University copes with change, looks to fill 7 interim positions
October 30, 2008
UW-River Falls currently has seven senior administrators serving in interim roles while national searches are either in progress or will soon commence for the campus leadership positions.
“The people we have in place [as interims] have a long history with this institution,” Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor Terry Brown said.
All individuals on the 13-member Chancellor’s Cabinet have been at UWRF for more than two years with a majority of members having more than a decade of experience at UWRF, Interim Chancellor Connie Foster said.
Foster joined UWRF as a health and human performance professor and subsequently was college dean and interim provost before being promoted to interim dean. When Foster became the interim dean, Terry Brown took over as interim provost and vice chancellor; she previously served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Brad Caskey, who previously was associate dean of CAS, is filling her position on an interim basis.
Interim President of the UWRF Foundation Dan McGinty previously was alumni director. IT Services Chief Information Officer Lisa Wheeler has replaced Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Mary Halada since her retirement last week. Interim Dean of College of Education and Professional Studies Faye Perkins started out in the health and human performance department and chaired it for five years; Interim Dean of College of Business and Economics Brian Schultz served as the associate dean for the economics department before moving into the associate dean position this semester.
“The University is not standing still while we are waiting to fill the positions,” Mark Kinders, director of public affairs, said. “We have a strategic plan and we are acting on it.”
The changes in senior leadership have no affect on the direction and overall priorities of the institution, which remain the same due to the vision outlined in the strategic plan, “Living the Promise.” The plan is a five-year vision emphasizing 10 operational and strategic functions including globalization, diversity, sustainability and leadership initiatives.
UWRF remains a desirable destination for students. Fall enrollment was the largest in its 134-year history and the academic profile of the freshman class has improved from previous years, Foster said.
Administrative and faculty turnover is not limited to UWRF. The aging of the baby boom generation is leading to an increase of retirements over the next several years. Currently seven out of 15 provosts in the UW System are interims and there are three interim chancellors, Brown said.
“This kind of transition is the wave of the future not just here, but across the nation,” Kinders said. “We will see a lot more changes in the future and it’s difficult because we are competing at a national level.”
It’s getting much more competitive for jobs and those universities that have competitive compensation and benefits are more attractive, Brown said.
Two out of every three UWRF faculty members will be eligible for retirement in the next decade. UWRF is being proactive in regards to this by instituting leadership development programs for current staff and offering professional development opportunities and grants for faculty and staff, Foster said.
“It is more important than ever to mentor faculty who could become strong administration and provide opportunities for them,” Foster said.
UWRF plans on announcing the chancellor by Dec. 23, 2008, and a provost search committee has been formed. The search for a new provost will go into January 2009, and the position will be filled by March. A committee has also been formed to replace Schultz.
Future searches will be for the dean of College of Education and Professional Studies, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, vice chancellor of administration and finance, and executive director of University advancement.