University of Wisconsin–Madison

UW-Madison Reacts to Blank Health Update

A W banner on a colorful tree-lined sidewalk on Bascom Hill.

Chancellor Emeritus Rebecca Blank announced Monday that she has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and will be unable to serve as president of Northwestern University.

“I do not have the words to express to you how disappointed and sad I am to be telling you this. I was excited to be joining you at Northwestern, a world-class institution that is near and dear to my heart,” Blank said in her message to the Northwestern community.

Blank completed her UW chancellorship in May and was to begin as president-elect at Northwestern on July 11.

Interim Chancellor Karl Scholz shared good wishes on behalf of UW–Madison.

“I can speak for all of us in the leadership of the University of Wisconsin–Madison in saying that we’re absolutely devastated by the news that Chancellor Emeritus Becky Blank has been diagnosed with cancer and that she will not be assuming the presidency of Northwestern University.

“I understand that Becky and Hanns intend to stay in Madison, among friends and colleagues.

“I know Becky will undertake her treatment with the same energy and focus with which she performed her duties as chancellor.

“We are also sorry for our colleagues at Northwestern, who will not have the chance to get to know her the way we have and experience her formidable skills and leadership abilities.

“As Becky and Hanns begin this extremely difficult journey, our UW–Madison community will hold them in our hearts and do all we can to support them.”

The news prompted an outpouring of support from leaders in Wisconsin, including Governor Tony Evers, the Associated Students of Madison UW System President Jay Rothman and UW Board of Regents President Karen Walsh among many others.

To reconnect with Rebecca Blank to offer support or well-wishes:

  • Email chancellor@wisc.edu
  • Send a card, care of: Chancellor’s Office, 163 Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Dr., Madison 53706.