This afternoon I received the following email from a UW employee who, unlike myself, does not enjoy tenure and thus prefers to convey this advice to the incoming chancellor anonymously. I recognize and sympathize with that concern, and thus am simply reprinting it here in full. I believe this advice, coming from someone with plenty of experience at the institution, is worth full consideration. If you have your own words of advice to share, please send them along!
Dear Dr. Goldrick-Rab –
If Dr. Blank is willing to listen to you, and I hope she does, one thing you might want to suggest is that she does not start calling herself “Becky” but instead be referred to as Rebecca when she wants to go “casual.”
David Ward was never been referred to by anyone as “Dave,” and if John Wiley had a nickname or pet name as a child, he certainly did not use that on his official correspondence or when he was quoted in the press. This is, after all, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Excellence in teaching and research is how we convince people to give us their money or send us their children to educate.
Trying to be cute or folksy is not what the alumni, citizens, or corporate and foundation donors are looking for. Two of my children were enrolled at UW-Madison when “Biddy” was the Chancellor, and neither one of them understood where the widely reported “love” that all the students at Wisconsin supposedly had for Biddy came from.