Alumni News

We like to share what our alumni have been up to. Please use our online form to send in your news for posting here and on the front page of News Connections.

Ward named new director of Morgridge Center for Public Service

April 19, 2018
by Käri Knutson, University Communications

Earlise C. Ward, an alumna of the School of Education and a leader with years of experience in both healthcare and helping the community, will become the next director of UW-Madison's Morgridge Center for Public Service.

Ward, an associate professor at the School of Nursing, will begin her new role in January 2019. She will replace Kathy Cramer, who stepped down as the faculty director and returned to a full-time position as a professor in the Political Science department. Lisa Chambers, associate director, is serving as interim director.

Ward has been with the School of Nursing since 2007. She received her Ph.D. from the School of Education's Department of Counseling Psychology in 2002 and earned a master's degree from Brooklyn College and a bachelor's degree from Baruch College, both in New York City.

Earlise Ward
The Morgridge Center for Public Service connects University of Wisconsin-Madison students, staff and faculty to local and global communities to build partnerships and solve critical issues through service and learning.

“I am passionate about community-based research and civic engagement, both of which I have been doing for the past 15 years,” Ward says. “I am excited about the opportunity to build on that experience, and lead a fantastic team at the Morgridge Center for Public Service in connecting campus with the statewide community.”

In 2015, Ward was honored as one of the university’s Outstanding Women of Color, an award given to students, faculty, staff and members of the community for their service in areas including social justice, advocacy, scholarly research, writing, speaking and/or teaching about race, ethnicity and indigeneity in American society; and community building to create an inclusive and respectful environment on or off campus.

Last June, she received a Baldwin Grant from the university for “Faith and Community in Action: Increasing Awareness and Management of Depression in African-American Communities,” a project she is partnering withPastor Anthony Wade of Second Baptist Church and the Centers for Disease Control. Ward will develop a community faith-based depression class in Dane County that will involve 50 African-American clergy and 24 African-American women (age 50 and older) to address depression in the African-American community. Outcomes will focus on implementation strategies, increased knowledge of depression, healthier coping behaviors, and satisfaction. The project draws upon her years of experience working toward reducing the stigma of depression.

“We’re thrilled to have a faculty member of Earlise’s experience and evident commitment to community engagement as the next director,” says Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf.

As Morgridge Center director, Ward will be responsible for ensuring that the Center successfully pursues its mission to promote civic engagement, strengthen community-based teaching and learning, and build and support collaborative community-University partnerships through public service, service-learning, community-based research and engaged scholarship. While the MCPS has campus-wide responsibilities, the administration of the MCPS and the Director’s reporting line run through the Dean of the School of Education, who serves as a representative to the Provost to oversee the MCPS on behalf of the university.

“Earlise has just the right combination of knowledge, skills, and commitments to lead the Morgridge Center for Public Service,” says School of Education Dean Diana Hess, who holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education. “As a scholar and community leader, Earlise has done exemplary work that has made a powerful difference on campus, throughout Madison, and beyond. She will bring extraordinary energy to the faculty director role. I am looking forward to working with her.”

The Morgridge Center was founded in 1996 with the generous support of alumni John and Tashia Morgridge. Its mission is to connect campus and community through service, service learning and community-based research to build a thriving democratic society.