Four finalists from out of state named for UW-Madison chancellor job

2013-02-22T10:30:00Z Four finalists from out of state named for UW-Madison chancellor jobDAN SIMMONS | Wisconsin State Journal | dsimmons@madison.com | 608-252-6136 madison.com

UW-Madison will look outside the state for its new chancellor, choosing from a list of four finalists announced Thursday, including the acting U.S. Commerce secretary, a law school dean, an engineering school dean and the outgoing provost at Michigan State University.

The four finalists — three men and one woman — include no politicians, business officials or other nontraditional leaders and only one candidate with known previous ties to the university. Rebecca Blank, a top Commerce Department official since 2009, was a finalist in 2008 for the Madison chancellor job, which went to Biddy Martin.

Other than Blank, the finalists include Nicholas Jones, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University; Michael Schill, dean of the University of Chicago law school; and Kim Wilcox, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Michigan State University.

The candidates are "distinguished," but the list offers no clear clues on priorities chosen by the search and screen committee, said Aims McGuinness, an expert on university system governance and a senior associate with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in Boulder, Colo.

"There doesn't seem to be any theme linking these candidates," he said.

The University of Wisconsin System released the finalists' names Thursday. They were selected by a 25-member committee chaired by history professor David McDonald. On Monday, McDonald's committee met in closed session with a smaller committee of Regents headed by system President Kevin Reilly. The smaller committee is charged with paring the list to one pick, who is scheduled to be voted on by the full Board of Regents at its April meeting.

More information about each candidate, collected from university biographies, submitted resumes and press reports, follows.

Rebecca Blank

Rebecca Blank has been with the U.S. Commerce Department since 2009 and in her current job as acting secretary since last June. Prior to that she was a top-level economist, serving as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and dean of the Gerald Ford school of public policy at the University of Michigan. From 1997 to 1999, she was part of President Bill Clinton's three-member Council of Economic Advisers. Prior to that she was economics professor at Northwestern University.

A Missouri native, Blank earned her bachelor's degree in economics at the University of Minnesota and got her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones has been dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University since 2004. He was a professor of civil engineering at Hopkins starting in 1986 before being named chairman of the department in 1999. He did a stint at University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana from 2002 to 2004 as dean of the civil and environmental engineering department before returning to Johns Hopkins.

A New Zealand native, Jones earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Auckland before getting a master's and doctorate from the California Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as Caltech. His research interests include structural dynamics and wind engineering.

Michael Schill

Michael Schill has been dean of the University of Chicago law school since 2010. He held the same job at UCLA for five years before that. He previously taught law at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania. He's considered a national expert on real estate and housing policy, deregulation, finance and discrimination.

Schill graduated with a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Yale.

Kim Wilcox

Kim Wilcox is outgoing provost at Michigan State University, where he has served since 2005. He has announced plans to step down from the job in July. Last year he was a finalist for the chancellor job at University of Hawaii-Manoa. He's currently spending the spring semester in Washington, D.C., on special assignment with the nonprofit Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa.

Prior to his current job, Wilcox was at the University of Kansas, serving for a decade as chairman of the department of speech-language-hearing before being named dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

A Michigan native, he earned a bachelor's degree in audiology and speech sciences from Michigan State and a master's and doctorate from Purdue University in speech and hearing sciences.

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(7) Comments

  1. jheaton416
    Report Abuse
    jheaton416 - February 25, 2013 3:17 pm
    If only there was some tool that someone could access from their computers that would allow a person to search for information such as this.
  2. River
    Report Abuse
    River - February 23, 2013 10:16 pm
    Who was on the panel? Names and qualifications please.
  3. badaboom
    Report Abuse
    badaboom - February 22, 2013 4:32 pm
    Just a bit off topic but really very appropriate. The left leaning UW system will hire someone from "out of state" to run our state treasure.... UW Madison. Yet the same progressive voices use as a talking point the proposed mine being run by "out of state interests". Hummmm, Ray Charles could see the hypocracy but I doubt they will look in the mirror and see the irony.
    The voices against an "out of state interest" running UW Madison is ..... (insert crickets here).
  4. jheaton416
    Report Abuse
    jheaton416 - February 22, 2013 10:49 am
    What exactly would constitute experience and talent in your mind? I mean, none of the finalists have less than 30 years experience working in higher education, and the least distinguished institution any of them has worked for is University of Kansas, which is not exactly a fourth-tier institution.
  5. Observer5
    Report Abuse
    Observer5 - February 22, 2013 10:12 am
    Do you think Scooter's anti Madison attitude and his antagonistic policies toward public education would have anything to do with that?
  6. River
    Report Abuse
    River - February 21, 2013 10:16 pm
    I'm guessing the thread that ties these guys (and one woman) together as possible candidates is that they could all find Madison on a map?
  7. nufsenuf
    Report Abuse
    nufsenuf - February 21, 2013 9:42 pm
    It appears that Madison's education systems, at all levels, have trouble attracting idividuals who are both experienced and talented.

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