After the unexpected passing of Dr. Debra Friedman in January 2014, UW Tacoma has been in transition, but not any longer. Relieving Dr. Kenyon Chan from his interim position on March 16, 2015, Dr. Mark Pagano is on campus and settling in to his new role as chancellor.
Originally from the Midwest, beginning his administrative career as dean at Purdue University, Chancellor Pagano started his trek to the Pacific Northwest with a post in Billings, Montana. For almost four years, he was provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Montana State.
With long-term goals of becoming chancellor or president of a university, he was thrilled when, while on vacation in the PNW, word came through that UW Tacoma was looking for a permanent chancellor: “Everything felt right. As soon as I got back, I filled out the application…I was probably the first person to apply,” he laughs.
Pagano’s experience with land-grant universities, like Purdue, helped build the passion for community outreach, that he brings to UWT. According to Pagano, land-grant universities (like Washington State University) have a mission to serve citizens. To him, UW Tacoma’s urban-serving mission is like a “more compact,” localized version of that same idea, focusing closely on the South Sound region, not focusing on the needs of the university, but how the university can fulfill the needs of the community.
“With UW behind us and Tacoma beside us…we can formulate the vision together,” Pagano says of his plan to “careful[ly] and deliberate[ly]” further the mission of UWT and plans of former Chancellor Friedman. These plans include partnering with nonprofits and K-12 schools, working toward campus sustainability, and “roll[ing] out the red carpet” for veterans by working closely with JBLM.
When asked about how he envisions his role on campus, Pagano says, “I want to be very visible…going to events, learning about the culture of the university.” Already familiar with ASUWT President Jocelyn Patterson, who sat on the chancellor search committee, and Vice President Tyler Bjork, Pagano hopes to become more knowledgeable of the greater student body as well. Currently, the chancellor is in the process of surveying staff and faculty to gain a clear understanding of strengths and weaknesses and major issues at large and hopes to find a way to reach out to the wider student body, beyond student government, to assess student needs.
Each administrator of each university operates differently within their role, but Pagano makes it clear that he plans to uphold the UW principle of shared governance. As stated in his Town Hall Meeting March 19, 2015, he hopes to formulate the vision of UWT’s future collaboratively with students, wider UW administration, and the past and present chancellor experiences to help the university flourish for the next 25 years.