Following a nationwide search, a new provost will pave the way for student success and faculty excellence at Alcorn State University.
Dr. Ontario Wooden began his tenure as the University’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs Tuesday, Sept. 15. As provost, Wooden will be responsible for facilitating the effective and efficient delivery of academic and support services across the campus, which includes management and oversight of all academic schools, the registrar, research and graduate studies, 1890 Research/Extension, Library, Institutional Research, and Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment/Accreditation. Wooden will serve as a member of the President’s Executive Cabinet and reports directly to President Felecia M. Nave.
Wooden comes to Alcorn after serving as associate vice chancellor for Student Success and Academic Outreach at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). In his 12-year career at NCCU, he has provided leadership in multiple positions that include associate vice chancellor for Innovative, Engaged, and Global Education; interim associate dean of the School of Education; and associate professor of Education. He was also the acting associate vice chancellor for Institutional Research, Effectiveness, and Planning, and served as dean, and associate dean of University College.
Wooden partnered as an affiliate graduate faculty in higher education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for five years. Further, he served in multiple roles at Albany State University and Indiana University Bloomington (IUB). He earned a doctorate in higher education from IUB in 2004, which is where he also earned a master’s degree in the same area of study in 2002. Wooden earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Albany State University in 2000.
During his campus visit, Wooden was impressed with the camaraderie amongst the Alcorn community. He feels excited to further his career in a family-oriented atmosphere.
“I, along with my wife, Kimberly, and son, Liam, are honored to become a part of the Alcorn family,” said Wooden. “Every person I have spoken with speaks about the “Alcorn family.” It is not lost that I am joining a special team, a unique tradition, and a place full of caring and devoted faculty, staff, and students. I am thrilled to be part of the oldest public historically black land-grant institution in the country. One of my research interests is college student access and success. Continuing this focus at Alcorn is exciting.”
“We value Dr. Wooden’s successful experience as a higher education administrator, an accomplished teacher, and a scholar, “said President Nave. “Ontario’s keen academic vision, focus on student success and faculty excellence, commitment to access combined with his collaborative approach to leadership and shared governance elevated his candidacy among a group of over 40 truly stellar candidates for Alcorn’s provost. I am confident he will work well with the leadership team, faculty, and staff to greatly benefit our university community as we continue to advance our national and global reputation.”
In addition to getting acquainted with his new team, Wooden is passionate about creating more avenues of success for students to be leaders in today’s evolving society.
“I look forward to meeting the faculty, staff, and students. I want to learn everything I can about the institution, the people, the state, and the region. To produce graduates who will become problem solvers, skills-driven, and nimble thinkers in this rapidly changing global society, we must immerse ourselves into where they live, their challenges, opportunities for them, and the cultural traditions that they embody. I am ready to work alongside our faculty, staff, and students to continue to advance a culture of success throughout campus.”
Keeping everyone safe during the pandemic is one of Wooden’s priorities as provost.
“The most important goal is to provide leadership in the Division of Academic Affairs as we work through the challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are challenges related to ensuring that campus operations are solid and consistent, we must take care of ourselves and each other.”
Despite today's challenges, Wooden remains dedicated to ensuring Alcorn’s continued accreditation while providing the best educational opportunities for its students.
“We must continue to work diligently to ensure that we complete a new strategic plan, receive continuing accreditation from SACSCOC and other specialized accreditations, complete a comprehensive review of our academic programs to ensure our offering of leading-edge degree programs, as well as strengthen our administrative academic operations. We will also develop a set of key performance indicators to measure our progress and success. Amid all of the new constraints that we face, we will stay focused on providing outstanding educational opportunities for our students.”
Wooden hopes that his impact at Alcorn leads to higher performance rates and preparing students for global success.
“We will make further progress towards strengthening retention, graduation, and career placement rates. Longer-term, I hope that we will become a more innovative University, one that provides opportunities for all and where our students experience success and positively impact the environments they touch. As a graduate of an HBCU, and after a 20-year career in higher education, I plan to leverage my experience to ensure disciplined and sound decision making while at Alcorn State University.”