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Q-and-A with Dr. Renée Wachter

Posted on Jul 19, 2011
Chancellor Renée Wachter talks about her new job and her aspirations for UW-Superior.

Dr. Renée Wachter became UW-Superior's 12th chancellor on July 1. She recently took time to answer some questions about herself, her new job, and her goals for the university.

Question:  Why do you want to be chancellor of UW-Superior?

Answer:  As I look at my career and the institutions in which I most enjoyed being involved , the three common denominators were:

  1. dedication to student learning and success;

  2. the perspective that a liberal education prepares one to thrive not only in the environment of today but in that of tomorrow;

  3. a culture of innovation.

I found these values in abundance at UW-Superior, a sister school of Truman in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.  I strongly believe that there is no better time than today to be dedicated to an educational experience which equips students to bring new perspectives to solve the thorny, multi-faceted problems which face our regions, our states, our country, and our world.  A culture of innovation is critical at a time when the university and the country face challenges which need original applied thinking - outside the box, as it is said.  It is my desire as chancellor to build upon the mission of UW-Superior in a way that uses the spirit of innovation to bring these strengths of uncommon educational experience to the diverse populations and communities which it serves.

Q:  How would you describe your leadership style?

A:  In my experience, successful leadership means that people come first.  I believe it is my job to help people to be successful in their undertakings for the organization by empowering them and by giving them the tools necessary to achieve great things.  I believe in supporting people to take risks to improve what they do (albeit educated risks) -- one might fail some of the time, but this kind of focus is needed to help bring new perspectives to solve problems and to promote excellence.  You can also count on me to have an unwavering focus on doing the right things for the long-term good of the university. 

Q:  Where would you like to see UW-Superior go in the next several years?

A:  UW-Superior has established itself as being on a leading edge in its use of technology to provide accessibility to education - all of this with a strong core of residential undergraduate and graduate programs.  As chancellor, I want to build on that tradition.  My primary goals are:

  1. to become one of the finest undergraduate residential institutions in the north.   I want UW-Superior to be a destination university for students who want an uncommon educational experience that prepares them to be competitive in their chosen profession when they graduate and to be leaders, problem-solvers, and productive citizens in the communities in which they choose to work and live;

  2. to become the highest-quality and most innovative public institution in the provision of accessible educational programs that meet student needs and address the economic requirements of our area-anytime and anywhere;

  3. In accomplishing these objectives, my desire is to see that the university becomes seamlessly integrated into the community, both as a driver for economic prosperity and as a center for the cultural life of the community. 

I know that there is at present some national skepticism about the quality of higher education.  High standards, high expectations, and high graduation rates are a state and national imperative in today's technology- and knowledge-driven economy. Here at UW-Superior, if we accomplish our core mission and can demonstrate quality in doing so, we will never have to be concerned with enrollment or uncertainty about our role or mission. We will be known as an institution which provides all of the advantages of a private education but is accessible at a price that the public can afford. 

Q:  Are there any particular activities you hope to experience in Superior?

A:  My disposition is such that I am open to wide variety of experiences and activities.  I can tell you that I am an outdoorsy person; I will do just about anything that gets me outside, including washing the car.  I do have a sailboat, Madeline.  I'm looking forward to being on this marvelous, superior lake.  I imagine that it will be a little more challenging than the reservoir on which I've been accustomed to sailing.   I've done white-water rafting but not kayaking - that activity sounds like fun.  I know that one popular sport here is ice-fishing, and even though I would likely need a new rod (and much warmer clothes), I wouldn't mind trying my hand to see what I might catch!   A good friend of mine is an avid trout fisherman, and I could use a few "ones-that-got-away" stories.  In addition, I'm interested in musical groups and local theatre so I would hope to enjoy these kinds of productions.

Q:  Are there any particular community groups in which you expect to participate?

A:  I have a long history of being involved with Rotary International and with local chambers of commerce as well as with service on non-profit boards.  I see what an impact these organizations make in so many facets of their communities.  I know that the leadership displayed in these groups is what makes a community able to take advantage of the good times and meet the challenges of the bad.  I would hope that I could continue to be a part of these activities when moving to Superior. 

Q:  Is there anything you would like to say to campus community?

A:  I would like to extend my appreciation to all of those people who have already greeted me with warm welcome by note and email.  I am very much looking forward to getting to know the campus and community more fully over the next few months.  I think that when functioning in higher education, we have the best jobs in the world - we contribute directly to the welfare of our world; we shape minds and create leaders; we challenge and inspire - and UW-Superior is a special place in which to have this happen.   I am confident that as we work together toward a common set of goals, we can accomplish great things. 

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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