University of Wisconsin–Madison

Welcome from the Dean of Students

Dear parents and families,

I hope that both you and your students are having a fantastic summer. On campus, we’re busy getting ready to welcome your students for the fall 2018 semester, and I know that we can count on you to help prepare your Badger for a successful year in Madison.

Argyle Wade
Argyle Wade

Here at UW–Madison we believe that parents, family members, and loved ones are our strongest allies and resources in our efforts to support student success. For the past eighteen or more years, you have shared your values with your students. Your work supporting your students will continue to be a great guidebook for their journey.

It is clear that the students — undergrad, transfer, graduate, or professional — who are accepted and enroll at UW–Madison are among the best and brightest in the world. This next stage of their journey will offer a multitude of learning opportunities in and out of the classroom.

To support their out-of-classroom experiences, we have a variety of student affairs units here to help. Students access these resources as they grow as individuals, choose where and with whom to live, and decide where to gather — as well as learn how to get involved, give back, and thrive as Badgers. These units include the Division of Student Life (which includes Center for the First-Year Experience, Center for Leadership & Involvement, Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, Multicultural Student Center, Associated Students of Madison, Dean of Students Office, Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, International Student Services, and McBurney Disability Resource Center), University Housing, Recreational Sports, University Health Services, Ask Bucky Information Services, Campus Area Housing and the Wisconsin Union.

Time is short and the years here at UW–Madison are no different, which is why we encourage students to shape their Wisconsin Experience from day one and truly make it their own.

The Wisconsin Experience has the potential to be transformative. We strive to develop world leaders, engaged citizens, and interesting people. We have high expectations of students. To help them make the most of their time at UW–Madison, we ask students to get involved in something that matters, to consider themselves representatives of your university, to act with integrity in all they do, and to show respect to everyone they encounter. Through the Wisconsin Experience, we hope our students engage in the following areas of intellectual and personal growth: Empathy and Humility, Relentless Curiosity, Intellectual Confidence, and Purposeful Action. That is the true Wisconsin Experience.

Students should take pride in becoming world citizens and, as scholars, demonstrate a strong work ethic and capitalize on opportunities and challenges. In promoting this behavior, we encourage Badgers to think not only about their future, but also about their legacy.

That’s what it means to be a student at Wisconsin: doing things that matter and finding purpose. Badgers make the world a better place.

As parents and loved ones, you know your students best, and you can help us identify any signs that they are experiencing difficulties. Getting off to a good start is important. Our research demonstrates that the first forty-five days on campus are critical as students make the transition to college — or back to college — and adjust to new academic and social challenges.

Our foremost concern for college students across the nation continues to be high-risk drinking. We work hard to educate students and provide tools to develop good learning and life-skills habits. Before they come to campus, they should complete AlcoholEdu. We also ask that you have a serious conversation with your student about this topic. Understanding the consequences of high-risk drinking is important. They can range from causing issues between roommates to putting students at a competitive disadvantage when applying for scholarships and awards, to facing a more difficult road to studying abroad.

Students should also complete the U Got This! program to learn more about how to make campus a safer place. It includes information on sexual assault, bystander intervention, and victim advocacy and support.

Thank you for being partners in reinforcing these important messages with your students.

Please stay involved with our fantastic Parent and Family Program. Staff there should be your first point of contact when you have questions or concerns. If you have questions about the Division of Student Life, reach me by email at or follow me on Twitter at @ArgyleWade. I hope to see you during Family Weekend in October.

Lastly, as you prepare for the start of a new academic year, here are ten things that I ask you to tell your students:

  1. Let’s stay in touch.
  2. We believe in you. No matter what. And you are not alone.
  3. College is hard. Transitions are hard. It’s okay if there are bumps in the road — overcoming transition will help make you a better, more resilient, and frankly, more interesting person. The student who gets the most out of the University of Wisconsin is the one who has the self confidence to seek assistance.
  4. Meet friends who are different from you. These friendships will last a lifetime.
  5. If you choose to drink, drink less and understand the consequences — both immediate and those that may impact you later. Remember that the legal drinking age in Wisconsin is 21.
  6. Swim upstream. Be your own person. This is your journey. You came here to stand out, not to fit in. Make decisions with that in mind.
  7. Explore what the campus has to offer, starting with recreational sports and the Wisconsin Union.
  8. Sleep is a good thing. So is going to class. A college education is an active endeavor, not a passive one.
  9. If you’re going to have sex, understand what consent means. An incapacitated person cannot give consent. There is no grey area.
  10. If you see something, say something. Badgers take care of each other.


Argyle Wade
Interim Dean of Students