UW welcomes Frances Vavrus as International Division vice provost and dean

Frances Vavrus
Frances Vavrus, Dean and Vice Provost of the International Division at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is pictured in a studio portrait on July 31, 2023. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW–Madison)

On July 31, Frances Vavrus officially began her tenure as vice provost and dean of UW–Madison’s International Division. Vavrus was announced for the position in April following a nationwide search.

The International Division dean provides leadership to more than 130 faculty and staff across six pillar units, including the Institute for Regional and International Studies, International Academic Programs, International Faculty and Staff Services, the International Projects Office, International Student Services, and the Language Program Office.

Vavrus, a UW–Madison alum, already has extensive experience with the university and division.

She studied Swahili as a graduate student with the support of a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship; she is the recipient of both a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholars Fellowship; she taught in the International Studies Major; and she studied abroad as an undergraduate and led a study abroad program as a professor.

In addition, Vavrus has helped to establish institutional partnerships with universities abroad and served as the co-principal investigator for a U.S. Agency for International Development project partnering with higher education institutions in Zambia.

“I’m thrilled to be returning to the University of Wisconsin in this role. I benefited greatly from the programs offered through the International Division and am eager to support new generations of Badgers in their international studies,” said Vavrus.

Dean Vavrus served for two decades as a professor of comparative and international education at Columbia University’s Teachers College and at the University of Minnesota, where she received numerous awards for her teaching and mentoring. She has also held leadership positions at both universities and, since 2015, she has served as the North American representative on the Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel, a multinational committee of 12 experts that monitors international trends in education and allegations of violations of the rights of K–12 teachers and higher education faculty.

Over the coming months, Vavrus plans to connect with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and campus partners to learn more about the international dimension of the university. Vavrus notes that having the opportunity to hear from the constituencies served by the division will be a crucial first step in developing the strategic direction for the International Division and in continuing efforts to bolster UW–Madison’s strong global reputation.

“It will be both informative and exciting to talk with members of the university community and our partners around the world in developing a plan for advancing Wisconsin’s presence on the global stage.”