruit science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates into the agricultural workforce.

Pair this with results of a recent public opinion survey conducted by Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele in the Department of Life Sciences Communication that showed Wisconsin residents discuss food and related topics with others more frequently than they discuss public affairs or science topics, and we have an enormous opportunity. If we can leverage public interest in our food future to strengthen emerging collaborations between industry, government agencies and universities, we can develop novel solutions necessary to meet these demands.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison, and our college in particular, are perfectly suited to advance this issue. I am proud to report that a number of UW–Madison colleagues also participated in the White House meeting—Bill Tracy, professor and chair of agronomy, Julie Dawson, assistant professor of horticulture, Ben Miller, director of federal relations, and Heidi Zoerb, associate dean for external relations in CALS. Our alumni also hold significant positions of influence throughout industry and government, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

This year, thanks to the generosity of donors to the college’s annual fund, we are expanding efforts to interest pre-college students in agriculture-related studies and launching a three-course series for undergraduates on food systems. These are only two of many ways we are working to address these important issues.

The challenges are daunting, but the opportunities are significant. I am excited to see the solutions our students, faculty, staff and graduates develop to meet these demands.

Recruiting and Retaining the Best

Kate VandenBosch, dean of UW–Madison CALS

Kate VandenBosch, dean of UW–Madison CALS

Few people inspire students as much as our professors. When I ask students about their most important experiences at CALS, almost invariably they talk about professors who have changed their lives—how, as researchers, teachers and mentors, professors opened their eyes to new fields of knowledge and new ways of envisioning their own futures.

But our professors don’t only provide inspiration. They are the lifeblood of our college, bringing in more than $100 million in research grants each year as they make discoveries across campus and around the world. It is essential to our long-term success that we continue to recruit and retain top-notch faculty.

One of the best ways to do this—and one of our best tools as we compete with other universities—is through private support to create named professorships and chairs, prestigious titles (with accompanying funding) awarded to faculty of distinction. Private support will allow us to maintain our tradition of faculty excellence into the future, and also help us use state funds more efficiently.

We already had the good fortune of offering a number of named professorships at CALS. But thanks to the generosity of donors John and Tashia Morgridge, we are now in a position to offer several more. The Morgridges honored the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a $125.1 million gift providing a 1-to-1 match for any other donor who made a contribution to endow a professorship, a chair or a distinguished chair—a tremendous gift that ended up more than tripling the university’s number of fully endowed professorships and chairs.

CALS has reaped the benefits of the Morgridges’ generosity. Their donation allowed us to establish:
•  The Owen R. Fennema Professorship in Food Chemistry, matched by a group of donors led by James Behnke MS’68 PhD’72 and Daryl Lund MS’65 PhD’68, a former professor of food science;
•  The Henry C. Taylor Professorship in Agricultural and Applied Economics, matched by a gift from Robert Miller MS ’59 PhD ’67;
•  The Patrick Walsh and Noreen Warren Endowed Professorship in Biological Systems Engineering, matched by a gift from BSE emeritus professor and department chair Patrick Walsh and his wife, Noreen Warren;
•  The Clif Bar and Organic Valley Chair in Plant Breeding for Organic Agriculture, matched by gifts from those two companies;
•  The James F. Crow Professorship in Genetics, named for the late emeritus professor James F. Crow, matched by gifts from a group of donors; and
•  A soon-to-be-named chair in bacteriology, now in the final stages of planning.

We thank all these donors for their generous gifts, which will go a very long way toward “growing the future” at CALS.

If you wish to learn more about private support for professorships, please contact
Kate Bahr at the UW Foundation, tel. (608) 308-5120, email

Many Paths of Discovery

Having an applied research goal can no doubt lend focus to the discovery process. For example, since its inception the charge of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center here on campus, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, has been to realize the grand vision of a biorefinery—the bioenergy version of the petroleum refinery. If we’re investigating biomass as a source of material that we’re going to get products from, we need to understand both how it’s put together and how to take it apart.

This quest has generated discoveries great and small, including CALS biochemistry professor John Ralph’s groundbreaking work in technologies to take apart lignin, a particularly tough compound in plant cell walls.

