Sept. 13-26, 2002
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New chancellor installed at Wise
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Steven Kaplan
Steven H. Kaplan

New chancellor installed at Wise

By Jane Meade-Dean

A host of state officials and delegates from dozens of colleges and universities gathered Sept. 6 at U.Va.’s College at Wise for the formal inauguration of Chancellor Steven H. Kaplan.

The outdoor ceremony included remarks from state Secretary of Education Belle S. Wheelan and a keynote address by Nikki Giovanni, the acclaimed poet, activist, and University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.

The college’s fifth chancellor, Kaplan, 48, has been on the job in Wise since July 2001. The former dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University in Indianapolis, Kaplan was selected to lead U.Va.-Wise following a six-month national search.

During his inaugural address, Kaplan focused on the themes of accessibility, civic-mindedness and boldness, and paid homage to the local leaders who helped create the college in 1954.

“The founders of this college, by placing it in one of the most economically challenged parts of the Commonwealth, were honoring Thomas Jefferson’s conviction that public education should play a fundamental role in sustaining a truly democratic society,” Kaplan said. “Through the generosity of the citizens of this region, this college has been able for almost five decades to prepare the region’s youth to become responsible and active members of a democratic society.

“I am humbled, yet thrilled, by the opportunity to carry on the work of the many dedicated and visionary individuals who have brought this college to its current level of success,” Kaplan concluded. ‘Like Sam Crockett, (the college’s first director) I cannot imagine a more invigorating, inspiring or gratifying opportunity.”
U.Va. President John T. Casteen III commended the new chancellor for his “wide and deep experience and wonderful kind of enthusiasm.”

“Chancellor, I wish for you hard challenges because hard challenges are essential to making progress,” Casteen said. “To this college and community, I wish the great future you richly deserve.”

In addition to his administrative responsibilities at U.Va.-Wise, Kaplan is professor of English, and is currently team-teaching a course on leadership. He is also the author of a book on American translations of the famed German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and numerous articles on American and German literature. Kaplan has also written Understanding Tim O’Brien, a book about the critically acclaimed Vietnam novelist’s fiction, and is the co-editor of Between the Lines: International Short Stories of War, an anthology of international war stories.

A Chicago native, Kaplan received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1976. He completed his graduate studies in comparative literature at Eberhard-Karls Universitat Tübingen in Germany, earning a master’s degree in 1982 and a Ph.D. in 1988. In 1997, he earned a diploma from Harvard University’s Management Development Program.

Before becoming chancellor at U.Va.-Wise, Kaplan held deanships at Butler and the School of Arts and Humanities at the State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Kaplan and his wife, Anemone Schweizer-Kaplan, have four children: Aljoscha, Silia (a student at U.Va.), Noemi (a student at U.Va.-Wise), and Janina.


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