Assistant Professor Denia Garcia received the 2022 UW–Madison Exceptional Service Award for her outstanding service fostering program growth and supporting outreach activities.
Through her involvement with the development of the school’s undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy program, Garcia has played a key role in increasing the reach of La Follette School. Garcia transformed the certificate’s introductory course, Contemporary Public Policy Issues (PA 200), from a 50-person class in the fall of 2020 to a 143-student course in the fall of 2021, enabling the certificate to grow from 50 students to over 200 students in just three years. “It has been rewarding to contribute to the growth of the undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy,” says Garcia. “The expansion of our introductory course allows us to make public policy accessible to a broader range of students. We teach students who have well-defined policy interests, as well as students who are exploring the field for the first time. Students develop tools to analyze contemporary issues and make evidence-based arguments, which are skills that can help students become more proactive citizens.”
“The increased popularity and capacity of undergraduate policy courses creates a more diverse pipeline to public policy studies and to the profession of public service and allows the La Follette School to reach more undergraduate students from different backgrounds and disciplines,” says La Follette School Professor and Director Susan Webb Yackee. “Garcia does this while creating a welcoming environment for engaging discussions of public policy issues and often controversial current events.”
The award also recognizes Garcia’s work promoting the school’s research through outreach activities such as panels and news interviews about racial inequalities, immigrant social capital, and the social impacts of COVID-19. In 2022, she also led a session on diversity and structural racism as part of the La Follette School’s professional development partnership with Wisconsin Women in Government. In addition, Garcia played a major role in designing survey questions for and promoting the first La Follette Policy Poll, which asked 5,000 state residents about the issues that matter to them most and was released in January of 2022.
The Exceptional Service Award recognizes assistant and associate professors, especially women and those from historically underrepresented groups, who perform service activities beyond what is expected of tenure-track and tenured faculty members. Such service allows for a broad range of perspectives and experiences to be included in committees, shared governance, and student advising. “The award granted me course relief, giving me more time to work on my book about diversity and belonging in neighborhoods,” notes Garcia. “It signals UW’s commitment to recognizing the multiple ways that faculty contribute to excellence in the university.”