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Former UW president Charles Van Hise 1879, 1880, MS1882, PhD1892 stated, “I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every family of the state.” This core tenet of the UW and the central theme of the Wisconsin Idea — to impact people’s lives beyond the classroom — certainly applies to the many alumni who have been elected to political office or who serve in the judicial system. Whether it’s at the local, state, or federal level, or in another country entirely, the Wisconsin Idea has spread through these public servants as they’ve worked to improve their communities. Including mayors of large cities, county judges, state legislators, governors, and members of the U.S. Congress, there have been 235 elected officials who studied at the UW. That number is according to Wikipedia, so we think it’s safe to assume there are many more who are not listed. Some of the big hitters you may recognize are former vice president Dick Cheney PhDx’68 and former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities Lynne Cheney PhD’70, former Wisconsin governor and outgoing interim UW System president Tommy Thompson ’63, JD’66, and current Wisconsin governor Tony Evers ’73, MS’76, PhD’86. Tribal leaders like former Ho-Chunk Nation president JoAnn Jones ’82, MS’83, JD’87 have also come out of the UW. International alumni have also held high offices, including former president of Bangladesh Iajuddin Ahmed MS’58, PhD’62 and former prime minister of Bhutan Yeshey Zimba ’75, MA’76. Learn more about how extensive the Wisconsin Idea’s reach is through its world-changing alumni, and send in an update yourself!

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