By the age of 6, Dr. Gail Wells said she knew she was going to be successful. Playing the piano was just the beginning of her career, and as she grew older she decided to expand her role by demonstrating leadership to a college community.
Wells was nominated Jan. 31 for the “Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky” award, and six of the 33 nominees were chosen to be presented Apr. 16 at The Syndicate in Newport.
“I was very pleased that the faculty nominated me for this award,” Wells said. “I hoped it would be an opportunity to highlight the wonderful things happening at NKU.”
Wells takes her position very seriously. “I believe in the value of education and the quality of changing people’s lives,” she said. “I enjoy students coming back to visit me and saying that NKU has changed their lives. NKU teaches a lot of first-generation students – this impacts the entire family.”
“Most important to me,” Wells added, “is leading a life that will make a difference in others lives and making a contribution in life.”
Wells manages a budget of $15 million and oversees 500 full-time and part-time faculty and staff, 3,500 majors, 12 departments and 10 programs.
According to a press release, Wells secured a $2.5 million gift from the Corbett Foundation to help support the development of a new string program and the internationally-acclaimed Amernet String Quartet, a classical chamber music group.
“Wells is enriching our Northern Kentucky community by making the college of arts and sciences a center of academic excellence and community collaboration in both the sciences and performing arts,” said Dr. Joan Ferrante, associate professor of sociology. “She reaches out to the campus as well as the outside community.”
Wells also helped establish a choral music festival with Chris Neyer, board member of the May Festival, and Tom Neyer, chairman the Regional Cultural Alliance, a nonprofit organization.
Wells has a professional relationship with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, which performs four concerts a year at NKU’s Greaves Hall. She has also brought to the campus a branch of the Otto Budig Academy, which offers ballet training to area students in preschool through 12th grade.
Wells was instrumental in establishing the Center for Integrative Natural Science and Mathematics, a Kentucky Center of Excellence which supports curriculum needs of preschool through 12th grade math and science teachers.
Being a dean, Wells said, requires hard work and dedication, not only to meet the needs for students, but to meet the needs for faculty, staff and the surrounding community.
Wells admits that obstacles do occur, but her most challenging obstacle is that NKU is “under-funded.”
“How I over came this obstacle is by looking for other ways [around the funding],” Wells said. “If something is important enough to you, don’t just accept it, you have to find other ways of funding to meet your goal.”
“She’s a person who does a lot on campus without adding any self-promotion,” Ferrante said. “She’s a driving force for promotion on campus. She really works hard at what she does.”
Before the Baltimore-born Wells came to NKU in 1980, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University in 1968, where she studied mathematics and music as a primary major, and physics as a secondary major.
She then obtained her doctorate degree in 1980 from the University of Cincinnati, where she studied mathematics and computer science education.
When Wells is not fulfilling her role as dean, she enjoys spending time with her two children, Shannon, 30, who lives in France, and her son Jason, 28, who lives in California. S
She enjoys playing the organ, which she has played for 18 years, and piano, which she has played for 50 years.