Chancellor finalists come to campus


Katie Popp

Dr. Lynn Akey opens the chancellor finalist forums on Dec. 6, 2022, in Timmerman Auditorium.

Katie Popp, Assistant Campus Editor

After a year and a half of waiting, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is in the final stretch of receiving a new, full-time chancellor.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, UW System President Jay Rothman announced the five finalists for the next chancellor of UW-Whitewater: Lynn D. Akey (Minnesota State University, Mankato), Corey A. King (UW-Green Bay), Mrinal Mugdh Varmav (Auburn University at Montgomery), Paul D. Plotkowski (Grand Valley State University), and John D. Chenoweth (UW-Whitewater). The announcement of the five finalists marks a beginning to the end of a search that has been in place since June 2021. 

Current Interim Chancellor John Chenoweth listens to student and staff questions during chancellor finalist forums in Timmerman Auditorium on Dec. 7, 2022.
(Katie Popp)

Finalist visits to campus began on Dec. 5, and will continue until Dec. 15. Dr. Lynn D. Akey, current Vice President for Student Success, Analytics and Integrated Planning for Minnesota State University, Mankato, began the period of open forums on Dec. 6, a time in which the finalists are given the opportunity to present their core values, leadership styles, as well as answer questions for the student and staff of the UW-W community. With core values including collaboration between students and staff, authenticity, creating accepting environments, and compassion for everyone on campus, Dr. Akey presented her leadership style as engaged with the abilities to facilitate, strengthen, connect, and inspire. 

“What is one thing we should improve? My answer has always come back to the same core piece of advice: not just know your students, but know who your students are,” said Akey. “If we as staff know what they’re experiencing, what their needs are, what their expectations are, what their hopes are, we know how to be responsive on how to become that place of choice where they can be successful. That happens when we are engaged, involved, and present on campus for campus and events.”

John D. Chenowth, the current Interim Chancellor for UW-Whitewater, presented during the open forum on the following day on Dec. 7. As he has been with the campus since 2002, his core values and leadership styles are centered around focus service to the institution, operated with integrity, honesty, and authenticity, while also building collaborative relationships with students and faculty based on inclusivity and positivity. 

“We are a comprehensive institution. I believe we should be larger than we are, both in terms of what we are seeing traditionally with our wonderful face-to-face programs, but also online, micro-credentials, and other spaces,” said Chenoweth. “I think we should also be more diverse, and we should be better. So much better at dealing with our equity gaps. We have very large equity gaps that we have not made progress on, and that needs to change if we are going to be successful.”

Dr. Corey King answers student and faculty questions about roles as chancellor in Timmerman Auditorium on Dec. 8, 2022.
(Katie Popp)

The first week of finalist searches concluded with Dr. Corey King, Vice Chancellor for University Inclusivity and Student Affairs for UW-Green Bay. Dr. King’s core values lie within student success, academic excellence, inclusivity, enrollment growth, financial stability, faculty/staff growth, shared governance, and building community and alumni engagement. Plans to initiate these core values include visionary, transformative, transparent, and collaborative leadership styles. 

“For me, the chancellor has to be the number one push to provide a sense of stability to the internal and external constituencies,” said King. “The chancellor must show that the university is moving in a clear, transparent direction, and be authentic to the campus community as well as the greater community. I’ll also say that one of the things that you have got to be is visible and present. Be in 20 places at once. You got to show people they matter. Not only go but be present. Engage. Embody the mission of the university. That is one reason why I am at Whitewater; this is a comprehensive regional university, which means it has a responsibility to serve the region and community.”

Dr. Mrinal Mugdh Varma, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor at Auburn University at Montgomery, and Dr. Paul D. Plotkowski, Dean and Professor for the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University will be on campus Dec. 12 through 15. Forum times will be 3-4 on Dec. 13 and 14 in Timmerman Auditorium or via Webex. For more information or links to the Webex streams can be found on the UW-W chancellor finalist page.