French University Presidents and Education Officials Visit Campus to Study UW Model

UW MADISON NEWS (August 27, 2010) — Fifteen presidents of French universities, along with high-level education administrators and French Embassy personnel, will visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison beginning Monday, Aug. 30, for a weeklong seminar on leadership and strategic issues related to the management of autonomous public research universities.

With presenters such as UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, UW System President Kevin Reilly and former UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward, the seminar will offer a perspective of campuswide strategies and management.

The seminar will also be comprehensive. Through panel discussions, tours and networking opportunities, the visitors will meet with UW leaders of everything from admissions to alumni, facilities to fundraising, research and technology transfer to state relations and entrepreneurship.

Student services and the student experience will ground the conversation. Tours include the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, University Research Park and the Wisconsin state Capitol.

“The interest on the part of our French counterparts is a great compliment to our university,” says Gilles Bousquet, dean of the Division of International Studies and vice provost for globalization. “Their visit recognizes the historic investment that the people of Wisconsin have made in their educational system, particularly in higher education.”

Recent changes in French higher educational law have made the Wisconsin model of particular interest due to its tradition as a land-grant institution grounded in the progressive ideals of the Wisconsin Idea, as well as its willingness to incorporate new models (of research and of entrepreneurship) to adapt to the changing global economic and professional landscape.

The visit is spurred by new French policies that require their universities, previously managed by the central government, to achieve greater autonomy in budgetary and personnel matters by 2013. Such autonomy will require French universities to pursue new partnerships in the public and private sectors, among other changes. The aim is to increase the appeal of the French higher educational system to students and enhance the visibility of French universities in the international marketplace.

This program is a result of a visit last year from Bernard Belloc, adviser on education to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during which he discussed the changing French policies “What’s particular about the American university system … is that it provides students with knowledge that is not only useful to their own evolution but also functional and useful for the collective,” he said. “American universities are a symbol of what should become a global standard: higher education to the benefit of society.”

This seminar is entirely funded by the Conférence des Présidents d’Université, represented by its president, Professor Lionel Collet, president of the University of Lyon.

Other presenters from the university community include Don Nelson, director of state relations; Mark Bugher, director of the University Research Park; Paula Bonner, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Alumni Association; Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Planning and Management; Carl Gulbrandsen, director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Nancy Mathews, faculty director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service; Sangtae Kim, director of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery; and many others.

Presenters from the French Embassy in the U.S. include Pascal Delisle, cultural attaché for higher education and executive director of the Partner University Fund; and Annick Suzor-Weiner, science and technology counselor.

CONTACT: Masarah Van Eyck,, (608) 262-5590