FAIRBORN — Kenneth Petersen, the first candidate for the position of the executive vice president for academic affairs at Wright State University, met with the college community April 18.
Petersen currently serves as the dean of the college of business and economics at Boise State University, a position he has held since 2014.
“I have a background in business coupled with a background in academic programming which might be useful in terms of helping the university to emerge from the financial challenges,” he said. “I think the perspective I have is on the importance of all of the academic disciplines [which] is very useful in helping the university to emerge from this period and engaging the faculty and students in a way that will empower them to move forward.”
Before serving Boise State, Petersen was the John H. “Red” Dove endowed professor of supply chain management at the University of Tennessee, according to Wright State. He also served as a professor and academic director of graduate programs in the college of business administration at Colorado State University; assistant professor of supply chain management and faculty research associate at Arizona State University; and assistant professor of decision sciences at the University of Oregon, Wright State said, adding that from 2006 to 2015, he served as a visiting senior fellow at the Manchester Business School in Manchester, England.
From 1985 to 2002, he served in the U.S. Navy and the Navy Reserve in both the enlisted ranks as a sonar technician and as a submarine-qualified lieutenant commander in the Supply Corps.
“I have a lot of background with strategic planning,” he added. “My background in strategic planning is bringing people together collectively to have a shared vision, then taking that vision and moving the university forward.”
During his visit to the Wright State campus, he highlighted that all academic backgrounds are equally as important.
“Do we want to have voters out there who don’t have a well-rounded education?” Petersen said. “We want well-rounded individuals who have a lot of different perspectives.”
He spoke about a “bridge to career” program developed at Boise State during his time that serves as a means to make arts programs more appealing to incoming students. It involves four-to-six online courses mostly taken by arts and humanities students that allows them to major in an art program of their choice while coupling it with “some kind of add-on, ancillary skills,” he said.
Petersen also pointed out that starting at the college as it sorts out its financial challenges and organizes a new strategic plan is seen as an opportunity for him.
“Some people need stability and they want a map, but I lead. I love challenging situations, it’s what attracts me,” Petersen said. “The challenges that this university has are challenges that are in my toolkit, which makes it very attractive — business background, education background — this is a perfect time for Wright State University.”
Petersen received a Ph.D. in operations and sourcing management from Michigan State University; an MBA from the University of Akron; and a B.S. in finance and economics from the University of Alabama. His dissertation was titled “The Effect of Information Quality on Supply Chain Performance: An Interorganizational Information System Perspective.” To see Petersen’s CV, visit wright.edu/provost-search/candidate-visits.
“Higher education in general is at a point where there’s a lot of consolidation and change going on. There are going to be universities that are winners and universities that are losers,” he said. “One of the interesting things about Wright State is the fact that [although] it has been on a $171 million financial challenge … it creates an opportunity for a conversation that couldn’t happen otherwise, which means that Wright State University — because of its financial challenges and because of its fantastic faculty, staff and students — could come together and do something that will leap it forward. That, to me, is very fascinating.”
Thomas Sudkamp, who has served as provost since 2015, will step down from his position June 30. The new provost will begin his or her service to Wright State July 1.
The second provost candidate is visiting the campus Friday, April 20 beginning with an open vision forum from 2-3 p.m., followed by a research forum from 3:15-4:15 p.m. in room 101 in the neuroscience engineering collaboration building on the campus of Wright State University. For more information on the search, visit www.wright.edu/provost-search.
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.