OSHKOSH – The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is looking for a new leader. After about 14 years, Richard Wells announced Thursday he will retire as chancellor of the school.
FOX 11’s Alex Ronallo spoke with him today about his successes, regrets, and what’s next for him.
When asked why he’s retiring, Wells says it’s just time to move on.
“It’s a simple decision at a certain level. It’s a good time for me, a good time for my family.”
When he started as UW-Oshkosh chancellor in 2000, Wells had two questions.
“What are we going to be noted for? Admired for?”
Wells says he is most proud of his collaboration with other area colleges to create NEW ERA, an alliance to provide greater educational resources to the community. He says he’s also pleased that UW-Oshkosh is now known as a leader nationwide for efforts to preserve natural resources.
These changes came during a time of economic and political turmoil.
“Maybe that external threat that was coming, that we can’t do things in the same way we always have helped launch us.”
Wells says he’s also proud of his work within the greater community. One notable project is the collaboration with the city and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation to rebuild the waterfront hotel.
“It’s really made a big impact on Oshkosh’s community, the economy and our quality of life,” said Diane Abraham of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. “He was really instrumental in helping get that done.”
“He has been a true community partner and he’s made the university go beyond its boundaries to really become part of the community,” Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff said.
As for regrets, Wells says he wishes he’d had more success in bridging the achievement gap for minority students.
“And I wish that I – we – could have done a better job of keeping costs down for our students.”
So what’s next?
Wells says he’s moving to Florida. Other than that, who knows?
“Because you don’t know and that’s part of what makes the future fun. You don’t know.”