Shields named next president-chancellor of Southern University
The Southern University System Board of Supervisors today named Dennis Shields the next president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University and A&M College. Shields, the current chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Platteville, will succeed President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton, who announced his retirement in 2021. Belton’s contract ends on June 30.
“I think the selection of Dennis Shields represents our belief that he’s the best fit to lead the University following Dr. Belton,” said Edwin Shorty, chairman of the Southern University System Board. “We felt that Mr. Shields comes with the right mix of qualities to further advance the University.”
Shields, who has been the chancellor for the University of Wisconsin Platteville since 2010, has spent most of his career advocating for better access to higher education — especially those who have been historically underrepresented. Under Shields’ leadership, the campus has had tremendous growth. Enrollment grew nearly 11 percent from 2010 to fall 2016. Most recently, he led successful efforts to gain legislative and gubernatorial approval to build a new $55 million state-of-the-art engineering facility on campus as well as a $23.7 million renovation project for one of the liberal arts buildings on campus. Those two projects, plus a $15.3 million Williams Fieldhouse expansion, will give the university more than $93 million in upcoming growth and improvements. Additionally, he led the construction of two residence halls, one with a dining facility.
“I am humbled and honored by your confidence in me to take on this role at this wonderful institution of higher education,” Shields said to the Southern University Board via live stream video during the meeting. “I had a remarkable and inspiring visit (to campus) and was able to spend some time with the students. I take it as a great responsibility to help continue the rise of the Southern University System.”
Prior to his current position in Wisconsin, Shields held administrative positions in admissions at the University of Iowa College of Law, University of Michigan Law School and Duke University School of Law. He has also held a deanship and a teaching position at Phoenix School of Law and acted as the vice president for student affairs at The City College of New York.
A champion of diversity and access, Shields served as the first chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group of the National Collegiate Athletics Association for Division III. With Shields at the helm, the University of Wisconsin Platteville, has focused more on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher. Initiatives have successfully doubled the number of students from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds over the course of the past decade.
Shields, an Iowa native, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Graceland College in 1977 and a juris doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1982.
Shields will officially begin his term once a final contract is approved by the Southern University Board. His start date is forthcoming.