Bye, bye Biddy | WisCommunity

Bye, bye Biddy

You have to wonder how long this was in the works, or whether it was an escape hatch just in case she lost her power struggle with the Board of Regents and UW System, which

From: Chancellor Biddy Martin []
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 10:42 AM
Subject: Chancellor to lead Amherst College

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I write to inform you that I have accepted the presidency of Amherst
College, and I will conclude my term as chancellor of the University
of Wisconsin-Madison later this summer.

The decision to leave UW-Madison is one of the most difficult
decisions I have ever made. I love this university. I loved it when I
was a student. I was shaped by its lively intellectual culture and by
its great teachers, from Klaus Berghahn to Elaine Marks and George
Mosse. It has been a joy to be back and an honor to serve as its
chancellor. I will miss the extraordinary beauty of the campus,
Madison's lakes, my view of our students climbing Bascom Hill, the
state's majestic capitol building and my home at Olin House. More than
anything, of course, I will miss you -- the faculty, staff, students,
alumni and supporters of UW-Madison.

UW-Madison is one of the world's public treasures, and it deserves the
support of every citizen of the state and every branch of state
government, just as the state deserves the benefits of having a great
research university. I am proud of the fact that we have succeeded in
moving the New Badger Partnership forward. The plan passed by the
Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance takes a positive step toward
allowing UW-Madison to adapt to changing circumstances, as it must, if
it is to continue to flourish as one of America's premier public
universities. That is what the New Badger Partnership is designed to

The future of UW-Madison is bright because of the quality of its
students, the caliber of its faculty, the professionalism of its
staff, the loyalty of its alumni, the generosity of its donors, the
university's commitment to the people of Wisconsin and the public's
devotion to the university. The Wisconsin Idea was born at UW-Madison
and has distinguished it for a century. It will always define this
university, and I will always be honored to have been part of it.

I feel lucky to have glimpsed the future of interdisciplinary
scientific innovation in the faculty who now do their work in the
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and in the Wisconsin Institutes for
Medical Research.  I am fortunate to have witnessed the social
interactions that are highlighted and enabled by the new Union South,
to have helped attract the public-private match in support of the
humanities, and to have celebrated the academic successes of so many
faculty, staff and students. I will miss the community-wide
discussions of the books we have read together, student performances
of all sorts, watching football games from the sidelines and shooting
free throws in the Kohl Center. My memories of our victories over
previously unbeaten Ohio State at Camp Randall and again at the Kohl
Center this past year will remain vivid forever. I will never forget
how to Bucky.

It is a privilege to be a Badger.

In the end, I have made the very difficult decision to leave a place I
love for an institution that I have long admired because of what I
consider to be a unique opportunity. I was educated in the liberal
arts at the College of William and Mary, and I am deeply in its debt.
There are a wide variety of forces arrayed against the benefits of the
liberal arts today, yet I believe fervently in the importance of a
national commitment to the fundamentals -- a broad and integrated
education in the arts and the sciences. The strength of American
higher education is its diversity, and the continued success of the
American experiment, depends on the accessibility of many forms of
advanced learning. As we consider the future of the United States and
its place in the world, technology, innovation and medical
breakthroughs are all essential, and a great research university with
UW-Madison's mission will continue to produce them. Great liberal arts
education is also critical to ensuring these very achievements and
guaranteeing that they are continually renewed.

Education and research in the fundamentals of the sciences,
humanities, arts and social sciences provide the foundation on which
so many other forms of learning and practical solutions depend.
Preserving and enhancing these fundamentals is our best hope for
citizens who are prepared to answer questions of meaning and value,
even as they contribute to the global economy, to education, to
scientific discovery, to cultural diplomacy and to a renewal of our
political institutions. We need leaders who understand how these
domains are interrelated, who can think about them in their
complexity, who can push the boundaries of language and other media,
and who care about creating opportunity at a time when economic and
social disparities threaten to tear apart the fabric of our democracy.

