Message from the Dean: Beginning the 2023-2024 academic year

Dean Frances Vavrus
Dean Frances Vavrus visits the new International Services space in the Pyle Center. The campus community is encouraged to stop by to see the new space!

September is a special month in Madison, where the beginning of meteorological autumn is marked by the arrival of moving vans, football fans, and new students from around the world. Three decades ago, I was one of those fresh faces on campus, having arrived after a year in Tanzania to begin a doctoral program in education and African studies. The warm Wisconsin welcome I received made me feel right at home and helped me to flourish in the years that followed. Returning to UW as the vice provost and dean of the International Division has been equally gratifying, and the past few weeks have felt more like a homecoming than the beginning of a new position.

In preparation for the start of the new school season, I have spent the past month getting to know the people who make up the division and visiting the spaces where they work. There is palpable excitement walking into the new space in the Pyle Center that now hosts International Student Services (ISS) and International Faculty and Staff Services (IFSS). One could feel it last week when more than 1,200 students attended the vibrant International Student Welcome and Information Fair. This spirit of enthusiasm extends to the Red Gym, where students can now find international internship and study abroad opportunities under one roof, and to Bascom Hall, whose halls have been filled in recent days with new King-Morgridge scholars, prospective Peace Corps volunteers, and hopeful Fulbright scholars. I’m looking forward to connecting with more students this month when I tour the International Learning Community and attend the Study Abroad Fair on September 26. And I’m eager to connect with the students, staff, and faculty in the Institute for Regional and International Studies as our area studies centers and the International Studies major play a critical role in making UW a global institution.

As we begin the 2023–2024 edition of Wisconsin in the World, I welcome you to join me and the entire staff of the international division in our mission to bring the world to Wisconsin and Wisconsin to the world.