But pioneering discoveries don’t always happen with a specific application in mind—or applications are later found that are bigger and bolder than the researcher could originally conceive of. Take, for example, the late CALS
genetics professor Ray Owen’s investigation of twin calves with different fathers that somehow were able to tolerate carrying each other’s differing blood cells—a mix that often triggers a severe immunological reaction. But when blood cells are exchanged early in development, Owen learned, each twin learns to tolerate the other’s cells.

By asking questions about a common occurrence in cattle, Owen had discovered the phenomenon of immune tolerance, which sparked a revolution in immunology and laid the foundation for the successful transplantation of human organs. His findings, published in 1945, paved the way for research involving induction of immune tolerance to transplanted tissue grafts by Frank Burnet and Peter Medawar. When those scientists received the Nobel Prize for that work in 1960, they noted it was Owen’s discovery that had set them on their way.

For another example, fast-forward to the present and consider the research of plant pathologist Aurélie Rakotondrafara, highlighted in our Grow cover story. While pursuing a basic science question—how plant viruses reproduce—she happened upon a very useful tool: a stretch of genetic material in a plant virus, known as an “IRES,” that is powerful at “recruiting” the plant’s natural machinery for making proteins.

It turns out there are huge biotech applications for this finding. “Rakotondrafara wasn’t looking for a more efficient tool to make proteins, but the IRES she found is perfect for it,” notes Jennifer Gottwald, a technology officer at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which is working on a patent for this discovery.

That’s the excitement of scientific curiosity—and the best reason why we place such high value on both basic and applied research. One feeds into the other, and we cannot fully know the potential outcomes of discoveries we make today. We actively foster this curiosity about how living things work because the fruits of research are boundless, and often yield tremendous unexpected gifts along the way.

Help Forge the Best Way Forward

Kate VandenBosch

Kate VandenBosch

Each issue of Grow magazine is a special treat for me because it is a powerful reminder of our impact throughout Wisconsin and around the world.

Those of you who live in Wisconsin may have seen recent media coverage surrounding the proposed $300 million budget cut to the University of Wisconsin System. This would be the largest reduction to the University
of Wisconsin in history. At this magnitude, the share assigned to UW–Madison, and to CALS specifically, would be unprecedented.

Reductions of this size will make it more difficult for us to provide our students with a high-quality education. Sharing the classroom with globally recognized scientists is a hallmark of a CALS education. Professor John Doebley, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, teaches an undergraduate seminar titled “Genetics in the News.” Our professors are committed to innovative teaching as well. Assistant professor Aurelie
Rakotondrafara is redesigning the popular “Plant, Parasites and People” class
as a blended course that mixes online and in-person instruction. Professor
Bill Bland offered “Earth’s Water: Natural Science and Human Use” as a
flipped course for the first time this year, providing lectures online and using
class time for hands-on work. A sharply declining budget will compromise
our ability to offer such innovative instruction, and classes could increase in
size or be offered less frequently.

We are proud of our college’s 125-year partnership with the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

I am extremely concerned that these cuts will diminish our impact
outside of the classroom as well. The Wisconsin Idea—the concept that
the university’s impact extends throughout the state and beyond—is deeply
embedded in our DNA. We take our public service mission very seriously,
and we are proud of our college’s 125-year partnership with the taxpayers of
Wisconsin. I worry how a cut of this size will redefine that relationship.
This proposed reduction follows several prior cuts for the college. Since
2008, UW–Madison’s share of general purpose tax revenue has dropped by
6.8 percent; CALS’ faculty numbers have declined by 6.2 percent. Yet during
this same time period, our student enrollments have increased by 34 percent.
For any responsible manager, these opposing trends are troubling.

The proposal also includes additional flexibilities for the UW System,
which we welcome. Our faculty and staff are creative and innovative, but
organizational change requires time. Cuts of this size would seriously
decrease our capacity to continue our existing programs—and implementing
them in a short time frame would certainly prevent us from making the best
strategic choices.

We want to continue to grow the future of our students and Wisconsin
communities. I hope we can continue to partner with the people of
Wisconsin to determine the best way forward.

A Home for Signature Student Experiences

VandenBosch-E-12-129-300A dean’s loss is our students’ gain—and I couldn’t be more pleased about it. I’m referring to the beautiful Queen Anne home—in the middle of what

is now Allen Centennial Gardens—that was built in 1896 to serve as the residence of the dean of CALS. Apparently it was part of an incentive package to keep our first dean, William Henry, from being lured away to Stanford or Cornell.

