We aim to listen, learn and lead


Associate Vice Chancellor Kenny Yarbrough

John Chenoweth, Interim Chancellor

Dear UW-Whitewater community,

I am writing to share that Associate Vice Chancellor Kenny Yarbrough will be leaving UW-Whitewater in January. Prior to this departure, he will transition into the Office of the Chancellor to assist us with special projects. We welcome Kenny to the Chancellor’s team, thank him for his service, and wish him well.

In turn, Vanessa Perez will lead the Division of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Support Programs for the foreseeable future. I have also appointed Vanessa as our permanent Assistant Vice Chancellor within that division. During her time at UW-Whitewater, Vanessa has displayed an unwavering commitment for student success. I am wholeheartedly confident her leadership will facilitate a thoughtful, collaborative, and community-centered support for the division. With 15 years of experience in higher education, Vanessa is a highly regarded leader in equity, diversity, and inclusion work, including an exemplary track record at Carroll University, Georgia State University, and Gateway Technical College. We are working intently to ensure all current efforts within the division will move forward uninterrupted, including any ongoing work with individual students. Interim Provost Robin Fox, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Artanya Wesley, myself, the Chancellor’s Cabinet, and our Governance Leaders have all agreed Vanessa’s appointment is the best next step for our university.

This fall the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater was once again named a College of Distinction for Equity and Inclusion. This designation was only possible thanks to the genuine commitment of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community. Our work in this space is important and recognized, but we realize we have much more to do.

To this end, we have started work to ensure we have stability and a long-term direction in this space, as well as providing timely and transparent updates to all. These updates will be detailed on a new website to be shared soon. Across both our Whitewater and Rock County campuses, we must institutionalize our equity work and maintain an unrelenting passion for collaboration. We must improve access and culture. We must tear down barriers, support opportunities, and better recruit, retain and graduate more students from all backgrounds. Diversity is a core value at UW-Whitewater and, unquestionably, one of our greatest strengths. 

Our end goal is to be a national leader. Getting there will be hard. At first there will be more questions than answers, but an initial bumpy road will smooth out over time. At times like this, I am reminded that new beginnings test our spirit, but I do not fear working through the hard to get to the better. I hope you will too. Let’s move this university forward together. 

Thank you,

John Chenoweth
Interim Chancellor