A Sense of Belonging

On September 9–10, the College of Letters & Science invited its alumni of color back to campus for a historic weekend of community-building and in-depth conversations about how to create a sense of belonging at UW-Madison. The two-day reunion featured special tours of campus, a panel discussion on thriving (rather than just surviving), a reception on Friday and, on Saturday, a lively tailgate at Union South featuring DJ Martinez White (BA, ’10) and Bucky Badger. At the reception, new L&S Board of Visitors member P.J. Jayachandran (BA, ’95) told the crowd, “There is no better place to be than UW-Madison at this time of year—and it’s an honor and a privilege to be part of the journey towards advising on DEI.” Provost Karl Scholz spoke about the difference between “welcoming” and “belonging,” and Dean Eric Wilcots wrapped up his remarks by urging alumni to stay involved. “We need you all on this journey,” he said.

Film Festival Returns Home

The Wisconsin Film Festival recently returned to its roots in the Department of Communication Arts, just ahead of its 25th anniversary this spring. For one glorious week every April, the festival presents 150 films to 25,000 viewers, celebrating the best in local and global films. Supported by filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions and educational workshops for children, the festival features captivating stories from every corner of Wisconsin and far beyond. It complements the UW Cinematheque — also housed in Communication Arts — which offers free screenings year-round of restorations, rediscoveries and contemporary global cinema. “Vilas Hall is full of people who care about moving images and compelling stories that reflect and inspire the global community,” says Kelley Conway, a professor of communication arts and festival director. “With our expertise in film programming and our vibrant academic programs, we’re the ideal home for the Wisconsin Film Festival.”

Warm Welcome

UW-Madison’s new chancellor, Jennifer Mnookin, assumed her duties on August 4, starting her day by meeting with UW-Madison student leaders and, as the weeks rolled on, immersing herself in her new community. In September, she joined L&S Dean’s Ambassadors (a group of engaged students who meet regularly with Dean Eric Wilcots to offer their perspectives and learn more about L&S) for an eye-opening tour of Lake Mendota aboard the Limnos II, a research vessel owned by the L&S Center for Limnology. UW’s 30th chancellor is already known for her listening skills, commitment to a diverse and well-rounded community, and support for interdisciplinary scholarship.

Mapping Native Routes

Travel routes used by the Ho-Chunk Nation wind their way through the Dejope (Four Lakes) region, which includes Madison. Some have morphed into modern roads and walking paths while many exist only in scattered historical records and living memory.

Working with Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Bill Quackenbush, anthropology PhD student Megan Binkley is combining historical records, oral histories and archaeological data into a map of Ho-Chunk travel routes and trails throughout time. She’s collaborating with Jessie Conaway, in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, on this work, which developed into an internship with UniverCity Alliance, an L&S initiative that links scholars with the community.

Quackenbush gave Binkley older maps that show hand-drawn segments of Ho-Chunk travel routes, and Binkley used software platforms to turn them into digital files.

“Many of these travel routes have had multiple lives,” Binkley said. “I was struck by the fact that I probably walked on some of these places and had no idea of the depth of the history of them.”

For some, that history is ever-present. Quackenbush’s mother prefers to drive on Highway 12 because it was a former Indian trail.

“Some people enjoy reflecting on the deep heritage of an area and how our environment has changed throughout our lifetimes,” Quackenbush said.


Number of new incoming first-year students at UW-Madison this fall — a record

More From Fall 2018

Knowledge is Power

How does a farmer’s son end up running one of the nation’s top utility companies? John Rowe attributes his success to working hard, taking chances and heeding lessons from history.

The Fabric of Our Origins

In the quest to understand our beginnings, researchers have forged partnerships with colleagues in South Africa and are uncovering answers and opening new scientific frontiers.