Thompson Center to Fund Faculty Research and Speakers

February 16, 2022: The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership will provide research grants and fund speakers across the UW System in the 2022-2023 academic year to address four topics: State and Local Government Interaction, Overcoming Learning Loss and Current Challenges in Education, Challenges Facing Rural Communities in Wisconsin, and Health Systems in Public Emergencies. The Center also welcomes applications dealing with other important topics connected to public leadership. Applications are due on May 20, 2022.

“Governor Thompson has a long history of identifying critical problems, pursuing innovative reforms, and working with people of various backgrounds and views to accomplish his goals,” said Director Alex Tahk. “As Governor Thompson steps down from his role leading the UW System, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on how we can continue to carry on his legacy of public leadership. We at the Thompson Center believe a key piece of continuing this legacy is to facilitate events and research on crucial topics related to public leadership.”

The Center seeks grant applications from researchers across the UW System to conduct research on public leadership topics. The Center has allocated up to $500,000 for principal investigators to research these areas and benefit the state with the results, consistent with the Wisconsin Idea. Application information can be found at

In addition, the Center is accepting applications from UW System schools to hold speaking events with high-quality speakers who can drive important conversations in Wisconsin. The Center has allocated a total of $500,000 to support these events. Faculty, departments, and student organizations at any UW campus outside of UW-Madison (where the Center is based and holds other events) may apply. Though speakers on the itemized topics will be given priority, the Center will entertain applications to host expert speakers on other important leadership-related topics. Application information can be found at

“One of the things I value most about the Thompson Center is that we work across the UW System,” said Tahk. “As director, I have been impressed and encouraged by the everyone I’ve interacted with throughout the UW System and the distinctive attributes of each campus. I welcome the opportunity to collaborate on research and events to help fulfill the Wisconsin Idea to move our state forward.” 

2022-2023 Research and Speaker Grant Topics

State and Local Government Interaction. The structure of each level of government and their interaction are essential to good governance. We seek proposals that address issues connected to state and local government interaction which include, but are not limited to: intergovernmental cooperation, the balance of power, fiscal relationships, and the consolidation of services; governmental responsiveness, engagement, and accountability; and the effect of institutional design on political, technological, labor market, and environmental challenges.

Overcoming Learning Loss and Current Challenges in Education. Educational issues including absenteeism, summer learning loss, school closures, and the voucher system have long impacted schools in Wisconsin, but the current pandemic has resulted in stagnation and learning loss at unprecedented levels. We seek proposals addressing learning loss and current challenges in education, including but not limited to: the impact of recent initiatives and other federal, state, and local programs; targeted support programs engaging the community in public/private partnership programs; the effect of institutional and instructional design on student success; addressing a student’s physical and emotional needs to motivate and engage students and families in learning; and the role of school boards and community leadership in recovering from learning loss.

Challenges Facing Rural Communities in Wisconsin. Compared to other states, Wisconsin has a fairly high proportion of rural to urban communities. This gives rise to an interdependent series of issues, based on the connection and dependence of these communities on each other for their continued support and development. We seek proposals that address challenges facing rural communities in Wisconsin which include, but are not limited to: ensuring all Wisconsinites have access to high-quality medical care, education, financial services, and legal services; meeting the infrastructure and service needs of rural communities, such as roads and high-speed internet; employment, entrepreneurship, financial security, and economic growth; and staffing and other difficulties imperiling community-based volunteer emergency services.

Health Systems in Public Emergencies. The COVID pandemic exposed the fragility of healthcare providers on many levels. We seek proposals that address health systems in public emergencies which include, but are not limited to: ensuring the efficient functioning of healthcare systems in the face of financial and medical uncertainties; and the robustness of healthcare services to changes in demand and labor market in times of public emergency.

For more details on these funding opportunities and upcoming events, please visit the Thompson Center’s website at