University of Wisconsin chancellor search finalist Kim Wilcox, current provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Michigan State University, finds collaboration to be key in his leadership style.
In an email to The Badger Herald, Wilcox said as chancellor, he would be an effective leader for campus while at the same time understanding, respecting and helping facilitate UW within the larger UW System.
Wilcox also served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and vice provost for general education coordination at the University of Kansas from 2002 to 2005. He said the key to the role of being dean is making sure all parts of the university understand each other to help them work together.
“What I learned from that is how leaders can work to bring programs together positively and effectively as a cluster, rather than individual pieces,” Wilcox said.
The position of dean, according to Wilcox, provides the opportunity to be a part of university leadership while remaining close to students, faculty and staff. He said much of what he learned as dean applied to his job as provost at MSU and would be applicable to the role of chancellor as well.
As chancellor, Wilcox said, he would engage with the larger UW System to make sure the Madison campus is the best it can be and that others can understand its role.
“Every university is a bit different from every other university,” Wilcox said. “We all have our own traditions [and] strengths.”
Wilcox said because each university differs from another, he would attempt to create a system that would integrate the universities. He said it is in the UW System’s best interest if each university can be its best.
Supporting students during their time at school is another priority Wilcox said he has.
Wilcox said he reformulated student support programs at MSU. He said he increased engagement centers across campus with a host of different support programs.
During his time as provost, Wilcox said he initiated an effective program for transitioning incoming freshmen that was well received by students.
Especially for incoming students, Wilcox said he developed an initiative to have them get engaged with the university at the very beginning of their time at MSU. He said he changed the introduction period for incoming students to the university.
Under his leadership, Wilcox said incoming students engaged more with MSU over the summer and during their first days on campus. He said they recrafted the first few days of class to make them more engaging and fun to create something where students, faculty and staff would work together to start the school year.
“It has been a real success,” Wilcox said, “[to] help students feel connected in ways they did not before.”
Wilcox is also involved with the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization. He said MSU created the organization 10 years ago to bring different groups – government, nonprofit and for-profit – together to build a sustainable agriculture system in Africa.
Both MSU and UW share a history of international engagements and commitments to peoples in developing countries, Wilcox said. He said Madison leads in sustainable agriculture and is a great international and agricultural university.
Wilcox was a finalist for the chancellor position at the University of Hawaii-Manoa in 2012. On carrying over from his experience as a finalist last year, he said it is great to be able to travel to a campus and meet the students, faculty leadership and staff.
It is fun, exciting and personally rewarding, according to Wilcox, to learn more about campus, and added he is looking forward to having conversations with people at UW.
“Of course its always flattering to be finalist,” Wilcox said. “It’s a bit of a recognition of what others see in your experience.”
Wilcox said he understands the traditional values of the Wisconsin Idea, and why it is so important to how the university sees itself and how it operates. He said Madison is a leading university, and he would be honored and flattered to be its chancellor.