MADISON, Wis. – Dr. Robert Felner, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville, has been recommended as the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
UW System President Kevin P. Reilly and the Board of Regents’ Special Committee for the UW-Parkside Chancellor Search announced the recommendation today. The full board is expected to act on the appointment in June.
“Dr. Felner’s distinguished career and significant academic leadership experience will no doubt accelerate the forward momentum the institution has achieved over the past decade,” said Reilly. “He will be a strong leader in a part of the state where we expect the population to grow significantly in the coming years.”
Felner has been a dean at Louisville since 2003, and co-chaired that campus’ University-Community Partnership Board for two years. He previously served as professor and director of the School of Education at the University of Rhode Island for seven years. With more than 30 years of experience in higher education, Felner has held faculty appointments at the University of Illinois, Auburn University, and Yale University, in addition to those at Louisville and the University of Rhode Island.
“I was impressed with UW-Parkside in a number of ways,” said Felner. “I am particularly excited about the institution’s commitment to providing excellent educational experiences for all students, to its commitment to equity and social justice, to being deeply engaged in the community, and to creating partnerships with business, industry, the schools and government to enhance the lives of the people of the region. I also have a strong personal connection to the institution’s focus on first-generation college students and those from diverse backgrounds. If not for a strong, student-centered institution like Parkside, I would never have imagined myself in college, to say nothing of being a chancellor.”
“When I was younger, for family reasons, I had to leave high school, go to work, and finally get a GED. I was fortunate to find a university that allowed me to translate my GED into the opportunity for a quality college education. As are the faculty at UW-Parkside, my professors were strong scholars who were still deeply committed to offering me the personalized attention I needed to succeed, and I did because of them. I look forward to working with my new UW-Parkside colleagues who share those values of preparing generations of Wisconsin’s citizens for today’s global community and are committed to enhancing the economic and social well-being of our communities, the region, state and nation.”
Felner earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of Rochester in New York. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut.
“The campus is enthusiastic about the arrival of Dr. Felner,” said UW-Parkside Professor Chris Evans, chair of the UW-Parkside search and screen committee. “We are looking forward to the exciting, hard work ahead of us all.”
“Building on the campus’ longstanding commitment to equity and social justice, and its strong connections to the community, we must work together to make UW-Parkside a truly spectacular place—a destination of choice for students across the state,” said Felner. “This campus will have a transformational impact on the lives of our students and all our community neighbors, offering educational opportunities that are equal in quality to that which they might find anywhere else in the world.”
Felner was one of four finalists for the UW-Parkside chancellor position recommended by the campus committee. The other finalists were: Dr. T.J. Bryan, Fayetteville State University; Dr. Gloria J. Gibson, Arkansas State University-Jonesboro; and Dr. Maurice C. Taylor, Morgan State University.
“It was clear that Dr. Felner emerged from this competitive national search with broad support from our local community and the campus,” said Michael J. Falbo, chair of the Board of Regents Special Committee and a UW-Parkside alumnus. “It’s equally clear that he has the right skills to help this campus play its part in the growth and development of a vibrant Southeastern Wisconsin. To boost our economy, we must help more Wisconsin residents from all walks of life attain their college degree. The campus must work in partnership with local businesses to create more high-paying jobs. Dr. Felner is the person to lead us in that direction.”
Serving with Falbo on the Regents’ Special Committee were fellow regents Jeffrey B. Bartell of Madison, Eileen Connolly-Keesler of Oshkosh and Judith V. Crain of Green Bay.
Felner will succeed Chancellor John P. (Jack) Keating as the UW-Parkside’s chief executive. Keating announced in January that he would step down in August 2008 after leading the campus for more than a decade.
As one of 11 comprehensive universities within the UW System, the UW-Parkside campus enrolls more than 5,000 students from 55 Wisconsin counties – the most diverse student body in the system. Leading approximately 500 faculty, academic staff and classified staff members, the UW-Parkside chancellor is responsible for operation and leadership of the campus.