June 14, 2011

Biddy Martin is leaving: "The decision to leave UW-Madison is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I love this university."

What a terrible loss, but no surprise to those of us who watched the events of the last few months.

ADDED: Chancellor Martin worked hard to restructure the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but many people here did not appreciate the interaction with Governor Walker.

Her announcement occurs on a hot day in Wisconsin politics:
Tuesday is a big day at the Capitol, with debate scheduled on Gov. Scott Walker's budget, and the possibility that the Supreme Court will rule on a decision by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi that struck down the law eliminating nearly all collective bargaining.

With the expectation that thousands of protesters will be gathering at the Capitol for rallies later in the day, there is an increased police presence inside the historic building.

Dozens of Wisconsin State Troopers, as well as Capitol Police and officers of the Department of Natural Resources, are everywhere inside the Capitol, guarding the Rotunda, staffing staircases and watching the entrances to both the Assembly and Senate.

Shortly before 11 a.m., protesters started showing up inside and outside the Capitol....
I guess Meade and I will have to slog over there one more time, but it will be with great sadness today.

UPDATE: The NYT on Biddy Martin's departure:
For most of this year, Dr. Martin, 60, and her campus have occupied center stage in the nation’s raging, politically charged battles over higher education. In February, Wisconsin was roiled by the fight over the collective-bargaining rights of public employees, including those at the university. In March, a state Republican Party official sought the release of the e-mails of a tenured professor in Madison who had criticized both Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, and the party’s position on collective bargaining. And Dr. Martin and Governor Walker spent months on an unsuccessful effort to split Madison from the rest of the state’s higher-education system, giving it greater flexibility in an era of reduced state financing.

“Does everything that’s occurred over the last year play a role?” Dr. Martin, who is known as Biddy, asked in an interview. “It would be foolhardy to say it played no role, but neither I nor anyone else could say exactly what role it played. It’s been incredibly interesting. I really love it here, I got my Ph.D. here, and I feel like I’m leaving this university in a position where it will continue to make great progress.”

51 comments:

galdosiana said...

Ha, I just got done writing about this in the other thread, so I'll repeat here: I think that the union folks will be pretty pleased with this, considering that they perceive her to be working with Walker on the UW system deal.

It was pretty obvious in my graduation ceremony last month, too--lots of blatant criticism in the speeches regarding the breakup of the system, etc.

galdosiana said...

Also, I have to add that I echo your sentiment about our loss with her leaving. I really appreciated her level-headedness, especially throughout the past semester. I don't think we'll get that this next time around...

Curious George said...

You have to break some eggs to make an omelette.

MadisonMan said...

I think she was good for the UW-Madison and am sorry to see her go after so short a time. Three years isn't very long. I wonder who the next one will be.

Marshal said...

I have a hard time believing her signature accomplishment will end well. It's generally a sound business practice to decentralize decision making. But competency is a prerequisite for success.

The overwhelming majority of academia is leftist, and even more so at UW. No matter what safeguards were enacted the faculty will inevitably exert more influence. As a result the looney left has more authority on spending, and thus more decisions will be made on the basis of farther left ideology.

The adults are leaving the Lords of the Flies in control.

Shouting Thomas said...

She's leaving UW to go to Amherst?

I'll take your word for it that she's a good person...

But, that move tells me everything I need to know about her politics.

UW isn't crazy leftist enough for this dyke?

Calypso Facto said...

In my interested (UW student son) outsider's view, she seemed very pragmatic and level-headed as well as being personable. I think it's the UW's loss. And I agree that she's making this move because she's been tarred with disdain from the left for trying to accomplish important UW business with the Governor like an adult rather than protesting and shouting and camping out on the square.

EDH said...

Was that "interaction with Governor Walker" collaborative or adversarial, and who "did not appreciate" it?

Ann Althouse said...

@Shouting Thomas Quit being such an idiot. The lefties here made it hard for her because she negotiated with Walker.

Shouting Thomas said...

@Shouting Thomas Quit being such an idiot.

That will take some doing.

The reputation of Amherst as a loony leftist hothouse is not arguable.

You live in a world where nutty shit passes without comment.

Ann Althouse said...

This may make the attitude apparent.

Ann Althouse said...

@Shouting Thomas You don't seem to get it. UW was too leftist to appreciate the work she did on our behalf with the *conservative* state government we have.

galdosiana said...

