Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
News & Events

Raison Receives SoHE’s First Distinguished Chair Position

Charles Raison
Dr. Charles L. Raison

Dr. Charles Raison is now the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Distinguished Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families at the School of Human Ecology. Thanks to generous support from the Shannon family that qualified for Morgridge matching funds last spring, Dr. Raison is SoHE’s first Distinguished Chair in its more than a century of research and teaching to promote the well-being of children, families, consumers, and communities.

“Being named to the Shannon Distinguished Chair is a profound honor,” says Raison. “But more importantly, this gift from the Shannons will provide essential support for efforts at UW–Madison to identify and test new ways of enhancing emotional well-being through the development of more effective treatments for depression and anxiety. Because my work is so interconnected with that of colleagues across the university, this gift will be like a stone tossed into a pond, with the ripples extending outwards far beyond my own personal efforts. This is the kind of targeted philanthropy that will be differentially effective in keeping UW–Madison at the cutting edge of research in the behavioral sciences.”

Raison came to SoHE in 2015 from the University of Arizona, where he was the founding director of the Center for Compassion Studies and professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine. Now in Madison, he is a professor in both Human Development and Family Studies at SoHE and in psychiatry at the School of Medicine and Public Health.

“We are so pleased to be able to support Chuck’s deeply insightful work,” says Mary Sue Shannon. “Particularly in a time of crisis, it is all the more pressing that we cultivate the healthy minds that help build resilience in children and families.”

Dr. Raison is internationally recognized for his studies examining novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions, as well as for his work examining the physical and behavioral effects of compassion training. The recipient of several teaching awards, Dr. Raison was named one of the world’s most influential researchers by Web of Science for the decade of 2010-2019.

“It is fitting that this gift supports our school’s first ever distinguished chair,” says Dr. Soyeon Shim, Dean of the School of Human Ecology. “The Shannons see not just the promise of Chuck’s work and of the human ecology approach, but also the possibilities for children, families, and communities well beyond our campus. This gift truly opens doors.”

Read more about Dr. Raison in his SoHE profile, and learn about SoHE’s ongoing work in this area through its Center for Child and Family Well-Being.