MADISON — Judith L. Kuipers, who has led the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for almost a decade, is leaving to become president of the prestigious Fielding Institute, located in Santa Barbara, California. The appointment is effective August 1.
In making the announcement today, UW System President Katharine C. Lyall described Kuipers as “among the most effective and respected chancellors ever to serve in the Wisconsin system. She has been an exceptional academic and community leader for the state.”
The Fielding Institute is an independent graduate school comprised of networked institutions of higher learning. It offers doctoral, master’s and certificate programs to mid-career adults worldwide.
“Contemplating this move, and the thought of leaving UW-La Crosse and this outstanding system, has been a very difficult process for me,” said Kuipers. “I care deeply about UW-La Crosse and the many fine colleagues and students who comprise our academic community here.”
The departure of Kuipers, who has served as chancellor since 1991, is “a loss to the UW System,” said Lyall. “Under her watch, all the ‘bars’ have been raised: from enhanced academic quality, improved campus facilities, and better student recruitment and retention, to greater community involvement and higher levels of alumni participation and annual giving.
“She leaves the campus in an excellent position to move forward under a new chancellor,” said Lyall.
Lyall also said “I am deeply appreciative to Judy and Jerry Kuipers for their extraordinary contributions to UW-La Crosse and that community and wish them well in this new chapter of their lives.”
UW System Regent Vice President Jay Smith added that “Chancellor Kuipers is obviously one of our superstars and will be sorely missed. It’s a terrific opportunity for her, however, and I wish her all the best.”
Lyall has asked UW-La Crosse Provost Douglas Hastad to serve as interim chancellor when Kuipers leaves in June. Hastad will serve until a new chancellor is selected.
Kuipers has been a cheerleader for the La Crosse community as well as the campus during her tenure. One of her major accomplishments has been the establishment of the collaborative La Crosse Health Science Consortium, a unique partnership for allied health education and services that state leaders have recognized with special funding over the past several biennia.
She has also championed the expansion of international relationships and study abroad programs, and the enhancement of undergraduate education and campus life.
“The extremely high quality and accomplishments of the faculty, staff and students have allowed us to reach ever-greater heights and have moved us into a position of regional prominence,” said Kuipers. U.S. News and World Report currently ranks UW-La Crosse in the top tier of Midwestern regional universities.
Heading the Fielding Institute will represent a shift in focus for Kuipers. The students she will serve in her new position are largely mid-career, mid-life professionals who are seeking graduate and professional studies in their fields. Programs are built around flexible delivery systems, many of which involve innovative learning technologies.
“Fielding is a completely different academic experience from UW-La Crosse, and I look forward to the challenge of learning and leading in these arenas,” said Kuipers.
Prior to coming to the UW System, Kuipers was vice president of academic affairs at California State University-Fresno. Previously, she was a faculty member and dean at Oregon State University. She holds B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Michigan State University, with a specialty in human development and early education, and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Central Michigan University.
Kuipers currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and as a member of the International Education Committee of the American Council on Education (ACE). She has also served as
Governor Thompson’s UW System appointee to the Midwestern Higher Education Commission (MHEC). She was elected to the Council of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in 1993 and serves on its executive committee. In 1994, she received a Fulbright Award to study higher education in the former East Germany. She also served as vice chair of the NCAA Division III Presidents Council during 1997-99.
Hastad, who will serve as interim chancellor, has been vice chancellor and provost at UW-La Crosse since 1998. Formerly, he was dean of the university’s College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. His area of specialty is fitness in youth. A native of Minnesota, Hastad received a bachelor’s degree from Concordia College-Moorhead, an M.S. degree in health and physical education from Washington State University, and an Ed. D. degree from Arizona State University.
Hastad came to UW-La Crosse in 1989 from Texas Christian University, where he taught from 1984 to 1989. Like Kuipers, he has been very involved in the La Crosse community. He presently serves on the boards of the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra and the YMCA. He and his wife, Nancy, have a son, Jacob, and a daughter, Rebekah.
Note to News Media: Chancellor Kuipers will be available to the news media on Tuesday at (608) 785-8004. President Lyall will also be available at (608) 262-2321.
Kevin Boatright, UW System