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More University of Cincinnati alumni college presidents

UC can claim the title "Mother of Presidents." Meet 15 leaders of academia who are UC alumni.

by Mary Niehaus

Welcome to the rest of the story. In July 2003, “Cincinnati Horizons” profiled 13 top executives of American colleges and universities, all of them University of Cincinnati alumni. We also asked our readers to tell us if we had omitted any. They did.

We discovered that in states other than Ohio, the title “chancellor” is sometimes given to the person who functions as president. In addition, some new alumni names have risen to the presidential ranks.

We now invite readers to meet another 15 alumni presidents and chancellors whose leadership path has been shaped by the University of Cincinnati.


A&S ’70
Chancellor since ’95, Western Carolina University

I greatly appreciate the grounding that UC gave me in understanding the link between education and social betterment. Much of my work as chancellor stems from my experiences in the late ’60s, a time of national turmoil.

During my senior year, I worked at the UC Medical Center where I saw up close the situation of many lower-income people. This strongly reinforced my interest in community educational outreach and regional economic development.


PhD (A&S) ’74
President since July ’04, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Mass.

What I remember most vividly is the high quality of teaching by my professors at the University of Cincinnati. The awards I’ve won for teaching are very much due to my observation of those teachers.

Math is a kind of language, and the real trick, the intellectual challenge, is to be able to find words that effectively convey the concept that is in your mind. It wasn’t until I got to graduate school at UC that I met professors who had that gift.


Ed ’85, MS (Ed) ’86,
PhD (A&S) ’91
Chancellor since May ’03, University of Minnesota, Crookston

My UC experience was the very best training I could have had for university leadership; I learned how to become a scholar and a criminologist. This has been very valuable to my understanding of human behavior and the dynamics of complex and formal organizations.
Three faculty I want to mention are Paula Dubeck, a model of administration and people skills; Frank Cullen, my adviser and an excellent scholar; and Ed Latessa, who guided the criminal justice program’s growth.


PhD (A&S) ’74
Chancellor, ’93-96, University of Wisconsin, Platteville

I chose the UC criminal justice progam because it was grounded in the social psychology approach to crime theory. The young professors in this new program were determined to put us through our paces. Many hours were spent tracing assigned theories back to their roots, following every question to its end. My doctorate from UC prepared me for a marvelous career in terms of research, teaching and serving as an expert witness. It opened doors for me that no other program could have.


A&S ’70, MA (A&S) ’71
Chancellor for five years, Purdue University North Central, Ind.

Many of the leadership traits I have today took root during my days at UC. Opportunities to participate in research on undergraduate and master’s levels, plus experience as a teaching assistant for introductory economics classes, cultivated my talents and interests. When I went on for a PhD in industrial relations, I felt very well prepared in comparison with my cohort of doctoral students. I felt then, and still feel, that my UC education was top rate. A big thank you to Howard Leftwich, Edward Herman and Al Berry.
(Dworkin follows Dale Alspaugh, Eng ’55, as chancellor. It may be the first instance of consecutive UC alumni in a university’s top position.)


CCM ’75, MA (CCM) ’77, PhD (CCM) ’83
President since July ’03, Mary Baldwin College, Va.

Many have asked me how a pianist and musicologist develops a passion for higher administration. My disciplined love of learning is rooted mainly in piano. Even my strength in strategic planning comes from my love of music. Most importantly, my committment comes from my belief that we must utilize each individual’s potential and find a way each can contribute to the entire community and find fulfillment. This was strongly conveyed to me at the University of Cincinnati.


MA (A&S) ’73, PhD (A&S) ’74
President since July ’04, Arcadia University, Pa.

The faculty member who most influenced me was department chair Bill Dember. He had an ability to interact with faculty in a quiet, very focused way to get consensus. He recognized my leadership potential and gave me opportunities unusual for a second-year graduate student. We were asked to go with president Warren Bennis to meet with a donor, and I ended up creating UC’s Dinners with Donors program. That was quite a heady thing for a farm boy from Michigan.

Dana Hamel

PhD (Ed) ’62
Founding chancellor, ’66-79, Virginia Community College System

I worked at OMI-OCAS while I was at UC, which gave me an in-depth understanding of occupational-technical education. I saw faculty that cared about students, and I learned the importance of planning for the future, of making opportunities accessible to all. That understanding was valuable not only as we built the Virginia community college system -- 40 colleges under my charge -- but also in ’80-83, when I was sent to Virginia State to start an integrated education program.


