In a concluding round of public forums, University of Wisconsin’s Chancellor Search and Screen Committee held its third and final town hall meeting Friday, focusing primarily on the importance of the Wisconsin Idea in looking for a chancellor candidate.
With the coming departure of UW Interim Chancellor David Ward, the UW Chancellor Search and Screen Committee invited faculty, students and community members to express concerns and suggestions as part of the chancellor nomination process.
David McDonald, UW history professor and chair of the Search and Screen Committee, said the forums have had relatively small audiences.
However, according to McDonald, the small crowds allowed members of the audience to participate more and present unique angles to issues concerning education and administration.
“The three public forums absolutely were helpful,” McDonald said. “[They] served to maximize opportunities for the community to share their own perspectives.”
The forum, which allowed audience members to ask questions and give their input to the committee, focused on the importance of the Wisconsin Idea in looking for candidates.
Jason Chiang, both a graduate student and medical student, spoke of the importance of using technology transfer and research to benefit the public.
“I’ve seen faculty here use research to help patients throughout Wisconsin, which I believe is a great embodiment of the Wisconsin Idea,” Chiang said. “I hope that the next chancellor will continue that.”
Aaron Crandall, administrative program specialist in the School of Human Ecology, said he hopes the new chancellor will continue the Wisconsin Idea by encouraging collaborations within the university and emphasizing UW is a small part of a much broader community.
Other attendees voiced their opinions, emphasizing interdisciplinary learning, community, reputation and budget.
According to Crandall, the new chancellor must be prepared to address difficult decisions that deal with shrinking budgets and the streamlining of services.
Shoko Miyagi, who works in UW’s Facilities Planning and Management department, requested an approachable chancellor who will connect and interact with anyone in the community.
Professor of theatre and drama Manon van de Water expressed her concerns about the preservation of the arts.
“The arts are increasingly less valued as a fundamental part of our mandatory education,” van de Water said. “But we need to teach artistic methods and preserve interdisciplinary work. Without the arts, we lose our humanity.”
Jonathan Martin, professor and chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, added the new chancellor must understand the importance of teaching at this university and advocated searching within the university’s current faculty for a new leader.
According to Martin, faculty governance guarantees a tyranny of personality will not develop on campus.
Though all participants highlighted their specific concerns, each person also said UW is a distinct university that should embrace its role as one of the nation’s leading institution of higher education.
“The person who we are going to hire needs to be able to help everyone so we can put forward our very best product of the next ten years,” Martin said. “We need to re-dedicate ourselves to being the best. We don’t have to follow other schools’ models; other universities are chasing us. We shouldn’t give that up.”
McDonald added community members would also be able to contribute through a web chat 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday as well as through Twitter or emails.
The committee is considering holding additional public forums, McDonald added.