Chancellor finalist and current dean of the University of Chicago Law School Michael Schill laid out his vision to keep college accessible and to empower University of Wisconsin students through communication and shared governance in a visit Thursday.
State and federal funding, philanthropy and monetizing innovations are revenue sources Schill said he plans to exploit before increasing tuition for students.
“I would never insult your intelligence by saying there will never be tuition increases here, but if I were to become chancellor, I would minimize the increases by increasing revenues in these other places,” Schill said.
As a first-generation college student, Schill said he got a transformative liberal education primarily because of a scholarship and has since valued accessible, affordable education.
He said the accessibility of the university is what keeps many students attending.
“If our nation is to succeed, we are to maintain or get back our competitive edge … where it should happen is at state universities,” Schill said. “What attracts me to the University of Wisconsin includes that public mission of access”
To stay competitive with respect to attractions to both students and faculty is essential to UW’s future, he said.
Schill recognized the problem of lagging faculty salary at UW and said it is tremendously important to offer competitive packages, including salary and research facilities, to attract and maintain faculty to the school.
“A great university is all about human capital, bringing together amazing students, great teachers … and researchers,” Schill said.
For Schill, the university needs to explore several revenue sources including state funding, federal research grants, philanthropy and entrepreneurship.
Growing the partnership with the state and UW System is key to maintaining and growing state contribution, Schill said.
“We need to fight for more state funding and the way to do that is to be accountable, to tell people about the great things that are going on here, but also listen to people around state [and] what they want from the university,” he said. “[UW system] is a great system, there are ways in which this university can cooperate … that we’ve only touched the beginning of the iceburg.”
The second element is to fight for every last dollar of federal science funding to support research at the university, although Schill predicts it will be increasingly difficult given the economic landscape.
Schill, who launched several successful fundraising campaigns at the University of Chicago, said he observed potential in improving philanthropy at UW.
“We start at Wisconsin with a tremendous advantage, because what we have is alumni who love the school … you can just tap right into the love, to get them engaged, to get them passionate about the school.”
In addition to his wealth of experience in philanthropy, Schill said his past experience also taught him the importance of shared governance.
Schill said after meeting with students on the visit, he observed students at UW are unusually empowered by shared governance, a tradition he embraces and values.
Chair of the Chancellor Search and Screen Committee David McDonald said one of the goals for having the finalists visit the campus is to have them experience and learn about the tradition of shared governance.
According to McDonald, undergraduate and graduate students consisted of from one-quarter to one-third of the people at the public reception with Schill.
“This allows us, the search/screen committee, to have a sense of what the student reaction is and take that to the board of regents,” McDonald said.
Although not as big of a Twitter fan as Biddy Martin, whose Twitter Q&A with students experienced great success, Schill said he also values genuine interaction with students.
At the current institution, Schill holds office hours and aims to respond every student email in 10 minutes, relying on his good “email hygiene.”
“I want every student to feel empowered and that you care about them,” Schill said.