July 22, 2014

UW Board considers new chancellors

The UW System Board of Regents is expected to vote today on hiring two new chancellors. Regents are meeting at UW-La Crosse, where they will also consider the hiring of Rebecca Blanks to head up the UW-Madison and James Schmidt as the new chancellor at the Eau Claire campus.

A search committee recommended Blank, who’s been the acting secretary for the US Commerce Department. Among other things, Blank promises a strong emphasis on fundraising for the state’s flagship school.

State Representative Steve Nass has voiced opposition to Blank’s selection. The Whitewater Republican says Blank has impressive credentials, but he’s worried that her policies would eventually make tuition unaffordable for many Wisconsin students.

Blank would replace Biddy Martin, who left for a private college two years ago partly because she was tired of dealing with political pressure from Nass and other lawmakers. Former chancellor David Ward has filled in since then and the tension between the campus and the Capitol has quieted down.

At Eau Claire, Schmidt would replace Brian Levin-Stankevich, who left a year ago to become the president of a college in Salt Lake City. Schmidt is currently a vice president at Winona State University in Minnesota.