Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On CEO chancellors

A regular reader of this blog called my attention to this post by Stanley Fish, called aptly:
Wanted: Someone Who Knows Nothing About the Job
It's about the catastrophic moves by the University of Colorado and University of West Virginia to hire non-academics as presidents, a politician in one case and a lobbyist in the other. Fish talks about the motivation of having "managers" in these positions and nods in the direction of this as a part of putting the nuts and bolts of academic operations in the hands of political/corporate powers.

The reader who passed along the link was concerned about the current UW–Madison chancellor's search. Here, we have a traditional requirement that chancellors be "tenurable members of the faculty". The word on the street is that the question was actually raised of whether we really needed that. I gather that the issue was resolved the right way and that the requirement will stand. In a recent meeting, I've heard that people were pressing some members of the search committee on how we'll be sure we're getting a chancellor who understands what faculty governance is about, and that's a more realistic concern, I think.

In other ways, too, things look better here than in Colorado — while our state support has slipped to well under 20%, Fish reports that the number in Colorado is 7%. Colorado's hardly a national leader in higher education, but that's bleak. (For once, I agree with Fish: "in what sense, exactly, is this a state university?") The challenges and problems Wisconsin faces are clearly national, even if some states (like Minnesota) are smart enough to avoid the worst of this trend.

I sure hope our search yields a new chancellor who pushes in the right direction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonder what the guy at Colorado is earning?