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Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 4 (Fall 1974)

Batt, James R.
Vis-à-vis: on executive streaking,   p. 27


Page 27


Vis-a-vis
On Executifoe
Streak inq
By James R. Batt
  My wife and my son and
daughter must envy those of their
friends who can answer the ques-
tion "What does your husband
(dad) do for a living?" with a
simple response of doctor, lawyer,
plumber, professor, or what-have-
you.
  Let's face it, being the executive
director of the Wisconsin Academy
of Sciences, Arts and Letters is
several rungs up on the semantic
ladder of abstractions. But then,
I don't know that things were any
clearer three years ago when I was
assistant director for academic
programs for the State of Wiscon-
sin Coordinating C o u n c i l for
Higher Education-on leave from
a position as assistant to the
chancellor of the University of
Wisconsin Center System.
  The question opens a mono-
logue of some duration, no doubt
more than bargained for by the
innocent inquirer. First comes the
explanation of the Wisconsin
Academy. That can't be done oral-
ly in the equivalent of a short
paragraph. If attempted, it invari-
ably leads to secondary questions:
"Where are you located?" "What
kind of programs do you spon-
sor?" "Who belongs?" That kind
of thing. When we get our new
general information brochure, I
fully intend to carry a number of
them in my breast pocket for
impromptu distribution. It's either
that or throat lozenges at this
stage.
  But resolving the identity and
nature of the Academy is only half
the job; the other half being a ver-
bal excursion into the responsi-
bilities of executive directorship.
Frankly, I wish they wouldn't
press that point but, rather, would
stand back and let the aura of a
title of such magnitude quietly
overwhelm them. Those who do
react in such fashion provide me
a harmless little pleasure.
  Although employment of full-
time staff is a relatively recent
Academy innovation, the action
by the Council in 1971 fulfilled a
century-old intention. From the
outset, and for the course of the
next one hundred years, the elected
officers of the Academy had to
give more of their time and talents,
by necessity, than might normally
be expected of such positions. Ded-
ication of the highest order was
called for, and obtained, but not
without the voicing of an occasion-
al call for relief. Founder and first
president J. W. Hoyt, writing in
the 1870 Bulletin No. 1 of the
Academy ("published . . . as oc-
casion requires"), was constrained
to observe the following in his
description of a "Plan of Opera-
tions":
  No institution of this or any
  other kind can be efficiently
  maintained without the
  means to employ and fairly
  compensate one or more
  competent and efficient offi-
  cers, so that their whole time
  and energies may be conse-
  crated to its work. The under-
  signed feels the more free to
  emphasize this declaration
  for the reason that his own
  services, as well as the serv-
  ices of a large majority of
  those who are now laboring,
  and who expect to labor, for
  the upbuilding and success of
  this Academy, are gratuitous-
  ly rendered. It is manifest,
  however, that this gratuity of
  service cannot be expected of
  the two or three officers of
  whom constant and exclusive
  service will be demanded.
  And so aspiration finally evolv-
ed into reality. An executive direc-
tor was retained and the responsi-
bilities and authority of the posi-
tion were incorporated as Article
IV, Section 7 of the Bylaws. It
reads:
  The Executive Director shall
  be appointed by and respon-
  sible to the Council and shall
  perform his responsibilities in
  cooperation with the officers
  of the Academy. He shall be
     (Continued on page 33)
27


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