Donna Shalala can build on UW’s strengths -- State Journal editorial from 30 years ago

December 10, 2017 GMT

This State Journal editorial ran on Dec. 11, 1987:

A few months after Donna Shalala was named UW-Madison’s chancellor designate, she began a brief speech to the Wisconsin Alumni Association board by saying, “I’ve actually spent seven days of my entire life in Wisconsin, so you’ll forgive me if I do not offer you a detailed agenda on the future of the university.”

Shalala’s “Days in Dairyland” count hasn’t grown much since then because she was obliged to wind down her presidency of New York City’s Hunter College. ... So don’t expect miracles when she arrives this weekend for what promises to be an extended and productive stay. Shalala, for all her credentials, personal energy and professed commitment to make UW-Madison “the best American university,” will need time to ease into the job. ...


The challenges facing Shalala are significant, but she is by no means inheriting a campus in crisis. The strengths of UW-Madison are such that she will be able to proceed at her own pace in addressing issues such as:

Increased competition for research money.Perceived and real problems with the “mix” of students, including too few minorities.Prospects for more unionization, and a Legislature threatening to exercise more faculty controls.Greater demands for UW-Madison to help in stimulating the economy.Improving relations with the Madison community, particularly on development matters.Helping the athletic program get back on a successful track. ...

Let’s welcome this aggressive new chancellor to Madison, but let’s avoid making her job any more difficult than it is.