Marilyn Karaffa Wells ’80 Named Provost at Minnesota State

Marilyn Wells

Marilyn Karaffa Wells ’80 has been named the new provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Minnesota State University–Mankato, effective July 22.

Marilyn is currently vice provost and graduate dean at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, a position she has held since 2008.

“Dr. Wells brings a superb breadth of academic experience and knowledge to the university to support her senior leadership role in academic affairs,” said university President Richard Davenport. “Marilyn compliments our current group of administrators and understands the important role shared governance and collective bargaining plays at our institution. She understands our bold aspirational goals and has an incredibly high energy level to help us achieve them. I am absolutely thrilled to have Dr. Wells join our team later this summer.”

Marilyn was one of four finalists for the position, and Davenport said he appreciated the work of the search committee and search firm in bringing an excellent pool of candidates to campus.

Marilyn will come to Minnesota State Mankato after being a key leader and making a significant impact in strategic planning at East Stroudsburg, a public regional master’s comprehensive university with a diverse campus of more than 6,900 students. Included are a 20 percent ethnic/racial minority and 30 percent low-income students from over 30 states.

Marilyn was selected by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Office of the Chancellor and East Stroudsburg president for joint and interim appointments to meet a number of priority and critical needs. Most recently, that included serving as the system liaison for strategic initiatives from 2011 to the present. She has led and served on the Office of the Chancellor’s Academic Program Review Committee to review and recommend actions on more than 50 new program proposals submitted by the 14 PASSHE universities.

Marilyn’s numerous major accomplishments at East Stroudsburg include steering the development, full approval, and implementation of seven new academic programs (three graduate, four undergraduate) in four years. She has also enhanced academic program quality through approval of new curriculum models, program revisions, and national accreditations.

She has managed more than 400 full- and part-time faculty and managed a $42-million personnel budget and $1.9-million operating budget. She led East Stroudsburg to improved enrollment metrics in many areas, including increased enrollment of underrepresented minority graduate students by more than 47 percent over five years.

Throughout her career, Marilyn has been involved in securing and serving as lead administrator or project director for numerous grants. She is widely published and has presented at numerous international and national conferences. She is also a member of many professional associations and organizations and has held a number of roles as a professional consultant. She has been active in the communities in which she has worked and currently serves on the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and Bethlehem Downtown Business Association.

Marilyn earned a doctorate in health education from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., in 1989, master’s degrees in both public health (1991) and health education (1987) from East Stroudsburg and a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1980.

Prior to her current position at East Stroudsburg, Marilyn held a number of positions from 1999 to 2008 at Hampton University in Hampton, Va. She was chair and an associate professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at Hampton from 2005 to 2008 and an assistant professor and coordinator of health education at Hampton from 1999 to 2005.

Marilyn also has vast experience in a number of other professional positions in higher education, government, and business throughout her career.

She served as senior director for health management strategies at the Center for Health Information–Managed Care Resources in Chesapeake, Va., from 1997 to 1999; the coordinator of Continuing Education–Healthcare Programs at Metropolitan Community College–Penn Valley in Kansas City, Mo., from 1995 to 1996; an assistant professor of health education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D., from 1992 to 1995; director of the Division of Disease Prevention, Bureau of Health Promotion for the Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery, Ala., from 1990 to 1992; and an assistant professor of health education at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, from 1989 to 1990.

The provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Minnesota State Mankato is the chief academic officer and serves as the university’s senior vice president. The position reports directly to the president and has primary responsibility for providing academic leadership, direction, and vision to support and enhance the quality of undergraduate and graduate programs. The senior VP also oversees library services, international programs, institutional research, Center for Academic Excellence, disability services, grants and sponsored programs, and the Center for Continuous Learning. The senior VP also participates in systemwide planning, and represents Minnesota State Mankato with community leaders and elected officials.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,413 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.