PhD (Ed) ’81
President since June ’00, Clayton College & State University, Ga.

My three years at UC were packed with enriching experiences. The overall cultural mix, exposure to people from various countries, students from other disciplines and faculty who worked on my behalf shape many of my best memories. I also observed how an academic institution achieves its goals. In class, I learned straight from faculty who knew -- or who were -- the great leaders in higher education. My education at UC has served me very well.


MS (Ed) ’67, PhD (Ed) ’76
President, ’97-02, Wilberforce University, Ohio.
Also served as vice president, Sinclair Community College, Ohio

One of the things I remember most is the great support of my professors. They were tough, but allowed some flexibility. I found I could design relevant learning experiences outside the old “package” thinking. As dean for student development at UC, I worked for a great vice provost, William Nester. [See below] Bill had a way of managing that was just great. During nearly 15 years at Wilberforce, my style was based to a great degree on the same concepts of flexibility and teamwork.


MA ( A&S) ’52
President, ’65-77, Christian College/Columbia College, Mo.

As a married disabled veteran attending UC on the GI Bill, I believe that Herr Professor Edwin Zeydel, chairman of the Department of German, did the most to encourage me. He was always available for assistance. At Christian College, the institution’s survival became the issue. A name change to Columbia, co-education and a baccalaureate program, plus courses offered for soldiers at a St. Louis military base, turned things around.


A&S ’54, Ed ’55
Superintendent/president, ’87-00, San Joaquin Delta Community College, Calif.
Also served as president, Kankakee Community College, Ill.

In 1950, I was one of eight students accepted into a new five-year program at UC. The intent was improved academic preparation and training of new teachers and enhanced learning opportunities for students. Included was a one-year internship and an opportunity to teach in the Cincinnati Public Schools. It was excellent preparation for my chosen career. I had many helpful teachers and advisers -- the first being Bill Nester -- and he has been a good friend ever since.


MS (A&S) ’51, PhD (A&S) ’53
President, ’83-93, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Two professors and very fine administrators were John Rich, head of geology, and dean George Barbour. Rich’s administration was absolutely transparent, very open, nothing covert. He achieved what he wanted by example. Barbour’s job was much more complex, and he told me about being a dean, of having to convince disparate groups to work together. I noticed these patterns in other work settings. UC didn’t prepare me for leadership, as such, but prepared me by example.


PhD (A&S) ’85
President since August ’03, Pitt Community College, N.C.

When I went back to school for my doctorate, I was working full time at Wilmington College as an administrator and professor of English. UC had Saturday and late afternoon classes, plus a strong, very encouraging faculty. I remember particularly Bob Arner and Amy Elder. Although the doctorate in English wasn’t designed for administrators, it was a high-level program, and I learned much from the good people in my group. It was a valuable experience.


Ed ’50, MA (Ed) ’53, PhD (Ed) ’65
President/chancellor, ’83-93, University of Nebraska Kearney

Having served the University of Cincinnati for 26 years as a faculty member and administrator, plus receiving three degrees, one feels properly a keen passion and deep appreciation for his alma mater. Working with four UC presidents enabled me to learn instinctively what to do -- and not do. Leading Kearney State College into the Nebraska state system was the apex of my career. None of it would have been possible without the excellent faculty and my caring mentors at UC.

PRESIDENT HENRY WINKLER, A&S ’38, MA (A&S) ’40, Honorary ’87, who was mentioned in our July 2003 story, is the only alumnus to have served as president of the University of Cincinnati. His administration (’77-84) followed that of Warren Bennis and preceded Joseph Steger’s.

Visit the offices of the president emeritus and history professor emeritus

DALE ALSPAUGH, Eng ’55, served as chancellor from ’82-99 of Purdue University North Central, Westville, Ind. He died in July 2004 at the age of 72. In a conversation with Cincinnati Horizons early last year, the chancellor emeritus called himself fortunate, saying that UC had prepared him well for both his work as a professor and as an academic leader. “I’m filled with wonderful memories of UC,” Alspaugh said.

We were unable to reach two alumni leaders for comment:

CARLOS SOTO, PhD (Ed) ’92, who has been president since January ’99 of Hillsborough Community College, Fla., and RONALD TEMPLE, MA (A&S) ’65, PhD (A&S) ’85, chancellor from ’99-04, Peralta Community College District, Calif..

Read about another 13 UC alumni presidents of colleges and universities