Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Too Badgered? Biddy Martin Leaves Wisco Chancellorship, Heads To Amherst As President

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that Carolyn A. ("Biddy") Martin will leave her post as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin and become President of Amherst College.  However, she has been quite clear that it is not because Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature are trying to flush the state's education system down the toilet. And it isn't because her plan to break the flagship away from the other campuses ran into trouble, in case that had occurred to you.

The news became public the day after Wisconsin's Supreme Court upheld the state's new anti-union legislation.   As Jack Stripling writes,
Ms. Martin was emphatic that the failure of the proposal to break the flagship campus from the university system, a quietly devised plan that drew the consternation of the system's Board of Regents when they learned of it, was not among the reasons for her departure.

"Amherst would have been an attractive possibility to me at any point, because of my own history, what I feel like I owe to liberal-arts education," Ms. Martin said. "What role the actual events of the past year have played, it's hard to say. Maybe a year from now, it will be clear to me what various strands went into the braid of this decision. What I can tell you, honestly, is I'm not leaving because I didn't like the outcome in the Legislature."
Being president of well-endowed Amherst -- and living in that part of the country we New Englanders simply refer to as "The Valley" is a sweet deal, however you cut it, particularly if you are a lesbian.  (Is Martin the first out lesbian college prez?  Enquiring minds want to know.)  Those who follow the progress of top administrators can't help but think that Martin is headed for the presidency of a major research institution after she proves her leadership skills with the Lord Jeffs -- a school which, by the way, has a fantastic faculty, but which Zenith hammers in rowing several times a year.

I think Biddy Martin will do a great job at Amherst, but that won't change any time soon unless she can bring a few Wisco oarsmen and women with her.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amherst crew is a club sport, and they really only race in fours, so it's not really a fair fight. But you're right, of course.

Tenured Radical said...

I thought Zenith's supremacy over Amherst should be established in one category at least. Had Martin become president of Williams, I would have been forced to remarks about our temperate climate and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

As someone with friends on the UW faculty (several at Madison, and two at smaller campuses), this was incredibly sad news for me. She stood up for UW, but in the end, ignorance prevailed.

Marie said...

Denice Denton, who was an out lesbian, was Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz until her suicide in 2006. Her Wikipedia bio says she was also the first woman to head a major U.S. school/college of engineering (U of Washington).

Susan said...

Ahem. The University of Wisconsin *is* a major research institution.

But she's not the first lesbian in such a role, but perhaps the first in such a fancy place.

Tenured Radical said...

Yes, but she was Chancellor, not President: that's Kevin Reilly. I thought Chancellor was like Provost.

Susan and Marie, you have your firsts mixed up.

Biddy is the *first* lesbian *president* of *Amherst College*.

Maybe the first woman too, for that matter.

Susan said...

Oh, I thought you meant first lesbian college President. At Amherst, yes. But globally, no....

Marie said...

The Chancellor is the top administrator on each University of California campus. Biddy Martin, Chancellor of Madison-Wisconsin, is (was) to Denice Denton, former Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz, as Kevin Reilly, President of the University of Wisconsin system, is to Mark Yudof, President of the University of California system. (Public-university titles are very confusing! At some state u's, "President" and "Chancellor" mean exactly the reverse as the above.) Anyway, despite her sad end, Denice Denton deserves credit for being an out lesbian leader of a major research university. I'm not sure if she was the first.

Anonymous said...

Maybe now Martin can do something about the rabid homophobe on the Amherst faculty, Hadley Arkes.

Amherst, Class of 1975

Anonymous said...

Very sad news for me too, as a UW alum. But when times get tough, the tough get going, to snooty schools with big endowments.

Lesboprof said...

I wondered how Biddy Martin was doing in her move to a big public R1. While she attended UW as a doc student, her undergrad and Masters degrees were from small private elites. She then went on to work at a large private elite research institution (Cornell). While some of the issues are similar (funder, governing board, faculty, staff, and student concerns), the demands of legislators and the responsibility to state residents are quite different.

Jonathan Dresner said...

I wonder who they'll possibly get to step into the Wisconsin job? Someone with more ambition than sense, I'm sure

Tenured Radical said...

Amherst, Class of 1975: looks like Professor Arkes is a prominent conservative scholar, anti-abortion, and whatnot. I'm guessing he's safe.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

As head of a private university, you answer to a governing board composed of rich, smart, rational motherfuckers who have proven success at dealing with reality and making real shitte happen. As head of a public university, you answer to a state legislature filled with greedy, selfish, gibbering imbeciles who have proven success in a world of fantasy, pandering to the worst impulses of large numbers of other greedy, selfish, gibbering imbeciles. Which jobbe would you take?

(And seriously, state legislatures are an absolute disgrace. Take the prevailing dumshittery of the US Congress, multiply it by a bajillion, and that's what a typical state legislature is like.)

Comrade PhysioProf said...

I know this thread is dead, but I can't resist posting this support for my contention about state legislatures. Here is a an e-mail exchange between some despicable right-wing fuckeasse from Minnesota and one of his constituents (from the Minnesota Post):

In her e-mail to the representative, Robin Seifert wrote: "You have a choice. As a legislator, you could chose to ask the most fortunate among us to pay their fair share or you could inflict severe pain on the middle-class and vulnerable Minnesotans. … Please tax the richest two per cent of Minnesotans. Ask them to pay their fair share." She ended with a "sincerely."

In other words, not an unusual constituent-to-legislator communication.

In fact, public employee unions are urging their members, and others, to send similar letters and emails to their legislators. Hackbarth's response, via email, however, was unusual.

"Robin,

"I can't believe what I'm hearing from folks? All similar letters to yours.

"Are you a Union member? If so, are they the communist giving you this propaganda?

"Do you know the who, what, when, where, why, and how, of Fidel Castro?

"Hitler rose to power using and blaming the jews for the destruction of the German economy. Castro built his army of murderers by blaming the rich bankers and capitalist for destroying Cuba and taking advantage of the Cuban people.

"Hummmmm?

"Representative Hackbarth."


QMFED.

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