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Contact: Melanie Magara, Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs
May 17, 2006
DeKalb — Raymond W. Alden III, executive vice president and provost at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has been chosen to fill the same position at Northern Illinois University beginning July 1. Alden’s appointment, which is subject to approval by the NIU Board of Trustees, concludes a nearly eight-month national search for NIU’s next chief academic officer.
NIU President John Peters said Alden’s extensive experience and success in leading a fast-growing regional university to national prominence made him a “natural choice” for the NIU provost’s position.
“In Ray Alden we have attracted ‘the best of the best,’” Peters said. “He is a national figure in higher education with strong credentials in strategic planning, and he understands both how far we’ve come and how much further we can go to serve the needs of our state and region.”
A zoologist by training, Alden spent more than a decade at UNLV, first as dean of the College of Sciences and later as provost. During his tenure as UNLV’s chief academic officer, he guided that university through a massive increase in enrollment (from 19,000 to 28,000 students in less than ten years); helped develop 43 new degree programs including 13 new doctoral degrees; oversaw development of 28 new research and service centers; and hired nearly 350 new faculty.
Also at UNLV, Alden led efforts to establish a new regional campus that includes a dental program and a research and technology park. External funding increased fivefold during his tenure as provost, while the university’s instructional budget grew by more than 40 percent. Public-private partnerships have also grown under Alden’s leadership: Dozens of agreements with Las Vegas-area businesses and industry have created new internship and service-learning opportunities for students, as well as new revenue streams for academic programs.
“NIU is a great university with a very bright future,” Alden said. “I was attracted both by the university’s growing reputation and by the themes President Peters established to guide NIU through its next phase of development. As I met with faculty and staff on campus, it became clear that NIU has a very strong ‘can-do’ attitude. That’s a quality you don’t find everywhere, and it’s going to be a critical component of the university’s success in the future.
“I’m very impressed with the progress Northern has made in a very short period of time and under very serious budget constraints,” Alden added. “The number of partnerships with schools, businesses, and national laboratories; the growth of multidisciplinary programs; the integration of classroom and extracurricular learning experiences – these are all signs of a very healthy, forward-thinking institution that’s growing in the way it needs to grow. NIU is at or near the top of a very short list of public universities making the transition from regional to national status, and I’m excited at the prospects of becoming part of that effort.”
Alden’s own presence on the national higher education stage includes membership on the executive committee of the Council on Academic Affairs of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC). He also serves as chair of NASULGC’s Committee on Institutional Quality and Effectiveness, leading efforts to better define successful outcomes at public universities nationwide.
Prior to his tenure at UNLV, Alden spent 21 years at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he served on the faculty and, during the last 15 years, as director of ODU’s multidisciplinary Applied Marine Research Laboratory. He holds a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Florida, as well as a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.
A nineteen-member search committee made up of faculty, staff and university administrators spent nearly eight months reviewing applications and nominations for the provost position. They were aided in their efforts by executive search firm Isaacson, Miller of Washington, D.C.
“I am extremely grateful to the search committee and our search consultants for their guidance and expertise,” Peters said. “We are also indebted to all of the faculty and staff who participated in interviews and shared their thoughts during the evaluation process. All of our finalists were impressive and highly qualified – that reflects well on our search and our institution.”
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