In an effort to involve campus and community input in the search for a new chancellor, the University of Wisconsin’s chancellor search and screen committee hosted its first public forum Tuesday morning to address the characteristics and qualifications the candidates should have.
David McDonald, chair of the search and screen committee and UW history professor, said the purpose of these public discussions is to gather ideas from the campus community regarding the role the new UW chancellor should play.
“[The committee’s] job in this phase is to discuss among ourselves the desirable attributes … and agree on certain tangible qualities we would like to see in somebody who is going to lead us,” McDonald said.
UW political science professor Katherine Cramer Walsh, also a member of the search and screen committee, said the difficult part about the process of choosing a new chancellor is everyone involved in the process has differing priorities.
Walsh added the committee is holding these meetings in an attempt to mix those individual priorities in hopes of finding a new chancellor who will meet the most needs.
Sarah Miller, associate director of the Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence initiative program, said UW has always held undergraduate education to high standards, and she expressed her interest in how important these standards will be to the search for a new chancellor.
According to McDonald, undergraduate education at UW has always been a top priority. He added UW has been able to give undergraduates a personalized learning experience despite its large student population and said he expects the new chancellor to continue this trend.
“We would expect any chancellor to maintain our traditional high standards for undergraduate learning,” McDonald said. “I don’t think there’s a chancellor that would get our support that wasn’t committed to that.”
Miller also addressed the issue of possible tuition increases and said she was curious about how the new chancellor would continue the tuition discussion.
UW alumnus Jim Prudent said a raise in tuition is worrisome because even the current price of education at UW is too expensive for some families.
“We need a chancellor to figure out ways that everyone in the state that wants to come to the university system can get in,” Prudent said. “Obviously grades are important, but there are a lot of students who can’t come simply because they or their families can’t afford it, and it’s a sad situation.”
McDonald said a big part of this is the initiatives UW has taken to utilize more online resources in hopes of coordinating more resources while lowering costs.
He added he hopes the chosen chancellor will come in with a vision for an efficient way to coordinate and manage UW resources, especially those online, to increase efficiency while keeping costs down.
UW Board of Regents member Regina Millner said UW should look for a new chancellor who understands the university’s complex system of shared governance and who can bring the different areas of expertise on campus together.
Millner added the committee should look for a candidate who understands the need for experts and holds the ability to work across the array of fields with these experts.
McDonald said the committee will continue to take input from across the campus in more public forums Thursday and Friday.
“These listening sessions are really important to us simply because even a large community like this cannot represent all the takes people have on this campus on what they think it could or should be,” McDonald said.