Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Leavitt needs to be visible on campus

Graphic by Jessica Duch / Advance-Titan
Graphic by Jessica Duch / Advance-Titan

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! UW Oshkosh’s Chancellor Andrew Leavitt appears to be missing in action.

Okay, maybe not completely missing, but it’s starting to feel like that. At one time, you could find Leavitt meandering around campus, standing outside of Dempsey Hall or even walking through Reeve Memorial Union.

The catalyst to this mystical disappearance seems to be the announcement of the $18 million deficit in August of 2023 – right before the start of fall semester.

Working at the Advance-Titan has given me more access to speak with the chancellor than the average student. He’s been a source for a story in the past and responded well when asked for an interview.

That changed drastically last semester. Every time I contacted the university’s marketing department to set up an interview with Leavitt, he was miraculously out of town on the days that I was available.

That became a common theme. Few of the A-T reporters, faculty and university staff, have seen or heard from Leavitt in the past few months.

Between the press and the people, we were all looking for answers – answers from Leavitt in particular.  Yet, he was nowhere to be found.

The lack of transparency became so apparent that the university community began losing faith in Leavitt’s leadership – to the point that a vote of no confidence was proposed and will be voted on soon by faculty.

Of course, now there’s backpedaling. Leavitt is upset to hear that UWO has lost faith in him. So upset that he published a 4,397-word blog post in an attempt to dismantle the letter the Faculty Senate sent out asking for opinions about this vote of no confidence.

In said blog post, Leavitt wrote he was “appointed to lead this collaboration we call a chancellorship nearly 10 years ago.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines collaboration as “to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.” Where has the collaboration gone?

To work jointly in this situation, Leavitt should be available to the campus community more than ever. Having a spokesperson isn’t good enough; we want to hear from the big man in charge.

Why hasn’t Leavitt been attending Faculty Senate meetings? Why is he avoiding the press? The A-T hasn’t landed a single interview with the man in over a semester, but if we had maybe things would look different for him.

Backlash to this situation was inevitable. Leavitt was going to get heat regardless of the statements he published — that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

If he was truly a strong leader, he’d take that criticism in stride and continue to collaborate with the campus community to develop solutions and quell the anxiety.

There’s that word again – collaboration.

A blog post is not enough. It’s easy to hide behind a screen and craft the perfect statement to publish, but it’s impersonal. How are we supposed to believe it was actually written by Leavitt? We know he has a team of people working behind the scenes, and we also know his right hand man is trained in journalism – someone else could have easily written that blog.

That being said, Leavitt, if you’re reading this, here is a personal letter to you:

It’s not too late to try and turn the tide. If you start showing up — and I mean physically showing up — for your campus community, you might be able to win back some support.

Hold forums for the public, allow students to meet with you during office hours, provide candid responses and show us that you actually care.

Empathy goes a long way, and right now you are lacking in this department. Your campus has no confidence in you because you’ve shown cowardice in the face of mass scrutiny.

You’ve shied away from the public at a time when your university has been at the forefront of the higher education conversation in Wisconsin.

There are rumors you spend your time hiding at your second house in Georgia; how are we supposed to feel good about that if that is the truth? Give us a reason to feel confident in you. Maybe you should start by meeting with A-T staff. After all, this community has relied heavily on us to report the truth.

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