Dr. Dwight C. Watson, Provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Southwest Minnesota State University, has been named the 17th Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, according to a press release from UW System.
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today unanimously approved Watson’s appointment, following the recommendation made by a selection committee. Watson will step into the leadership post on Aug. 1, 2019.
Watson was one of two finalists available to the committee after two others removed their names from contention. Slippery Rock University Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Philip Way and Louisiana State University of Alexandria Chancellor Guiyou Huang both withdrew from consideration earlier this month.
The other finalist was UW-Oshkosh Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cheryl Green, who has been Interim Chancellor at UW-Whitewater since January 1. A UW-Oshkosh representative said Dr. Green will return to her position there.
Former Chancellor Beverly Kopper resigned in December after her husband was banned from campus amid sexual harassment complaints from several women.
Watson has served since 2015 as the Provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Southwest Minnesota State University, an institution serving about 7,300 students as part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, according to the release.
Previously, Watson served as Dean of the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa (2010-2015); Associate Dean of the Teacher Education Program at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire (2007-2010); and Chair of the Department of Education at Hamline University (2002-2007). As a professor, his primary teaching focus was literacy development for young and adolescent readers. His scholarship has focused on applied research connected to the literacy and language acquisition of students of color and urban learners. His teaching experience also includes PK-12 classrooms.
“Dwight has demonstrated an ability to build meaningful relationships and to lead faculty and staff as a provost and dean. He is an accomplished faculty member,” UW System President Ray Cross said in a statement. “He is approachable and authentic, and his references repeatedly described his leadership style as collaborative and engaging.”
“I am inspired by UW-Whitewater’s commitment to providing its students transformational and empowering education experiences,” Watson said in a statement. “As a first-generation college attendee of modest means, I found that higher education provided me the functional, navigational skills that I needed to access future opportunities. With a focus on access, affordability, service, and success, my work now is to inspire learners to achieve and to remove barriers for students so they can have access to greater opportunities.”
Watson holds an Ed.D. in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) from North Carolina State University. He earned his Master of Education degree, bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts Education from the University of South Carolina.
“Dr. Watson is a great fit for our campus,” UW-Whitewater Associate Professor Eric Compas said in a statement. Compas served as vice-chair of the 11-member Search and Screen Committee that recommended a list of finalists. “He wants to build on the strengths that we have, help us to better tell our story, and write UW-Whitewater’s next chapter,” Compas said,
“We were very impressed with Dr. Watson as an educational leader who understands what it takes to help students succeed in college,” Regent Tracey Klein, chair of the Special Regent Committee that interviewed the finalists with Cross, said in a statement. “Dr. Watson is a well-established scholar whose leadership and vision will complement UW-Whitewater. He will be a great asset to the university, the UW System, and the state.”
Other members of the Special Regent Committee are Regents Mike Jones, Regina Millner, Janice Mueller, and Drew Petersen.
Watson will earn $240,000 per year as chancellor, according to the release.
This story has been updated.