Chancellor search reaches out to business community

Nov. 29, 2012

by Greg Bump

Local business leaders told the committee charged with finding UW–Madison’s next chancellor that they want a leader for the university who recognizes the opportunities provided by active collaboration with the city and business community.

The meeting Wednesday morning at the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) offices was the latest in a series of campus and community engagement events held by the search and screen committee. The UW–Madison chancellor has traditionally served on the chamber’s board.

Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison chamber, said the next chancellor should prioritize a high level of integration between the university and the business community, and serve as a valuable communicator of the good that Madison does beyond the city’s borders.

“Madison is an economic engine in and of itself, but also an economic engine for the state of Wisconsin. The university should be conveying that same message not only as a piece of Madison but also as part of our state’s economy, in that the apple does fall very far from the tree.”

Zach Brandon

“Madison is an economic engine in and of itself, but also an economic engine for the state of Wisconsin,” Brandon said. “The university should be conveying that same message not only as a piece of Madison but also as part of our state’s economy, in that the apple does fall very far from the tree.”

Brandon added that the next chancellor should be engaged in fostering the commercialization of innovations that happen at the university, and encouraging the entrepreneurship of students as well as faculty.

Deb Archer, president and CEO of the GMCVB, said the organization often partners with members of the campus community to bring conventions to Madison.

“We’ve always had deep cooperation … in showcasing so many great programs at the university by bringing these conventions here,” Archer said. “We look forward to a chancellor who will embrace that concept.”

She also said she would like to see the next chancellor deal with the challenge of stopping “brain drain.”

“How do we as a business community help to retain these brilliant minds that are coming out of the university?” she asked. “We need to create opportunities but we also need to work with the university to find out what are the academic strengths of those students.”

Beth Donley, a member of the chamber board and CEO of Stemina Biomarker Discovery, said the next chancellor should take an active role in encouraging startup businesses that incubate at the university to stay in the area long-term.

“Nurturing the entrepreneurship that grows here is important for the region and I think as the chancellor is someone who needs to interact with the legislature, the strongest message he or she can bring is we’re creating jobs, we’re creating businesses and building an economy here in technology.”

Beth Donley

“Nurturing the entrepreneurship that grows here is important for the region and I think as the chancellor is someone who needs to interact with the legislature, the strongest message he or she can bring is we’re creating jobs, we’re creating businesses and building an economy here in technology,” Donley said.

Joel Weitz, chair of the GMCVB board and owner of Vitense Golfland, said the next chancellor should continue to recognize the vital role the university and its athletics play in the tourism industry and the economic activity of the community.

“It’s really elevated the status of this community,” Weitz said.

A chancellor should continue a positive relationship with athletics, which is a crucial component of the university’s brand, Archer said.

“There is no more powerful image of UW–Madison than what comes out in sports,” Archer said. “Having this fine reputation of having great coaches and good student athletes … truly that is the national brand of UW more than anything.” She said the next chancellor should be committed to being “in lockstep of making sure that comes across the way we want it to.”

The search timetable calls for the committee to identify at least five qualified candidates in February 2013. The list of finalists will be presented to UW System President Kevin Reilly and the Special Regents Committee, who then will make a recommendation to the full Board of Regents. It is expected that the regents will vote in April on Interim Chancellor David Ward's successor. The new chancellor would then begin July 1, 2013.