After a nearly year-long search to find IUPUC’s next vice chancellor and dean, Reinhold Hill, a college dean from Illinois, will become the leader of the Columbus campus on July 1.
Hill has spent the past six years at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, where he served as the dean of the college of arts and sciences. At IUPUC, he will replace Larry Richards, who has been serving as interim vice chancellor and dean for the past year, and Marwan Wafa, who resigned as vice chancellor and dean last summer to become chancellor of Pennsylvania State University’s Worthington- Scranton campus.
Although he admits that he is still getting his feet wet on the Columbus campus, Hill said he plans to use his extensive experience in higher education to identify ways to make IUPUC a stronger educational system. Additionally, Hill also said he wants to find ways to use Columbus’ unique position as the home of some of the most famous Modern architecture in the world to the advantage of IUPUC students.
The incoming vice chancellor and dean recently sat down with The Republic to discuss his role as the campus’ next leader, his educational goals for the university and his plans to become more involved in the Columbus community.
As IUPUC vice chancellor and dean, what are your duties going to be?
Primarily, it’s being a face for the institution in the community and providing academic and administrative leadership for the campus.
How does that relate to the work you’ve done in the past?
At Governors State, I was the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, so I was an academic leader for the college, and also administrative, so this is just a larger-scale operation.
At Governors State, I had the opportunity to start a lower division program for the institution. We’d only been an upper division university — juniors, seniors and graduate students — so I’ve worked in all of the different areas that a campus has already. This will take that experience and give me the opportunity to build on it.
Coming into this new position, do you have any ideas for the campus and its programs that you know you want to implement?
I think Larry Richards has done a great job in starting conversations on some directions for the institution that we’ll want to continue to explore internally with our faculty and staff here, and with the community as well. I think the location of the institution gives us some unique opportunities of things to explore. My own interest is in creating a campus that’s focused on student success and long-term objectives for students, more than the short-term degrees.
You said Richards has started conversations with the community — can you elaborate on that?
He’s had some ideas about ways that IUPUC can utilize its location. There’s a lot of design and architecture in the community, a lot of opportunities and ways that the community has engaged in projects and built on its location. (I want) to bring that here to IUPUC, as well, and to have the institution also contribute back to the community.
Columbus is well-known for its architectural heritage. Do you think that notoriety serves to the advantage of students?
I think there has to be even more of a connection between IUPUC and Columbus and what its location provides to students than what we’ve seen in the past.
This campus is unique in its shared space with other educational institutions. Is that something you’ve experienced before?
I’ve not been co-located in the same way that we are here, but I think it’s pretty much a normal direction in higher education for universities to work closely with community colleges and partner institutions.
In Columbus, we’re big into STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education. Do you have specific ideas for building on those disciplines?
I think the conversation that we had with some folks from the community and people here at IUPUC was really about design thinking, which comes out of STEM fields and engineering, but also involves the arts and humanities.
I think a bigger conversation nationally is about STEAM — the STEM fields, arts, humanities and social sciences and the kinds of ways that we can work together. I think that interdisciplinary study is pretty important for our students, and certainly the community has a long history of engineering, but also a long history of having architecture and art.
Even at the K-12 level in Columbus, there’s a big focus on working with employers and getting them into the classroom. Is that something you plan to continue focusing on?
It’s important for students to have lots of different opportunities, both in the classroom that we provide and giving them a chance to have co-curricular engagement in the community, whether it’s through internships or work experiences or just serving in organizations in the community. I think those experiences are very important to students.
Are there any areas of improvement needed at IUPUC that you’ve already identified?
I think it’s a little presumptuous to identify areas of improvement on this campus, but I think there are some themes in higher education that I want to address, such as increasing enrollment.
What are your overall impressions of Columbus?
I think it’s a great community. Folks seem friendly. I’ve only been here for visits, so I don’t know much, but it seems like a friendly, welcoming community. I think it provides a lot of opportunities for our students at the university, and also for the region, and probably can be a good leader for the state as well.
You’ve mentioned wanting to engage in the Columbus community. Are there specific organizations you’re looking into?
The Community Education Coalition definitely offers some opportunities, but there are several other civic organizations that I don’t even know about yet.
About Reinhold Hill
Reinhold Hill, selected to become vice chancellor and dean of IUPUC, holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Brigham Young University, a master’s in English from the University of Louisiana and a doctorate in English from the University of Missouri. He has also completed the management development program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
He served as associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, from 2006 to 2010. He then became interim dean of the school from 2010 to 2011. Since 2011, Hill has been an English professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois.
A folklorist by trade, Hill said his avocations are varied. His work as a folklorist focused primarily on religious traditions, and he also has an interest in technology and has served with the Army Reserves. Coming from a military family, Hill said he has lived in several different locations across the world.