Announcing the Anne Wackman Oros Professorship in Social Work

Photo of Anne (Wackman) wearing red and John Oros wearing back in front of a dark background
Anne (Wackman) and John Oros

The Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work is proud to announce the creation of our first-ever named professorship. Starting in fall 2024, Dr. Tova Walsh will become the Anne Wackman Oros Associate Professor of Social Work thanks to the leadership and generosity of John and Anne Oros and their commitment to child wellbeing and foster care.

This professorship honors Anne Wackman Oros, who graduated from UW-Madison (BA ‘72) and is a former social worker. Anne and her husband John Oros (BBA ’71), have fostered over 50 babies in their New Jersey home. Anne looked into fostering children in the mid-1990s when their youngest daughter was entering middle school. They worked with the Bethany Christian Services in New Jersey, helping children in greatest need. For many years, Anne has been a strong advocate around adoption and foster care. In 2006, the United States Congress recognized Anne with an Angels in Adoption Award. Although they are no longer in the day-to-day work of fostering, they think of themselves as “foster grandparents” and have remained close to many families and children.

“While Anne does not like to be in the spotlight, we agree with her family that this named professorship seems a fitting tribute to Anne’s contributions to the lives of so many children and families, through her own fostering and through her advocacy work,” said Dr. Stephanie Robert, Director of the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work.

“We are so grateful to Anne and John for this extraordinary gift,” said Dr. Robert. “A named professorship in child wellbeing and foster care honors and supports our school as a place of cutting-edge research on the wellbeing of children and families. A gift of this magnitude helps us attract and retain the very best, brightest, and committed faculty, like Dr. Walsh, whose work improves the lives of children and families throughout Wisconsin and the country.”

Tova Walsh standing outiside with arms crossed in black blazer in front a green bushes.
Dr. Tova Walsh

Associate Professor Tova Walsh is a leading researcher focused on improving the health and well-being of often-overlooked populations of parents and their young children. She focuses on parenting in children’s earliest years of life because early childhood is an important period for development and a critical time to mitigate the effects of adversity, disrupt inequities, and promote health and resilience. She studies the experiences of families with young children, the needs and challenges they face, the resources available to them, and gaps in support, and applies her findings to contribute to improved health and well-being and a strengthened system of services for families with young children.

“I’m honored to be appointed the Anne Wackman Oros Associate Professor of Social Work,” Dr. Walsh said.  “With the support of John and Anne Oros, I will be able to extend and grow my program of translational research and advance our shared efforts on behalf of infants, toddlers, and their families.”

Dr. Walsh takes a strategic and intentional community-based approach to her research, collaborating with organizations such as the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative and the African American Breastfeeding Network. She provides training for perinatal and early childhood programs on engaging fathers in services, and she presents a father-focused webinar series for child and family services providers, researchers, and policymakers that is sponsored by the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board. She is frequently published and cited in popular media. She recently received funding from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families for research to explore service collaborations to increase noncustodial fathers’ access to support.

Beyond their personal and philanthropic support of foster care, adoption, and child and family wellbeing, John and Anne Oros have made extraordinary commitments to UW-Madison. They have been among the most impassioned supporters of UW-Madison’s School of Business, Department of Communications Sciences, Athletics, and the School of Social Work. Together they served as chairs of the UW-Madison’s All Ways Forward campaign, which raised over $4 billion for UW-Madison. John is a member of the Wisconsin Naming Partnership, an innovative approach that brought together 13 donors to name the school simply as the School of Business, and in 1999 he received the School of Business Distinguished Alumni Award.

“We are humbled by the opportunity to support the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work which was the foundation of a lifelong career for me as a professional and a volunteer in foster care and adoption,” said Anne Oros. “We hope the school, which has been so important to framing my path, will flourish and expand.”