Welcome from the Dean of Students

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Photo of Dean of Students, Lori Berquam

Dear parents and families,

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

We believe that parents and family members are our strongest allies and resources in our efforts to support student success. For the past 18 or more years, you have shared your values with your students. We hope that your hard work as parents and family members will continue to be a great guidebook for their journeys.

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

A variety of student life units are supporting your students in their out-of-classroom experiences, which encompass where they live, where they gather, and how they choose to get involved and give back.

These units include the Division of Student Life (Center for the First-Year Experience, Center for Leadership and Involvement, LGBT 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; the Division of Recreational Sports; and the Wisconsin Union.

Time is short — the years go by quickly — and we encourage students to truly embrace their Wisconsin Experience and 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 the 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 areas of intellectual and personal growth: Empathy and Humility, Relentless Curiosity, Intellectual Confidence, and Purposeful Action.

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 families, 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 45 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 give them tools to develop good learning and life-skills habits. Before they come to campus, they should complete the AlcoholEdu program.

We ask that you have serious conversations with your students 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 viceprovost@studentlife.wisc.edu or follow me on Twitter (@LoriBerquam).

Lastly, as you prepare for the start of a new academic year, here are 10 things that I ask you to tell your students:

  1. Let’s stay in touch.
  2. I love you and believe in you — no matter what.
  3. College is hard. Transitions are hard. It’s OK if there are bumps in the road — they will make you better and more resilient.
  4. Meet friends who are different from you. They will last a lifetime.
  5. If you choose to drink, drink less and understand the consequences — both immediate and those that may affect you later.
  6. Swim upstream. Be your own person. This is your journey.
  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.
  9. If you’re going to have sex, understand what consent means. Get it. Absolutely. An incapacitated person cannot give consent.
  10. If you see something, say something. Badgers take care of each other.


Lori M. Berquam

Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students

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