Going Private

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

After six years as the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Douglas Hastad will become president of Carroll College in Waukesha on July 1, taking over for Frank Falcone, who is retiring.

 Hastad says Carroll College’s small size and position as Waukesha’s only four-year university can play well for both the school and the region. Among his first priorities are to learn about existing partnerships the college has and work to strengthen them for the future, he said.

At U.W.-La Crosse, Hastad helped the university form partnerships with area businesses, government agencies and other institutions of higher education, something he’s hoping to continue at Carroll College. Hastad recently discussed his plans for Carroll College with SBT reporter Eric Decker. The

following are excerpts from that interview.

SBT: Why did you take this job?

Hastad: "I am the product of a private school. I went to school at Concordia College in northern Minnesota. And in my professional career, I’ve worked for two private institutions – Concordia College and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. "And the nimbleness that’s afforded a private institution has a great deal of appeal to me.

"Secondly, Carroll College has a wonderful reputation as a private institution. They have a real strength in liberal studies, business and most certainly what I call the emerging allied health programs. Another reason, a bit of a selfish one, is it keeps us in the state of Wisconsin.

"And lastly, here you are in Waukesha County, which is the fastest-growing county in the state of Wisconsin. And last time I checked, Carroll College is the only four-year institution in Waukesha County. And with all of that, there tends to be some opportunity.

"The other thing is that having been part of the University of Wisconsin system for 17 years, I’ve forged, I’d like to think, some good relationships with colleagues."

SBT: Tell me about some of the relationships you have with some of the folks around the U.W. system or private colleges in the state.

Hastad: "The University of Wisconsin chancellors are a very close-knit group. We meet monthly when the regents meet, and we meet monthly as the group of chancellors meet. So, Carlos Santiago at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and I are colleagues, I’d like to say friends. I think a great deal of Carlos and what he’s done at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and how they’re trying to forge partnerships in the area. Hopefully, Carlos and I will be having some conversations."

SBT: What are your early impressions of Carroll College and the metro Milwaukee area?

Hastad: "One of the things that I have been able to do since the process began is periodically come through and wander through campus and visit with people. The things that I continually hear are things such as (students) enjoy the smallness of the campus. They enjoy the personal nature of the campus. They don’t feel that as though they’re a number."

SBT: What are some of the strengths at Carroll College?

Hastad: "I think a strength is smallness. I think private is a strength, because private equals nimbleness. When you’re in the University of Wisconsin system, you have a great deal of bureaucracy that you need to go through to implement, for example, an academic program. From the idea stage to inception stage in the Wisconsin system, minimally it’s 18 months. It’s more like two or three years. And by then, your market is gone. Here, you can just move if you want to.

"I think the academic program arrangement is also an interesting one. The liberal arts, the liberal studies core is so critical to the success of the private institution. It’s not just about teaching your kids about literature, it’s teaching how to look at literature, read literature and how to think. And that’s what private schools do best."

SBT: What are some of the weaknesses of Carroll College, or things you are looking to build or improve on right away?

Hastad: "Hopefully, my response isn’t taken as identifying weaknesses because I haven’t set one foot on this campus officially yet. To draw conclusions would be unfair for me. I think some of the things I need to learn about is the extent to which Carroll has forged partnerships with the local community and broader region.

"Carroll has a lot to offer, and I can only hope that they’re offering it to the community and the region. Another area that I will be looking at and hoping that Carroll has is international linkages. I think it’s incredibly important for undergraduate students in this day and age to have some exposure and experience with study abroad. Not necessarily a semester or year of study abroad, but an international experience, because in most cases, it’s a life-changing experience.

"Likewise, it would be reverse to try to find some ways to internationalize the campus, by perhaps attracting more students from around the world to come to not just Carroll College, but to the great state of Wisconsin.

"The other things I would not ever cast as weaknesses, but things that I am interested in because of my recent experience at U.W.-Lacrosse and things that I think are important to higher ed, would be looking into the possibility of undergraduate research programs where you have one student work with one faculty member on a particular line of inquiry."

SBT: You seem to be emphasizing partnerships with the community. Tell me more about that.

Hastad: "I think colleges and universities, public and private, have a bit of a responsibility to look to forge partnerships with public and private institutions. At UWL, we had the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium (formed in 1993). It’s a partnership among five organizations – Gunderson Lutheran Medical Association, Franciscan Skemp Health Care (a Mayo Clinic affiliate),Viterbo University, Western Wisconsin Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. We built a $28 million building. And it’s a building that eventually will be owned by the consortium. Right now, the building houses 11 or 12 different academic programs that Western Technical College and UWL have joined, with about 325 students. The student health center for both Western Technical College and UWL is located there. And we’re currently looking to try to bring in business for economic development and for research, and we’re very close to having a couple of success stories.

"So, it’s not like a Madison research park. But when you’re sitting over on the western side of the state and you have this nice building and you can educate, do research and you can generate economic development through product, that’s good for the region."

SBT: How is the college experience

different for today’s students, compared with 10, 20 or 30 years ago?

Hastad: "All you have to do is look out the window and watch students go across campus. They’ve got a cell phone in their ear, an iPod in their hand, a laptop in their backpack. That’s the major change I see.

"The other change in higher education, which is related to the technology change, is it’s any time, any place. If you wanted to take a course, you could probably get a graduate degree in – pick your subject – just online. So it makes it very challenging for public and private universities to maintain a face-to-face relationship.

"I believe at the end of the day, it’s one book, one student, one faculty member. You’ve got to make sure that young people, traditional students in particular, appreciate the value of face-to-face interaction."

SBT: What are some challenges that exist for a private, suburban college such as Carroll College?

Hastad: "Cost of tuition. You’ve got someone (here) that is in a very unique position – the sitting chancellor of a public university in Wisconsin, soon to be the president of a private institution in Wisconsin. I’ve spent 17 years trying to explain why public higher education is great, and now I’ll be doing the same for a private (college). I think it’s incumbent on all institutions of higher education, public or private, to make education affordable, particularly to those people who do not have the financial ability to pay.

"I think one of the challenges for this country, not just Waukesha or Waukesha County, is to try to find a way to provide access and success in higher education to those people in the lower two economic quintiles. And I think the only way private (colleges) can do it is find a way to seek out foundations and donors and others to recognize the same value of educating people who are less fortunate who are very able and have them give them access to higher education."

Douglas Hastad

Title: President, Carroll College, effective July 1

Age: 56

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.; master’s degree from Washington State University; doctorate in secondary education from Arizona State University.

Experience: Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, July 2000-present; provost and vice president of academic affairs UW-La Crosse 1998-2000; dean of the college of education, health, exercise science and recreation, UW-La Crosse, 1989-1998.

Personal interests: Bicycling, golf, travel and reading.

Family: Wife, Nancy Halstad; two children, Jacob and Rebekah Halstad, both of whom will graduate from the University of Minnesota in May.

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