Mulcahy staying at the University for the long term

The Vice President of Research withdrew his chancellor bid at Wisconsin-Madison.

Turning down the possibility to become chancellor at a major public university may sound strange, but to Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy it made perfect sense.

Mulcahy said his decision to withdraw his bid to become the University of Wisconsin Madison chancellor came down to his love for the position he’s held at the University since 2005 and his desire to spend time with his family.

That position, which he called the “best there is at the University,” is his best fit because it allows him to help the school strive for success in its future, he said.

Unlike at some of its peer institutions, Mulcahy said the University has for the most part embraced answering the question, “How can we do this better?” – which should drive research in the future.

A personal goal of his is to allow for students and faculty to become effectively engaged in the research process, Mulcahy said.

Even during interviews for the Madison position, he stressed the importance of a school having the best support system in place for faculty and students who want to conduct research, he said.

The Office of the Vice President for Research has already been working on a number of initiatives to improve research infrastructure at the University, and Mulcahy said he’d like to see those through.

In the past, Mulcahy and his office have aided research by naming a new director of Sponsored Projects Administration, which submits research proposals, Gary Balas, department head and professor of aerospace engineering and mechanics, said.

Mulcahy’s contributions to research should continue, as he’s been with the school long enough to understand its inner-workings, Balas said.

“He’s finally at a point where he knows what needs to be done, he knows how to advocate for it, and has a vision of how to improve the University’s research infrastructure,” Balas said.

Had Mulcahy been offered and accepted the Madison position, the University might have also run into a possible lull in research momentum and production, he said.

“Anytime there’s transition it seems like there’s a little bump in the road,” Balas said.

Although Mulcahy didn’t go as far to say his departure would have left the University in a bad situation, he agreed that there might have been a period of stagnancy.

University President Bob Bruininks was not available for comment, but spokesman Dan Wolter said Bruininks is pleased with Mulcahy’s decision.

“He’s helped this institution make some great strides in growing our research enterprise,” Wolter said.

University of Wisconsin officials declined to comment on Mulcahy’s decision, except to say that his résumé speaks for itself.

Cornell University Provost Biddy Martin was recommended to become Madison’s chancellor by a special Board of Regents committee last week.