The College of Letters & Science enjoyed a fantastic year, from research breakthroughs in every discipline, to the groundbreaking for a much-anticipated new music center that will transform campus, as well as redefine what it means to pursue a musical education at UW-Madison.

Here are just a few of the stories from a year defined by great achievements and great generosity:

Celebrating the Year of Shakespeare

Assistant Professors Joshua Calhoun (right) and Jonathan Senchyne (left) created Shakespeare and Media, a 100-level English course that examines Shakespeare’s ideas in various forms — from handwritten scrolls and printed books to graphic novels and social media — from when the playwright died in 1616 through 2016. (Photo by Sarah Morton)

The college played a leading role in the university’s year-long honoring of the Bard, which coincided with the 400th anniversary of his death and the arrival of “First Folio” on campus.

Two L&S professors teamed up to explore the playwright’s impact, challenging their students to spread the word about Shakespeare in an assignment dubbed the “Shakesconsin Idea."

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Center for Academic Excellence marked 50 years of supporting underrepresented students 

CAE students, from left to right: Jerry Xiong, Kayla Hui, Joyce Jimenez, Myxee Thao. (Photo by Sarah Morton)

Over Homecoming weekend, the Center for Academic Excellence welcomed back alumni for a celebration of a program — previously called the Academic Advancement Program and the Five Year Program — that has been transforming lives since 1966. 

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L&S faculty showcased their election expertise

Photo by Jeff Miller

From faculty who study campaigns, elections and the impact of politics, to alumni and students actively engaged in the year's presidential race, an interest in politics pulsed through the college. Local and national media regularly called on our faculty to provide expert insights and analysis.

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Ellen Zweibel won Maxwell Prize in Physics

Ellen Gould Zweibel, W. L. Kraushaar Professor of Astronomy and Physics (Photo by Sarah Morton)

Breaking boundaries to become the first woman to receive the prize, astrophysicist Zweibel was recognized for “seminal research on the energetics, stability and dynamics of astrophysical plasmas, including those related to stars and galaxies, and for leadership in linking plasma and other astrophysical phenomena.”

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Research breakthroughs occurred in every discipline

On the Mun River, in northeastern Thailand, several men use cast nets to catch fish upstream of the Pak Mun Dam. The dam was once considered one of the most destructive dam development projects because of its ecological, social and economic impacts. Each year, the government opens the dam gates for four months with the intention of allowing migratory fish to pass upstream to spawn. However, fishermen in the region report continual declines in catch. (Photo by Aaron A. Koning, UW-Madison)
  • Limnology professor Pete McIntyre was lead co-author of a study showing that freshwater fish play a crucial role in feeding some of the world’s most vulnerable. Read more
  • Psychology professor Brad Postle's research team discovered that seemingly "forgotten" information can be recalled using magnets. Read more
  • The Institute for Research on Poverty was named the national Poverty Research Center. Read more.
  • And assistant professor in Afro-American Studies Christy Clark-Pujara examined the impact of the business of slavery in her new book, Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode IslandRead more.

Ground broke on the eagerly- anticipated Hamel Music Center

Dean Scholz, Chancellor Blank and music center donors break ground on Friday, October 28. (Photo by Andy Manis)

In October, Dean Scholz and donors George and Pamela Hamel, George Mead and Susan Feith and members of the Music Board of Advisors helped break ground for the eagerly-anticipated Hamel Music Center.

The center, part of the Mead Witter School of Music, will feature a 662-seat Mead Witter Concert Hall, a 325-seat Collins Recital Hall, a large rehearsal space, ample lobby and state-of-the-art technologies. The new facility is named for School of Music Board of Advisors member Pamela Hamel and her husband George (B.A.’80, Communication Arts). The couple made a lead contribution to the $56 million project. 

