About the Wisconsin RISE Initiative

The Wisconsin Research, Innovation and Scholarly Excellence (RISE) Initiative is a multifaceted effort focused on faculty hiring, research infrastructure, interdisciplinary collaboration and student opportunity. Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin launched the initiative in February 2024 to address significant, complex challenges of particular importance to Wisconsin and the world.

Building on UW–Madison’s strengths, including the university’s broad disciplinary range and expertise in key areas, RISE will ensure dedicated focus and funding for the infrastructure and support necessary to make transformative discoveries and translate them into real-world impact. RISE also builds on UW–Madison’s successful track record of connecting with communities and industry on collaborative solutions.

Cross-campus collaboration will identify future RISE Initiative focus areas in which UW–Madison can make a considerable impact on pressing societal concerns. Ultimately, there will be three to five such areas.

RISE by the numbers

UW–Madison expects to hire between 120 and 150 new faculty through the Wisconsin RISE Initiative over the next three to five years, in addition to regular hiring, reflecting around a 40 percent increase in faculty hiring. According to Provost Charles Isbell, the strategically focused commitment of RISE will allow the university to accelerate the hiring of extraordinarily promising faculty and build on UW–Madison’s substantial existing strengths.

A portion of the funding for the RISE Initiative will come from revenue growth resulting from research productivity and UW–Madison’s enrollment increases. As of early 2024, UW–Madison’s federal research portfolio has grown by an average of 8 percent annually over the last five years, according to Cynthia Czajkowski, UW-Madison’s interim vice chancellor for research.

In addition, the Wisconsin Legislature in 2022 (SB 557) gave UW–Madison additional flexibility to invest revenue in support of its mission. Robert Cramer, UW–Madison’s vice chancellor for finance and administration, expressed appreciation for the legislature “for giving UW–Madison this important tool to use to chart our own healthy financial future.”

The university will seek support from partners who have long invested in its research enterprise, including industry partners, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and generous philanthropic supporters.

 

The RISE initiative will propel UW–Madison to new heights of research excellence. By investing in exceptional faculty, researchers and a robust research infrastructure, UW–Madison will emerge as an even stronger global powerhouse, where cross-disciplinary research leads to groundbreaking new knowledge, transformative discoveries and impactful innovations that will address and help solve major societal challenges for the betterment of Wisconsin and the world.

Cynthia Czajkowski, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research

Philanthropy has always represented the margin of excellence for UW–Madison. I look forward to engaging with our philanthropic community to work together to best position UW–Madison to address the greatest challenges of our time. I hope many will be inspired to join us in this high-impact endeavor.

Jennifer L. Mnookin, Chancellor

RISE in the classroom

At UW–Madison, research also serves as a foundation for fulfilling the university’s educational mission. What happens in research is also integrated into the classroom and in educational opportunities afforded to all UW–Madison students. This helps ensure UW–Madison students are equipped for the jobs of the future and are prepared to engage meaningfully with the world’s most pressing challenges. Graduate students and postdocs, too, come to UW–Madison in search of these opportunities.

Each area of focus will bring new educational experiences for UW–Madison students.

With respect to AI, UW–Madison has a responsibility to prepare students to live and work in a world in which AI is, and will increasingly be, pervasive. According to Provost Isbell, “Some of today’s students will become tomorrow’s leading AI innovators, and all of today’s students need to learn to use AI-powered tools creatively, effectively and ethically. RISE AI is not just about research. By adding resources and focusing on this major challenge, we will naturally be able to carry the energy into the classroom. We will see changes in what and how we teach a broad set of majors, so that they can be prepared to respond to what is required by the workforce and in industry in the 21st century.”

 

Headshot of Charles Isbell.The RISE Initiative overall will open opportunities for interdisciplinary research that will prepare students to examine issues holistically and therefore seek more innovative and effective — and necessarily interdisciplinary — solutions.

Charles Isbell, Provost