MADISON (AP) - Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, a finalist to lead the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, was selected Monday to be its next chancellor starting in July.
Her selection announced Monday by UW System President Kevin Reilly and a special search committee was subject to approval April 5 by the Board of Regents. Blank beat out three other finalists for the job leading Wisconsin's largest public university campus with 42,000 students.
The decision to go with Blank won praise from both Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who called her a "great pick," and President Barack Obama who said she had been a tireless advocate for businesses during her four years heading the Commerce Department.
"Over the past four years I have asked Becky to take on several roles at the Department of Commerce, and in each one she has distinguished herself as a steady leader and a vital member of my economic team," Obama said in a statement. "A tireless advocate for American businesses, Becky has helped to increase our competitiveness, support our innovators and entrepreneurs, and bring good-paying jobs back to our shores."
If approved, Blank would take over for interim Chancellor David Ward. He has served in that role since July 2011. He stepped in after Biddy Martin resigned.
Blank previously worked as a professor of public policy and dean of the public policy school at the University of Michigan from 1999 to 2008. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in economics, she received her doctorate degree in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"The university is integral to the economic future of the state and must continue to be a strong partner in the effort to create jobs and stimulate economic growth," Blank said in a statement.
Walker said Blank had excellent credentials and leadership experience.
"Equally as important, she has a keen knowledge of economic issues that can help the UW promote great prosperity in the state," Walker said.
The three finalists Blank defeated for the job were Kim Wilcox, outgoing provost at Michigan State University; University of Chicago law school dean Michael Schill; and Johns Hopkins University engineering school dean Nicholas Jones.
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