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Chancellor calls upon cooperation and innovation during tough economic times.

When it comes to UW-Madison’s relationship with state legislators, Chancellor Carolyn “Biddy” Martin PhD’85 wants to turn the page.

Martin has taken steps to focus on cooperation, meeting with members of both parties and with leaders of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), a lobbying organization, and hosting an informal reception for lawmakers in February.

Before leaving his chancellor post last September, John Wiley MS’65, PhD’68 accused WMC of undermining university support in the legislature. Martin got some help from the November elections, which put Democrats in charge of the assembly and senate and deposed one of the UW’s harshest critics from a key leadership position on university issues.

The new chancellor has been looking for ways the university can help tackle the current state budget crisis and innovate in its day-to-day operations. She started this winter with campus brainstorming sessions, which generated suggestions such as eliminating redundant academic programs, conserving energy, reducing waste, and flattening the levels of administration.

Some choices “won’t feel good to do, but will make the university stronger,” Martin said. Among them is increasing tuition, which, she said, would need to be paired with an increase in financial aid to lessen the impact on students from low- and middle-income families.

The UW still has a wish list for the upcoming state budget: increasing pay for faculty and staff, providing domestic partner health benefits, and funding high-priority projects, including the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

“Higher education is critical to the economic, social, environmental, and cultural future of our state, nation, and world, and it is essential that we make it through this difficult period with our greatest strengths intact,” Martin wrote in a letter e-mailed to students, faculty, and staff.

Photo by Jeff Miller

Published in the Spring 2009 issue

Tags: Faculty, Students, Teaching and learning

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