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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.
Dennis J. Shields serves in the unique position of President of the Southern University System and Chancellor for Southern University and A&M College.
As President/Chancellor of the only Historically Black College and University system in the country, he is charged with the administrative oversight of the five system campuses that include Southern University Baton Rouge (SUBR), Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), Southern University Shreveport Louisiana (SUSLA), Southern University Law Center (SULC), and Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SUAREC).
Committed to diversity, he has spent most of his career advocating for better access to higher education – especially for those who have been historically underrepresented. President Shields’ leadership philosophy is based on four principles: focus on the core mission of the institution through active engagement with all constituencies in furthering that mission; investment in the institution’s human capital to aid and support achievement of the mission; and operational and substantive transparency and accountability.
Under his leadership, each campus will continue to advance, support, and promote economic, cultural, and workforce development initiatives that bring benefits beyond the borders of the great state of Louisiana. He identifies that the critical role of a leader is to purposefully crystalize the System and campuses’ priorities and strategies into a unified, understandable plan and to coordinate its execution. This includes specifically aligning the strategic plans of each campus within the Southern University System. Additional priorities for the first year are: to improve the student experience, enhance community engagement, and have intentional and robust engagement with external stakeholders.
A native of Iowa, President Shields earned his undergraduate degree in business from Graceland College, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa College of Law. His professional career encompassed Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, Vice President of Student Affairs at City College of New York – City University of New York; administrative positions in admissions at the University of Iowa College of Law, University of Michigan Law School, Duke University School of Law, and teaching and deanship positions at Phoenix School of Law.
He has chaired the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division III, and he currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) where he participates on its steering committee, teaches at its annual Summer Institute, and serves as a mentor to its Millennium Protégés. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa.
President Shields is married and is the father of three adult sons.