Memorial Union Terrace – University of Wisconsin at Madison by JanetandPhil via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
After the initial search for a new president of the University of Wisconsin System failed last year, newly elected chair of the Board of Regents Ed Manydeeds appointed a 19-member committee to try again.
The new committee includes regents, university chancellors and provosts but also students and faculty members — a departure from the original search, which was criticized because it lacked the voices of students and professors. The committee is also more than twice the size of the first one.
From the start of the first search, spearheaded by Regent Michael Grebe, it was criticized for neglecting the university system’s principle of shared governance, which is meant to allow everyone involved in the administration of the state’s higher education to have a voice. Grebe is an appointee of former Gov. Scott Walker.
The first search resulted in one candidate being named, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen. Johnsen withdrew from the search, citing “process issues.” Following Johnsen’s withdrawal, former Gov. Tommy Thompson became the interim president.
The second search is being run by Regent Vice President Karen Walsh, an appointee of Gov. Tony Evers.
“We are grateful for the leadership of President Thompson, who provided exemplary guidance during the pandemic and has positioned us for future success,“ Walsh said in a statement. “I’ve often said that the next UW System president is watching us, and our progress during Covid-19 will no doubt be noticed by potential candidates.”
The committee is also set to hold listening sessions at each of the system’s 13 campuses, another step for increased reliance on shared governance.
Control of the search process played a major role in the election of Manydeeds, an Evers appointee, as Regent president last month. Manydeeds was put forth as a candidate by the other Evers appointees — who had recently gained a majority on the board — as an alternative to Grebe in order to control the consequential search for the system’s next leader.
The committee is set to use a national search firm to find candidates and is expected to begin its work in August.
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