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UW chancellor candidates head to campus

Selection recommendation to come mid-March

MADISON, Wis. - Madison community leaders and the public will get their first chance to meet the University of Wisconsin-Madison's chancellor candidates starting this week.

Four finalists are vying for the top job on campus. The UW Board of Regents will get the final say, after a committee makes its recommendation in mid-March, said David McDonald, a UW history professor who chaired the search committee.

"What we found special about each of them was that they showed the ability to think across the university -- it's an incredibly complex organization," McDonald said.

The four candidates are:

  • Rebecca Blank, the acting Secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department. She was previously an economic adviser to President Bill Clinton and was dean of the University of Michigan's public policy school.
  • Nicholas Jones, the dean of The Johns Hopkins University engineering school. He has previously led the civil and environmental engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • Michael Schill, the dean of the University of Chicago Law School. He is considered a national expert in real estate and housing policy, according to his biography.
  • Kim Wilcox, the outgoing provost and vice president of academic affairs at Michigan State University. His background is in speech and hearing sciences.


Jones is scheduled to be the first candidate to meet with the public on Tuesday. Schill will be on campus Thursday, with Wilcox coming March 11 and Blank on March 13.

All of the forums will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Chazen Museum of Art.

Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal includes $181 million in new funding for the University of Wisconsin System, which campus administrators have praised as making up for some of the budget cuts in recent years.

But a successful candidate will need to promote the UW's case to politicians at the state Capitol and to Wisconsinites in other parts of the state, McDonald said.

"(The candidates) need an understanding of the special role they play in acting as the face of this campus to large parts of the state that only come here for specific events, if they come here at all," he said, "But who all, we hope, take pride in the quality of this institution and what it does for the state."

The candidates are vying to replace Interim Chancellor David Ward, who has held the temporary title since 2011. Ward was the permanent chancellor from 1993-2000.

The previous chancellor, Biddy Martin, left Madison for Amherst College in 2011, amid political turmoil.

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