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Chancellor Biddy Martin
University of WisconsinMadison Chancellor Biddy Martin, who built a reputation as a visionary thinker and defender of the universitys role as global public research institution, announced today Tuesday, June 14 that shes leaving the university to become president of Amherst College.
Martin, who came full circle at UWMadison when she became chancellor after earlier earning her doctoral degree here, made the announcement in an email to UWMadison faculty, staff and students earlier today.
The decision to leave UWMadison is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, Martin said in the statement. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and am honored to have served as chancellor of this great institution.
Martins term as UWMadison chancellor will end in the coming weeks. She plans to assume her new position at Amherst, in Amherst, Mass., at the end of August.
Martin was named chancellor of UWMadison on June 5, 2008. Among her many achievements in just three years at UWMadison, the one with perhaps the most lasting impact was her push for a new business model for the university, which she called the New Badger Partnership.
Nearly two years ago, Martin recognized the states serious financial crisis and made a convincing case for new administrative flexibilities that would allow Wisconsins higher education institutions to better manage their limited resources. Those changes will offer an important first step toward granting all UW System institutions critical flexibility to manage their finances.
The new flexibilities mark a significant shift from previous budgets, which, in four of the last five biennia, have resulted solely in cuts to higher education in Wisconsin. They give UW institutions the opportunity to be better stewards of their resources.
With the debate about the New Badger Partnership, Martin launched a discussion about the importance of a public research university in a changing economy, one that will continue and will lead to new strategies for keeping Wisconsin institutions at the forefront. Through her work during the past three years, she has improved the relationship between UWMadison and leaders in the state Capitol, spending time working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on matters important to higher education in Wisconsin.
Martins work on the New Badger Partnership followed close on the heels of her success in marshaling support from students, faculty, staff and the UW System Board of Regents for the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates a tuition increase to support and improve the quality of undergraduate education offered at UWMadison.
The initiative was intended to increase needbased financial aid through combination of tuition and private philanthropy, as well as to increase faculty positions in areas that had been hit in recent years by budget cuts or to clear bottlenecks in certain highdemand courses. It also served to help increase diversity among the faculty, improve student advising and encourage innovation in the curriculum.
Martin has had an especially strong relationship with UWMadisons students, proving her accessibility by spending time interacting with them directly on Twitter. Students also were deeply involved in decisions about how to spend the funds raised through the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates.
Martin recognized UWMadisons reputation as an institution with increasing global reach; the university ranks 17th among world universities in an annual ranking done by Shanghais Jiao Tong University. Martin saw an opportunity to develop the universitys presence in China and forged relationships with universities, corporations and prospective UWMadison students there. She also established the unique Chinese Champions Program, which offers premier Chinese athletes a nondegree academic program at UWMadison to build their English, science, leadership and coaching skills.
Martin has made affordability and diversity core principles of her tenure. Working with the UW Foundation, Martin has pushed to increase annual giving by alumni and increased institutional grant aid by 226 percent, making it the universitys and UW Foundations highest priority.
At the same time, diversity has been part of each element of the universitys strategic plan. In addition to promoting diversity through the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates, diversity programs were held harmless from state budget cuts. Martin has allocated new funds to the Office of Student Financial Aid to recruit underrepresented minority students and has added funding to the Posse program; UWMadison now has Posse scholars from more cities than any other college or university.
In response to a call from faculty for more effective administration of research, Martin and Provost Paul DeLuca launched significant changes in research administration structure and processes. The university is now searching for a new vice chancellor for research and dean of the Graduate School a new position that will ensure compliance and increased support for the universitys research enterprise, which last year topped $1 billion for the first time.
And although Martin has been known for being fiercely protective of the universitys entire research enterprise, she was also the campus greatest ambassador for the humanities.
Martin launched the Go Big Read commonreading project, which has provided the entire campus and Madison community with an opportunity for a unique intellectual exchange. Each book generates a yearlong discussion and set of related activities and is used in a large number of courses across disciplines.
The visit by Michael Pollan, in coordination with the reading of his book, In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto, drew more than 6,000 people from campus and the community.
Martin reallocated state funding to provide 50 additional graduate fellowships for top humanities departments, and secured funding from WARF and the UW Foundation to support additional graduate student studies in the social sciences and humanities. Late last year, she worked with Don Randel, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and former Gov. Jim Doyle to raise $20 million in unrestricted funding for the humanities, with $10 million from the foundation matched by the state.
These accomplishments during my time at UWMadison have been the work of many hands, Martin said. And I believe that they will benefit UWMadison for years to come.
When Martin came to UWMadison in 2008, she was already closely connected to the university, having received her doctorate in German literature from UWMadison in 1985.