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Reflections from Dean’s Advisory Board Chair Bridget Coffing '76

Headshot of Bridget CoffingThe Dean’s Advisory Board is a key partner to Dean Soyeon Shim as the School of Human Ecology continues to be a catalyst for change. Board members look at the trends shaping the world and apply insights from various industries to Human Ecology. Bridget Coffing ’76 brings her leadership and more than 35 years of communications experience to her role as Chair of the board.

What drew you to the School of Human Ecology?

I was fortunate to get my first job out of college as a direct result of my degree from the School of Human Ecology. While the name of the school has changed over the years, the school’s commitment to facilitating job interviews, preparing students for the future, and setting them up for success has remained steadfast and consistent. It’s gratifying for me to trace the positive trajectory of my career back to the strong academic foundation and nurturing, intellectually robust environment that Human Ecology provided. It’s equally exciting to partner with Dean Shim and the Board of Advisors today, as the School of Human Ecology continues to build and grow, meeting the needs of today’s students and beyond.

What are you proud of achieving as a Board member?

It’s a true honor to serve on the Dean’s Advisory Board. The passion and expertise that this group brings to the school is a source of inspiration and pride for all of us who are blessed to participate as board members. Human Ecology is a dynamic school that is stretching current boundaries, challenging the status quo, and anticipating what is down the road and around the corner. Whether the Board is working on future trends, a special event, or a potential new big idea to address a big need or challenging problem, the spirit of collaboration and teamwork is what drives and motivates this group. That, in itself, is a big achievement.

When you think about the School of Human Ecology 25 years from now, what do you hope we are known for?

Looking down the road, I see the School of Human Ecology being known as the catalyst for putting the “human” back into business practices and academic approaches; for being the leader among leaders in advancing research and best practices to address the significant issues of our day; and for graduating the alumni who, with vision and integrity, will make the world a better place.

Bridget Coffing has more than 35 years of communications experience including public affairs and issues management, marketing communications and public relations for both major corporations and public relations and advertising agencies. She most recently served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations for McDonald’s Corporation. In this role, Coffing was the company’s Chief Communications Officer and reported to McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer.

Coffing is the recipient of numerous top industry awards and McDonald’s recognition, including the McDonald’s Presidents’ Award, which is annually awarded to the organization’s top one percent of employees, and McDonald’s Team and Circle of Excellence Awards. She is currently Chair of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Human Ecology Dean’s Advisory Board; Chair of the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations Board of Advisors; a founding and current member of the Diversity Action Alliance Board; on the Senior Leaders Committee of the Public Relations Society of America, Chicago Chapter Board; on the steering committee of the University of Chicago Women’s Board and the Woman’s Athletic Club of Chicago; and a member of the Page Society.