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Richard, George (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 59, Number 5 (Nov. 1957)

Gelatt, Charles D.
The University of Wisconsin's thirteenth president: who will he be?,   pp. 8-9


Page 9


T HE SELECTION of the next presi-
    dent of the University of Wiscon-
sin is a challenge which the Regents of
the University feel is the greatest they
have ever accepted.
   The University today looks forward
to one of the most critical eras in the
nation's history of higher education.
Tremendous increases in     enrollment
ahead are matched in magnitude by
the continual expansion of mankind's
knowledge. And to complicate these
problems, the costs of operation and
building seem to be increasing apace.
   To aid them in choosing the person
best fitted  to guide the University
through this period of unprecedented
expansion when balance and quality
must be maintained and, if possible, en-
hanced, the Regents have asked me to
call upon alumni of the University for
suggestions and counsel.
   What sort of president does the Uni-
versity need?
   What special attributes should he
possess ?
   These are the questions that come
first to our minds. There are many more
before we reach the ultimate one:
   Who should he be?
   The faculty has chosen a representa-
tive committee to work with the Regents
on answers to these questions, and the
deans have nominated their senior mem-
bers to provide advice. The Regent com-
mittee is canvassing leading educators
throughout the land, seeking expert
opinion on what sort of person could
best head Wisconsin.
   President Herman Lee Donovan of
the University of Kentucky recently col-
lected definitions of the ideal president,
ranging from the cryptic comment by
Harold Ickes that he should be "a divin-
ing rod for locating rare deposits of
rich metals," to the definition given by
Dr. H. C. Cowley of Stanford Univer-
sity, one time president of Hamilton
college, who called a typical president
"One of the most burdened, harassed,
put-upon people in American life. He is
expected to be an educator, a scholar, an
administrator, a businessman, a public
speaker, a writer, a money-raiser, a
politician, a giver of dinners, a charmer
at receptions, a moral force in the com-
munity, a commentator on national and
international affairs, and popular with
students, alumni, faculty, and readers of
newspapers."
Wisconsin Alumnus, November, 1957
   More pertinent, perhaps, to our pres-
ent discussion, is the list of qualities and
talents which  the Board of Regents
committee on personnel listed when -that
group, on January 25, 1945, nominated
E. B. Fred for the presidency of Wis-
consin. I would like to quote that re-
port, in part:
   "Basically, the University's mission is
education. Therefore a first requirement
is that the President be an eminent and
recognized scholar in his field and an
educator of experience and attainment.
Further, he should have a deep interest
in and knowledge of the overall educa-
tional program of a University.
   "He should have demonstrated capac-
ity to work harmoniously with others, to
delegate responsibility and authority to
others and to accord credit and recogni-
tion to others in the organization who
earn such credit and recognition. The
knows Wisconsin and who knows its
University."
  This list of qualifications, the com-
mittee reported, led them to choose the
then dean of the University's College of
Agriculture. Since their choice of Presi-
dent Fred gave the University a great
leader who ranks at the top of the na-
tion's educational administrators today
and who brought the University to its
present peak of distinction, it follows
that many of the qualities listed would
be those we should seek in his successor.
  Among the qualities being suggested
to the Regents from many sources at
this time are some which go beyond
special abilities, background and train-
ing. A list of these would be long, but
most mentioned are:
   1. High scholarship
   2. Imagination and vision
   3. Diplomacy and industry
     Address your opinions to Charles D. Gelatt,
Northern Engraving Co., La Crosse, Wisconsin
operation of the University is a team
job and morale throughout the staff is
vital to achievement.
  "He should have administrative capac-
ity as well as capacity to determine the
objectives of the institution and to plan
effective methods of achieving them.
   "He should be a judge of talent in
the educational and research fields and
have a desire to bring to and retain at
the University men and women of at-
tainment and promise in the varied
fields of education and research. After
all, the teaching and research staffs
determine the ultimate rank of the
University in the educational structure
of the country.
   "The State of Wisconsin and the
University of Wisconsin have traditions,
ideals and objectives that are peculiar
to them. We wanted a man with a
Wisconsin background. A man who
  4. Humility-ability to work with
     faculty
  5. Complete dedication to the Uni-
     versity which he serves
  6. Good health.
  The Regents have made no commit-
ments. They seek only the best possible
president for Wisconsin. And they want
help on this decision from alumni.
  Comments can be addressed to me at
my office, the Northern Engraving and
Manufacturing Co., La Crosse. If writ-
ers wish their comments to be referred
only to members of the Special Regent
Committee on Selection of the Presi-
dent, and so indicate in their letters,
this restriction will be honored. How-
ever, we hope that a selection from
letters not so restricted can be pub-
lished  in  an  early edition  of  the
Alumnus to stimulate other suggestions.
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