MADISON, Wis. (AP) – New University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin is trying to stay out of the bitter political fight over her hire.
Mnookin addressed Wisconsin reporters for the first time via Zoom from her office at UCLA’s law school on Tuesday. Asked repeatedly for her reaction to Republican critics painting her as a liberal and GOP threats to restrict UW’s funding if she remains chancellor, she said only that she’s willing to talk to anyone.
“We need to create spaces for ideas of all different kinds to be part of the dialogue within universities,” Mnookin said. “I think those ideas do include critical race theory and lots of other ideas too. Part of how we move forward is through those conversations and dialogues.”
Regents announced they had hired Mnookin to succeed Rebecca Blank on Monday.
Republicans, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, immediately attacked her for donating to Democratic candidates and for supporting critical race theory and COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Republican Senator Steve Nass threatened to freeze UW tuition and state aid if she remains chancellor.
Current Chancellor Rebecca Blank will leave office May 31 to become president of Northwestern University. Mnookin will start Aug. 4.