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The Distance from Public Institutions of Higher Education: Public Perceptions of UW–Madison

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Publication Date: March 2012

Publisher(s): Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Topic: Education (Colleges and universities)

Keywords: Outreach, Engagement, and the Public Good ; University Relations

Coverage: United States Wisconsin


Public opinion matters for the administration of public higher education. Yet, we know little about how members of the public conceptualize these institutions in general, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in particular. This study investigates how Wisconsinites think about UW-Madison through investigations of conversations regularly occurring among 36 groups sampled from 27 communities statewide. It reveals a pervasive sense of distance from UW-Madison that is part of a broader sense of disconnection from institutions of authority. The implication is that positive relationships between UW-Madison and the mass public will require innovative means of listening and relationship building.


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