UWM narrowing down pool of chancellor candidates

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The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is searching for a chancellor who can lead its next phase of development following the departure of Michael Lovell in March to become president of Marquette University across town.

The university needs to find a new chancellor at the same time that it is involved in a multiyear, multiphase project through which it created a master campus plan and began the UW-M Initiative to implement $250 million in capital spending at its Milwaukee campuses. It is also continuing to finalize strategic planning, academic planning, and a new budget model – all of which will be completed in 2014.

UWM is in the process of developing a new union to replace the aging building at the center of its campus, a project that is still years down the road, but which will have a great impact on the school. The new chancellor will be involved with the union project, as well as ongoing efforts to fulfill the potential of the campus’ northwest quad, obtain funds to remodel and revamp some of the older buildings on campus and add new buildings to its footprint, said Chancellor Search and Screen Committee chair Mark Schwartz, distinguished professor of geography at UWM.

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These projects will move forward with or without a new chancellor, but the person who fills the role will be integral to the efforts, he said. Mark Mone, interim chancellor, has been involved in the projects since taking on the role in April and is a candidate for the permanent chancellor spot.

“(The chancellor is) an important part, and I guess you could say our fundraiser in chief and our chief spokesperson…but we work together as a group as well,” Schwartz said.


That fundraiser in chief function helps UWM fill the gap between the 20 percent of its funds the state provides and the revenue it gets from tuition, Schwartz said.

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“The role is a lot about fundraising,” he said. “That may be the primary thing that they do with their time. You would expect that in a private institution, but in fact that’s become the case and is the reality in a public institution these days.”

A series of public listening sessions in September gave students, faculty, alumni and area residents the chance to voice their opinions about the qualities the new chancellor should embody and what he or she should seek to accomplish.


Among those comments, a few common themes emerged, including a desire for UWM to better brand itself throughout the city and form more partnerships with nearby businesses and organizations, Schwartz said.

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“(The community is) also very much interested in us remaining committed to providing a way for students to have an affordable education, and have access to that,” he said.

The ideal candidate will understand UWM’s vision for its campus, its mission as a research institution and an accessible urban university, and how it operates and makes decisions, Schwartz said.

“Someone who understands the importance of the university to the community and in the community is critical,” said Ray Cross, president of the UW System. “Someone obviously with good communication skills, solid demonstration of leadership, an effective person with interpersonal people skills, I feel like I could just go on and on.”

The Innovation Park project in Wauwatosa and the recently expanded UWM School of Freshwater Sciences facility will also be a focus for the new chancellor.

And faculty compensation is an issue to address to keep talented teachers at the institution, Cross said.

The university has received more than 30 applications for the position, Schwartz said. Applications were due by Sept. 26 for best consideration, and the Chancellor Search and Screen Committee received interest from all corners of the country. It is now beginning the process of sifting through those applications and narrowing down the pool of candidates, Schwartz said.

There are 27 people on the committee, with representatives from faculty, academic staff, classified staff, students, administrators and the community.

Now that the applications are in, the Search and Screen Committee must choose the top five candidates. That will be accomplished through an initial narrowing to 10 or 12 applicants and off-site interviews with those candidates during November. Following the interviews, the committee will select the top five candidates, who will be presented to the Regent Committee. Once the Regent Committee has vetted the candidates, they will be publicly announced around November 19 and will come to campus to meet with stakeholders and conduct on campus interviews. Finally, the two committees will give feedback on the interview process and a top candidate will be chosen and announced by about December 15.

Cross is involved with the process throughout, since each school’s chancellor reports to him.

“I don’t do any of the narrowing down, the committee does the narrowing down of the five candidates,” Cross said. “But I question and challenge and probe. What it helps them to do is to articulate clearly why these are the top candidates. They basically have to defend their five. It’s kind of fun.”

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