MADISON (WKOW) -- UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin announced Tuesday she's leaving the school to become president of Amherst College, a well-known, exclusive liberal arts college in Massachusetts.
After receiving a standing ovation from about fifty staff, students and supporters at a campus news conference, Martin said she was recruited this spring to consider the Amherst position. Martin said she was reluctant at first to be considered for the job, but said the school's diverse campus population and sterling academic reputation convinced her it was the right career move.
"This is just a great opportunity at a great time."
Martin said she loved her work and the student body at UW-Madison.
"I had thought I might spend the rest of my career here."
Martin cited an increase in financial aid to students, adding faculty and staff and increasing the university's presence in China as some of the accomplishments she was most proud of.
Martin, 60, became chancellor in the fall of 2008. Martin said she would be leaving in the summer. A spokesperson for UW-System President Kevin Reilly said the naming of an interim chancellor takes on some urgency, but did not give a timetable for a selection, although Martin said it could happen with a week or two.
Martin has clashed with Reilly over proposed operational autonomy for UW-Madison as a public authority, with separation from the current system of more than twenty UW campuses. State lawmakers rejected the idea, but the proposed state budget includes aspects of more autonomy for UW-Madison and other system schools.
Martin said the budget provisions provide a good framework for giving UW-Madison more freedom to control costs, set tuition and retain top faculty in the future. Martin said disappointment over her failure to convince lawmakers to establish UW-Madison as a separate public authority was not a factor in her decision to leave.
Dean of students Lori Berquam told WKOW27 News Martin was a positive campus force.
"She was really a student's chancellor. She was really in tune with them, she enjoyed them, she loved their joie de vivre."
Martin shot free throws at the basketball team's arena Kohl Center, celebrated the traditional campus snowball fight, and made a cameo appearance in a student video that went viral, Teach me how to Bucky.
Martin said she hopes the larger community remains engaged in UW-Madison's higher education mission.
"The state needs it, the nation needs it, and future generations need it, and I am happy to have done what I can to help over the past three years."
MADISON (WKOW) -- University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has announced she is leaving the college to take a job as president of Amherst College.
"The decision to leave UW-Madison is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made," Martin said in the statement. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and am honored to have served as chancellor of this great institution."
Martin's term as chancellor will end in the coming weeks and she plans to start her new position at Amherst, in Amherst, Mass., at the end of August. The Associated Press reports she'll become the first female president at the prestigious liberal arts college, which was founded in 1821 and has about 1,600 students.
Martin was Cornell University's provost before being named chancellor of UW-Madison on June 5, 2008.
Click here to read Martin's letter to campus friends and colleagues.