Yeah, ST, Biddy was not at all the crazed leftist that you seem to think she was. I really liked her and appreciated her willingness to reach across the aisle. I'm sad to see her go, but the vehement opposition she received from the true crazed leftists surrounding her probably acted as the nail in the coffin.

ndspinelli said...

Biddy got a taste of what this small pond...err swamp of Madison is like. I salute her for seeing the reality and saying.."Fuuuck this!"

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...

It's too bad. Madison really does need to be separated from the system, but the politicians were never going to allow it on the first pass. It may happen eventually, and Martin will have been the one to start the process.

Shouting Thomas said...

OK, I'll have to read her reasons for wanting to go to Amherst, but that one is a stunner.

Amherst has the same reputation that Oberlin and the late and unlamented Antioch enjoy.

The farthest out there leftist kids from Woodstock go to these places to further their leftist political indoctrination and to enter the world of leftist non-profit institutions.

What could possibly be the attraction?

At least UW is a real scientific research institution.

virgil xenophon said...

The faculties at EVERY Univ these days see the Univ.President's role as nothing more than as that of a fund-raiser so as to create new faculty positions/depts (think ever expanding newly created/discovered "minorities" for entire new depts to worship and advocate for them--and, truth to tell, this is the way that Univ. Presidents buy peace on campus--appease the leftist faculty with newly created/funded depts)and woe be it to anyone who steps outside that template.

MadisonMan said...

Martin will have been the one to start the process.

Didn't The Donna try to do it as well?

EDH said...

Come to think of it, Fawn Liebowitz's fiancé at the time of the tragic kiln explosion was an Amherst man, Frank Lymon. Actually, they were "engaged to be engaged."

Me, I'm glad Biddy is moving to Massachusetts.

"We need the dues!"

foxtrot said...

Even I don't agree with her politically, Biddy seemed like a good diplomat between the state and the university.

All of her e-mails to the student body of UW were professional concerning the events of the past semester.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

How dare she treat the elected governor of the state as a legitimate legal authority? The shame!

foxtrot said...

@Shouting Thomas

"What could possibly be the attraction?"

I imagine Amherst offered her a better deal for the work involved.

I also think a lack of appreciation (from the faculty and union) at UW could be another motive.

roesch-voltaire said...

Faculty that I talked to were divided about Biddy, but I will be sad to see her leave. I thought she made real improvements for the humanities departments and students through adding programs, scholarships and the common reading program. I took great delight in seeing her sink 11 quick free throws in competition with the Chancellor from UW-Milwaukee, but that skill and desire to put UW first rubbed some the wrong way. Given the political climate in Wisconsin, it will be interesting to see how many others seek outside offers.

Carol_Herman said...

Hey, what happened to the tents? Isn't the capitol surrounded by protestors who live in tents, on the grass?

Tents are no better than tee-pee's. And, wigwams.

Did you know there was a time the indians had to run into the US Army forts just to be safe from angry farmers, and ranchers?

As to UW-Madison, any time anyone leaves ... it's like its snowing resumes. More want in ... than want out.

Good luck to Governor Walker.

All publicity? A BONUS when you're in elected office. You can't fool me.

Shouting Thomas said...

I imagine Amherst offered her a better deal for the work involved.

OK, I can understand needing a job.

And, it appears that in the academic environment, there is not much of that stuff they're always braying about...

Diversity.

Seeing Red said...

She spoke truth to power & they Larry Summers'd her?

Not 1 millimeter will U deviate?

Original Mike said...

@MM: I don't remember.

David said...

Shouting Thomas is confusing Amherst the College with Amherst the town. The town is loony far left, the college is no more loony than the next northeastern liberal arts college. (In fact, since the next college is Hampshire, Amherst isn't even the looniest college in town.) Also, president of Amherst College is probably one of the three most prestigious jobs in academia. With all due respect for UW-Madison, no state school chancellor is going to turn down Amherst.

But we can do a deal. The faculty at UMass Amherst is trying to run our chancellor out of town for daring to try to make the Amherst campus a top tier research school, so Madison can take our chancellor (Holub) and Amhest will take Martin.

Shouting Thomas said...

The town is loony far left, the college is no more loony than the next northeastern liberal arts college.

This is a qualification of very small degree!

roesch-voltaire said...

Althouse I would not characterize it as just the lefties who were opposed to Martin. I think it was a tension between those within the state system who did not want to change the status and those who wanted more independence for UW. And I think there were tensions about university governance as discussed by Stanley Fish in his Faculty Governance in Idaho where the comments reveal the fissures that have developed in many universities across the country.

