Deborah Ford, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, is the second presidential finalist to visit Wright State University’s campus in February.
Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided

Second WSU presidential candidate also from Wisconsin

Wright State University’s second presidential finalist comes from the same state and university system as its first.

Deborah Ford, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, will visit campus over the next two days. Like the first finalist for Wright State’s president’s job, Ford has experience managing financial difficulties at universities.

Ford has faced budget issues at UW-Parkside and as vice president of student affairs at the University of West Florida.

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“Both states significantly reduced state support for higher education and I remained focused on keeping college affordable even when faced with such reductions,” Ford wrote in her cover letter for Wright State’s president job.

The UW System was cut by $250 million in the 2015-2017 state budget, according to newspaper reports.

Despite the cuts, Ford said in her cover letter that she has been able to maintain a balanced budget at UW-Parkside, a college with just under 5,000 students enrolled. Although Ford admitted that budget cuts will have implications for the people, she wrote in her cover letter that she would still put “people first.”

“We know the turbulent economic conditions we face in higher education today continue to have an impact on the students served by Wright State and the goals of the university,” Ford wrote. “As President, my priority will be on financial strength and sustainability while implementing and assessing the financial remediation plan developed in summer 2016.”

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All three of WSU’s presidential finalists come from public colleges, said trustee and search committee chairman Doug Fecher. Experience in dealing with budget problems was a factor the search committee considered, but not the only factor, Fecher said.

“Anybody who comes from public education has that experience,” Fecher said “They’re all dealing with it. State funding is not coming back in higher education.”

Ford has served as chancellor at UW-Parkside since 2009 and previously served as vice president of student affairs at University of West Florida.

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At the University of West Florida, Ford said she worked to “expand partnerships with regional military installations” which resulted in improved services for students who are veterans.

“As President, I will focus on building upon and sustaining excellent relationships with alumni and friends of the University in order to acquire external support to maximize the university’s mission,” Ford wrote in her cover letter.

Fecher said Ford’s experience in student affairs was one of the reasons she was picked as a finalist. Each finalist has a unique background, said Fecher, who is interested to see Ford interact with students.

“We think she’s a quality up and comer,” Fecher said. “She has a solid background in student affairs.”

DETAILS: Wright State selects 3 finalists for president’s job

Wright State selected three presidential finalists in January. Each is visiting campus to participate in open forums like the one Ford will participate in at 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Monday in the student union.

The final candidate will visit campus on Feb. 8 and his or her name will be announced the day before at noon.

Dennis Shields, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville was the first candidate to visit campus. The board of trustees is expected to make a decision sometime in April.

President David Hopkins is expected to retire when his contract expires at the end of June.

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