UofL Provost to step down at end of academic year


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Louisville Executive Vice President and Provost Shirley Willihnganz is stepping down from that position at the end of the academic year.

    Willihnganz announced the decision today through a letter sent to faculty and staff. She will serve as provost through June 30. Following a sabbatical, she plans to return to teaching in 2016.

    “It has been an honor to serve as provost, and I am proud of the tremendous growth we’ve seen during the past 13 years,” Willihnganz said. “Under Dr. James Ramsey’s leadership, the University of Louisville continues to reach new heights. I appreciate the opportunity I have had to contribute to that success.”

    Willihnganz assumed the position as acting provost in 2002 then was appointed on a permanent basis in 2004. During her tenure, she has overseen a 60-percent increase in student graduation rates, as well as tremendous growth in student services and activities. Under her watch, UofL students also have garnered a number of prestigious scholarships, including Rhodes, Boren and other honors. Since 2004, the university has produced more Fulbright student scholars than any other Kentucky college or university.

    She also is leading the University of the 21st Century initiative, an effort to focus on the university’s strengths and implement efficiencies to position the university to better serve its students in the coming decades.

    “Dr. Willihnganz has contributed so much to the success we’ve had,” Ramsey said. “Her leadership has been vital to our academic improvement, and her dedication to our students, faculty and staff is unsurpassed. I am sorry to see her leave the leadership team, but our students will benefit from her return to the classroom.”

    A professor of communication, Willihnganz has taught at UofL since 1985. Prior to her position as provost, she has served in several administrative roles, including acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the Department of Communication.

    John Drees is a 35-year veteran in the Office of Communications and Marketing. As vice president, communications and marketing, he works closely with the president, provost and other senior administrators, oversees the Office of Communications and Marketing, including media relations, marketing and brand, broadcast, social media, internal communication, crisis communication, visitor services and special events and activities. A former sports editor for the Voice Newspapers, he was a regular contributor to a variety of publications, including the Kentucky Sports Report and the Courier-Journal. A poor but enthusiastic golfer, he is an avid Cardinal sports fan. He also loves the Detroit Lions, so pity him.