Cathy Sandeen named UWEX chancellor

Dr. Cathy A. Sandeen, vice president for Education Attainment and Innovation at the American Council on Education (ACE) has been named the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today approved Sandeen’s appointment, following the recommendation made by a selection committee. Sandeen will step into her new leadership post on December 15, 2014.

Sandeen has served since 2012 as vice president for Education Attainment and Innovation at the American Council on Education, based in Washington, D.C. She oversees ACE’s national agenda to increase postsecondary educational attainment in the U.S., including coordination among national and international leaders from across higher education, foundations, business, and government. She leads the Center for Education Attainment and Innovation, including its major grant programs, federal contracts, service activities, partnerships, and development of new initiatives. She also serves on ACE’s executive leadership team.

Sandeen previously served as dean of Continuing Education UCLA Extension at University of California Los Angeles (2006-2012), vice provost and dean of University Extension and Summer Session at University of California Santa Cruz (2000-2006), and previously held several leadership positions at University of California San Francisco.

“As someone who’s had the privilege of leading these institutions, I know firsthand the opportunities and challenges this position holds. Dr. Sandeen’s experience and expertise at the national level, her clear grasp of what quality and access mean for our UW Colleges and statewide Extension, and her excellent communication skills make her uniquely qualified to lead these institutions to a bright future,” said UW System President Ray Cross.

“It is an honor to have been selected to lead these institutions, especially at this point in time,” Sandeen said. “With their clear focus on access, opportunity, service, and innovation—the embodiment of the Wisconsin Idea—I look forward to working with the faculty and staff of the Colleges and Extension as well as President Cross and the Board of Regents to support greater postsecondary attainment and economic development throughout the state of Wisconsin.”

Sandeen holds a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Utah. She earned a master’s of business administration in management from UCLA, a master’s in broadcast communication from San Francisco State University, and a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology from Humboldt State University. She was an ACE Fellow in 2010-11.

“Through her experience at UCLA and more recently at ACE, Cathy has a broad and deep understanding of the critical issues facing higher education,” said Regent Charles Pruitt of Milwaukee, chair of the special Regents committee that interviewed all of the finalists. “As a first-generation college graduate, Cathy has a personal appreciation for and commitment to the critical role that access institutions like the UW Colleges and UW-Extension play in the lives of students and their families.”

Other members of the committee included Regent Tony Evers of Madison and Regent Janice Mueller of Madison.

Sandeen currently serves on several boards and committees, including the University System of Maryland Center for Academic Transformation Advisory Board; the Grantee Advisory Community for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Research and Innovation Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association; and the Commission on Quality Assurance and Alternative Higher Education for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

“Dr. Sandeen’s wealth of experience and knowledge will greatly benefit both UW Colleges and UW-Extension,” said Art Lersch, associate professor of community resource development at UW-Extension, Lincoln County, who chaired the 27-member search-and-screen committee. “Throughout the process, she demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the issues facing Colleges and Extension, and ways in which both institutions effectively promote the Wisconsin Idea by bringing university resources to the people of the state where they live and work.”

Sandeen will be the third chancellor with responsibility for the integrated administration of the two statewide institutions. She succeeds Ray Cross, who was named UW System president effective February 15, 2014. Aaron Brower has been serving as interim chancellor since February.

Cross said, “I am very grateful to Aaron for stepping in and providing such excellent leadership. The two institutions Dr. Sandeen now inherits are in a strong position to meet the needs of the future.”

In line with market-based compensation guidelines approved by the Board of Regents in October 2013, Sandeen will earn $245,000 as chancellor.