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William Karpus selected to lead the Graduate School

William Karpus

William Karpus

William Karpus, a professor of pathology and microbiology-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has been chosen to lead the Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"I see becoming dean of the Graduate School as a tremendous opportunity; there is almost unparalleled scholarship and research going on at UW-Madison, with an outstanding group of students," he says. "It’s a strong institution with great faculty."

As dean of the Graduate School, Karpus will provide support for more than 9,000 graduate students across 150 graduate programs, oversee central administration of an office with 25 employees and a $2.5 million operating budget, and promote diversity initiatives.

He will also serve in a variety of advocacy and communications roles and set university-wide policies and standards.

Karpus, who was selected from among four finalists, will report to Marsha Mailick, vice chancellor for research and graduate education, an office created last year when the Graduate School reorganized to enhance the roles of graduate education and research at UW-Madison. He will be the first dean since this restructuring.

"We are delighted to have been successful in recruiting Bill Karpus to be the dean of the Graduate School," says Mailick. "He brings a very high level of experience to the role and a great deal of enthusiasm and creativity to the opportunities at UW-Madison."

Under the interim leadership of Wendy Crone, the Graduate School had already set a strong course focused on graduate education priorities and maintaining strong connections to research.

Karpus will be involved in continuing to reshape graduate education on campus, a task at which he should excel, having served as associate dean for student affairs in The Graduate School at Northwestern since 2012 and as director of the Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Graduate Training Program in Life Science from 2008-2012.

In particular, he has focused on helping students develop skill sets and career opportunities outside of academia as well as positioning graduate students for success in tenure-track academic careers

"One of the big conversations nationally is career outcomes for students with Ph.D.s and how the number of tenure track positions in the academy is a lot smaller than the number of Ph.D. students trained nationally across country," he says. "We have to develop new ways of providing skills to Ph.D. students so they can be competitive in a number of different career paths."

As associate dean at Northwestern, he helped build connections between graduate students in the sciences and the business school, working to create an eight-week summer crossover program for scientists interested in business and management.

He also helped spearhead a partnership between The Graduate School at Northwestern and the journalism school to offer opportunities to students interested in science communication.

"These collaborations can be brought to other institutions, including UW-Madison, and help students across the country," he says. "If we can modify and develop our future workforce nationally, it will be critical to advancing the economy and research across all sectors."

Karpus will not be shifting his extensive multiple sclerosis research program to UW-Madison, as he plans to dedicate his full attention to his role as dean, but he is looking to transfer his current grant to the institution. And, given his experience directing a research core in flow cytometry at Northwestern and through his clinical service work at Feinberg School of Medicine, Karpus is open to new research collaborations.

"Dr. Karpus brings a wealth of experience in graduate education and interdisciplinary programs to this position, which will serve him and the campus well as he works with students, faculty and staff," says Mailick. "I look forward to working with him to together strengthen graduate education and research."

Karpus will assume his new role on August 1 and is looking forward to everything Madison has to offer, from ample outdoor opportunities to the Dane County Farmers Market. He will not miss Chicago’s congested freeways.

He is also looking forward to meeting with students, faculty, and staff to begin listening and learning from them.

"I have always prided myself in my ability to listen, learn and respond to what the needs are as much as we can," he says. "Resources aren’t limitless so we have to establish priorities. You really can only do that when you know what the issues are and rank them, and to do that, you have to listen to people and learn."