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The Team Takes the Field

In the Spring semester, President Tony Atwater completed formation of his vice-presidential team.

Cheryl Samuels, who received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. Robert Davies, who earned a Ph.D. degree at the State University of New York at Buffalo, is the vice president for Institutional Advancement.

Rhonda Luckey assumed the vice presidency of Student Affairs, a post she had held on an interim basis for some time. Luckey received an Ed.D. degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Finally, David Burdette, who received an M.B.A. degree from SUNY Buffalo, signed on as vice president for Finance and Administration.

Cheryl Samuels

As provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Cheryl Samuels is the chief academic officer of the university and serves as acting president in the absence of the president. The IUP Libraries are part of her responsibility. President Tony Atwater has said of Samuels, “I am convinced that she shares my interest in maintaining and advancing the high academic standards that have contributed to the university’s national reputation for teaching and scholarship.”

Samuels came to IUP from Texas Woman’s University, where she served as provost and vice president of academic affairs. She looks forward to growth in IUP’s academic mission. “IUP has a very dedicated faculty that has built very strong and well-respected programs at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels,” she said. “I see continued strength at the undergraduate level and growth in graduate programs, both in student enrollment and in the development and offering of new programs, particularly at the doctoral level. In conjunction with this growth, I see faculty and students, at all levels, involved in more applied research and scholarship.”

The university, Samuels said, “is uniquely positioned to build on its fine reputation as large enough to offer a full array of academic offerings in the arts and humanities, business, education, health, and social and physical sciences and yet focus on the success of each student. This focus is possible through small classes, faculty advisors, research and internship opportunities, and an inviting and active campus culture.”

Davies previously held higher education positions in Idaho and Nevada and came to IUP from the University at Buffalo, where he was associate vice president in the Division of Alumni Relations and Development. IUP, he said, “is a diamond in the rough. The university has all the attributes for making a national impact. Part of bringing this about is developing a brand and a clear image. In essence, IUP is a national university waiting to happen.”

Robert Davies

“Robert Davies brings to this administrative assignment a significant breadth in fundraising, alumni relations, major gift acquisitions, and marketing,” President Tony Atwater said when Davies was hired. “He is also one of a very small number of university advancement officers in the United States who possess an earned doctoral degree in higher education administration.” Alumni Relations, headquartered in Breezedale, is one of the areas for which Davies has responsibility.

Davies pointed to several areas that underscore IUP’s position “on the pinnacle of success.” The Regional Development Center and Sports Complex, he said, “will be the linchpin for other projects that will move the university and the region forward.” Of the Residential Revival, he said, “The housing project collaboration between the Foundation for IUP and the university will provide a whole new exciting environment for students.” He noted that “The leadership change that has taken place at the university—with the vice presidents’ moving into position literally within a month and a half of one another—makes for a dynamic and cohesive situation.”

Rhonda Luckey

In observing her work as an interim vice president for Student Affairs and announcing her appointment on a permanent basis, President Tony Atwater said Rhonda Luckey “truly demonstrates a devotion and commitment to the university’s goal of maintaining and strengthening a student-centered learning community at IUP.” Some of Luckey’s happiest moments are when she’s with students, as she is in this photo in the Oak Grove.

Luckey has been associated with IUP in various positions for nearly two decades. She sees 2006 as a particularly exciting time in the university’s history. “IUP is at a moment of great change,” she said. “While the external forces offer significant challenge, we have the necessary ingredients—vision, drive, passion, skill—to move IUP forward on multiple fronts.”

Charged with oversight responsibility for the Admissions area, Luckey said, “Once we have an integrated marketing initiative, our outstanding academic programs will become more visible and highly sought after. We will become known as the university of choice in the region, state, and nationally, as well.”

Burdette has nearly four decades of experience in higher education financial management at both the campus and system levels and came to IUP from Radford University in Virginia, where he was vice president for business and governmental affairs. He retired in 1996 from the Army National Guard with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

David Burdette

In announcing Vice President David Burdette’s appointment, President Tony Atwater noted that he “brings to IUP a wealth of experience in university budgeting, finance, and accounting. He also brings a dept of experience in all areas of the Administration and Finance Division. I have full confidence in his abilities to protect and enhance the university’s financial and physical assets.” Among those physical assets is the S.W. Jack Cogeneration Facility, which uses natural gas to produce electricity, steam, and hot water for the campus’s needs.

Burdette said he relishes the opportunity to work with a new president and with his fellow Senior Cabinet members. “Each of us,” he said, “is coming from a different place with a different perspective.”

He sees IUP as “ready to make a statement as a high-quality national research university while still maintaining the value of a teaching institution. We have a dedicated faculty and a terrific administrative and support staff. These people have helped to make IUP what it is. Now we need to make sure people understand where it is we’re going.”

More information about all the vice presidents is available in the online editions of IUP Reporter, located at www.iup.edu/news/reporter.

What Makes a Good Vice President?

A successful vice president, Davies believes, “leaves his or her ego at the door. A sense of humor is absolutely essential in higher education. It’s important to take your job seriously, but you can’t take yourself too seriously.”

In Samuels’s opinion, a good provost for a university like IUP should have “an open mind, a world view, and the love of learning.”

Luckey thinks a vice president in her role must “be driven to serve the soul of the university—our students. [The vice president must] have the energy and passion to press for solutions and lead the university to real transformational change.”

Burdette believes vice presidents serve the president “by being a bridge to the staff we work with. We also help translate what we’re hearing from our staff to help guide the president. We try to give him the best advice possible so that he can make the decisions he needs to make.”