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Oct. 14, 2011

Contact: Stacia Momburg

Kathleen Enz Finken Named Cal Poly’s New Provost

Current University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Provost Brings Broad Academic
and Administrative Experience in Public Higher Education

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Kathleen Enz Finken has been named Cal Poly’s new provost, making her the university’s top administrator for academic affairs and the senior member of the president’s executive management staff.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong announced the appointment Friday.

Enz Finken, currently provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, brings broad academic and administrative experience in public higher education to her new role. She will begin work in early February.

“Kathleen brings a wealth of experience to Cal Poly as a professor, college dean and provost,” Armstrong said. “She knows what works for students and understands their perspective as well as the perspectives of both faculty members and administrators. Kathleen’s approach to problem solving will work well at Cal Poly. She is calm, thoughtful and collaborative but also persistent and focused on doing what is best for students’ success.

“Especially important to Cal Poly is that Kathleen has a genuine respect and appreciation for Learn by Doing, and she is enthusiastic about our efforts to expand our multidisciplinary offerings. Her background in the arts and humanities will help us solidify our goals of strengthening Cal Poly as both a polytechnic and comprehensive university so that we can continue to produce truly well-rounded, whole-system thinkers.”

Enz Finken has served as Wisconsin-La Crosse’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs since 2008. Wisconsin-La Crosse consistently ranks among the top three Midwestern public masters-degree granting institutions by US News and World Report.

Before that, she was dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Minnesota State University Moorhead from 2004 to 2008 and chair of the university’s Department of Art and Design from 2000 to 2002. She was a professor of art history at the Minnesota campus from 1993 through 2008, as she is now in Wisconsin.

“Cal Poly and I are a natural fit,” Enz Finken said, “I believe strongly in the power of hands-on learning and the value of cross-disciplinary academic endeavors. I am also impressed by the many faculty and staff I met who are justly proud of what they have accomplished yet are eager to continuously improve. Also, with its Learn by Doing methods, the Cal Poly faculty and staff have forged a genuinely distinctive approach to teaching.”

Enz Finken earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1998 and her master’s in art history in 1987, both at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She earned her bachelor’s in art history in 1983 at Douglass College for Women (now Douglass Residential College), which is part of Rutgers. She also studied at the Syracuse University School of Architecture. Enz Finken’s intellectual pursuits have also included archaeological excavations in Cyprus and leading study tours to Italy and the United Kingdom.

Enz Finken will succeed Robert Koob, who has served as Cal Poly’s interim provost since September 2008. Koob was Cal Poly’s vice president for Academic Affairs from 1990 to 1995 before becoming president of the University of Northern Iowa, his undergraduate alma mater, where he retired in 2006. Koob came out of retirement at former president Warren Baker’s request to assist in the university’s transition from the Baker era to the Armstrong presidency.

In addition to serving as interim provost the last three years, Koob has been Cal Poly’s interim vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Cal Poly Foundation since spring 2010. Deborah Read, current vice president for advancement at the University of Dayton, was recently named to the Cal Poly post, which she will assume Jan. 1.

“I can’t say enough good things about the leadership and continuity Bob Koob has provided Cal Poly during the recent presidential transition and as we have worked to appoint several high-level administrative positions,” Armstrong said. “His sure hand and his passion to see this university succeed have been invaluable, and Cal Poly owes him a real debt of gratitude.”

Read Enz Finken's resume here

Read Enz Finken's personal statement here