Message from the dean: Exploring global connections

Barry Gerhart
Dean Barry Gerhart

This past month afforded the opportunity the International Division, together with other UW–Madison colleagues, to explore new international engagements for the university while reinvigorating existing connections.

As part of a small delegation of UW–Madison staff, I was able to connect with alumni and partners in both Taiwan and Thailand.

In Taiwan, I explored internship opportunities for UW–Madison students in Taiwan through collaborations with National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) and National Taiwan University (NTU), as well as the world’s leading semiconductor foundry, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which I visited. Also in Taiwan, I had the pleasure of re-affirming connections with our Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) Taiwan chapter leaders.

During meetings with NYCU, NTU, National Central University (NCU), the Visiting International Student Program (VISP) was discussed as another opportunity for international collaboration. VISP, for those who are unfamiliar, welcomes non-degree seeking international students for short-term study on our campus. These participants are official students who are able to learn from our world-class faculty, and in turn, share their knowledge and global perspectives with peers, researchers, and instructors. VISP can also serve as a gateway for these students into UW–Madison master’s programs. VISP is administered by the Division of Continuing Studies and supported by the International Division.

In Thailand, representatives from the university met with leaders from the WAA Thailand Chapter, who shared ideas and plans for further invigorating the chapter and engaging alumni in Thailand with the university. Meeting with so many prominent alumni who continue to be invested in the university was an incredible experience. I look forward to seeing the plans for further engagement unfold and hopefully take the form of even closer bonds and new generations of Thai students choosing UW–Madison as part of their academic journey.

Additionally, we had the great pleasure of welcoming a delegation from Justus Liebig University Giessen to Madison. UW–Madison and JLU have a shared tie through Mildred Fish-Harnack, a resistance fighter in Germany during World War II with the Red Orchestra Movement. Fish-Harnack received degrees from both universities. Her courage and resilience are honored with matching statues both in Madison at Marshall Park and in Giessen.

The Giessen delegation discussed details of an internship they are funding in her honor through the Mildred Fish-Harnack Scholarship. Thanks to the generosity of JLU, a UW–Madison student will travel to Giessen where they will conduct research within the Arbeitsstelle Holocaustliteratur (AHL) at JLU. The AHL is an interdisciplinary institution that examines Holocaust and concentration camp literature, adopting a literary as well as a didactic perspective. The AHL’s work includes literary research as well as a variety of educational courses, workshops, and excursions to memorial sites. The intern will support the work of the AHL, facilitating public events, conducting research, and attending public readings and panel discussions.

This is just a small look at ways in which the International Division is working to open new doors for students, faculty, staff, and partners worldwide. We can all be proud that so many respected institutions and individuals see the benefit of forging and renewing relationships with UW–Madison. These exchanges truly make UW–Madison a hub for international activity.

In closing, I would like to offer my very best wishes to Professor Fran Vavrus, University of Minnesota, who we are thrilled to have joining the International Division on August 1 as its next dean and vice provost. The International Division and its many campus partners in global engagement look forward to accomplishing more great things together with Dean Vavrus.

Best regards,

Barry Gerhart ’85

Interim Vice Provost and Dean
International Division