Watson turns Warhawk

UW-W welcomes Dr. Dwight C. Watson as new chancellor


Robbie Elsbury Jr.

Sevententh Chancellor Dr. Dwight C. Watson explains how his academic journey brought him to UW-Whitewater.

Olivia Storey, News Editor

When asked about his favorite part of his new job, Chancellor Dwight C. Watson had one answer: the people.

“I always said I wanted to be in the right place, at the right time with the right people,” Watson said. “I’ve met several people within the last month or so, and everyone has a Whitewater story.”

Whether it’s someone at UW-Rock County, a citizen of Whitewater or Janesville, or a student here on campus, Watson says they all feel as though this university is a part of them.

“We’re here because there’s good people here,” he said.

Watson always knew he wanted to be in an important and pinnacle position. He began his educational journey as a history teacher for kindergarten through eighth grade in South Carolina, North Carolina and Minnesota.

“With young students, you want lots of engagement, lots of full-body movement to keep them spirited,” Watson said. “When I moved onto college, I was teaching teachers. I was trying to use a lot of simulations about what kinds of things you would teach in your grade school classes. I tried to teach my college classes in those ways.”

After many dedicated years in elementary and middle school classrooms, Watson transitioned to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he was an associate professor and professor, as well as the chair of the education department and director for the center of excellence and urban teaching.

After his time in St. Paul, Watson moved to Eau Claire, where he was an associate dean for three years at UW-Eau Claire. He then was offered the dean of education position at the University of Northern Iowa.

Following his time in Iowa, Watson went back up to Minnesota. He transitioned to new roles at Southwest Minnesota State, where he was the provost and vice president of academic and student affairs.

Watson’s end goal was to become a chancellor. He knew it early on in his career, and strived to do his best at every single job to achieve his goal.

“I wanted a pinnacle position at a pinnacle place,” he said. “UW-W is a pinnacle place. It’s a place of excellence. It’s been recognized throughout the UW system.”

Some of the things Watson loves about UW-W is its access to opportunities for all students.

“I’ve been following this institution for a while when it comes to the things [UW-W] has been engaged in, like the LEAP and America’s Promise initiatives,” he said. “Those things compelled me to apply here.”

UW-W stood out to Watson above all other jobs due to many of the university’s values and practices.

“We focus on high-impact practices. There’s a sense of engagement all around,” he said. “When I applied to this institution, their values really aligned with what I was thinking.”

Some of the values that Watson and UW-W believe are of utmost importance are collaboration, shared governance, social responsibility, academic excellence, integrity and diversity.

“I do believe in inclusion and supporting places for all learners and all people,” he said. “[I believe] in eliminating barriers.”

Although the school year is still in its early stages, Watson is looking ahead to how he can help grow the Whitewater community.

“I think one of the things UW-W is looking for is stability,” he said. “We have several interim positions in leadership, so I want to get those filled. I want to make sure that there’s a sense of permanence with our leadership.”

Watson is proud of his progress and happy that he was able to make his dream a reality.

“I’m 57 years old,” he said. “I’ve been through lots of positions to get to this pinnacle position in this pinnacle place. I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

Watson looks forward to getting to know the campus more and more, and is hopeful that the Whitewater community will support him during his time as chancellor.

“If you will have me, I’d like to be here.”