L&S honors Wright-Racette

David Wright-Racette

La Follette School staff member David Wright-Racette has received a 2020–2021 University Staff Excellence Award from the College of Letters & Science (L&S).

Wright-Racette, who joined the La Follette School staff in February 2017, was honored for his outstanding performance, service, and contributions. His award is one of only five given to L&S university staff members annually.

“His recognition is based on his overall impact to the La Follette School and greater campus, his ability to take initiative and improve methods that enhance workplace goals, his leadership qualities, and his ability to contribute to a positive workplace climate,” said Sr. Student Services Coordinator Mo O’Connor, who led the nomination process.

While technically his title is Student Status Examiner Sr., Wright-Racette is the La Follette School’s go-to person for on-the-spot requests to help students with registration problems and to assist faculty with class and grading issues, for data requests that shape admissions requirements, and for brainstorming best outcomes when challenging situations arise.

“I can always count on his responses to be thoughtful, timely, and accurate,” O’Connor wrote.

La Follette School Director and Professor Susan Webb Yackee and Associate Director Steve Kulig (MPA ’14) mentioned Wright-Racette’s initiative to investigate issues and identify creative solutions.

“He proactively analyzed the percentage of La Follette School graduate students that maintain graduate assistantships,” they wrote. “This information has helped La Follette School leadership better understand assistantship and funding trends, helping to make more efficient use of recruitment funds.

In 2019, Wright-Racette was honored with the Student Personnel Association Frontline Award. He grew up in the Barron County community of Prairie Farm and received his bachelor’s degree in political science from UW–Madison in 2014.

Among his many accomplishments, Wright-Racette has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills as the School developed and grows its Undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy. “David has been the driving force behind the nitty gritty details of the La Follette School’s first foray into the education of undergraduates,” O’Connor explained in the nomination.

La Follette School graduate students Yixuan Cheng and Charles Pratt as well as undergraduate certificate student Sarah Cheney provided supporting comments along with campus colleagues Kimbrin Cornelius & Martine Delannay.

“I have a very strong sense of belonging at the La Follette School, and that would never be the case without David’s support,” said Cheng. “We are very lucky to have him at the La Follette School working with students.”

Finally, but especially critical during the School’s busiest times, Wright-Racette is “the La Follette School’s resident expert in comic relief,” O’Connor wrote. “He is ever ready with a well-timed pun and has an aptitude for putting a smile on someone’s face. During a time of immense change, David has been a much-needed source of calm and quiet strength on which many of his colleagues rely.”