Campus Leadership

How to Choose a Chancellor

Dave Florin served as chair of the Wisconsin Alumni Association in the 2011–12 academic year. C&N Photography.

Dave Florin served as chair of the Wisconsin Alumni Association in the 2011–12 academic year. C&N Photography.

A member of the search committee explains what the UW needs.

After UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin PhD’85 departed in 2010, former Chancellor David Ward MS’62, PhD’63 stepped in on an interim basis. Dave Florin ’92, recent Wisconsin Alumni Association board chair, is serving as an alumni representative on the search committee appointed to recommend a successor. He recently talked with On Wisconsin about what the UW wants — and needs — in its next chief executive.

What unique perspective do you bring to the search committee?

As a UW–Madison alumnus, I am looking at the process as a representative of a broad community of 396,000 of my fellow graduates all over the world.

Why do you feel it’s important for alumni to stay connected and aware of the search for the next UW–Madison chancellor? The university is at a critical juncture right now, and plays an incredibly impactful role within the entire state, if not the country. … We’re also at a point where, as a percentage of revenue, state support is at its lowest levels in history. This chancellor will have to navigate through some really challenging times that require a dynamic leader, and a tremendous amount of vision to maintain the level of leadership the people of this state demand.

What qualities are you looking for in these candidates, and ultimately, the next leader of the University of Wisconsin?

It’s an incredibly complex job, so he or she has to have a vision for how the Wisconsin Idea will come to life in the future. … The ideal candidate will possess tremendous leadership skills; the collaborative communication style needed to build trust both on and off campus very quickly; a great amount of physical and mental stamina, as this is not an easy job by any means; and an open mind to find the solutions required for continuing to deliver the world-class academic and research experience we are known for.

What’s next?

After narrowing the field of top candidates, the search committee is presenting the finalists to a selection committee of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. That committee and UW System President Kevin Reilly will recommend a final candidate to the full board of regents. A board vote to appoint the next chancellor is expected in April 2013, with a start date of July 1.

Update: The UW named four finalists for the chancellor position on February 21, 2013.

Published in the Spring 2013 issue


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