Deans Harry Russell and Chris Christensen lived there during their tenures, followed by Dean E.B. Fred, who stayed on in “Lake Dormer,” as it was called, even after he had become UW president (and in fact, even after he retired). Fred was the last dean to reside there. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and over the years has housed various administrative offices, none of them involving direct use by and for our students.

Until now. As you may know, CALS is home to nearly 40 student organi- zations representing the many interests, passions and professional aspirations one might expect from a college spanning 24 majors. Clubs are extraordinarily important in many students’ lives. They not only serve as the hub of social activities but also allow students to do the kind of hands-on work that syn- thesizes what they’ve learned from many different fields of knowledge in the classroom.

“It’s an amazing gift to our students, and one that will certainly help CALS grow the future.”

But up to now, the space students have had for their clubs—for meetings, for storage, for office equipment—has been very much catch-as-catch-can.

Students are squeezed for space for other enriching, future-directed activi- ties as well. For example, CALS Career Services—the folks who offer students assistance in finding internships and jobs, including holding mock interviews and “etiquette” dinners—do not have dedicated space for those activities, nor are there adequate, modern facilities allowing corporate recruiters to conduct interviews with CALS students on campus.

Our popular Study Abroad programs, offering students unparalleled opportunities to participate in learning, research and community service all around the world, are run in spaces that are inadequate for their high demand. And alumni groups wishing to interact with students—to offer presentations, help with projects or simply get to know them better—have no space in which to center their activities.

Now we can only say: Thank you, Dean Henry! And thanks to the thoughtful leaders in CALS and the greater campus community who recog- nize how important all of these “beyond classroom” experiences are to the quality of education we offer our students. Renovations have begun, and in 2016 we plan to open the former CALS Dean’s Residence as a home to a rich array of student experiences—including clubs, Career Services and Study Abroad—that help make CALS CALS. It’s an amazing gift to our students, and one that will certainly help CALS grow the future.

For more on the building’s history, see “Agricultural Dean’s House”.

To contribute to the building renovation fund, please click here.

A Helping Hand for Students

A memory many of us cherish is the sense we had as young people that the world was wide open for our exploration. The CALS campus offers fertile ground for such discovery. Every day in our classrooms and labs students are learning more about the world and how they might improve it.

Their on-campus learning can be strengthened by off-campus experiences—and as a CALS graduate, you can help. As part of our strategic planning we’ve been talking about alumni mentorship. CALS alumni are employed in professions reflecting our 19 wide-ranging departments and 24 majors. Many of you are in a position to offer students potentially life-changing experiences with the working world. And our students are asking for your guidance and advice.

There are many ways to provide that. It can be as simple as giving a presentation about your work on campus or inviting a student group to visit your workplace. You can also share job opportunities with students in the CALS group on LinkedIn and with CALS Career Services.

One especially powerful way to draw students into the working world is through internships—and that is an area in which students could particularly use your help.

About 41.5 percent of CALS seniors report having had an internship. Internships, they say, allow them to hone such skills as managing projects on deadline, effective communication and working in teams. And when they graduate, internships provide a network for hearing about openings and getting references (many students are hired by companies for which they interned).

But while internship opportunities are plentiful, they are not evenly distributed across all fields. Demand for particular internships is changing along with our demographics (biotechnology, for example, is in high demand by students). Students in newer fields such as bioenergy, or in fields that are more public agency- or nonprofit-based, such as community and environmental sociology or community health, often have a harder time finding an internship, particularly one that pays.

As our eyes and ears in a variety of fields, you probably have good ideas about possible internship projects or know of opportunities we might not be aware of. You can help us forge links between talented students and those opportunities.

It’s also an area where donations can help. Students can often find or create an internship with an organization that might not be able to pay. If we can support a student in that setting through private donations, we can have more interns in fields where we have high student interest but little industry infrastructure.

Helping students enter the working world is one of the most meaningful ways we can help CALS grow the future. Please consider what role you might play, and feel free to make use of the resources below.

CALS Career Services: Assistant Dean John Klatt,
CALS LinkedIn:, UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Make a gift: