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Wacker named new University of Northern Colorado provost

By Tommy Simmons
On November 18, 2012

  • Robbyn Wacker is the new provost for UNC. Courtesy of the UNC website

In any business, but particularly in the business of higher education, there is a great deal of work that goes on both visibly and behind the scenes in order to make an enterprise run smoothly. This is especially true of higher education, as many students aren't aware of the inner workings of their university and how it operates. 

One of the major decisions on the running of UNC is the naming of the provost - a key academic position in the school's administration. Just recently, Robbyn Wacker was named the University of Northern Colorado's new provost. This is a historical decision and an important part of UNC's management.
"The provost is the person responsible for oversight of all academic activities," Wacker said.  "They deal with everything you can think of on the academic side of things.  They're in partnership with everyone."
UNC President Kay Norton considered this in her decision of naming Wacker as provost, a job designed to bring together all the academic aspects of the university and ensure they work together in a cohesive manner. 
"Robbyn is not only a strong academic leader but also a strong university leader," Norton said. "One of the things I have come to appreciate during 10 years as president here is the importance of working together as a university community. Robbyn has a remarkable ability to bring people from throughout UNC together to work toward a common goal."
Wacker herself has been officially involved with UNC for more than 20 years but also attended the college as a student, graduating with a degree in gerontology - the study of how people age.
"I received my master's from UNC," Wacker said. "At that time, it was one of the few schools in the country with the program."
Wacker returned to UNC later on in her life, becoming involved in a number of programs and areas around campus, including holding a position as a research dean. 
"I've worn a lot of hats here," Wacker said "I'm very lucky that way. It's given me a very broad picture of UNC. I've been fortunate enough to get that."
As provost, Wacker - and UNC as a whole - faces a new set of challenges; one of the biggest of them is managing the number of students enrolled through the university and preventing tuition from rising. 
"Enrollment management and making sure tuition levels are smooth," Wacker said. "It's a big deal, and we need to understand that and be proactive about the new environment for higher education."
Through it all, though, Wacker maintains a solid sense of optimism with her job and an excitement about her new position.  
"The provost's position is meant to be about leadership and vision," she said. 
Wacker also described her appointment as  "pretty exciting" and "quite an honor."
It seems safe to say that excitement is the general reaction to the new appointment. The school is ready and looking forward to the new provost's term. 
"I am excited about the unlimited possibilities for UNC with Dr. Robbyn Wacker as our provost," Norton said. 

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