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New UW-Madison chancellor must win lawmakers over

The next chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Madison says she's ready to face a host of challenges including a loss of faculty to higher-paying schools, lower state aid and a critical Legislature.

Biddy Martin accepted an offer Wednesday to replace retiring chancellor John Wiley.

Salary and other terms won't be known until the Board of Regents hires her next month.

Martin, 57, has been the provost at Cornell the last seven years, facing many of the challenges she'll have at the UW.

One of the biggest is to curry favor with lawmakers so she can get the money to keep her best faculty and keep Madison as one of the nation's top research schools.

The Senate's president, Fred Risser, D-Madison, says Martin must tackle the faculty pay issue plus what he calls an "archaic" ban on domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.

Martin, who's openly lesbian, says those benefits are not only fair they'll also make the UW more competitive.

Republicans have attacked that stand for years at the Capitol. And they've blown the whistle on everything from secret meetings to letting sex offenders stay on the UW payroll.

GOP Assembly Colleges Committee chairman Steve Nass of Whitewater says he's cautiously optimistic Martin will restore a balance between undergraduate education and research.