Students look for inclusivity, shared governance, accessibility in next UW chancellor

Students on committee, in audience voiced their opinions in final public listening session

· Jan 31, 2022 Tweet

David Muir and Chancellor Rebecca Blank walk to give their commencement addresses
Ella Guo/The Badger Herald

The University of Wisconsin Chancellor Search and Screen Committee held a public listening session on Monday afternoon to provide an opportunity for members of the campus community to share their views on the qualities and characteristics desired for the next UW Chancellor, according to the meeting notice.

Karen Walsh, who is the vice president of the UW System Board of Regents, started the meeting explaining how the search process works for the chancellor position and the importance of holding listening sessions to the search committee.

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According to UW News, candidates can apply for the position until March, and Search and Screen committee members will review the applications and recommend semi-finalists to the Special Regents Committee, which will then decide finalists.

Walsh asked the three student members of the Search and Screen Committee — Ndemazea Fonkem, Aerin Leigh Lammers and Luis Gonzalez-Quizhpe — what they seek in a new chancellor.

Fonkem stressed the importance of five specific criteria she is looking for in the next chancellor — being accessible, relatable, human, understanding and diverse.

“We need someone who is understanding, who is human, who is able to acknowledge their faults and acknowledge that they are not perfect,” Fonkem said. “We need someone who can be held accountable for their mistakes through their constituents and students and someone who wants to listen to and understand the issues on campus and create solutions for these issues.”

Gonzalez-Quizhpe emphasized the importance of valuing diversity and inclusion at the university and said the next elected chancellor should emphasize this through a more diverse and representative agenda that drives professors through their tenure tracks.

Walsh explained there are some unknowns regarding new policies for the pandemic, mental health services, fundraising and other obstacles the next chancellor will need to be prepared for.

A junior undergraduate student in the audience of the session said they would like to see the next chancellor listen to student concerns and address students’ feedback transparently. He said he would like to know how the next chancellor would address student feedback and enforce change based on this feedback quickly and effectively.

UW student and Associated Students of Madison Legislative Affairs Chair MGR Govindarajan said he wanted to see the next chancellor value student governance, as student governance is extremely important to UW. He advised the Search and Screen Committee to consider asking the candidates how they plan to prioritize shared governance on campus.

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Walsh said shared governance is “extremely important” to the Board of Regents.

“A chancellor or a regent can’t know everything that is going on on their campus, and to make decisions you have to involve faculty staff and students,” Walsh said. “We will definitely want to explore the experience that these candidates have had in a similar governance structure.”

UW hopes to have a chancellor chosen by May, according to UW News.

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