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More Speculation on Biddy

Amidst the pomp and circumstance of Cornell's 140th Commencement exercises, we've been receiving some correspondence about the prospects of the Wisconsin Chancellorship for Biddy Martin. They tend to agree that Biddy may be the strongest candidate for the job, but that other considerations must be factored into the dialog. Below, I share some of the thinking on the issue:

An alumnus from the sixties considers the following questions:

I agree that her experience makes her the best qualified candidate by conventional criteria. But I wonder why she wants the job. She probably has as much or more influence now with respect to Cornell's Ithaca campus than the chancellor has with respect to UW/Madison. In either case, she would report to a multi-campus president. Who would you rather have as a boss: David Skorton and his multinational vision, or Kevin Reilly and his cluster of Wisconsin campuses? Where will she find the better set of resources to accomplish her dreams as an educational leader?

While a recent alumnus from Wisconsin offers the following:

I think it's great that Dr. Martin stated her effusive love for fundraising because it's pretty much the crux of what she'll have to do at UW. There will be far more emphasis on revenue raising than what would be the case at any University with a private endowment, and she is the only candidate of the four who does not come from a state university background. That said, the depth of her resume should make her a favorite, but not necessarily a prohibitive one. Secondly, UW Chancellors rarely come from outside the University. For a variety of reasons, mainly strategic and cultural, these searches tend to favor either internal candidates or candidates who have a history with the University. Obviously, her PhD from UW is a good thing, but it's no substitute for raw UW know-how.

And one recent alumnus writes:

Another thing to consider is that the President of Johns Hopkins is stepping down at the end of the year. The search is fast-tracked. Biddy is not an MD, but Hopkins strives to be more than medicine.

And then there is the conventional wisdom coming out of Madison, which suggests that either (Dean of Michigan's Ford School) Rebecca Blank or Biddy are the best poised for the job. Blank has a lot of connections to the Washington D.C. establishment, so she has a lot in her favor.

Wisconsin is currently expected to announce their new chancellor sometime this week.

All things to mull over this weekend as we enjoy our Memorial Day barbecues and $4 gallons of gasoline.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on May 25, 2008 (#)

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