William Woods welcomed its first-ever Chief Student Experience Officer last month, as Dr. Ted Blashak joined the University with more than 25 years’ experience in higher education leadership roles. He recently sat down to answer Five Questions for The Woods Today, as told to John Fougere:
1.) Could you walk us through your background, personal information and higher education career prior to joining William Woods? Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico but most recently residing in Michigan with my wife Dawn and two daughters. I have been working professionally in higher education leadership roles for over 25 years. My first job in higher education was meeting with potential candidates as an admissions officer and I loved it. My career in higher education has spanned many years leading various types of campus operations as small as 300 to over 15,000 students. Most recently, I worked with an Education Technology (EdTech) start-up company called Acadeum supporting and advising liberal arts institutions similar to William Woods regarding increasing operational effectiveness and efficiency. My last role is what led me to the WWU campus.
2.) What attracted you to a university such as William Woods? The rich 150+ year history of quality and commitment to student success was the initial draw. As I researched the institution more, I realized any institution that can continuously adapt and change over the many decades to address the educational needs of modern society is a progressive and intriguing institution where I would like to continue my career. Then, I was immediately hooked when I met the executive team, faculty, and staff on my first visit to campus.
3.) As the University’s first-ever Chief Student Experience Officer, what will be the main responsibilities in your new position? As the University’s first Chief Student Experience Officer I will seek to align and improve all aspects of the student journey from start to finish at The Woods. We will continuously assess and improve the student journey at William Woods for Traditional, Online, and Graduate students to provide the best student outcomes and a transformational experience. It is my hope when students come to The Woods, they experience a sense of belonging, growing success, and institutional pride long after they graduate.
4.) Why is the overall college experience of every student crucial to Universities like WWU? I believe the overall college experience is crucial to all institutions of higher education; however, because of our smaller size and mission as a liberal arts institution with a professional focus, The Woods’ structure drives the individual college experience. Many larger institutions of higher education struggle to provide the personal attention and engagement built into the DNA of William Woods University. We will strive to continue to refine and build upon our success and address any shortfalls. A learning institution should be an engaging, transformative catalyst to aid young professionals as they contribute to society and also benefit personally and professionally.
5.) What are some of your passions/hobbies? In my spare time, it is usually time with my family. However, I also love to read and am an avid sports fan of the Detroit-area professional teams, any college sports, and I love soccer of all levels and types.