Introducing Dr. Charles Hurt
UWRF's New Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
When asked how students learn differently today than 20 years ago, Provost Charlie Hurt will tell you “students expect visuals. They expect graphics. Learning is non-linear; it’s a multi-tasking experience.” The old convention where a student sees the professor as the font of knowledge has diminished. The professor must now act as a conduit to information. “No longer can you rely on a publication to be relevant for five years,” says Hurt. “It is evident that placing 500 students in a room for a lecture is ineffective.”
Hurt says students are no longer place bound and aren’t compelled to remain connected to one university throughout their undergraduate academic career. “A college student in Arizona may find an interest in our equine program and choose to transfer to UWRF,” he says. “I call it university hopping.” Hurt believes UWRF is well-equipped to respond to these current marketplace realities.
Hurt arrived at UWRF last summer. Prior to being selected as provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, Hurt served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. The trajectory of Hurt’s career path began with an interesting invitation. After receiving an undergraduate degree in English, Hurt began a
career in computer programming. “A friend of mine asked me if I’d like to write code. I heard him ask, ‘would you like to write.’” So, for several years Hurt was parked in front of a monitor writing COBAL. “I was responsible for all the Y2K corrections that had to be made,” he says with a laugh.
His career in programming placed him in an environment of scientists and technical people, which spawned an interest in how they communicate with one another. “There were unwritten rules about how scientists conveyed information,” says Hurt. For example, physicists rarely, if ever, site Einstein. However, for a biologist to reference Darwin is pro-forma. Hurt was determined to examine and catalog what he says is the “rhetoric of science.”
“Some call it scientimetrics; others refer to it as bibliometrics,” he says. In the following years, Hurt was awarded a master’s in information science from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in the same discipline from UW-Madison. He is also the author of numerous publications related to bibliometrics.
The campus community has come to know Hurt by his smooth baritone oratory and occasional self-effacing witticisms that put audiences at ease. Though a stand in for the chancellor when he’s absent, Hurt’s daily focus is the decision-making that affects the academic business of the university. “I’m here to ensure the curriculum is working and faculty personnel issues are addressed.”
He says understaffing for faculty is not unique to UWRF and that it is one of the biggest challenges facing most provosts. UWRF is in the midst of new strategic planning to better serve its students and the community. As this faculty-driven process proceeds,
Hurt will be immersed in the project by developing an assessment model to evaluate which programs will be pared back while others are enhanced.
Hurt is joined in River Falls by his wife of 25 years, Susan. He enjoys creating customized golf clubs and continues to involve himself in computer programming. However, the success of UWRF is his focus. “I tell my staff that my job is my vacation. This is the institution and the management team that I dreamed of joining,” concludes Hurt.
The Emerging Team
Other new faces joined the UWRF leadership team in 2006, while some familiar faces have taken on new roles and responsibilities to, in the words of Chancellor Betz, “better position UWRF to meet the challenges of serving its numerous and diverse constituencies.”
Nancy Devine began her duties as the president of the UW-River Falls Foundation and executive director for university advancement in November 2006. She brings a wealth of successful experience in all phases of advancement work and comprehensive campaigns from her work at major public and private universities in Minnesota, Arizona and Michigan. A native of St. Paul, Minn., Devine is very familiar with the St. Croix Valley, the region and the state. She sees a great future for the university and the Foundation because of the outstanding students and faculty, strong academic programs, and dedicated alumni who highly value their UWRF education.
Blake Fry has been named special assistant to the chancellor, moving from his previous position as dean of student development and campus diversity. In addition to providing support to the chancellor, Fry will oversee diversity and inclusiveness initiatives, emergency planning, and the American Democracy Project (see ADP story on page XX).
Gregg Heinselman will be heading up an enlarged student affairs area, acquiring oversight of health and counseling services, judicial affairs and multicultural affairs on top of his current responsibilities in student services. As the new associate vice chancellor for student affairs, Heinselman seeks to build strong connections throughout his division in order to maximize a healthy, positive, constructive and inclusive environment for all students at UWRF.
Alan Tuchtenhagen, admissions director since 1986, is the new associate vice chancellor for enrollment services. In the position he oversees a consolidated admissions, financial assistance and registrar’s division, which will focus both on recruiting students and the issues that affect their retention.
A new leadership position, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs, has been created to coordinate the academic success center and career services, along with other administrative duties. An internal search is currently underway.