Summer 2023 Transitions

Around the university, summer serves as a transition season—one school year ends, another one is on the horizon. Subsequently, there are usually a number of staffing changes as well. First, the International Projects Office (IPO) team had a chance to broadly express their appreciation to all the different campus partners who support the work of the IPO team at an appreciation brunch on August 2.


Additionally, the team wanted to take some time out to acknowledge the contributions of two faculty members, Professors David McDonald and Susan Yackee, for their sustained leadership in the UW–Madison partnership with Nazarbayev University. Both of them became involved in the partnership in AY2013-2014 as the partnership was in its nascent stage and have lent their expertise regarding the operations and enterprise of a research university to colleagues at NU. A recent Cap Times article highlights Professor McDonald’s contributions, not just to the UW-NU partnership, but also to many different parts of campus during his tenure at UW–Madison.

With Professor McDonald’s retirement, the UW-NU partnership team will be led by Professor James H. Sweet, Vilas-Jartz Distinguished Professor of History. Sweet will serve as interim faculty director of the UW-NU partnership in AY2023–24. Sweet’s connection to NU began 2016. He was recruited to be a faculty mentor for NU history faculty in the History, Philosophy and Religious Studies Department.  Since then, Professor Sweet has been engaged in different facets of the partnership, has traveled to Kazakhstan at least once every year (often twice), served on hiring committees, and consulted on chair/director leadership training. At UW–Madison, he has served as chair of the Department of History (2013–2016) and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese (2017–2020). He has also served as the director of the African Studies Program (2012–2013). In terms of the broader field, Professor Sweet has served in prominent leadership roles in academic organizations in the US, most recently as President of the American Historical Association (2022), the largest such organization of professional historians in the world with more than 10,000 members.

In addition to the transitions in the UW-NU partnership, the UW–Madison International Division’s new dean and vice provost, Dr. Fran Vavrus, has officially begun her tenure (click here), along with UW–Madison’s new provost, Dr. Charles Isbell (click here).

The IPO (and the UW-NU partnership team) looks forward to collaborating with Professor Sweet in this upcoming year and also wishes all the best to both Professor McDonald as he turns his attention to other outstanding projects and Professor Yackee as she continues to lead the LaFollette School of Public Affairs.

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