As the first participant in UW–Madison’s Provost Fellow Program, La Follette School Professor Susan Yackee has appreciated the opportunity to build relationships with campus leaders.
“The Provost Fellowship is an excellent way to test one’s interest in high-level campus leadership because it allows the Fellow to watch leadership in action and to participate in the implementation of major campus change,” Yackee said.
The new program is designed to give faculty the opportunity to work in campus leadership at the highest levels and to gain insight and experience that will help them develop leadership skills. During her academic-year appointment, Yackee is focusing on institutional planning, enrollment management, and the transformation of campus libraries.
Yackee, who joined UW–Madison in 2007, served as La Follette School’s associate director from 2012 to 2013 and as director from 2013 to 2016. “I enjoyed the problem solving and strategic thinking attached to my work as associate director—especially around new program development,” Yackee said.
The following year, she reluctantly agreed to accept the director’s role. “I took the position because I saw the possibilities attached to transforming a small, highly ranked but somewhat unknown school into a more recognized academic powerhouse on campus,” she said.
Yackee led several initiatives during her La Follette School directorship, including a major staff restructuring effort, the creation of an external Board of Visitors, and a long-term visioning process.
“As director, Professor Yackee played an important role in the School’s success, encouraging outstanding scholarly work, supporting outstanding instruction, and bringing together a politically diverse, prominent Board of Visitors,” said College of Letters & Science Dean John Karl Scholz.
Yackee also built relationships with several high-caliber UW–Madison alumni – many of whom had barely heard of the La Follette School – to increase the School’s visibility.
“I enjoyed this work tremendously, and within a year, the School had a high‐profile Board who deeply cares about public policy in our state and beyond,” she noted in her application. “I also appreciated the strategy attached to working directly with executives from the public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors.”
With donations increasing substantially, Yackee led the School’s strategic planning efforts, creating a logic model that visually demonstrated the School’s goals, activities, and outcomes.
“I’ve learned a great deal about communications — especially that having a good idea is not enough; one also has to seek feedback to make ideas better and to persuade others when a change is necessary,” Yackee said. “I am honored to have the chance to learn from Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf, who exemplifies intelligence, empathy, and strategic thinking.”