Northern Kentucky University picks a new vice president for academic affairs and provost

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Sue Ott Rowlands is Northern Kentucky University's next vice president for academic affairs and provost, the second-ranking administrator, the school said Thursday.

She is currently dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, overseeing more than 900 faculty and staff who serve more than 3,800 undergraduate and 1,600 graduate students. Ott Rowlands manages a $40 million annual budget that includes more than a dozen academic programs and 18 research centers, according to NKU.

Ott Rowlands replaces Gail Wells, a 30-year veteran of NKU who plans to return to teaching next year after serving as vice president and provost for a decade. Ott Rowlands will start on January 6.

“I am excited to welcome Sue to the NKU community,” President  Geoffrey Mearns said. “Her collaborative and engaging leadership style, her commitment to student success and her experience consistent with our anticipated strategic plan – particularly her work in fostering and supporting trans-disciplinary activities – make her an ideal choice.”

In a release, Ott Rowlands said her background will be an asset.

“My career includes (serving at) two of the nation’s largest and most respected research institutions, but also a metropolitan public university, a private urban institution and a small liberal arts college,” she said. “Each of these experiences has helped develop a unique perspective on our role as educators. I believe we are bound by a common responsibility to serve our students and provide them with the best possible preparation for their roles as global citizens and life-long learners.”

According to NKU, Ott Rowlands will oversee NKU’s academic programs and support services. The deans of the university’s six colleges – Arts and Sciences, Haile/US Bank College of Business, Education and Human Services, Informatics, Health Professions and the Chase College of Law – will report to her. She will also oversee the W. Frank Steely Library as well as the offices of enrollment management; information technology; research, graduate studies and regional stewardship; university programs; the honors program; the International Education Center; academic planning and assessment; and administration. The NKU Division of Academic Affairs includes a staff of more than 500 people and an annual budget of more than $120 million.

Ott Rowlands also spent three years at the University of Toledo as professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Film and two years as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She was chair of Ohio State University’s Acting/Director Program from 1997 until 2002 and head of the acting program and assistant professor in the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in St. Louis.

Ott Rowlands earned a Master of Fine Arts in Acting and Directing from the University of Oklahoma and a B.S. in Education from Oklahoma Christian College. She has two daughters and three grandchildren.

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