Message from the Dean–February 2024

Frances Vavrus
Frances Vavrus, dean and vice provost of the International Division at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The new year has begun with a flurry of activity, from welcoming more than 400 international students to campus to saying bon voyage to our 1,700+ students studying abroad or studying away in Washington, DC. The International Division also hosted a tile signing ceremony for the Royal Thai Pavilion in Olbrich Botanical Gardens attended by Chancellor Mnookin, and the winners of women’s hockey ticket raffle watched our Badgers triumph over St. Cloud State. We have two especially exciting events coming up in the month ahead.

The first is the national Peace Corps Week celebration from February 25 to March 2, which is an annual event commemorating the establishment of this important institution on March 1, 1961. Since its inception, more than 240,000 people have served as volunteers, and UW–Madison is proud of its history as one of the top volunteer-producing universities in the country. We’re also proud to have an alumna (MFA ’17) and returned Peace Corps volunteer, Hannah Bennett, as our campus Peace Corps recruiter. More information about Peace Corps Week 2024 can be found at

The second upcoming event is our first annual Fulbright Week—March 4 to 8—and aims to raise awareness of the different Fulbright programs for students, alumni, faculty, and staff. We have reason to celebrate this inaugural event because UW–Madison has been named a “Top-Producing Institution” of Fulbright U.S. students in 2023–2024. UW Fulbright Coordinator Mark Lilleleht stays busy assisting Badgers with their Fulbright applications and welcoming Fulbrighters from other countries to our campus. For more information, please see

As a former Fulbright student and scholar, I can attest to the importance of this program for graduate-level research and for faculty who seek new opportunities for teaching and scholarship abroad. And although I was not a Peace Corps volunteer, I have worked alongside many of them in Tanzania and have taught dozens more. Both programs are critical for the advancement of international education, diplomacy, and scholarship, and it’s an honor to host them in the International Division.