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President's Leadership Team

Julie E. Wollman, PhD


President Wollman has been a passionate and effective advocate for higher education. She has made it her goal that every Widener graduate will participate in project-based interdisciplinary learning, engage in a global experience, and graduate with a leadership minor or leadership certificate.

Dr. Wollman is deeply committed to the community. She serves on the boards of the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County, an economic development organization, and the Chester Higher Education Council, a consortium of higher education leaders in Delaware County, PA. As a recognized leader in higher education, Dr. Wollman also serves on the board of directors of New American Colleges and Universities, the Mid-Atlantic Conference of the NCAA, and American Association of University Administrators.

A graduate of Harvard University where she majored in English and American literature and language and minored in French, Dr. Wollman earned her master of science in education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctor of philosophy in education from New York University.

Dr. Wollman lives in Wallingford, PA with her husband Dan King and the two unofficial mascots of Widener University – her dogs Leila, a cocker spaniel and Oliver, a St. Bernard.

Fred Akl, PhD, PE


Dr. Fred Akl, provost, joined Widener University as the dean for the School of Engineering in 1998. As provost, his responsibilities include overseeing academic and student affairs across three campuses.

Achievements during his leadership of the School of Engineering include increasing enrollment, launching innovative new programs, significantly increasing community engagement and experiential learning opportunities, and expanding the national recognition of the school.

His engagement in the community includes serving on the boards of the 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education, i2N Economic Development Organization, Crozer-Keystone Health System, Keystone Innovation Zone, and other organizations.

Akl received his bachelor’s degree from Cairo University, graduate certificate from Delft University of Technology, master’s and doctorate degrees in civil engineering from The University of Calgary, as well as a certificate of management and leadership in education from Harvard University.

Katie Herschede, EdD

Chief of Staff

As chief of staff for the Office of the President at Widener, Herschede will work directly with President Wollman on a wide range of strategic initiatives and will be a member of the President’s Leadership Team. She will be responsible for directing the operations of the Office of the President, represent the interests of the president to various internal and external constituencies, and work directly with the Board of Trustees.

Prior to her most recent role at Northern Kentucky University, Herschede served as assistant director and later director of government and community relations at the university from 2006 to 2010.

Herschede received her doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Kentucky University, her master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northern Kentucky University.

Joseph J. Baker, CPA, MBA

Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance

Joseph J. Baker, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance, joined Widener University in May 1999 and directs the daily administrative and financial matters of the university. His responsibilities include enrollment management, athletics, operations and maintenance, information technology, human resources, compliance, risk management, legal, and campus safety, as well as all financial functions. He was Chair of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee for the university’s first comprehensive strategic plan, Vision 2015, and is currently serving as Co-chair of that same committee for the Vision 2021 strategic plan.

Prior to joining Widener, Mr. Baker spent 20 years in the insurance industry, first at Philadelphia Life Insurance Company and then at Union Fidelity Life Insurance Company/Combined Insurance Company of America Group Division. He served as Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Union Fidelity and was responsible for financial planning and operations.

Mr. Baker currently serves on the Board of Directors of University Technology Park, Widener Partnership Charter School, the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO), and The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. He also serves on the member services committee of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania.

Senior Vice President Baker received his bachelor of science in accounting from LaSalle University and a master of business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He attended the Institute for Educational Management program at Harvard University.

He has also taught courses as an adjunct faculty member for the Widener masters of public administration program.

Linda S. Durant, MEd

Senior Vice President for University Advancement

As senior vice president for university advancement, Linda S. Durant is responsible for the university’s comprehensive campaign, alumni engagement, development, government and external relations, and university relations for all of Widener University.

During the past decade, Durant served on the faculty and as chair of numerous educational programs offered by CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, including the Leadership in Advancement Management Conference. Linda is the recipient of the 2015 CASE Professional of the Year Award. She has chaired the CASE District I and District II annual conferences and served as a member of the CASE National Board of Trustees. She served as Chair on the CASE District II Board of Directors for two years and is now Past Chair. 

Senior Vice President Durant earned a bachelor’s degree in education and English from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh, a master’s degree in education and curriculum development from SUNY Cortland, and has engaged in graduate studies in education, management, and computer science at the University of New Hampshire. She has also completed the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has received certification in strategic integrated planning from The Society of College and University Planning (SCUP) organization.

She is an adjunct faculty member for the Widener master of public administration program.