MADISON, Wis. — Dr. Deborah L. Ford, Vice President of Student Affairs at University of West Florida, 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. Following action by the full board in June, Ford is scheduled to step into the new role on August 1.
“The Regents and I were impressed with Dr. Ford’s vision and her passionate commitment to higher education. As a first-generation college graduate, she understands the importance of student success, and she will undoubtedly bring that focus to the chancellor role in a very effective way,” said Reilly. “At the same time, she is well prepared to represent the research strengths of our UW-Parkside faculty to the wider world, creating an atmosphere where all our UW scholars – faculty, staff, and students alike – will thrive.”
Ford has been a vice president and professor at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Fla., since 2003. Leading the division of student affairs, she managed strategic planning, budgeting, and assessment, and managed a variety of functions including intercollegiate athletics and residence life. Ford also led the campus process to finance, design, construct, and operate new on-campus housing. She developed and implemented a five-year strategic plan for the university and appointed a student success task force to develop recommendations for enhancing retention and student success.
Ford also led the Student Affairs division and department of Environmental Health and Safety in the preparation for and recovery from devastating hurricanes in 2004 and 2005.
“The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is a wonderful university where faculty, staff, students, and the community work together to create excellent learning opportunities for students, particularly first-generation college students. I am thrilled to serve as the next Chancellor and I am looking forward to building upon the strengths of UW-Parkside’s academic and student success and engaging with the greater community,” Ford said.
Ford previously served as a vice president of student affairs and dean of students at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ford earned her Ed.D. in educational administration at the University of Louisville, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in counseling and guidance. She earned her Master’s degree in education at Indiana University.
“The search committee is pleased to have such a dynamic chancellor for UW-Parkside – someone who can provide stable, effective leadership for our campus. When we met Dr. Ford during her campus visit, she came across as very personable and engaging, and she was very well received by faculty, staff, students, and members of the community,” said UW-Parkside Associate Professor Greg Mayer, chair of the search and screen committee.
“We performed extensive reference checks on all of the finalists, which helped us understand more about their leadership qualities and skills,” Mayer added. “As we spoke to Dr. Ford’s colleagues in Florida, it was clear that academic leaders and others there hold her in very high regard, confirming what we had observed during her interviews and presentations.”
Ford was one of five finalists for the UW-Parkside chancellor position recommended by the campus committee. The other finalists were: Dr. John Folkins, Bowling Green State University; Dr. Thomas Keon, University of Central Florida; Dr. Elizabeth Langland, Arizona State University; and Dr. H. James Williams, Grand Valley State University.
“Dr. Ford’s energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and we were impressed by her very strong communication skills,” said Michael J. Falbo, chair of the Board of Regents Special Committee and a UW-Parkside alumnus. “This campus plays such a vital role in the health of our community and the strength of our regional economy. I’m pleased that UW-Parkside will have a strong academic leader who can strengthen connections to the broader community and broaden public support for higher education in Southeast Wisconsin.”
Serving with Falbo on the Regents’ Special Committee were fellow regents Danae Davis, John Drew, and Michael Spector.
Ford will succeed Interim Chancellor Lane Earns as UW-Parkside’s chief executive. Earns was appointed in August 2008 to succeed Chancellor John (Jack) Keating, who led the campus for more than a decade.
UW-Parkside, one of UW System’s 11 comprehensive institutions, enrolls more than 5,000 students from 55 counties and comprises the most diverse student population in the UW System. Leading approximately 500 faculty, academic staff, and classified staff members, the UW-Parkside chancellor is responsible for an annual budget in excess of $71 million.