After a nationwide search, Wendy K. Wilkins, a professor of linguistics and former dean at Michigan State University, was named provost and vice president for academic affairs at UNT.
Wilkins' appointment, which was effective Aug. 16, was announced July 30 by UNT President Gretchen M. Bataille, who says Wilkins will bring "a background of unusual breadth to this important position."
"Dr. Wilkins was the best candidate and had strong support from our search committee and others who participated with interviews," Bataille says. "All of the candidates were strong, but her profile and experience was the better match for UNT, given our status as an emerging research institution and the high expectations that the university has to move forward. She has been engaged in all aspects of the university - humanities, arts, research, international education, administration and fundraising - at a very high level.
"Dr. Wilkins is well rounded and will bring her creative vision to work collaboratively with the deans and faculty to advance the academic mission of our university."
Wilkins served for six years as the dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State. She is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages and Cognitive Science Program at Michigan State University.
Wilkins replaces Howard Johnson, who began working in a UNT System-level position in February. Gary S. Krahenbuhl, who has been serving as interim provost since then, will remain at UNT until Aug. 31 in an advisory capacity to ensure a smooth transition.
The decision to name Wilkins UNT's chief academic officer came after a nationwide search, which began in April. During the search, Krahenbuhl chaired a 19-member search committee that included faculty, staff and student representation. The committee interviewed and considered numerous top-quality candidates and brought five candidates - including Wilkins - to campus for interviews and campuswide forums to give faculty, staff and students the opportunity to ask questions and be involved in the process.
"The search process went well and the campus community participated fully in the process," Krahenbuhl says. "The level of interest in the search was revealed by the large strong attendance at the forums and by the number of written comments about the candidates received by the committee.
"Dr. Wilkins is smart, thoughtful, experienced and wise. She brings impressive administrative talent to UNT."
Wilkins, who has held several academic and administrative positions at American and international institutions of higher education, says she is eager to begin work at UNT.
"One of the things that attracted me to UNT is that it's a university on the move - it is moving forward and getting stronger," Wilkins says. "I'm also very excited to work with the administrative team in place there, especially President Bataille, and I look forward to the advances UNT is set to make in international education.
"I am extremely excited for this opportunity to work at a university that is student centered but is an emerging research university and is well-known for its strengths in music and art. This matches well with my experience."
Wilkins previously held academic and administrative positions at Arizona State University. Additionally, she has served as a faculty member at the University of Washington and at Centro de Estudios Linguisticos y Literarios, El Colegio de Mexico, and Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Unidad Ixtapalapa, both in Mexico City. She is fluent in Spanish.
As dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State, she worked with more than 300 faculty, about 3,500 student majors, and 10 academic departments in the humanities, arts and music, as well as numerous interdisciplinary programs.
Wilkins' management achievements at Michigan State include:
- development of administrative policy
- support for the creation of a jazz studies program and laying the groundwork for the creation of a College of Music
- development of ethnic studies programs and degree offerings in Jewish studies, African American and African studies, and Native American studies
- establishment of new degree programs in rhetoric and writing
- expansion of study abroad programs
- emphasis on the internationalization of learning, specifically language instruction
- fund raising leadership support, including involvement in a $1.2 billion capital campaign.
As the senior associate dean of Arizona State's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which included 900 full-time faculty and 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students, Wilkins' achievements included:
- management of administrative policies and procedures
- oversight of faculty personnel actions
- strategic planning
- supervision of academic and administrative computing
- chairing of the University Information Technology Advisory Council
- relocation of the Institute of Human Origins from Berkeley, California, to Arizona State.
Wilkins' research interests include the evolutionary biology of language, cognitive science and language acquisition. She received her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles.