Chancellor Dwight Watson


Since Aug. 1, 2019, Dr. Dwight C. Watson has served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

He brings more than 35 years of experience in education to his role as the leader of the Warhawk family. As a passionate educator, Watson is inspired by UW-Whitewater’s commitment to providing its students transformational and empowering education experiences. As a first-generation college attendee of modest means, he found that higher education provided him the functional, navigational skills needed to access future opportunities. With a focus on access, affordability, service, and success, his work now is to inspire learners to achieve and to remove barriers for students so they can have access to greater opportunities.

Most recently, Watson served as provost and vice president of academic and student affairs at Southwest Minnesota State University, an institution serving about 7,300 students as part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. In this role, he has focused on achievement, access, attention, and affordability. He designed and implemented policies and practices pertaining to diversity, inclusion, access, and equity. Watson helped build collaborative relationships with two-year community and technical colleges, including creating transfer pathways and place-bound 2+2 programs. Working collaboratively with shared governance, he has overseen successful accreditation, assessment, and strategic planning. He has fundraising and government relations expertise.

Previously, Watson served as dean of the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa (2010-2015); associate dean of the Teacher Education Program at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire (2007-2010); and chair of the Department of Education at Hamline University (2002-2007). As a professor, his primary teaching focus was literacy development for young and adolescent readers. His scholarship has focused on applied research connected to the literacy and language acquisition of students of color and urban learners. His current scholarship is on diversifying the academic workforce and leadership development. His professional experience also includes teaching in Pre-K-12 classrooms in his home state of South Carolina as well as in North Carolina and Minnesota.

Watson holds an Ed.D. in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) from North Carolina State University. He earned his Master of Education and bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina. He earned his Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts Education from the University of South Carolina – Sumter.