New UW-Madison chancellor visits Milwaukee amid biggest surge of applications ever

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) — UW-Madison’s new chancellor traveled to Milwaukee on Wednesday, Aug. 10 to meet with dozens of new and returning students at 3rd Street Market Hall.

Students who graduated from high school during the pandemic say college could be the first time they’ve had year-round in-person instruction since the 2018-19 school year.

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin has been in office for six days Wednesday. She says that with more applications than ever before, they are looking forward to the school year.

“As the new Chancellor, part of my job will be to listen and learn and understand how we can do even better,” Mnookin said.

Registration officials say they have more applicants this year than ever before, signaling hesitancy over COVID-19 precautions isn’t as bad as it once was.

“Our enrollment has remained quite strong. But we are now able to have the full immersive experience which is really how we think our students learn best,” Mnookin said.

“I’m nervous, but more excited than anything. Especially since this is the first time I’ve come face to face,” freshmen like Melany Romero said. “Thousands of people? It’s going to be new, a new experience for sure, but I’ll try to navigate it.”

Other incoming freshmen, like Elaine Santiago-Soto, say if the lockdowns were still in effect, they might have waited.

“I probably would have taken a year off or something because staring at a screen all the time takes a toll on you mentally,” Santiago-Soto said.

Mnookin says the school is ready to respond if the situation changes, which students say they are happy with.

“We now have additional tools in the toolbox, but one of the things we’ve learned in the pandemic is to never make predictions about what happens around the next corner,” Mnookin said.

UW-Madison officials say they will have final numbers for this year’s enrollment 10 days after school starts.