University Economic Development Association
Debbie Ford

Debbie Ford

University of Wisconsin-Parkside


Dr. Ford has lead the campus community in the integration of planning with the development of a Strategic Plan, Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, Academic Plan, Master Plan, and Technology Roadmap. A strong believer in community engagement and building partnerships throughout the region, Dr. Ford is actively involved with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA), Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC), Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC), the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce, Milwaukee 7, the Racine County United Way Schools of Hope Leadership Council, and the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast (GSWISE). 

She serves on Workforce Development Boards in Racine and Kenosha, and is past-chair of Wisconsin Campus Compact. Nationally, Dr. Ford serves on the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning Board (CAEL) and served as a member of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting. She is also a past member of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council. 

In June 2014, Dr. Ford was recognized by the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation (NCCI) as one of three recipients of the inaugural Leaders of Change Recognition Program award. The award recognizes leaders of change throughout higher education for their accomplishments, and helps link them with their peers to further leverage the impact of their work. In 2015, the Milwaukee Business Journal honored Dr. Ford with its Women of Influence Award. The Business Journal noted that Dr. Ford works to ensure diversity in academic leadership. “Having benefited from many mentors over the course of her career,” the Business Journal wrote, “Ford believes in paying it forward, particularly in helping women leaders flourish.”

Dr. Ford is proud to lead an institution that traditionally serves a majority of first-generation university students. Chancellor Ford, herself, was a first-generation student. At UW-Parkside, close to 60 percent of the graduates each year are the first in their families to earn a university degree. She is also proud of the learning environment at UW-Parkside, the most diverse campus in the prestigious University of Wisconsin System. 

Prior to joining the learning community at UW-Parkside, Dr. Ford served as Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of West Florida, and Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Spalding University (Kentucky). Dr. Ford holds her B.S. from the University of Louisville, her Master of Education from Indiana University, and her Doctor of Education from the University of Louisville. 

She is married to John and they have two children, Abby and John David.