MONMOUTH– Kent Neely, Ph.D. has now joined the Western Oregon University campus, after being hired as the new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs earlier this year.
He’s thrilled to finally be on campus and dive right into his work. Although he’s a newcomer to the scene, he has brought an interest in sustaining the strengths of the institution. “Western has a strong heritage of liberal arts and teacher education. We need to honor this, and build upon it,” said Neely. “Western has a remarkable commitment to diversity and I will work to grow that diversification. It’s important for this institution and higher education in general to commit to a long-term effort.”
Neely believes the master’s in information systems and the nursing program are two new areas that need continued growth. The nursing program in particular is a turning point for the institution in addressing the nationwide and statewide nursing shortage. He believes we’re becoming a major impact on the mid-Willamette Valley economy through new programs like these.
“The kinds of innovations that have gone on at Western have demonstrated that the institution is looking to continue to grow and be innovative to respond to student needs and financial challenges. I credit President Minahan for having this kind of vision and I hope I can help to provide the kind of security with the way the institution operates so that it can continue to flourish,” said Neely.
Neely came to WOU after serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Neely has been in higher education for 31 years, and 25 of those years were spent teaching in the classroom. His ambition to teach was sparked early in life and he followed that to college, where he was certified to teach at the secondary level and entered graduate school to become a college professor.
His student career also focused on theatre. He earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre, and then he completed master’s and doctoral degrees in theatre from Wayne State University. Neely entered his undergraduate program with a desire to act, but soon learned that his passion was with the business side of theatre.
After finishing his doctorate, he began teaching theatre. A majority of his teaching career was with the University of Minnesota where he also worked as managing director of the university theatre. In 1994 he joined Boise State University to serve as chair of the Department of Theatre until 1998 and then to serve as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He joined SIUE in 2001.
Neely is proud of his many accomplishments at SIUE. He oversaw 19 academic departments, eight units, and a staff of 12. He finalized funding to create the first endowed professorship on campus, which gave awards to faculty who did outstanding work. Neely also oversaw the design and implementation of the new first year experience and directed the completion of the second strategic plan for the college.
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Kent Neely, Provost