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Outgoing UW-Madison chancellor laments not building diversity, won’t miss bureaucracy

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FILE - UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blanks speaks during her presentation at the UW System Board of Regents meeting hosted at Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Feb. 8, 2018. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Outgoing University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says she regrets that campus diversity hasn’t increased.

Blank is set to leave her post on May 27 to become president of Northwestern University. She gave her final news conference on Wednesday.

She said she will leave with “unfinished” items on her agenda, including increasing diversity and improving students’ sense of belonging. A campus climate survey this year found about 75% of students feel as if they belong but students of color, disabled students and LGBTQ individuals didn’t respond as positively.

Blank also complained that state lawmakers over-regulate the university and constrain administrators. The new chancellor will have to be persistent and stubborn, she said.

“These problems (facing UW-Madison) are not problems that are going away,” she said. “They’re not issues that are going to be resolved by something you do next month.”

Blank has served as chancellor at UW-Madison since 2013 and was almost always seen wearing a red blazer. She warned, though, that she’ll be cheering for Northwestern when the Wildcats and Badgers’ football teams meet in October.

UW System regents are expected to choose Blank’s replacement within the coming weeks. They’ve narrowed the field to five finalists, including UW-Madison Provost John Karl Scholz; University of Utah computer professor Daniel Reed; UCLA law school dean Jennifer Mnookin; University of Pittsburgh Provost Ann Cudd; and Notre Dame statistics professor Marie Lynn Miranda.

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