Supporting service: “The great bridge”

If anyone knows the UW-Madison campus from one end — (think Eagle Heights) to the other (think the Art Lofts) — and all points in between, it’s Associate Vice Chancellor and UW Chief of Police Sue Riseling.

Heading the campus police department since 1991, Riseling has chosen to devote her professional career to university law enforcement. She also has chosen to include the Morgridge Center for Public Service in her personal philanthropy.

“We help prepare the next generation to lead the country and the world,” she explained. Riseling believes service is an important part of this preparation. “Service is fundamental and foundational. When you go about life thinking how you can help others, you are much more fulfilled.

“Service is as important as academic instruction, if not more so, because it is applicable to the lives students intend to lead. We have amazing young people here. The Morgridge Center is part of that.”

The obvious value of service is a broader understanding of the world, says Riseling. “We make progress by embracing diversity. When people become involved in a service project, they say they’ve learned as much as they’ve given,” she added. “I always benefit from [service] engagement even if it is learning to be more grateful for life, health and family.”

The Morgridge Center gets students closer to issues they might never have contact with says Riseling. “It is important that we help them realize there is pride in all work. A bonding occurs. Service is a great bridge between these students and the community.”

Riseling’s relationship to and support for the Morgridge Center was also inspired by her connection to the pioneers of the Center.

“I became aware of the Center through [former dean of students] Mary Rouse. I knew if Mary was involved, it must be important. Then I read about the Morgridges, John and Tashia. They get ‘it’ when it comes to the spirit of philanthropy. They are super smart and super committed. Their giving is strategic and intelligent. They stay engaged and are focused on furthering the future. They truly embody the Wisconsin Idea.”

Riseling says education through service has both practical and economic implications. “Even alumni who become kings and queens of industry are engaged in service—to their customers, their employees and shareholders.

“If you’re all about you, you’re not successful. Students involved in service learn it is not all about them. They learn how hard it can be to make change but also how they can make an impact.”


Chief Riseling is a Past President of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association. She is the first woman and the first University Chief ever to serve as President. She spent six years on the Wisconsin Police Leadership Foundation Board. She is a Past President of the Wisconsin Police Executive Group and Past President of the Dane County Chiefs of Police Association.


By: Merry Anderson