Dr. J. Steven Polsley, chair of the Urbana University Board of Trustees, welcomed Dr. Kirk E. Peterson (pictured) as the interim president at meetings with student leadership, faculty, and staff on Monday. During his career in higher education, Dr. Peterson has served as faculty member, department chair, college dean, and associate provost. At Urbana University, he served for the past three years as senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. Dr. Peterson earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and two master of science degrees and a PhD from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Throughout his career in higher education, Dr. Peterson has stressed the importance of academic integrity in curriculum development along with the development and delivery. He strives to promote the importance of shared governance in decision-making at the University.
“We are encouraged by the high level of enthusiasm and optimism expressed at these meetings”, stated Polsley. “In addition, response from our community and key constituents has been very positive and supportive. The board is fully supportive of moving forward to continue to strengthen and diversify academic programs, community outreach, fiscal accountability, and development efforts under Dr. Peterson’s leadership in the coming year.”
At Urbana, Peterson has directed the University’s expanded online delivery of academic courses and degree programs; led the process to secure reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission; established the Office of Institutional Effectiveness that governs institutional assessment at all levels; and strengthened the college structure with revisions to the tenure and promotion procedure, and faculty recruitment, retention, and development.
“I want to thank the Board and administration for their support”, said Peterson. “We must work together with our community, University alumni, advisors, and other stakeholders to meet this extraordinary opportunity. We are challenged to revisit operating goals and procedures, to open new lines of communication, and to maintain a high level of academic integrity in order to best serve the career interests and needs of our students, who are our primary focus.”
Peterson also introduced Dr. Charles Hodge, dean of the Graduate School, as the interim provost. In this capacity, Dr. Hodge will oversee the academic programs at Urbana. Hodge has been at Urbana since 2010 and earned his EdD in higher education administration from the University of North Texas.
Dr. Peterson, his wife Rachel, and their three sons are looking forward to making stronger roots in Urbana and Champaign County. Mrs. Peterson has worked in a variety of roles, since their arrival, for the Urbana City Schools. She is active in their sons’ classroom activities, and both parents are volunteer coaches for local youth baseball and soccer programs. They are members of the River of Life Church and the Urbana Country Club. Recently, Peterson was an “artist” for the Champaign County Arts Council’s 2013 Bad Art by Good People fundraiser and won the Golden Brush Trophy for being the top vote recipient. Dr. Peterson sums up his community focus this way, “Rachel and I have been married for eighteen years. We are deeply invested in our children and the community in which we live and work. We look forward to meeting our many friends – old and new – in the coming months.”
Dr. Stephen Jones resigned Monday as president of Urbana University to take a similar position at Antioch University New England.
Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire, is part of the Antioch University system, which includes the campus in nearby Yellow Springs. The system also has campuses in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Seattle.
Jones led UU for five years.