Young and Matzke lean into new roles at Ripon
By Haley Stowell
This summer, the Ripon College has added several new faces to their administration and staff, many of whom are not “new” at all. Dr. Rebecca Matzke and Dr. Andrea Young, who have both worked in various positions at Ripon, have been appointed interim Vice President and Dean of Faculty, and Vice President of Finance, respectively. They both hope to bring new perspectives and ideas to their positions.
Ed Wingenbach, who had held the position of Vice President and Dean of Faculty at Ripon since 2015, announced in July that he would be leaving Ripon to take on a new role as president of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. Since his departure, Dr. Matzke has stepped into the role of Interim Vice President and Dean of Faculty. Matzke has been with Ripon College since 2003 as a Professor of History and has also served on several committees here at Ripon. She claims her experience at Ripon so far has helped prepare her for her new position.
“I think it’s important for a Dean of Faculty to keep students and their learning always in mind–that’s what we’re all here for!–so my experience will help me bring that attention to this job,” she said. “Also, because I’ve been a faculty member, I know about the different responsibilities involved … I’ve also been Associate Dean for Faculty Development since 2016, so I’ve done orientation for new faculty and programming for everyone on teaching and scholarship topics. So I hope that my perspective as a faculty member will help me to be an understanding leader in my new position.”
Matzke will continue in this role until a permanent replacement is found. The College is currently putting together a committee to lead a national search for a new Vice President and Dean of Faculty.
When asked about her primary goals as Interim Vice President and Dean of Faculty, Matzke said, “My first major goal is to help the College through a successful accreditation process this fall, which is important for all that we do. I’ve only been on the job for a little more than a month, so I’m still formulating other goals as well.”
Along with Dr. Matzke, Dr. Young has taken a new position as Vice President of Finance and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Ripon. In the past, Young has served Ripon as a Professor of Mathematics and Interim Vice President and Dean of Faculty during President Messitte’s sabbatical last spring. When asked how her past experience has prepared her for her new role, she said, “I think the most important experiences that I’ve had that will shape who I will be in this position are my relationships with students and my deep appreciation for and understanding of the student body here at Ripon … Any decision we make at the senior administrative level will have to always be filtering through what it means for the student experience.”
The College has struggled in the past months to find a permanent President of Finance at Ripon after Karl Solibakke, former President of Finance, left the position. Since then, Ripon has hired one other person for the position, who left shortly after being hired.
When asked about the specific challenges facing the position, Young said, “The most challenging thing is actually not unique to Ripon. Higher education, especially liberal arts institutions are under siege nationally…One the one hand it’s intimidating because I know the sort of climate we’re in, on the other hand, Ripon is very well positioned for the future given the size of our endowment, given the devotion of our alumni and student base.” Young hopes to use her experience and perspectives to serve Ripon and is excited to take on the challenge.
Despite the many changes at Ripon, the administration is confident in their new hires and looks forward to how Matze and Young will excel in their respective positions.