Thursday, June 18, 2015

Faculty uneasy about working at UW after cuts, tenure changes - Dan Simmons, Wisconsin State Journal

Mahesh Mahanthappa grew up far away from Wisconsin but came here to pursue a passion for chemistry at UW-Madison, a national leader in the field. Soon, Mahanthappa will leave Wisconsin, embarking for the University of Minnesota to do research in plastics there instead. The big move is happening because Mahanthappa, a tenured professor who is 39 years old, decided he’d have a brighter future in his field in Minnesota, which ranks just above Wisconsin in chemical engineering in national rankings. Many factors, including dire financial times and a perceived unfriendly attitude by state lawmakers toward faculty in Wisconsin, forecast better times ahead there and leaner times here, he said. The combination of factors prompted the tough decision to move his family and his research lab — which brings in $600,000 a year in outside funding — to Minnesota. Mahanthappa is one of two high-profile departures from the chemistry department this year. Frank Keutsch is the other, moving his atmospheric chemistry lab to Harvard University.

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