Monday, October 17, 2005

Tom Keefe leaves for St. Louis U.

In what may be the first of many fleeing a sinking ship, Tom Keefe, fund-raiser in chief, takes off for greener pastures.

Tom has done a great job raising money for UWO, even if much of his effort has been aimed at athletics. I generally accepted his argument that sports was a good way to open a donors wallet, and then you can turn towards more academic endeavors.

Unfortunately, he is now gone, making it all the more difficult to raise funds for the new academic building on campus.

Michael Zimmerman wanted to move to Lawrence last semester. Chancellor Wells may be next--he hopes so. . .

I wonder if this is happening all over the UW system? Are we beginning to see the inevitable drain of talent away from our universities to places where there is more respect for higher education?


Anonymous said...

"Sinking ship" is a phrase I have been hearing a lot of lately. The administrators probably have a better idea of where UW is going than the rank and file members. Their message is being sent: get out while you can.

Lake Winneblogo said...

I wanted to title the post "Rats flee sinking ship," but I decided that it would be incorrect. The people who are thinking of leaving are being pro-active and trying to create a more secure situation for themselves.

The better question is why aren't the rest of us trying to get out before the legislature strikes again? (though I imagine many others are.)

Anonymous said...

I heard one of the deans say the number of faculty leaving is at the same number as in previous years. But when there are less faculty members the percentage who are leaving is greater. I'd be curious to know if more people are looking to get out than usual--I imagine so. Deans and chairs are trying to convince good faculty members to stay and potential faculty members to join UWO, which must be a tough job right now. Those looking to leave shouldn't be criticized when the people at the top are fleeing.

tony palmeri said...

I have no way of knowing what their actual motivations are, but neither Wells nor Keefe strike me as people who are "fleeing a sinking ship." Both are young enough for at least one more move, and I believe they would have been looking to leave even if the UW System was in top form and we had no budget problems. I also believe that it's desirable to change top-level administration every 5 years or so--when administrators stay in a position too long they invariably become defensive, turf oriented, and enablers of campus inertia. It will probably never happen, but I think we should start looking at "term limits" for Deans, Provosts, Chancellors, and other top-level administrators.

P.S. Problems in the UW System are bad, but I really would like someone to show me a university system in America that is not sinking right now.

Lake Winneblogo said...


You may be right in that these people would be looking to leave anyway, but the financial climate around here makes the jobs much less rewarding than they might otherwise be.

More significantly, the climate here in Wisconsin is clearly worse than many other places across the country. Although state funding is declining all over, the anti-university rhetoric coming out of our legislature is some of the worst. Where else to you find daily, gratuitous attacks on the morality, honesty, and competency of university professors and administrators coming from elected officials?

One might think of the stem cell debate as a good example--our legislature tries to broadly ban any work in this area, while California, New Jersey and other approve multi-billion dollar plans to invest in a promising new area of research. . .

Anonymous said...


I don't doubt that these moves are moves up. However, let's look at a quote from the Northwestern story:

“Up until this year their budget climate was as difficult as ours,” Wells said. “They got through their budget times with a lot of character and that’s a pull factor for me.”

The key words are "a lot of character." The climate is encouraging people to leave.