Marsha Mailick Seltzer, PhD, named interim director of Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

Terry Devitt, University Communications

Marsha Mailick, PhD
Marsha Mailick, vice chancellor for research and graduate education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is pictured in a studio portrait on Aug. 24, 2017. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Marsha Mailick Seltzer, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Waisman Center and an internationally recognized scholar of developmental disabilities, has been named interim director of the new Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID).

Seltzer’s appointment was announced today (Aug. 8) by UW-Madison Graduate School Dean Martin Cadwallader.

A veteran administrator who for four years has directed one of UW-Madison’s premier interdisciplinary research centers, Seltzer brings a “wealth of experience, expertise and leadership to the new Wisconsin Institute for Discovery,” Cadwallader said in announcing the appointment. “She is a thoughtful and accomplished leader, perfectly positioned to set the tone for what promises to be one of the most exciting research initiatives our campus has seen in a very long time.”

Seltzer will continue in her position as director of the Waisman Center, a complex of 60 laboratories for basic and clinical biomedical and behavioral research, clinical services, education and outreach. She will serve as interim director of WID until a permanent director is named.

“This is an incredibly important initiative for our campus,” Seltzer says. “I look forward to helping make WID a reality and to working with our faculty, whose creative powers are essential to bring the WID vision to fruition, and with the donors whose generous gifts have made the institutes possible.”

The new $150 million Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery is planned for the 1300 block of University Avenue. Funded by major gifts from John and Tashia Morgridge, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and by the state of Wisconsin, WID is intended to be an innovative public/private crucible of interdisciplinary research.

“Marsha Seltzer is an excellent choice for interim director,” says WARF managing director Carl Gulbrandsen. “She is devoted to UW-Madison and believes strongly in the importance of interdisciplinary research and education. As director of the Waisman Center, she has demonstrated that she is both a good listener and an effective leader.”

Seltzer says that WID represents both an enormous challenge and an opportunity for the university. As the institutes take shape, she says that it is critical to consider the interplay between the new institutes and the larger research programs of the university. A central issue, she says, will be ensuring that WID and its programs have influence beyond the institutes themselves and add value to the university.

Still, she adds, WID will be unique. Its mission, she says, will reflect the visions of its donors as it seeks to forge a model of interdisciplinary research that fosters novel collaborations and practices that will amplify the creative powers of the UW-Madison faculty.

Seltzer joined the UW-Madison faculty in 1988. She is Vaughan Bascom Professor in the departments of Social Work and Pediatrics. She is an authority on families of people with developmental disabilities and has authored or co-authored five books and more than 120 scholarly papers. In addition to her many awards, Seltzer has been named a fellow of the American Association on Mental Retardation and the Gerontological Society of America.