The L&S Career Initiative grew in all directions

Lsci Steve Pogorzelski Feature 645X415 Steve Pogorzelski is one of many talented College of Letters & Science alumni who serve as professional mentors to students in the L&S Career Initiative. (Submitted photo)
Lsci Taking Initiative Noah Joseph Feature 645X415 Freshman Noah Joseph participates in a question and answer session with L&S alumni in journalism as part of Inter-LS 210: Taking Initiative. (Photo by Sarah Morton)
Lsci Taking Initiative Katherine Piel Feature 645X415 Communication arts and environmental studies major Katherine Piel enrolled in Inter-LS 210 to learn how to present herself to potential employers. (Photo by Sarah Morton)

The Taking Initiative course, taught by Greg Downey, filled quickly. Badger Bridge went live in August. Alumni stepped up as mentors, including Steve Pogorzelski, a member of the L&S Board of Visitors. And the Badger Internship program was created.

L&S Recognized for great teaching

Dta Arpaci Dusseau Feature 645X415 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award: Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau, Professor, Department of Computer Sciences (Photo by Bryce Richter)
Dta Castronovo Russ Feature 645X415 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award: Russ Castronovo, Professor, Department of English (Photo by Bryce Richter)
Dta Ermakoff Ivan Feature 645X415 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award: Ivan Ermakoff, Professor, Department of Sociology (Photo by Jeff Miller)
Dta Erman Daniel Feature 645X415 William H. Kiekhofer Teaching Award: Daniel Erman, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics (Photo by Jeff Miller)
Dta Gibbs Holly Feature 645X415 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award: Holly Gibbs, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography (Photo by Bryce Richter)
Dta Lindsay Keisha 645X415 Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Award: Keisha Lindsay, Assistant Professor, Departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and Political Science (Photo by Jeff Miller)
Dta Moore John Feature 645X415 Van Hise Outreach Teaching Award: John Moore, W.T. Lippincott Professor, Department of Chemistry (Photo by Jeff Miller)
Dta Riters Lauren Feature 645X415 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award: Lauren Riters, Professor, Department of Zoology (Photo by Bryce Richter)
Dta Tikoff Basil Feature 645X415 Emil Steiger Teaching Award: Basil Tikoff, Professor, Department of Geoscience (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Of the 12 Distinguished Teaching Awards the university gave out in February, nine went to L&S faculty, reinforcing the strong teaching reputation of the college.

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Two L&S graduates earn Distinguished Alumni Awards

Daa Feature 645X415 Epic Systems CEO Judith Faulkner (M.S.'67, Computer Sciences), at left and and Doris Feldman Weisberg (B.S.’58, Psychology) were honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards in October, 2016.

This fall, the Wisconsin Alumni Association bestowed its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award — given to the most prestigious graduates of UW-Madison to recognize their professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the university — to two L&S alumni. Judith Faulkner (M.S.’67, Computer Sciences) is founder and CEO of electronic health records giant Epic Systems, and Doris Feldman Weisberg (B.S.’58, Psychology) is a former Food Network producer and educator. 

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Students and faculty were proud to choose UW-Madison

Jack Williams Feature 645X415 "I’m humbled by the world-class scholarship, professionalism and kind collegiality that defines my Wisconsin colleagues. Being at the University of Wisconsin feels like being in the Marines or the Packers: You are with the best," says Professor of Geography Jack Williams in a letter to the editor of the Wisconsin State Journal. (Photo by Sarah Morton)
Dahlia Tesfamichael Feature 645X415 "Now that I’m here at Madison, every day validates that I made the right decision. Every day, I think, yes, I’m so glad I’m here," says L&S freshman Dahlia Tesfamichael, who chose UW-Madison over Harvard University. (Photo by Sarah Morton)

Here at L&S, we’re committed to attracting and retaining the brightest minds. In September, geography professor Jack Williams made a compelling case for standing by his university in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And freshman Dahlia Tesfamichael told her story of opting for UW over Harvard, and the process of becoming a Badger. 

So long for now, friends. We look forward to 2017!