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Widener University Inaugurates Julie E. Wollman, Ph.D., as Tenth President

Julie E. Wollman

Dr. Julie E. Wollman was inaugurated as the tenth president of Widener University on May 13.

Widener University inaugurated Dr. Julie E. Wollman as its tenth president today, Friday, May 13, in a formal ceremony held on the university’s Main Campus in Chester. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, elected officials and delegates from various institutions of higher education witnessed the ceremony held in Alumni Auditorium.

“I envision that we will lead intentionally, unapologetically, decisively, in developing and implementing interdisciplinary models for addressing the world’s most vexing problems, which exist here in Chester and around the globe,” Dr. Wollman stated in her inaugural address. “We know that these systemic, global problems can be addressed successfully only through interdisciplinary collaboration, and we have the foundation to do this work.”

By focusing Widener’s civic engagement and experiential learning on what she called “wicked problems,” Dr. Wollman said that Widener can develop a “distinctive signature” to make it “a university of first choice for undergraduate and graduate students.”

Dr. Wollman was introduced by Dr. Patricia P. Cormier, president emerita of Longwood University, who had observed Dr. Wollman in her previous role as president of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cormier shared some of her observations with the inauguration crowd.

“Dr. Wollman unifies and empowers others, demonstrates an ability to articulate an appropriate vision with the help of others and encourages movement in a common direction to achieve agreed upon goals,” Dr. Cormier said. “She builds rapport and cares about people by finding their humanity and revealing her own.”

Other speakers included Dr. Nancy Hensel, president of the New American Colleges and Universities; Hon. Thaddeus Kirkland, mayor of the City of Chester; Nedia Ralston, director of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Southeast Regional Office; Dr. Daniel H. Sandweiss, regional vice president of Phi Kappa Phi; and Hon. James T. Vaughn Jr., justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. Widener alumni, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, students and staff also offered remarks.

The university kicked off the inauguration celebration earlier in the week on May 10 with an Inauguration Showcase of Faculty and Student Work. Faculty engaged in a symposium related to the inauguration theme Listen. Lead. Transform. The panel was followed by a display of faculty published work and student poster presentations demonstrating the breadth and depth of the integration of high-impact educational practices at Widener. Student members of the university acapella group Keepin’ It Trill and the Widener Dance Company also performed.

Dr. Wollman began her tenure at Widener University on Jan. 19. She previously served as president of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, where she introduced a campus-wide President’s Listening Initiative to update the mission, values and strategic plan through an inclusive process. She also established Porreco College, a highly successful satellite campus, offering associate degrees targeted to meet the needs of the Erie, Pennsylvania, urban population.

Prior to becoming president of Edinboro, Dr. Wollman served as vice president for academic affairs at Wheelock College in Boston. Before that, she was vice president for academic affairs at Worcester State University, and dean of the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at Rhode Island College, where she also co-directed the doctoral program and held rank of full professor.

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 Doctor of Philosophy in education from New York University.

A Philadelphia native, Dr. Wollman is pleased to be back in the area with her husband, Dr. Dan L. King, who is the executive director of the American Association of University Administrators. She has two daughters.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. are proud to be a tobacco-free. Visit the university website,