College News

UW must look outside of academia to fill top positions

The Board of Regents will now have significant power over the chancellor search and selection process.

The next UW-Madison chancellor could come from the private sector, after the Board of Regents approved sweeping hiring policy changes requiring the UW System to also recruit potential hires from non-academic fields.

Previously, UW-Madison policies have stated the chancellor, provost and certain vice chancellors must be tenured faculty. The regents’ vote now align with the provision from Gov. Scott Walker’s budget, which trumps Madison’s restriction.

“We have a wonderful group of chancellors and system leaders for the UW System,” Regent President John Behling said in a statement. “This policy update simply reflects the consensus that our current search and screen process is cumbersome.”

But not everyone agrees.

“I won’t say that someone from outside of academia can’t do this job,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank told The Daily Cardinal. “There are always some exceptions, but it would sure be hard to walk in here and not have any experience with either research or education, but I would say that of any industry.”

The new policy also affects chancellor search committees; only 10 people can work on it and five must be regents. A regent will head the committee, giving the body significant power over the search and selection process.

The vote was nearly unanimous, with state superintendent Tony Evers being the only regent to vote against the policy.

“It concerns me greatly that we are diminishing voice when we when should be increasing voice,” Evers said at the meeting.

This comes after the Board of Regents announced a hiring workgroup at its July meeting. Behling said it would “streamline” the process for hiring people in leadership roles such as chancellor, explaining that the latest trend is for the private sector to lead universities.

However, opponents of the measure were quick to point to a study from the American Council on Education which found that 43 percent of university presidents come from academia. In fact, the number of university presidents that come from outside academia has decreased from 20 percent to 15 in 2016.

The Board of Regents will meet again Friday to vote on their controversial free speech policy draft.

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