Mash accepts UW System position

Gina Duwe

Chancellor Donald Mash announced Friday morning he will be leaving UW-Eau Claire for a newly created position of executive senior vice president in the UW System.

Mash will serve as chancellor until the end of the month and will begin his new job March 1 in Madison.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as chancellor at UW-Eau Claire,” Mash said in a press release. “It is an incredible campus with terrific people. I’ll miss it, and I leave the campus setting with mixed feelings.”

Cynthia Gray-Mash, Mash’s wife, an associate professor and very active member in the campus community, echoed his sentiment.

“I also have very mixed feelings about leaving this campus,” she said. “It’s such a high-energy place.”

Cynthia Gray-Mash said she will finish the semester at Eau Claire while looking for work in Madison.

Pending approval of the Board of Regents, UW System President Kevin Reilly will appoint Vicki Lord Larson, a former Eau Claire professor and administrator and retired UW-Oshkosh provost and vice chancellor, as interim chancellor. Larson will begin her duties at Eau Claire on March 7.

“The fit, her and this interim position is very strong,” Mash said at Friday’s press conference. “It’s going to be a very smooth transition.”

In the new position, Mash will manage day-to-day activities as chief operating officer and deputy for administration to the president.

“The deputy will also be acting on the president’s behalf when appropriate and necessary,” UW System Public Relations Doug Bradley said.

Mash’s two-year appointment to the position includes an annual salary of $230,000.

“We’re just lucky to have someone of his talent, skill and experience around,” Bradley said.

Reilly recruited Mash, who has served as Eau Claire’s chancellor since 1998, as a result of restructuring in the UW System administration.

“We’ve been talking about it for several months,” Mash said in a Friday interview. “I have been mulling it over while President Reilly has been pursuing aspects of restructuring from his end.”

Vicki Lord Larson, 60, joined UW-Eau Claire’s faculty in 1973 as an assistant professor of communication disorders. She later became a professor, and served as chair of the communication disorders department from 1978-79.

In 1984, Larson was named assistant dean for Graduate Studies and University Research. In 1989, she was promoted to associate dean, a position she held until 1991 when she became dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at UW-Oshkosh.

In 1994, Larson was named acting provost and vice chancellor at UW-Oshkosh, and was named provost and vice chancellor in 1995. She retired from the institution in 2000 as a professor emerita of communication. She then served as a consultant to the UW System president from 2000 to 2001.

The creation of the position was recommended following an independent review of the UW System’s administrative structure, released this fall.

Reilly’s restructuring and the cost savings from eliminating two positions – senior vice president for administration, which will become vacant March 1, and vice president for University Relations, which was eliminated as of Feb. 1 – made the new position possible.

“President Reilly thinks that I can make a difference there and that I will compliment his work very well,” Mash said. “The UW System has a lot of challenges, and I believe that there is a lot of work to be done to address those challenges.

“I am a product of public higher education myself, and believe strongly in the importance of the state having a strong public system,” he said.

A search and screen committee for a permanent successor will be named in the coming weeks, Reilly said.

The process to find a permanent replacement could take from six months to a year, Mash said.

Upon Larson’s confirmation, she will lead the campus while a nation-wide search is conducted.

“Vicki Lord Larson is a strong, capable and experienced leader,” Reilly said. “And her roots and her heart are in Eau Claire. I am confident she will do all that is best for the campus and the community.”

As interim chancellor, Larson will earn an annual salary of $168,622, and said she will stay as long as the campus is in need.

“I am returning to a city and a university that I deeply love,” she said in an interview Friday from California. “And my goal is to keep the momentum going that Chancellor Mash has established, and my entire goal is to do what is in the best interest for the university and maintaining its tradition of excellence.”

Provost and Vice Chancellor Ron Satz has worked with Larson in the past and said he thinks she will do a fine job.

“She’s an experienced academic leader,” Satz said. “I think she brings the qualities that one would hope to find in a chancellor.”

Mash, 62, has worked for nearly 40 years in leadership positions in higher education.

Student Senate President Chad Wade said Mash is a student-friendly chancellor, and he will be missed by Student Senate.

“He was able to allow the people around him to work effectively while still providing leadership,” he said. “I know he is well respected not just here on campus, but throughout the entire UW System.”

Mash came to the university when it was at “a good level,” Satz said, but has since improved it even more.

“I think the university is in a strong position, has strong faculty and a strong student body,” he said. “He leaves the university strengthened, and I think he will do an excellent job for the UW System as a whole, as well as the university.”