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Wood picked to lead Minnesota campus

By From page A1 | May 22, 2012

Fred Wood will take over as chancellor of the University of Minnesota, Crookston. Courtesy photo

The University of Minnesota, Crookston, on Monday named as its new chancellor Fred Wood, UC Davis’ vice chancellor of student affairs.

Wood will take office July 2, pending approval by the university’s board of regents. He will replace Charles Casey, who plans to retire in June.

“Fred brings outstanding administrative and academic credentials, a passion for ensuring innovative and supportive educational experiences, and a strong understanding of a multi-campus system with a land-grant mission,” said Robert J. Jones, the University of Minnesota’s system senior vice president for academic administration.

Crookston, a baccalaureate-granting institution in northwest Minnesota, enrolled 1,262 full-time and 338 part-time students in fall 2011. Established in 1966, it is one of five campuses in the Minnesota system.

Wood did not immediately return a request for comment.

“The University of Minnesota, Crookston, is an innovative campus with distinctive strengths in student-centered education, technology-rich learning and applied research,” he said in the news release.

“I look forward to joining the Crookston community and to continuing to advance the excellence of UMC and the entire University of Minnesota system.”

In a statement, UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi called Wood, a fixture on the Davis campus for 26 years, “a consummate professional.”

“His heartfelt commitment to this community has been a hallmark of his leadership,” she said.

Wood has headed Students Affairs at UCD since 2007.

The division — which includes financial aid, academic support services, student housing and intercollegiate athletics — has taken $15 million in cuts since 2008, according to information provided by Wood to the University of Minnesota.

Budget cuts and tuition increases have led to tension on campus that have helped make Wood’s time heading Student Affairs a sometimes-rocky one.

Wood was among a dozen campus officials who were part of Katehi’s ad hoc leadership team, which opted to send in police to remove an Occupy UC Davis encampment in November. Subsequent investigations have faulted both the decision-making process and Police Department as dysfunctional.

The Reynoso task force report singled Wood out for failing to respond to Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro’s warnings to the leadership team about removing the tents and her report that few non-students were among the protesters.

A UCD Academic Senate special committee on the pepper-spray incident urged a call for Wood’s resignation that was rejected by the Senate’s Executive Council.

Facing a $1.4 million deficit in athletics department in 2009, UCD eliminated men’s swimming and diving, women’s rowing, men’s wrestling and men’s indoor track and field.

Fifty-three student-athletes later filed a grievance accusing administrators of rushing their decisions through a process that lacked transparency and ignoring a good-faith obligation to the student body, which provides the majority of the funding for athletics through fees, and the athletes themselves.

A UC Office of the President investigation cleared the administrators of wrongdoing.

The athletics department has since been the subject of town hall meetings as UCD rethinks its future. The search for a new athletic director is down to four finalists.

Wood manages a $175 million budget, 750 staff members and 2,500 student employees. Student Affairs has raised $10 million and athletics $12 million during his time as vice chancellor, according to Wood.

During that same period, UCD has seen record numbers of applications and admissions, with transfer enrollment up 40 percent since 2007 and the percentage of students from traditionally underrepresented groups up from 15 percent to 19 percent. The campus’ four-year graduation rate has improved from 47 to 52 percent.

Among the building projects Wood has played a role in: the new Student Community Center, Tercero II Residence Hall, Segundo Services Center and renovations of Segundo housing, the Coffee House and Cuarto Dining Commons.

Wood first came to UCD in 1978 as a junior college transfer student. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in Davis. After a two-year stint at North Idaho College, Wood returned to UCD as a chemistry professor.

Among the other leadership positions he has held are chairman of the geography department, associate dean of the College of Letters and Science and interim vice provost.

During Wood’s time as adviser to the UCD Chemistry Club, it debuted the popular Picnic Day Chemistry Magic Show.

Wood’s UCD salary is $210,000. His annual base salary at Crookston will be $226,800.

— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden

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