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In Vivo

Dean Kate VandenBosch

In this issue of Grow — as with all issues of the magazine — you’ll get a close look at our scholars as they tackle some of today’s most vexing issues. In these pages, you’ll find food scientists discovering ways to combat disease through diet, wildlife ecologists tracking endangered species, and sociologists engaging with rural communities as they aim to attract more young adults. You’ll learn how our engineers are enlisting the latest drone technology to make farming more efficient and how our entomologists are keeping tabs on ticks and mosquitoes to get out in front of the next insect-borne disease outbreak.

Clearly, our experts are working to solve critical problems, and they do this in an astounding range of disciplines. As important as these efforts are, I am even more inspired by how our faculty and staff share their vital knowledge with our exceptional students. They are training the problem solvers of tomorrow — and we have room for more.

However, we understand that the costs of education can create uncertainty for many students and their families. This is why we’re working hard to make a CALS education more accessible and more affordable to as many students as possible. We provide a significant amount of financial support for our students, and we’re always trying to raise more funds for this purpose. In 2017-18, we awarded 1,013 scholarships for a total of nearly $1.7 million.

We’re also leveraging campus-wide efforts to reduce costs for students. One recent example is Bucky’s Tuition Promise. Beginning in fall 2018, incoming freshman and transfer students from Wisconsin households with adjusted gross incomes of $56,000 (the state median income) or less will receive free tuition and segregated fees. This commitment extends for eight consecutive semesters for freshmen and four semesters for transfer students.

I am particularly encouraged by Bucky’s Tuition Promise because it is structured to help families in smaller towns and rural parts of Wisconsin, where, for the most part, incomes have not kept pace with larger metro areas. And only income — not assets — will be used to determine eligibility, which is important because many small businesses and farms have high reported assets but lower incomes.

Scholarships and targeted tuition waivers are not the only means for cutting the costs of higher education. CALS has developed a new program that helps students create their own road map, and possibly a shorter path, to a degree. It’s being offered for the first time this summer. Called CALS QuickStart, it allows incoming first-year students to get a jump on their coursework before they enroll, engage in early academic and career planning, and join a community of peers and friends.

All of these opportunities can help acclimate students to campus more quickly and reduce their time to degree by as much as a year. And summer tuition support is available for the QuickStart program thanks to a $25,000 gift from the Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association.

I am excited about how these efforts will expand opportunities for students at CALS regardless of their financial circumstances. Brilliant minds come from all types of communities and backgrounds, and we want more of those minds here. We want the best and the brightest learning from the best and the brightest — thinking, creating, and innovating for the future. To the problem solvers of tomorrow, we welcome you to CALS.