Chancellor-designate Mnookin holds press conference, answers questions about appointment The Badger Herald

University of Wisconsin Chancellor-designate Jennifer Mnookin introduced herself and answered questions at a press conference Tuesday morning.

UW System Board Vice Chair Karen Walsh, who co-chaired the search process, also answered questions about the chancellor’s appointment. Vice-Chancellor for University Relations Charlie Hoslet moderated the session.

At the start of the press conference, Mnookin introduced herself and shared her personal and professional journey.

Mnookin, the current dean of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, expressed enthusiasm for the new position because of her personal interest and experience in public higher education. Mnookin mentioned that the wisconsin idea lured her to UW.

“I’ve long admired the University of Wisconsin, especially the idea of ​​Wisconsin – the idea that what great public universities should do is matter beyond their borders, be at the service of the State as a whole [and] caring about creating knowledge that can really make a difference,” Mnookin said. “I think it’s just an incredible and inspiring vision.”

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After her presentation, Mnookin answered questions about her nomination and her goals as UW chancellor. The questions included a wide range of topics that examined the impact of this role on students at the University and State of Wisconsin.

Asked about specific initiatives she plans to take on campus, Mnookin stressed the importance of listening to those around her in order to gauge the climate on campus on various topics rather than immediately implementing new policies.

“I have ideas,” Mnookin said. “But what I also know is that I have to come, listen and hear how my ideas interact and intersect with exciting initiatives already underway. I think it’s very important that during my first two month, I [do] a lot of listening and thinking, then I combine my ideas with those of others to help move the university forward.

Mnookin said she will use this approach to address campus-specific concerns, but did not comment on specific action plans she will take to address the university’s shortcomings.

Mnookin said she does not have enough knowledge to indicate how she will approach long time concerns at the UW regarding support for underrepresented students, low diversity on campus, and services for survivors of sexual assault.

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Mnookin was also asked about academic freedom and its impact on Wisconsin as a whole.

“I am a strong supporter of free speech in universities,” Mnookin said. “I think it is very important that all ideas can be taken into account and considered. [It’s a] part of how students and teachers learn and come to develop their own perspectives.

Mnookin said she hoped to build on Chancellor Blank’s work across the board.

The center of her work, Mnookin said, is fostering an environment where students from all backgrounds feel welcome.

“It’s not even just about race, ethnicity, political ideology, gender or sexual orientation,” Mnookin said. “It’s also about a sense of belonging and feeling that this institution is a place that supports you and [a place] where you can feel included.

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