Friday, November 2, 2007

On the Pavement: Hank Webber Leaves U of C

posted by chicago pop

Hot off the wire: Hank Webber is moving to Wash U in St. Louis. What does this mean? Will the next guy pull the plug on the Co-Op? Will the U of C hire Lisa Prasad, who helped turn Penn's West Philly digs into the kind of place where undergrads can stop by a cereal bar before class? I wouldn't mind -- that's less Cheerios for me to store in the pantry. Expect a regime change in February.


To: Faculty and Staff
From: Robert J. Zimmer, President
Re: Hank Webber Announcement

I am writing to inform you that Hank Webber, our Vice President for Community and Government Affairs, has accepted a position as Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration at Washington University in St. Louis, effective March 1, 2008. Hank has given extraordinary service to the University of Chicago during his 21 years as an administrator and instructor, and we will be sorry to lose him. But his new position at Washington University is a wonderful opportunity, and we wish him well in this new phase of his career.

The University of Chicago has a deep and longstanding connection to the City of Chicago and to our surrounding communities on the South Side. We embrace our role as citizens of the South Side community and our role in contributing to its development. A key feature of this citizenship is a rich engagement as partners with City and South Side community leaders and organizations. These partnerships have increased significantly in number and level of engagement over the past decade, and Hank’s leadership has provided an essential component of these efforts.

Hank will remain in his position at the University until mid-February, giving us time to implement a smooth transition and to launch a search for his replacement. Filling this position is a very high priority for the University. We plan to conduct that process thoroughly and expeditiously and hope to name a successor by the time he departs.

Hank joined the University in 1986 as the deputy director of financial planning and budget and as a lecturer in the School of Social Services Administration. He has held a number of administrative positions, most recently being appointed vice president for community affairs in 1997 and adding government affairs to his responsibilities in 2001. During that time, he has represented the University with great dedication in every facet of our interactions with the community and has overseen a wide array of functions including University Police, Real Estate Operations, Court Theatre, International House, and Government Relations.

Hank and his colleagues in Community and Government Affairs have built new and stronger relationships between the University and community, religious, and civic organizations and political leaders on the South Side of Chicago, contributing to community revitalization in North Kenwood, Oakland, and Woodlawn and a new spirit of partnership between the University and our surrounding communities.

Most notably, he was instrumental in the creation of what has grown into the Urban Education Initiative. He is the founding and current chair of the Governing Board of the University of Chicago Charter Schools Corporations and chairs the Administrative Oversight Board of the Consortium on Chicago School Research. In addition, he played an essential role in the development of the Collegiate Scholars Program.

He also led the steering committee and a joint effort by the University, community, and Chicago Park District to revitalize the Midway, including the development of a permanent skating rink, new gardens, and new playing fields. He was a key part of the University team that worked to secure the current contracts to manage Argonne and Fermi national laboratories.

Hank has made these and many other administrative contributions while teaching regularly in SSA and maintaining a research program.

In his new role at Washington University, Hank will be the university’s chief administrative officer and will oversee facilities, campus planning, capital projects, campus security, and off-campus real estate acquisition and development. Please join me in wishing him well in his new endeavors.


Peter Rossi said...
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Peter Rossi said...
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J/tati said...

I'll miss Hank. I only know him in the context of a neighborhood club cyclist, but he has been very supportive of my shop and generous with his time and advice.

Peter Rossi said...

Our best to Hank-- you had a very tough job and worked very hard on it.

Hank did a great job of improving relationships with communities bordering HP and with improving the image of the University in the HP community by doing important things. He really helped by donating University buildings (e.g. Arts Center) and working to bring Checkerboard and other bars back.

IMHO, he did not take a firm enough stance on the Point and the Doctors Hospital. But that is splitting hairs.

My guess is that the next person will NOT be very sympathetic to the NIMBYs in HP who want to keep our neighborhood a backwater.

Chicago Pop makes a great point. 10 years ago the neighborhood around Penn was much worse than HP -- dangerous and lacking in amenities. Now is it has passed us on the retail and amenities front. Nothing will ever match our housing stock and the Lake. However, when the Point falls in the Lake or the CPD piles up rubble all along it, we will start to get close on that front as well.

Famac said...

Hank hit the ground running.

LPB said...

I lived in West Philly, a few blocks off the Penn campus, back in 1986-87 -- just several years after the big MOVE fiasco. At the time, the neighborhood definitely felt more dicey than Hyde Park, and there were few, if any, amentities within walking distance (except for a few things right on campus). I moved to Hyde Park in 1988.

Fast-forward almost 20 years.... and West Philly now is hopping with retail and restaurants. It feels much safer to just walk around the area. While some retail had moved into Hyde Park in the same period (e.g., Starbucks, Borders, Potbelly's), we've also seen the wheels fall off the Co-Op. I'm not sure how much progress Hyde Park has made in this time, but I'd wager that HP hasn't made nearly as much progress as West Philly.

Oh, on the topic of service... We also had a poor dining experience last year at the White Dog Cafe, just a few blocks from the Penn campus. I emailed my negative feedback to cafe management after we returned to Chicago. To my surprise, the restaurant manager replied and asked to set up a specific time to hear more about how our lunch at White Dog had fallen below expectations. He wasn't defensive and approached the whole situation very constructively (the service was fine, but the food was cold and it took forever to get the food out of the kitchen). In the end, he even offered us a $50 gift certificate to come try the restaurant again. Now, we won't be traveling to Philly just to use this gift certificate. But, the manager's responsiveness and his sincere interest in getting honest customer feedback to improve operations really made an impression on me. If we're in the area again, I'd certainly want to give the White Dog another chance.