Richard H. Wells took office as the tenth Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh on October 1, 2000. Prior to his appointment, Chancellor Wells served as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Indiana State University, and as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at West Chester University.
Chancellor Wells received his B.A. degree from William Penn College, his M.A. from the University of Arkansas, and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Texas A & M University. His eighteen years of college teaching experience include appointments at the University of South Alabama, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina.
He is the author of American Sociology: Theoretical and Methodological Structure (1981) and of many scholarly articles, which have appeared in journals such as Sociological Inquiry, Rural Sociology, Criminology, and Research in Higher Education. His scholarship investigates issues ranging from the sociology of nutritional inequality to the sociology of sports. He has presented papers at many meetings of the leading national sociology organizations such as the Rural Sociological Society, Society for the Study of Social Problems and the American Sociological Association. He has served as national program chair for the Association for Humanist Sociology and as grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation.
He recently finished a four-year term on the NCAA Division III Presidents’ Council and serves as past chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Committee on the Undergraduate Experience and Economic and Workforce Development Committee. Chancellor Wells is currently a member of the national boards of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Voluntary System of Accountability, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. He served as chair of the national Task Force on Student Engagement for the Volunteer System of Accountability Project. He also serves as a voting member of the boards of Affinity Health, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, NEW ERA, New North, Oshkosh Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Oshkosh Industrial Development Corporation (CHAMCO) and United Way. Chancellor Wells represents the UW System on the boards of the Wisconsin Higher Education Business Roundtable, the Wisconsin Campus Compact, and the Wisconsin Economic Summit Series steering committee.
In the spring of 2001, Chancellor Wells received the John R. Emens National Award for Support of a Free Student Press from Ball State University for his efforts to preserve the independence and autonomy of the Advance-Titan, the student newspaper at UW Oshkosh.
Chancellor Wells has fulfilled major leadership roles establishing innovative collaborative organizations and programs among different types of post-secondary institutions. For example, while at Indiana State University, he lead the establishment of the DegreeLink program that allows ISU, along with twenty-two state technical colleges and four community colleges to offer eleven baccalaureate degree completion programs statewide via distance education technologies. At the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, he served from 2001-2005 as the founding chairperson of NEW ERA (Northeastern Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance), a consortium of executive leaders of northeast Wisconsin’s 13 public universities serving 1.2 million Wisconsin residents. Founded in 2001, NEW ERA is composed of four technical colleges, five UW two-year colleges, two UW comprehensive universities, the College of Menominee Nation and UW Extension. These institutions are enjoying statewide and national acclaim for large increases in degree program articulations, collaborative business entrepreneurship centers, graduation projects, and alternative licensure/certification programs for much-needed nurses and teachers.
NEW ERA is also a founding member of NEW NORTH, a consortium of collaborative organizations of northeastern Wisconsin’s Chambers of Commerce, Workforce Development Boards, economic development professionals and CEOs of major corporations. The vision for NEW NORTH is to be nationally and globally competitive for advancing job growth while maintaining a superior quality of life for northeastern Wisconsin’s citizens. Due to his role as founding chair of NEW ERA, Chancellor Wells serves as a founding member of the NEW NORTH Board of directors. They have completed a major strategic action-based regional economic study, recruited an executive director, launched a regional branding marketing campaign, obtained major donations from business and other organizations, and received a large grant from the Governor.
During his tenure at UW Oshkosh, Chancellor Wells has engaged the academic community in developing a shared vision for the future of the University. This process has created the Governing Ideas, a statement of the University's mission, vision, values, and strategic directions. The implementation of this process-the development of key operational plans and action initiatives-is ongoing. By focusing their resources on identified priorities, the members of the UW Oshkosh community have accomplished many remarkable feats during the years 2000-2010. (See Annual Reports for more details.)