President Julie E. Wollman Plans June 2022 Departure
After nearly six years marked by growth, the strongest financial health in university history, and national recognition for her leadership, Widener University President Julie E. Wollman has announced she will retire from the presidency at the end of the upcoming academic year.
Wollman has accepted the position of professor of practice in higher education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, her alma mater, which she will begin for the 2022-23 year.
She will leave behind a thriving university poised to build on its strengths, where powerhouse programs, faculty mentorship, and hands-on learning experiences provide students with an inside track to successful careers.
An advocate for innovation and a forward-thinking leader, Wollman’s leadership has brought exciting new academic programs to Widener, like robotics engineering and speech-language pathology, in response to industry feedback and student interest, to prepare students for jobs of the future. She established and successfully cemented Widener’s focus on integrated health sciences programs as key growth areas, including new or upcoming programs for occupational therapy, physician assistant, and nutrition.
Her commitment to providing outstanding campus facilities has resulted in major facility renovations, including the main floor of University Center – a key Widener gathering place -- and academic spaces in Kapelski Learning Center and Academic Center North, which will house a hub of health services programs and offices.
Wollman has successfully overseen these projects while displaying exemplary fiscal management through challenges that included the COVID-19 pandemic. Widener ended three consecutive fiscal years under her leadership with an operating gain in revenue and in a position better than was budgeted. In fact, the 2019 fiscal year ended with more than $8 million over what was projected and the university’s best year-end result – marking gains that were then invested into capital projects. Her sound decision making helped manage the unexpected costs associated with COVID-19, including student housing refunds, and significant technology investments to support remote learning.
In support of her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Wollman appointed the first full-time chief diversity officer, launched the nationally recognized Common Ground Initiative, and has seen student diversity and incoming academic credentials improve under her leadership, including a significantly reduced achievement gap for BIPOC students.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Widener’s president,” Wollman said. “I am proud of all we have accomplished together. More than anything, I am grateful to the faculty, staff and trustees for working with me to help our community of learners discover and create better futures, and to our students, for providing daily inspiration to demonstrate our commitment to excellence in all we do on their behalf. Student success has been at the heart of every decision and effort I have made at Widener.
Wollman came to Widener in January 2016 as the university’s 10th president, after serving four years as president of Edinboro University in Erie County, Pennsylvania. She has led with transparency and an emphasis on communication, driven by a relentless pursuit of excellence.
“Julie Wollman has been a dedicated president who has worked thoughtfully and purposefully to strengthen Widener,” Board of Trustees Chair Paul Beideman said. “We look forward to building on these strengths and opportunities as we search for a successor. I wish her well in this new chapter of her career.”