Amherst is the premier model of the kind of liberal arts education we
need to nurture and propagate, and I want to play a role in promoting
it. It is among the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country,
as well as being among the most selective; it has shown that
inclusiveness and excellence are complementary, not contradictory. Its
faculty has an unwavering devotion to the intimate art of teaching,
even as its members pursue advanced research across a broad range of
endeavors. The integration of research and teaching is one of
Amherst's hallmarks. Further, the college seeks to inculcate the ideal
of service and public engagement in its graduates, whatever walk of
life they may pursue. For liberal arts education as a whole, Amherst
College is pointing the way by its actions. The chance to combine my
belief in the transformative potential of the liberal arts with the
presidency of the leading liberal arts college in the country is the
best opportunity I can imagine. I would have left UW-Madison at this
point for no other school and considered no other. I look forward to
teaching Amherst's students, supporting its great faculty, working
closely with its dedicated staff, engaging with its vibrant alumni
community and leading the college's ongoing efforts to serve as a
model of quality, diversity and invigorating intellectual exchange.

At a moment such as this, it is hard not to cast a look backward --
and forward. I am delighted that Wisconsin's great flagship will move
into the years ahead with new kinds of flexibility as it takes
significant steps toward the operational autonomy it needs. I hope
that a future chancellor will pick up the effort as political
circumstances permit. When I arrived in 2008, I drew on what I learned
from you, using that information to articulate a number of goals:
successful recruitment and retention of faculty, which would be
enabled only if we found new ways to ensure we could provide
competitive pay; enhanced administrative infrastructure for this
amazing research enterprise; tuition at the median of our public peers
with significantly increased need-based financial aid; transformations
in undergraduate education to ensure that our students reap the
benefits of studying at a world-class research institution; increased
diversity among students, faculty and staff; a stronger international
presence; invigoration of the Wisconsin Idea; improved communications
and relations with the public; and new developments in our operational
model that would keep pace with rapid changes in higher education
financing. With the increases to faculty salaries at the point of
promotion, assistance with compression issues and the achievements of
the New Badger Partnership, the university will be in a better
position to support its faculty and staff. The organizational changes
to research administration will help ensure that UW-Madison's
extraordinary research enterprise continues to thrive. Our still
relatively new Office of University Relations has enhanced our reach
and strengthened our relationships.

I am especially proud of our success at increasing the financial aid
available to our students, adding faculty and staff in areas that our
students need, and improving undergraduate education through the
Madison Initiative for Undergraduates. We have increased institutional
grant aid by 226 percent. Though there is still a long way to go, the
Great People Scholarship campaign is poised to generate a great deal
more support. UW-Madison can price itself in way that combines average
tuition with outstanding quality, and I hope it will. The Class of
2016 will include a larger number and percentage of targeted minority
students. Our presence in China and the opportunities it has created
for our faculty, staff and students are a source of particular
satisfaction to me. These accomplishments have been the work of many
hands. They will pay off for years to come.

UW-Madison students: You have been a complete joy. Our interactions,
whether serious or fun, have been a deep pleasure that I will remember
for the rest my life. I will miss you enormously and think fondly of
everything from our book discussions, our interactions on matters of
governance, your indulgence of my dog Oscar, your sense of humor and
your signature jump around.

UW-Madison faculty and staff: I will continue to be inspired by the
quality of your research and scholarship, your dedication to teaching,
your support of our core mission, your commitment to the Wisconsin
Idea and the entrepreneurial spirit that helps make this such a unique
place. I will remember fondly and miss so many in the university and
Madison communities, more than I can possibly say.

Finally, I am happy to point out that by assuming the presidency of a
Division III institution, I can remain an unconflicted -- indeed, a
rabid -- Badger fan forever, and I look forward both to seeing the UW
take home the Paul Bunyan Axe once again and to seeing Amherst beat
Williams at their 126th meeting this fall.

I thank all of you for your support and your contributions to
UW-Madison, and I wish everyone well.

Chancellor Biddy Martin


June 14, 2011 - 11:17am