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Former UW Chancellor Blank diagnosed with cancer; will not take Northwestern job

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Former University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, Northwestern University revealed Monday. She had been slated to take over as president of the Evanston, Illinois, university, but will no longer be able to do so, the university’s statement continued.

“I can speak for all of us in the leadership of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in saying that we’re absolutely devastated by the news that Chancellor Emeritus Becky Blank has been diagnosed with cancer and will not be assuming the presidency of Northwestern University, ” UW Provost and Interim Chancellor John Karl said.

Blank, who served as UW Chancellor for eight years before stepping down this summer, plans to return to Madison for treatment, according to the university. According to a statement released by Northwestern, Blank learned of the diagnosis last week. She expects to spend the next weeks and months focused on her health and family.

“I understand that Becky and Hanns intend to stay in Madison, among friends and colleagues, Karl continued. “I know Becky will undertake her treatment with the same energy and focus with which she performed her duties as chancellor.”

Blank left UW this summer after accepting the presidency of Northwestern, where she previously served as a professor, in October of last year. She first came to Madison in 2013, shortly after leaving the Obama Administration where she served as Deputy Secretary of Commerce, and briefly as Acting Secretary of Commerce.

“I do not have the words to express to you how disappointed and sad I am to be telling you this,” Blank wrote. “I was excited to be joining you at Northwestern, a world-class institution that near and dear to my heart.”

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