Following yesterday’s announcement that University Provost Carolyn “Biddy” Martin has accepted the position of University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor, the University is in the most preliminary stages of searching for Martin’s successor. Martin will continue to serve as provost during the summer.
President David Skorton issued a statement regarding Martin’s departure in which he expressed his “personal” delight for Biddy and praised her for “her intellect, leadership and friendship.”
No timetable regarding when an interim provost or successor has been set, although Skorton is expected to make an announcement sometime over the next few weeks.
“I will soon begin a process to identify suitable candidates for consideration as the next provost of Cornell University. I will share with the community additional information on the search process after I have conferred with my colleagues on the faculty and others across campus,” Skorton stated.
Martin was named a finalist in the search in early May, and U.W. System President Kevin Reilly and the chancellor search committee at U.W.-Madison announced the recommendation yesterday afternoon.
“Obviously it is a great loss for the University because Biddy has served Cornell with great distinction, dedication and vigor as Provost,” said Simeon Moss ’73, director of the Cornell Press Relations Office. “It is not surprising, given the reputation of Cornell and Biddy’s status as its provost that she would receive leadership offers from top institutions and that she would be a much sought after higher education leader.”
The position of University provost is a significant one. Martin currently serves as the University’s chief academic officer, chief operations officer and Skorton’s first deputy officer. According to the University website, the provost is responsible for both general academic supervision at the Ithaca campus and more specifically, planning and budgeting, tenure and promotion, academic and research initiatives.
When asked about her decision to leave Cornell, Martin stressed that it was not the result of a desire to leave, but rather to “seize a rare opportunity to assume leadership at my alma mater where I spent some of the best years of my life.” She received her doctorate in German literature at U.W.-Madison in 1985.
Moss is optimistic that the programs and initiatives of the Office of the Provost will continue on unhampered.
“We are a big institution with many excellent top administrators, led by President Skorton — so I’m confident that the major programs that have begun or were developed under Biddy’s leadership will go forward,” Moss said, noting that there is nothing unusual about the timing of Martin’s departure. “I think she took advantage of a great opportunity that came at the right time. Obviously when you have to replace an accomplished administrator, that’s a big thing and not something you desire, but it is something that the university must be prepared to do.”
Martin speculated that she will probably arrive in Wisconsin sometime in August before most students arrive.
“I’m delighted and honored to have been selected, or recommended, for the chancellorship at U.W.-Madison, which, as I think many of you will already know, is my Ph. D. alma mater and, of course, a world-class public university,” Martin said during the opening remarks of a news teleconference yesterday. “I’m eager to get started and looking forward to working with the faculty, staff, students and the university’s external constituencies to enhance the standing of an already great university.”
Martin said that she feels well prepared to take on the challenges of the position after her time at Cornell.
During her tenure at C.U., Martin has spearheaded many important programs and initiatives, including most recently the $4 billion capital campaign and the new financial aid initiative that will start in the fall, eliminating loans for students from families earning under $75,000 and capping annual loans at $3,000 for families earning under $120,000.
Some other noteworthy programs developed during her tenure include a faculty salary-improvement program, a budget for Cornell’s Center for a Sustainable Future and an increase in research support for humanists.
Some of Martin’s focus at Wisconsin will be in similar areas, such as enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration and promoting the humanities and arts, reexamining and promoting faculty salaries and domestic partner benefits and increasing diversity. Martin will also have to adjust to being at a public university and how to best navigate funding and legislative battles.
The search for a new provost is one of several ongoing searches within the administration. Currently, searches are being conducted for the new deans of the Colleges of Architecture, Art and Planning and Human Ecology and also for a new vice provost for international relations. According to Martin, those searches are “about to conclude” and said that she hopes to announce the new deans and vice provosts in a couple of weeks.
U.W.-Madison’s Board of Regents is expected to act on the appointment in early June. If approved, Martin will replace for current Chancellor John D. Wiley, who announced last December that he would step down this September.
It is expected that Martin’s salary at Wisconsin will be less than what she received at Cornell, although her exact salary will not be decided until the Regents meeting next week. Currently, Martin earns over $500,000. The Sentinel reported that she will not make more than $452,000 as chancellor.
Martin has served as University provost since 2000. She previously served as senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the German studies department in addition to being a professor of German studies and women’s studies.