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Biography

Provost Kathleen Enz Finken
California Polytechnic State University


Kathleen Enz FinkenKathleen Enz Finken, former provost of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, began her role as Cal Poly provost in February 2012. She brings broad academic and administrative experience to her position as the university’s top administrator for academic affairs and senior member of the president’s executive management staff.

Enz Finken had served as the UW-La Crosse provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs since 2008. UW-La Crosse consistently ranks among the top three Midwestern public master’s degree-granting institutions by U.S. News and World Report. She was also a professor of art history at the campus.

From 2004 to 2008 she was dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Minnesota State University Moorhead, and from 2000 to 2002 she was chair of the university’s Department of Art and Design. She served as a professor of art history at the Minnesota campus from 1993 through 2008.

Enz Finken earned three degrees in art history: a Bachelor of Arts degree (1983) from Douglass College for Women, the women's residential college of Rutgers University in New Jersey (now Douglass Residential College), a master’s degree (1987), and a doctorate (1998), both from Rutgers.

She has participated in archaeological excavations in Cyprus and has led study tours to Italy and the United Kingdom.

Enz Finken has been a highly effective administrator and takes pride in developing and promoting people and ideas, leading periods of growth and change, solving problems and removing barriers to success. Employing strong leadership skills, she is able to work collaboratively across all areas and at all levels of the university community, bringing people together to problem-solve and develop strategies for moving forward.

She is a member of the American Council on Education Internationalization Collaborative Advisory Council.

Some of her more notable accomplishments at UW-La Crosse include:

  • Hiring more than 100 new faculty and 25 new staff members through the university’s Growth, Quality and Access Initiative

  • Re-structuring several divisions to increase productivity and improve service 

  • Establishing the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning 

  • Creating an Office of Undergraduate Research 

  • Reforming course scheduling practices and instructional funding model 

  • Enhancing the internationalization of the campus across all areas

  • Developing three online master’s degree programs in high-need areas and two online bachelor’s degree completion programs 

  • Formulating strategic responses to reductions in state appropriations of  $10 million and $5 million in 2009 and 2011, respectively, while maintaining a commitment to the university’s academic mission

  • Investing in faculty research and grant-writing

  • Establishing a Center for Emerging Technology focused on pharmaceutical development

In 2011 she was awarded the Burt and Norma Altman Award for Leadership in International Education at UW-La Crosse. She was inducted into UW-La Crosse Golden Key International Honour Society in 2008. At MSU Moorhead, she won the Academic Affairs Excellence in Service to the University Award (2007) and the Academic Affairs Excellence in Teaching Award (2003).
A strong believer in the power of hands-on learning and the value of cross-disciplinary academic endeavors, Enz Finken aims to enhance Cal Poly’s distinctive approach to teaching by creating learning environments that prepare students to be successful, responsible members of this 21st century’s “community of the world.”
Enz Finken and her husband, Gerald, have two grown sons and four grandchildren.  Colin and his family live in Moorhead, MN and River attends NYU Law School.

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Last Update: August 2, 2012


Office of the Provost
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
805.756.2186
academicaffairs@calpoly.edu