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NKU Names Sue Ott Rowlands VP for Academic Affairs and Provost

Northern Kentucky University President Geoffrey S. Mearns announced that Sue Ott Rowlands has been named vice president for academic affairs and provost, effective Jan. 6, 2014.

Ott Rowlands has served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University since 2007. Leading one of Virginia Tech’s largest and most complex academic colleges, she manages and mentors more than 900 faculty and staff who serve more than 3,800 undergraduate and 1,600 graduate students. Ott Rowlands oversees a $40 million annual budget that includes more than a dozen academic programs and 18 research centers.

“I am excited to welcome Sue to the NKU community,” said President Mearns. “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 transdisciplinary activities – make her an ideal choice. In addition, the search committee and I were impressed with the breadth and depth of her academic experience at several prominent universities.”

Ott Rowlands brings a diverse background in higher education that she said will serve her well at NKU. “My experience spans several types of institutions,” she said. “My career includes 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. 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.”

As vice president and provost, 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 replaces Dr. Gail Wells, who earlier this year announced plans to return to the faculty at the end of the calendar year. Wells has served more than 30 years at NKU and nearly a decade in the provost position.
Prior to her service at Virginia Tech, Ott Rowlands spent five years at the University of Toledo, first as professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Film and then two years as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. At Toledo, she helped strengthen the college’s advising programs in an effort to enhance recruitment and retention for what was then the largest college at Toledo, with 19 departments serving 3,000 undergraduate and 600 graduate students.

She served as chair of The Ohio State University’s Acting/Director Program from 1997 until 2002, overseeing curriculum, recruitment and assessment for the program that enrolled over more than 300 undergraduate students and 20 Master of Fine Arts students. Prior to her time at OSU, she was head of the acting program and assistant professor in the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in St. Louis. She also has extensive international teaching experience, with visiting faculty appointments in Sri Lanka, Hungary and New Zealand.

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 is the proud mother of two daughters and she has three grandchildren.