New VP Ready to Land

September 29, 2003

Heather Heilman
Phone: (504) 865-5714

Cynthia Cherrey traded in the perfect weather of southern California for the rain and steam of New Orleans in August when she took over the job of Tulane's vice president for student affairs, filling a position long held by Martha Sullivan.

CherreyShe comes to Tulane from the University of Southern California, where she spent 12 years as a faculty member and administrator.

"To me there's no better place to be than a college campus," she said. "It's engaging and stimulating, intellectually and socially. That's one of the reasons why I got into this business."

She was responsible for a broad range of programs and projects at the University of Southern California, from student activities to the planning of a new campus center, health center and an international-theme residential college.

She also taught in the university's Rossier School of Education and the Annenberg School of Communication. And she is, well, a leader in the field of leadership, serving as executive director of the International Leadership Association.

She is a senior fellow of the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, the recipient of a J.W. Fulbright scholarship and co-author and co-editor of several books on leadership, most recently completing her second book, The Web of Leadership: Leading in a Networked World.

"There are natural tie-ins between my leadership research and the programs we offer in student affairs," she said. "We are developing in students the capacity to lead and work in a global society."

Conferences and meetings brought her to New Orleans, and with each visit she found herself more and more interested in and attracted to the city. But what drew her to Tulane was a certain sense of excitement on campus and positive word-of-mouth from students, alumni, faculty and staff.

"This is a great institution with an ambitious agenda to become even greater," she said. She arrives at Tulane as big changes are under way on campus. Not long after she welcomes a larger-than-expected freshman class to campus and gets them settled into their residence halls, she will be packing up and moving her office in preparation for the University Center renovation. She will also oversee the construction of the new residence hall that will be going up on the former site of Zemurray Hall.

"Beyond that, I want to immerse myself in the culture of Tulane," she said. "I want to get to know the students, faculty and staff so I can understand how best to design programs and address issues that reach beyond the classroom and expand the academic experience of our students."

Her overarching goal is to help students have a "seamless" learning experienceone that integrates their experiences in and out of the classroom. "Our students have the privilege of being at a university in the midst of the culturally rich community of New Orleans," she said. "We want to help them make the most of the opportunities available here, and to understand their responsibility to give back to the community."

Her own experiences in the community thus far have been overwhelmingly positive. She bought a house uptown near campus and has found everyone she's dealt with to be warm, inviting and even efficient -- and, not surprisingly, a bit obsessed with food. "I've noticed everyone I talk to has a favorite restaurant they insist I have to try," she said. "It's a good thing I like to work out because I also love to eat."

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000