Providing stability when everything seems interim

University plans for future leadership

Interim Chancellor Jim Henderson and other senior administrators serve ice cream to faculty, staff and incoming students in orientation programs at the University Center on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.  (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Craig Schreiner

Interim Chancellor Jim Henderson and other senior administrators serve ice cream to faculty, staff and incoming students in orientation programs at the University Center on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Carina Lopez, Assistant News Editor

Financial issues, resignations and a decrease of enrollment during a pandemic are some issues weighing on the minds of campus members these days. The lack of stability can be stressful, but Interim Chancellor Jim Henderson has a goal to create a sense of stability for students, faculty and staff after enduring a difficult academic year in 2020-21.  

The recent resignation of Vice Chancellor Greg Rutzen following former Chancellor Watson, has put several people in temporary positions as transitions begin.

Rutzen assumed the role Jan. 1, 2020. Before Rutzen, was Interim Vice Chancellor Tom Stevick who served the role from Aug. 2018 to July 2019, and before him Vice Chancellor Jon Enslin from Jan. 2005 to July 2018, according to Executive Director of University Marketing & Communications Jeff Angileri. 

“I can’t speak for the folks that left before I got here, but it is the case that because of some of the financial cutbacks that occurred in the past that some people have left- that’s my understanding but I don’t know that,” said Henderson. “In the case of Vice Chancellor Rutzen it was that, as he stated, he was looking to return to his law practice. Let me be very clear – we are not going to eliminate that position. This was not a budget cutting issue.”

Henderson will make the final decision on who the interim vice chancellor will be with consultation of UW-W Foundation and the campus community.

Henderson is one of two high level administrators on campus this fall, joining Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Taryn Carothers. Filling the interim chancellor’s position is of concern to the university.

“I had some correspondence with Regent President Manydeeds and he agreed to begin the search [for a chancellor] in the fall of 2022,” said Henderson. 

During the Warhawk Welcome Henderson said he encouraged the Board of Regents to begin the search next fall in order to find the best candidate for the role.

The chancellor search committee will be restructured, allowing the chancellor search to be pushed back until next year. The process of searching for a chancellor will be larger with more representation, Henderson said.

“[The UW-System] wants the same thing I want, which is, they would like someone who is going to be here for an extended period, someone who will be very connected to this community and this university and someone who will appreciate what a spectacular university this is,” said Henderson.

Henderson expressed that although the university faces financial difficulties, he will do his job  to help the university make those tough choices and get it in a good place for the next chancellor to come in with a solid foundation. 

The university endured financial issues leaving them with a deficit, however what was once a largely controversial issue with budget cuts no longer seems to be a solution for the problem.

“We have enough to offset the deficit for a period but that in my view, that gives us the ability to try to create new ways of increasing revenues. To offset that deficit we’ve got a period where we can use our cash to do that but we can’t do that forever,” said Henderson. 

How long the university can offset the deficit is unclear at the moment.

Currently, a search for a UW-System President is also happening. 

After a failing search for president last year, Interim President Tommy Thompson was chosen for the position on July 1, 2020. 

“They did a search, there was a lot of concern of the committee being so small and so heavily focused on region appointees and that faculty, staff and students didn’t have as much of a voice as they would have liked in that search,” Henderson said.

The committee is much broader now, Henderson said. It is made up of 20 members, including chair and Regent Vice President Karen Walsh, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Artanya Wesley and Corey Saffold, regent and student of UW-Whitewater.

On Sept. 9 the system announced the search for president had been launched.

One of the presidential search listening sessions will be hosted at UW-Whitewater on Friday, Sept. 24. It will be from 9 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. for faculty and students and from 10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. for university staff and academic staff. 

As it seems, the search for a more stable system and university are underway.