As I sit in the large waiting room outside the Chancellor’s office, I can hear the Veteran’s Day performance taking place in the student union below. A couple students have spoken, two sang songs, and one now plays TAPs to end the event. You could hear a pin drop as students, both attending and passing through, stop in their tracks and remember what today is about. And that, says Chancellor Ford, is what Parkside is about – an expression of individual talents and a gateway to future success.
Chancellor Ford began work at UWP in August of 2009, coming from the University of Florida Pensacola where she was Vice President of Student Affairs. Since then she has immersed herself in all student affairs, productions and activities. She also works closely with Bryan Albrecht, President of Gateway Technical College, and Greg Campbell, President of Carthage. “We see an opportunity to collaborate,” she says, “not compete. Our goals may be individual, but our purpose of creating excellent education is the same.”
Ford also commented positively on the all the K-12 activities and productions she’s seen since moving here. “There are top quality performances happening all over the region, from K-12 through college,” she says.
And the new Regional Arts Center that is being built on UWP’s campus will only further enhance Southeast Wisconsin arts and bring together both the quality of what already exists as well as national talent. “The new facility will transform and enhance our learning environment,” she says, “We are doing this for students – current, future and alumni – teachers, and the community.”
The new Regional Arts Center is a way to partner with businesses, arts and even local and state government. Ford explains that when businesses are looking at a community they look to the higher education institutions to see about building a future workforce from their graduates.
The graduates of the institutions, being in a position of mobility in life, are looking to settle in an area that has a broad breath of quality of life for them. UWP is well positioned, between Kenosha and Racine, for creating synergy to build the arts in Southeastern Wisconsin. The Center opens in the fall of 2011 and the first few months will be about the transition – moving students in, setting schedules, etc. But 2012 is already marked as “The Year of the Arts” and will include numerous arts activities and performances across the spectrum. “It will be a celebration of arts,” Ford says.
When Ford speaks of UWP she draws upon her meetings with the founders of the school and what they have to say, that “UWP was a dream come true.” For Ford, the mission is to keep that dream alive and dwell in the possibilities that dream allows. She focuses on the four hallmarks of the institution:
- Academic Excellence
- Student Success (the majority of UWP students are the first in their families to go to college)
- Diversity and Inclusiveness (UWP is the most diverse of all UW campuses), and
- Community Engagement.
As the sixth chancellor for the school, Ford believes that “as leaders we stand upon the shoulders of those who came before us; and it is our responsibility to keep things moving forward.”