Interim Chancellor Henderson Addresses the UW-Whitewater Campus

(The following information is taken directly from the memo entitled, “Welcome Message from Interim Chancellor Henderson,” dated July 2, 202, provided through the UW-Whitewater Announcements.)

Dear colleagues,

On Thursday, July 1, we held an in-person and virtual meet-and-greet at the University Center on the Whitewater campus to introduce myself to faculty, staff and students on and off campus and to give colleagues a chance to ask questions. For those unable to attend, that event was recorded and is available for viewing.

At the meet-and-greet I shared how delighted I am to join the UW-Whitewater community. I’ve dedicated my career to higher education and I have a rock-solid belief in the ability of higher education to be a transformative experience for students. As a first-generation college student who grew up in rural New Mexico, my experience at the University of Texas-Austin as an undergraduate was magical, and I want to help provide that experience for others.

The Ph.D. in math I earned at UW-Madison provided the basis for a terrific career that has been anything but typical, and I’m thankful for that grounding. I’ve had tenure-track or tenured faculty positions at a Research 1 institution (Texas A&M), a national liberal arts college (Colorado College), a regional university (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs), and urban universities (California State University, Los Angeles and UW-Milwaukee).

My heart has always been in the university that serves students for whom a university education is not a given, but an achievement that alters their lives. I’ve been fortunate to work at several such institutions at senior levels. I served as vice chancellor for student success and enrollment management at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the dean of natural and social sciences at California State University, Los Angeles, and provost at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

I know UW-Whitewater from my time as vice president for academic and student affairs for the UW System, and I believe it is just that kind of institution. I’m honored to be asked to be a part of YOUR community.

As your interim chancellor I will operate based on a fundamental set of beliefs:

  • We are here primarily to support teaching, learning and student development
  • ALL of us play a crucial role in that mission
  • When we admit students to our community, we have an obligation to provide them with the support needed for their success
  • Students have an obligation to dedicate themselves to the hard work of learning, broadening their horizons and contributing to our community
  • We owe it to each other to operate in an ethical manner that rewards collaboration, transparency and achievement in service to our community

I have 40 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member and administrator, having served in the cabinet of four different presidents or chancellors, so I am familiar with the level of leadership and decision making leading a university demands. Still, I have a lot to learn about UW-Whitewater. I look forward to learning from you all, serving you all and making major contributions to the growth of UW-Whitewater.

This is a difficult time for all of higher education, and UW-Whitewater has seen its share of challenges. But those challenges pale in comparison to the strengths I see here, and I’m excited to join you as we build on those strengths and move forward together as one community.

Jim Henderson
Interim chancellor

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