Regent President John Behling has called for UW institutions to recruit campus leaders from outside academia.


A University of Wisconsin System group is expected to recommend changes later this year that would overhaul how UW chancellors are hired and aim to recruit more leaders from outside of higher education, officials said Monday.

The work group follows a call last month from John Behling, the new head of the UW Board of Regents, for the System to hire university leaders from the private sector or government — not just those who hold doctorates or are tenured professors.

“As the responsibilities of university leaders continue to evolve, universities across the country have benefited from being open to hiring individuals from non-academic backgrounds,” Behling said in a news release announcing the group.

Members will review policies for hiring chancellors, provosts and vice chancellors at the campus level, as well as presidents and vice presidents in UW System administration, and “consider options to increase the number of applicants from non-academic backgrounds,” officials said.

The group is expected to make recommendations for policy changes to the regents this fall; a date has not been set for its first meeting, a System spokeswoman said.

Behling and System leaders want to streamline the hiring process, saying it can stretch as long as a year.

Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox

But UW faculty and others have been skeptical of Behling’s push to recruit leaders from outside academia. Several have questioned whether private-sector leaders would respect university traditions such as shared governance, and pointed to cases at other institutions where leaders from outside academia have stumbled in their transition to higher education.

The group, which the lobbying arm of UW-Madison faculty noted does not include anyone from the System’s flagship campus, will be led by Regent Vice President Drew Petersen.

Its other eight members are:

  • Regent Gerald Whitburn
  • Regent Tracey Klein
  • UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer
  • UW Extension Provost Aaron Brower
  • UW-La Crosse professor Joe Heim
  • UW-Platteville Vice Chancellor Rose Smyrski
  • James Henderson, UW System vice president of academic and student affairs
  • Shenita Brokenburr, UW System senior associate vice president of human resources and workforce diversity

Load comments