Update on Vice President for Student Services and Dean of the School of Social Work

Morrill Hall sits on the south end of the University of Nevada, Reno quad, a large lawn area surrounded by trees and a walking path.

Update on Vice President for Student Services and Dean of the School of Social Work

November 30, 2023

Dear Wolf Pack Family,

As we approach winter break, we hope you are looking forward to spending time with friends and family. It is a historic time on our campus. We are so grateful for the talents and commitment of our students, faculty and staff. With our fall semester nearing an end, we would like to share with you some recent organizational changes that will impact our University in the coming year. 

Vice President for Student Services Dr. Shannon Ellis, who has led the Division of Student Services through a period of historic achievement since her appointment in 1998, will be stepping down from her position to retire on Jan. 19, 2024. Catherine Cardwell, Dean of University Libraries, will serve as Interim Vice President of Student Services, effective Jan. 20, 2024.

A search to hire a new Vice President of Student Affairs will begin immediately.

Dr. Ellis’ more than 25-year tenure in succeeding Dr. Patricia Miltenberger, another influential Student Service figure on campus, has been one marked by substantial and historic increases in enrollment, student retention and graduation as well as the development of a thriving residential life focus on our campus. Throughout her career Dr. Ellis has always exuded empathy, compassion and understanding for our students and has advocated for them at every level. In addition, she has championed the key role our Student Services professionals play in providing resources, support and guidance in meeting the needs of our student body.

Our University owes Dr. Ellis a debt of gratitude for her personal and professional grace, and her unwavering commitment to our students. We are a “student-centered” and “student-success” University. Much of this is due to the accomplishments of Dr. Ellis’ remarkable career.

Dean Cardwell, in her interim role in Student Services, will be tasked with ensuring continuity and efficiency in overseeing Student Services, which includes all aspects of student life and success, including the Student Life Center, First-Generation Student Center and the Disability Resource Center.

Dean Cardwell brings extensive experience to the post, which she will fulfill concurrently with her duties as Dean of Libraries. Since joining the University in August 2021, she has established a well-deserved reputation on our campus as a highly collaborative leader. Dean Cardwell also served as Acting Vice Provost of Information Technology from July 2021 to February 2022 at our University. Prior to joining the University, she held a dual appointment as the Regional Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Campus Dean of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg.

We are pleased to also announce that the University recently named Dr. Lillian Wichinsky as Dean of the School of Social Work. She previously served as Interim Dean since June 2022 and excelled in the role. During this time, Dr. Wichinsky has led the school through a period of growth to more than 800 students, shepherded the school through a successful reaccreditation from the Council on Social Work Education, and oversaw the recent relocation of the school into its own campus building. The call for this appointment was brought forward by the faculty of the School of Social Work, asking leadership to forgo a national search and appoint Dr. Wichinsky to the role of Dean. Letters of support for this appointment were submitted to the Provost and me, and after deliberation and consultation with the Faculty Senate Executive Board, the appointment was made. 

Dr. Wichinsky joined the School of Social work as an Associate Dean in 2021. She has more than 25 years of experience in the social work profession and has a passion for community practice. Her professional work includes child welfare, advocating for individuals with disabilities, and best practices in working with youth transitioning from foster care.

Thank you all for being such great members of the Wolf Pack Family. We look forward to seeing many of you at the Winter Commencement ceremonies at Lawlor Events Center on Dec. 9.

Sincere regards,

Brian Sandoval

Jeff Thompson
Executive Vice President and Provost