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Meet UWL’s next chancellor

Posted 3:45 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2024

Beeby, 54, is currently serving as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Keene State College in New Hampshire.

James Beeby will become UWL’s 11th leader this July

UWL’s incoming chancellor is setting priorities and making connections as he prepares to become the 11th leader in school history July 1.

James Beeby, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Keene State College in New Hampshire, was appointed March 13 after a vote by the UW Board of Regents, following a monthslong national search.

Beeby has spent recent weeks learning as much as he can about the campus and the community, connecting with key stakeholders and discussing ways to advance the university. He plans to visit campus again in May.

“This is a critical first step in order for me to understand the challenges and opportunities that are ahead,” says Beeby, 54. “I am excited to continue those conversations and look for ways we can work together to move UWL forward. From that, my hope is that we can build a shared vision of where we would like UWL to be in the next ten years, and then craft a collaborative plan that will allow us to get there.”

Beeby’s priorities include building upon UWL’s reputation for academic excellence, engaging with community partners and friends of the university, and creating an environment where all students feel welcome.

A first-generation college student who left his native England to attend graduate school, Beeby has seen the transformative power of higher education firsthand.

“Attending college transformed my life and opened so many doors and opportunities for me,” he says. “I arrived in the U.S. in 1993 to attend graduate school for one year but ended up staying for 31 years and becoming an American citizen and have enjoyed a wonderful career in higher education. I have been very fortunate in life and had wonderful mentors and good friends who have supported me over many, many years.”

Beeby has served as Keene State’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs since 2021.

He has led strategic planning and implementation efforts, developed several new undergraduate and graduate programs, improved retention and graduation rates, established transfer agreements with community colleges, overseen successful reaccreditation efforts, and strengthened ties with local businesses.

His academic background centers mainly on U.S. history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a focus on African American history, the U.S. South and populism.

He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in history from the University of Wales (United Kingdom) and both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in American culture studies from Bowling Green State University.

In his spare time, Beeby enjoys walking, cycling, traveling, listening to live music, reading, following world affairs, cooking, baking and checking out theater productions, art galleries and museums. He also enjoys watching live college sports, and is a former college cricket player.

UW Regent Ashok Rai, who chaired the search and screen committee, believes Beeby is a great fit for UWL personally and professionally.

“Dr. Beeby has the attributes that will make him a fantastic ambassador for UWL on campus and in the community,” Rai says. “He’s a student advocate in his core while also bringing experience and enthusiasm to connect with La Crosse business partners. We are confident he will be a great leader at UWL.”

Interim Chancellor Betsy Morgan, who was one of three finalists for the permanent position, will continue to serve in that role until July 1. She will then return to her previous position as provost.

Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman praised Morgan for her leadership throughout a difficult transitional period for the university.

Rothman also expressed optimism for UWL's future with Beeby at the helm.

"Betsy Morgan deserves our thanks for stepping up at a difficult moment,” he says. “The campus community is indebted to her for her leadership. She is a wonderful presence within the university and the broader La Crosse community.

“Dr. Beeby’s extensive experience will be a great asset to UW-La Crosse,” Rothman says. “He has a proven record in student success and collaboration that will be extraordinarily valuable for the entire campus and its community.”


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