From Badger Herald Wiki
|This article may need to be updated.|
|This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone or spelling.|
|This article needs additional citations for verification.|
Chancellor Biddy Martin spoke on the importance of the humanities at UW Wednesday, February 11, 2009. KARI FISCHER/Herald photo
Carolyn "Biddy" Martin is the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously the provost of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Martin took office Sept. 1, 2008, succeeding former-chancellor John Wiley.
When Martin assumed the position, she listed faculty and staff recruitment and retention, affordability, access to higher education and greater diversity among her priorities for UW. Many of these goals are already underway in Martin’s first major project as chancellor—the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates. Using funds generated by an incremental tuition increase, the initiative provides money to hire new faculty, increase financial aid and support projects proposed by departments across campus.
Martin has since announced another major initiative in the form of a restructuring of the graduate school. Developed by Provost Paul DeLuca, the plan would separate the vice chancellor for research and the dean of the graduate school into two separate positions. Following a controversial reception among members of the faculty and staff, the proposed restructuring has been halted until further review is completed.
Martin has actively facilitated a close and open relationship with the state Legislature and is frequently seen at student and general university events. She is the second female and first openly gay individual to serve as the chancellor of UW. She resides at the historic Olin House -- the official residence of the UW chancellor -- with her toy poodle, Oscar.
Early life and career
Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, Martin received her B.A. from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. After completing her M.A. at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, Martin pursued a Ph.D. in German Literature at UW. She completed her Ph.D. in 1985 and joined the faculty at Cornell. After serving as an assistant professor, professor, department chair and associate dean, Martin became the provost of Cornell July 1, 2000.
During her time as provost, Martin oversaw several programs similar to those she is pursuing at UW. These included the elimination of loans for students with families earning less than $75,000 a year, a Common Read program for freshman and an initiative to improve faculty salaries and retention.
Martin is the author of two books: Woman and Modernity: The (Life)Styles of Lou Andreas-Salomé and Femininity Played Straight: The Significance of Being Lesbian. She has authored dozens of articles, papers and presentations with a predominant focus on gender theory or German literature.
Martin began serving as chancellor Sept. 1, 2008 after being selected by a 23-member search and screen committee. Rebecca Blank from from the University of Michigan, R. Timothy Mulcahy from the University of Minnesota and Gary Sandefur of UW were also finalists for the position.
Martin's strong background in the humanities marked a sharp change from Wiley's training as a physicist. Martin proclaimed the 2009-10 academic year the "Year of the Humanities," which featured a series of lectures and other events on the UW campus. She has spoken several times on the importance she places on the humanities and their endangered presence on campuses where fundraising is difficult.
Martin also departs from Wiley in her efforts to connect with legislators to discuss UW's place in relation to Wisconsin. Wiley had a heated relationship with the state Legislature, which he described as having a “hyper-partisan political environment” during his time as chancellor. Martin has said the efforts are a part of a greater effort to improve external communication by UW.
Since arriving on campus, Martin also instituted the Go Big Read program in which students, faculty, staff and other community members read a common book in conjunction with discussions and other events. Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food was selected as the inaugural text for the 2009-10 academic year.
Martin is also a supporter of domestic partner health benefits, which were signed into law in Wisconsin in September of 2009. Martin said the benefits are necessary for the university to be as attractive to new faculty and students as possible. She said without "having what is right and fair," the university could not recruit as effectively as others.
Martin announced the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates March 24, 2009 to a group of student leaders gathered at Olin House. The incremental tuition increase, which raises tuition $250 per year for four years for in-state students and $750 per year for out-of-state students, is meant to generate funds to retain and hire faculty and support projects proposed by departments across campus. The initiative is also meant to generate increased financial aid. Grants to offset the cost of the tuition increase are provided to students whose families make less than $80,000 a year.
Of the total funds generated, 15 percent are planned to go toward student services, equaling about $1.5 million each year. Student aid will receive 50 percent of the funds and faculty hiring and retention will receive 35 percent.
After its proposal, the Madison Initiative was met with intense debate on campus. Martin hosted a series of forums to address the concerns of students, faculty and staff. The proposal was eventually approved by the Board of Regents and campus leaders are currently working through the second round of proposals.
Graduate school reform
At a Faculty Senate meeting in October of 2009, Martin revealed a proposal to change the structure of the graduate school that would separate the vice chancellor for research and the dean of the graduate school into two separate positions. Martin said the proposed change was a response to the "single greatest complaint" she had received since taking the position of chancellor, citing concerns with safety and compliance that the current system potentially exacerbated.
Headed by Provost Paul DeLuca Jr., the proposal was met with serious skepticism among members of the faculty and staff. Two committees undertook a review of the proposal. The first was released January 21, 2010 by the Academic Staff Executive Committee, which found a restructuring would not be the best way to address current concerns. The second review by the University Committee is expected at the end of January.
Objectors to the graduates school restructuring have voiced concerns the proposal is a move to concentrate more power at Bascom. Faculty and staff also objected to its sudden announcement, saying it was rushed through the development process independent of shared governance.
Martin's support of domestic partner benefits and a second-trimester abortion clinic in Madison have prompted a strong response from some community members and alumni. The clinic, which will be based out of the Madison Surgery Center, received final approval Feb. 6, 2009. Martin sits on the board of the UW Hospital and Clinics Authority Board, which voted to approve the clinic Feb. 4, 2009. Martin was among those in support, prompting some alumni to threaten to cease donations and forbid their children from attending the university.
- Visit to campus as finalist for chancellor
- Martin selected for chancellor position
- Faculty senate hears goals for national recognition, contact with legislators
- Support of second-trimester MSC abortion clinic stirs controversy
- Go Big Read feature
- Madison Initiative for Undergraduates announced
- First year as chancellor in review