A new (and neuro) way of advancing the Wisconsin Idea

In essence, the Wisconsin Idea states that the university should improve people’s lives well beyond the classroom. And while many alumni, students, and faculty have taken this principle to heart, Robert Dempsey, professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at UW–Madison, really embodies it. The World Health Organization, in fact, recently named him a task-force leader on stroke in developing countries.

Dempsey is fulfilling all three of the Department of Neurological Surgery’s three-part mission of patient care, research, and education.

Dempsey is also the chair of the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery, which provides hands-on training and education to neurosurgeons in 24 countries around the world. Its volunteer neurosurgeons and personnel spend months on site, teaching techniques to local neurosurgeons, setting up neurosurgery residency programs, and providing critical assistance in operating rooms.

Dempsey and some of his residents have traveled to impoverished areas in Uganda, Zimbabwe, and other South African countries to perform neurological surgical care in small villages and have left making a big difference: not only are they providing critical care to people in need, but they are also helping to develop better neurosurgeons in those countries who will eventually serve their populations.

By taking his skills and talents outside of the UW, Dempsey is fulfilling all three of the Department of Neurological Surgery’s three-part mission of patient care, research, and education. It’s a testament to his dedication that he continues to work side by side with neurosurgeons in the developing world to impart his knowledge in an effort to help others help themselves.

It’s just one more example of the work being done to move the UW — and the world around us — forward.