After seven years as provost and vice president for academic affairs at University of Texas Permian Basin, Daniel Heimmermann will be taking the next step in his academic journey as chancellor of the University of South Carolina-Aiken.
Heimmermann first came to UTPB in 2014. During his tenure, he has established new colleges, academic and research centers and institutes in Biomedical Science, Cybersecurity and Information, Natural Resource Management and Water and Energy.
“Dan’s contributions to UTPB will pay dividends to our university for decades to come. His leadership has been a critical part of our success and he will be deeply missed by the entire Falcon family. We take great pride in knowing that one of our own has been selected for this important role. We are confident that he will accomplish great things as he leads the University of South Carolina Aiken,” UTPB President Sandra Woodley said in a news release.
Former UTPB President David Watts recruited him. Before coming to Odessa, Heimmermann was at Mississippi University for Women for two years. Before that, he was at UT Brownsville when it existed. He has been in higher education since 1994.
Originally from Appleton, Wis., Heimmermann earned his undergraduate degrees in history and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He earned a master’s in early modern history and a doctorate in French history, both from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
“I had a love for history and when I was in graduate school I had the opportunity to teach as a teaching assistant and that’s really what drew me to continue for seven more years after undergraduate to pursue the master’s and the PhD in French history so I could teach,” Heimmermann said.
He started at the University of North Alabama and was there for 13 years. Heimmermann met his wife, Claudia, there. She worked at the university, as well.
The couple has a 14-year-old daughter, Lucie, and two dogs.
“My first job was in Alabama in 1994 and I taught besides world civilization which is a general education course, I would teach upper level and graduate courses in European history, French history and the French Revolution, Napoleon and 18th century Renaissance, reformation things like that,” Heimmermann said.
He then moved to Brownsville, Columbus, Miss., and to UTPB. The chancellor’s job is like that of a university president and there is a president that presides over the South Carolina system.
“This will be a tough place to leave for a lot of reasons. One, I really enjoy working with the faculty and staff and Dr. Woodley here. I have a great job here so that’s going to be tough and it’s a job where, honestly, I know I’m appreciated which is important. The other thing is, personally, we have made some lifelong friends here …,” Heimmermann said.
The good thing is that with technology they can be more in touch with people than ever.
The Aiken campus has about 4,000 students, so it’s a little smaller than UTPB. But many of the things the university is doing, or plans to do, are aligned with what UTPB is doing in terms of developing engineering, cybersecurity, a business incubator and an advanced manufacturing center.
“A lot of the things that we’re working on here they too are working on in South Carolina. From my point of view, a lot of the stuff that I’m interested in that we’ve been interested in here I’ll be able to continue there and hopefully offer some things. Here, in the last seven years, we’ve considerably expanded our engineering programs here and adding the three new programs, including master’s degrees,” Heimmermann said.
“There are a lot of similarities with trajectories that for me was very appealing and a lot of support from the community which that’s been the great thing here. As I’ve reflected on my career here there are a lot of advantages here. Being part of the UT System can’t be overstated. (There are) few places could we have accomplished so much; I’m just talking about my little sliver of time here — seven years — without the support of the UT System. Three engineering programs, $60 million kinesiology building so the UT System and the support of the people of West Texas. That can’t be overstated either,” Heimmermann said.
He added that the football program also started during his tenure.
The South Carolina post will be Heimmermann’s first university presidency.
“It will be a good, new experience; a first, which are exciting; exhilarating,” he said.
The scenic location was an appeal for him.
“From a family perspective, it’s got a lot of advantages just to be a little more proximate to her family and two sisters and her parents …,” he said.
He added that he likes the fact that it’s part of the University of South Carolina System and it’s part of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.
“It’s one of a handful of public schools that are recognized as a liberal arts school. I’m a liberal arts guy. That was really appealing,” Heimmermann said.
He officially starts July 1, but there are already things planned for before he arrives such as a retreat at the end of June.
Heimmermann has previously applied for positions in Florida and Louisiana. There were about 100 applicants for the position he obtained at Aiken.
“It was very gratifying. Those odds are somewhat daunting, so I feel real fortunate and frankly it’s been no secret that I’ve applied, but I’ve done so really selectively because I’m really happy here, certainly family-wise and my job,” he said.
“I figured if I was ever going to become a president, I had to shoot somewhat selectively just to see what happens,” he added.