DECATUR, Ill. – Dr. Wallace Southerland III has been named Millikin University’s Vice President of Student Affairs, replacing Raphaella Prange, who left the position in May. Southerland’s new role is effective July 1, and he will be responsible for developing and advancing the student experience on Millikin’s campus.
“I think that the work we do in Student Affairs is vital. We are a great partner to help Millikin fulfill its promise to students, families and the community that we want students to be successful,” Southerland said. “We want them to graduate and be prepared for the great big world. Because of the kind of programming and outreach services that Student Affairs provides, I think that makes us vital to any university.”
Southerland has more than 30 years of experience in high education leadership, which includes 14 years of adjunct faculty experience, and he comes to Millikin after serving as Special Assistant to the President at Michigan Technological University (MTU), where he researched and recommended global campus strategies for promoting student success and engagement. He previously held the position of Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at MTU and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs at Salisbury University, which is part of the University System of Maryland.
“I love interacting with students and I did a lot of that in my Michigan Tech position. I intend to do that again and I hope students want me to be engaged. I love to see Student Affairs staff be engaged as university citizens. It’s important for us to be at those tables that impact policy and retention and student success,” Southerland said. “(As a leader,) I see myself as a person who consults with others before making those big decisions. I see myself as a collaborator and want a good relationship in Student Affairs and across campus with faculty and the deans.”
Southerland earned his undergraduate degree in English from the University of Bridgeport, located in Connecticut. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Counseling and Human Resource Development from the University of Bridgeport and his Doctorate in Education Policy, Planning and Administration from the University of Maryland.
“Millikin would be one of the smaller universities I’ve worked at. I haven’t been at a private university since my first job at my alma mater, the University of Bridgeport. It’s like a full circle for me,” Southerland said. “I celebrate that size because it means more of an opportunity to create those meaningful connections and an authentic community. I’m looking forward to being in a setting like this.”
Southerland also previously worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for Academic Partnerships, Associate Dean of Students, and Director of Minority Student Affairs, and was familiar with Millikin and its reputation for strong creative and theatre arts programs.
“I love the idea of Millikin’s Performance Learning signature approach and the idea of merging the academic work with the hands-on practical work of internships, study abroad and so forth,” he said. “I support what I’ve learned about Millikin, that we want to help create a sustainable, equitable and just society. I believe in that. In Student Affairs, we should develop programs and services that help Millikin prepare students to take on those responsibilities.”
Southerland, his wife Medra, who works at the University of Illinois, their daughter, a junior at Illinois, and dog Twix live in Champaign.