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UWPlatteville chancellor interviews for college presidency
Chicago State decision expected in October
Shields mug shot
Dennis Shields

UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields is one of three finalists for the presidency of Chicago State University.

Shields visited Chicago State for the first of three campus-wide interviews with the three finalists, according to Chicago State’s website.

Chicago State’s other finalists are Jerry Blakemore, vice president and general counsel at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., and Thomas J. Calhoun Jr., vice president for enrollment management at the University of North Alabama, who were to visit Tuesday and today.

Shields, Blakemore and Calhoun were the three finalists out of 38 applicants for the position, 12 of whom were interviewed in August, according to the Chicago State website. Chicago State’s Board of Trustees expects to choose the university’s president in October.

Shields has been UW–Platteville’s chancellor since 2010. Shields’ biography on the Chicago State website notes “marked achievements in improved student retention and attainment, energizing and creative fundraising, and the use of innovative and entrepreneurial methods to increase residence hall capacity and student presence on campus” since Shields became chancellor. 

UW–Platteville has had two dorms, Rountree Commons and Bridgeview Commons, built since he became chancellor. UW–Platteville has been the fastest growing UW System four-year campus in enrollment for the past several years.

Shields’ UW–Platteville biography page says his vision of higher education “includes a focus on academic excellence, serious pursuit of scholarship includ-

See SHIELDS page 3A υ

ing applied research and high quality teaching, and experiences and services for students, employees, alumni, and friends. Initiatives are focused on giving students the tools that they will need throughout life to be independent, critical thinkers and problem solvers who are contributing citizens within their communities.”

Shields is a native of Iowa and a graduate of Graceland University, where he played basketball. He got his law degree at the University of Iowa, where he later led law school admissions and financial aid. He also led law school admissions and financial aid at the University of Michigan and Duke University. He was dean and professor of the University of Phoenix law school.

Shields came to UW–Platteville from the City University of New York, where he was acting vice president of student services.

The candidate chosen as president will replace Wayne Watson, Ph.D., who announced in February his retirement by the end of the 2015–16 academic year. The CSU website lists Watson, who became Chicago State president in 2009, as the most senior African–American administrator in Illinois higher education.

Chicago State’s website says that CSU, whose enrollment is about 7,000, is “unique among universities in Illinois in that it serves a nontraditional population,” including “many” first-generation students and many students trying to advance from an hourly job to a career. The average CSU student is 31 and has one child.

The person chosen as president will face a number of challenges. Chicago State’s faculty approved a no-confidence resolution against Watson in November, according to the Chicago Reader. Watson and CSU general counsel Patrick Cage are being sued in federal court by two CSU professors who claim Watson and Cage are waging an “ongoing campaign to silence” the professors’ “criticisms over how the University is run” on the professors’ CSU Faculty Voice blog.

Chicago State is also being sued by its former vice president of enrollment management, who alleges in a wrongful-termination lawsuit that Watson tried to get her to file a sexual harassment complaint against one of the blog writers, and when she refused, fired her, according to 

Chicago State’s website says CSU “is a public institution that utilizes public funds in a city with a large and active media market. Thus, the university is at times critiqued, sometimes harshly, in the media for both real and perceived reasons. The next CSU president must be prepared to assume control of an institution that will at times be ‘under the microscope’ in the media and therefore must always project a positive image and be able to easily deflect personal criticism.”