Chancellor Biddy Martin responds

It is impossible to know whether Chancellor Biddy Martin is aware of this site and of some of the views that have been expressed here over the past two weeks.  Nevertheless, it appears that she is aware, in general, of concerns about the restructuring plan.  She is almost certainly aware of the resolution that is now part of the agenda for the Nov. 2 Faculty Senate meeting  (the exact and final wording of which will be posted here as soon as it becomes public).

Moments ago, this letter,

From the desk of the chancellor: Chancellor addresses Graduate School proposal

was posted on the University news site.

We find it interesting, and encouraging, that the chancellor’s letter is considerably more specific on many points pertaining to the Graduate School restructuring proposal than anything we heard from the provost himself during the last four town hall meetings.

We also are cautiously encouraged by the chancellor’s explicit statement that “the goal is NOT to force any particular outcome.”

What is not clear on first reading is whether she is making any real concessions to shared governance on this issue.  Consultation is one thing; having true power to shape the outcome is quite another.

As always, your comments are encouraged.

This entry was posted in Graduate School, Restructuring proposal, The UW-Madison Campus. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Chancellor Biddy Martin responds

  1. GP says:

    The Chancellor writes: “Finally, as I noted above, we will make no final decisions about the reorganization of the Graduate School until the ad hoc committees of the University Committee and ASEC have completed their deliberations.”

    The lawyer in me notes that she does not say that the final decisions will be subject to the approval of, or even influenced by, the UC or ASEC. Only that they’ll be delayed until the deliberations are completed.

  2. Nobody says:

    It would sure be nice if she saw the light here. I can’t imagine she understands how deep and wide the negative reaction to this plan is.

  3. Kirsten says:

    I’m hoping she does understand, or at least that she will come to understand soon. She’s obviously smart. I’d think that she, more than most people, should see the value of remaining in the campus community’s good graces.

  4. GP says:

    Most of the negativity, I think, resulted from the MANNER in which the restructuring was being thrust upon us. If not for the vehement objections of a few people, including not only the University Committee but also a handful of other people who were paying attention, the split would have already occurred. Make no mistake, it was never the administration’s original intention to involve the faculty in any kind of a systematic review of options, formal or otherwise. This is what ticks people off so much. If they had done the right thing in the first place and constructively engaged the faculty and staff at the outset, we’d probably be a lot farther along by now, especially with the most urgent issues, and would be appreciating the provost’s leadership on this issue, rather than resenting it.

    The town hall meetings have never felt like a sincere attempt to involve the faculty, in part because they’re an entirely unsuitable venue for discussion of where the exact problems are and what the candidate solutions might be. They made up their minds in advance what the solution was, and the rest has been window dressing.

  5. Kirsten says:

    I hold a more positive view of our chancellor than you do, GP. Though I agree that the process has been poorly managed so far, I think that she genuinely cares about this university, and has been doing what she thinks is best. Hopefully she will learn that a different type of leadership is needed here though – one that is inclusive, transparent and shares the power of decision making.

    I think she is intelligent and able to see how it’s to everyone’s advantage (including hers) to be able to work together going forward. Hopefully she will learn this soon if she hasn’t already – I will be very disappointed if she doesn’t. Plus if she doesn’t I wouldn’t expect the rest of her tenure as chancellor to go very well. That would be bad for both her and us.

  6. GP says:

    Kirsten: It’s precisely because I fundamentally have a positive view of our chancellor that I have been so troubled by cognitive dissonance on this particular issue. I have since learned that she was perceived as doing a good job of fielding questions at a meeting with chairs and directors from Humanities, and I fully expect her to do the same at the final town hall meeting tomorrow.

    So my current working theory is that the messenger is as important as the message, especially as regards clarity, diplomacy, and all the other things that are needed to put people into a collaborative mood. By that measure, I think the provost may have been the one most responsible for where we are now, including the upcoming Faculty Senate resolution. I’m wondering whether that unpleasantness could have been averted if Biddy had stepped into the fray three weeks sooner.

    I’m still skeptical concerning the restructuring proposal itself, but at least I have some reason to hope that Biddy Martin will give us straight answers, which is what we have wanted all along.

Comments are closed.