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Dennis J. Shields serves as the president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University and A&M College.
Shields, who served as the chancellor for the University of Wisconsin Platteville for nearly 12 years, has spent most of his career advocating for better access to higher education — especially those who have been historically underrepresented. Under Shields’ leadership, the campus has had tremendous growth. Enrollment grew nearly 11 percent from 2010 to fall 2016. Most recently, he led successful efforts to gain legislative and gubernatorial approval to build a new $55 million state-of-the-art engineering facility on campus as well as a $23.7 million renovation project for one of the liberal arts buildings on campus. Those two projects, plus a $15.3 million Williams Fieldhouse expansion, will give the university more than $93 million in upcoming growth and improvements. Additionally, he led the construction of two residence halls, one with a dining facility.
Prior to his current position in Wisconsin, Shields held administrative positions in admissions at the University of Iowa College of Law, University of Michigan Law School and Duke University School of Law. He has also held a deanship and a teaching position at Phoenix School of Law and acted as the vice president for student affairs at The City College of New York.
A champion of diversity and access, Shields served as the first chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group of the National Collegiate Athletics Association for Division III. With Shields at the helm, the University of Wisconsin Platteville, has focused more on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher. Initiatives have successfully doubled the number of students from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds over the course of the past decade.
Shields, an Iowa native, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Graceland College in 1977 and a juris doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1982.