David said...

Shouting Thomas sez: "Amherst has the same reputation that Oberlin and the late and unlamented Antioch enjoy."

You must be confusing it with my alma mater, Wesleyan, which makes Amherst look like a bastion of sanity.

David said...

What surprises me is that the overall challenge of the job at Madison is far greater than that at Amherst, because the stakes are greater. Amherst is an excellent college, but unlike Madison is not one of the central institutions of an entire state. Amherst does not have the same depth and breadth of resources, or the same elite level academically. Yes, it attracts more "elite" undergraduate students, but on an overall basis Madison has far more to offer.

I learned the difference when I went to grad school at Michigan after being an undergraduate at Wesleyan. The resources were incredible, and the academic diversity made it a more exciting place. Plus it had a fabulous history graduate department.

David said...

Althouse, is the faculty political backlash a big issue in her departure? I'd love a fuller take than your cryptic references.

Original Mike said...

"What surprises me is that the overall challenge of the job at Madison is far greater than that at Amherst,..."

Yeah, I have to say, I respected Martin a lot, but that respect just went down a notch.

traditionalguy said...

The faculty politics at a major University can be like playing in a paintball game...you can never relax. You seldom get credit for what is done right and you get knives in the back over every small problem from the very ones who are always demanding special respect from the University for their importance.

edutcher said...

Sometimes, you realize you've done all you can and staying causes more problems than it solves.

Sorry you're losing a friend - and, from the way you phrase it, she's a good friend.

rhhardin said...

I know her only as a writer of boilerplate.

Phil 3:14 said...

Wow,
from Cornell to Wisconsin and now to...

Amherst?

Was it more pay or a quieter life?

chickenlittle said...

MadisonMan wrote: I wonder who the next one will be.

Yeah, who's moving into the Chancellery next?

AJ Lynch said...

ST:

Yeah I know this is only a blog but your dyke comment was uncalled for.

Roger J. said...

To repeat Henry the K's aphorim: the battles in academe are so fierce because the stakes are so small.

That said, Ms Biddy may be the best chencellor ever--dont care about her sexuality or her politics. The cold truth seems to me is she has to marshall up support from the flotsam and jetsam that is the faculty--and has been pointed out mostly from donors.

Its a job I wouldnt want--but she took it on--and apparently it overwhemled her. Not up to to the task--hasta la vista biddy--

Roger J. said...

damn--didnt do to well with the spelling thing--Probably should use preview--but, alas too lazy

Big Mike said...

So Biddy Martin had a choice between doing what was best for her university and her career? It's fortunate for Wisconsin that she chose the former, unfortunate for Wisconsin that her successor will know coming in that the faculty of Wisconsin are in favor of sacrificing their university for their petty ideology.

David said...

Thanks for the update, Althouse.

She's saying that she's tired of all the political bullshit, nest feathering, nastiness and parochial self interest.

She's going to a private university where all she has to deal with is unproductive and entitled faculty, smug undergraduates who think they are better than the rest of us and a board of trustees that does not know what its role is.

A

AJ Lynch said...

NYT quote
"For most of this year, Dr. Martin, 60, and her campus have occupied center stage in the nation’s raging, politically charged battles over higher education. "

That is not accurate nor true - higher education is not the batlefield- it's over the future of govt worker unions.

roesch-voltaire said...

Roger the stakes are not so small as behind the scenes there was a battle about big money and power, which I will not go into. In some ways I have to admire Biddy for landing on her feat after being thrown under the bus once--Our next Chancellor, I predict, will just go along for the ride.

Robert R. said...

I'm sorry, but why feel sorry for her? Looks like she's going to a pretty cushy new job.

It's smart for her to go. She went behind the regents backs for a game of high stakes politics and her proposal went nowhere. There's no way that there could be a return to the status quo after that. Right or not, she proved that she has a different agenda than the regents and doesn't respect them. There's no going back from that.

Getting out now is the best for everyone's sake.

sarge said...

sarge here dont let the door nob hit yar in the ass biddy

sarge said...

@Shouting Thomas You don't seem to get it"

sarge here aparentlee understatement is mizz outhouses speciality

nice werk cryin tommy yar got yer angry babay back on harharhar

k*thy said...

Gladosiana - you don't have to lump all us union folks together. I liked what she was doing and am a bit verklempt to see her go.