Business and Public Management Center
50 Sharpless Street
West Chester, PA 19383
Name: Kathy Koval
Position: Assistant Dean, Director of Business and Public Management Programs
Name: Cindy Cheyney
Position: Assistant Dean
Name: Laurie Christie
Position: Administrative Assistant to the Dean
Name: Danah Allen
Position: Communications and Impact Coordinator
Name: Julie Ferris
Position: Administrative Assistant
How did you first learn about WCU?
"It's an interesting story. During my search for a tenure track position, I posted my curriculum vitae on The American Political Science Association (APSA) website. I remember Dr. Peter Loedel, who was then the chair of the Political Science Department, contacting me because my dossier indicated a balance of public administration and urban affairs expertise. At the time, the department was seeking a scholar who could teach urban politics as well as provide instruction in the Master of Science in Administration (MSA) program, the predecessor to the Master of Public Administration program (MPA). Peter asked if I'd be interested in interviewing with faculty from the department during the APSA annual conference in Boston. Given the fit, I accepted the opportunity to interview with Dr. Lorraine Bernotsky, who was the director of the MSA at the time. It has been nine years since that interview."
What drew you to WCU originally?
"In preparing for the search, I familiarized myself with the mission of WCU, which focused on providing access to public higher education. I'm a product of public higher education, and I know from experience that education is the great equalizer. I come from a background of very modest means, and I understand that I am where I am in life because I've had educational opportunities designed for individuals like myself. WCU is a teaching institution and it was clear that the university was very proud of its access mission, which is why I felt connected to the institution even before arriving on campus. I was equally intrigued by the department's mission statement, which focused on experiential learning and emphasized student success. I remember sitting down with Dr. Bernotsky and Dr. Chris Stangl and they asked me, 'Why West Chester?' I said that, while I've never been to West Chester, I feel this great affinity for the mission of the institution and for the mission of the department. I still remember coming into the town of West Chester for the first time and falling in love with the quintessential collegiate architecture of the campus. I welcomed the tight-knit feeling between the faculty and the students. West Chester has been able to hold onto this despite the fact that we're now very close to meeting our strategic goal of 17,000 students."
What do you like best about working at WCU and/or for CBPM?
"WCU's strong connection to the community engages me from year to year. There are so many aspects of this university that link us directly to the people we serve in very meaningful ways. We've had the Business Technology Center, along with the Center for Social and Economic Policy Research. We've had exemplary deans like Dean Patrick and Dean Fiorentino, who have valued applied research. I think the most significant highlight of CBPM is that everything that we're accomplishing, from teaching students to producing research that is valuable for our community, has an impact on the quality of life of the citizens in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This is central to everything that we do here. A public university that values translating academic knowledge and theory into something practical for its citizens is a university that is wisely using its resources and is being a responsible steward."
Does any particular moment standout as being your favorite since working at WCU?
"My standout moment would have to be when the MPA earned Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) accreditation. When I joined the college, I remember the pride with which the business faculty spoke of AASCB accreditation. It was an endeavor that brought together a group of departments and created a family-like atmosphere among departments and colleagues. It was then that I realized that accreditation could do more than indicate quality; it has the ability to create community. Accreditation is a complex and appropriately difficult process where an outside entity evaluates your program and determines whether or not you meet the highest standards of a profession in terms of education within a particular profession or discipline. I wanted to not only demonstrate to the profession that WCU had an MPA program worthy of accreditation, but that we had met the standard set by our colleagues in the School of Business. Because of this, one of my standout moments since coming here was when we became our own Department of Public Policy and Administration and achieved NASPAA Accreditation for our Master's Program. I believe it was a strong sign to our colleagues in the college that we were as committed to accreditation as they were, and they could be as proud of us as we were of them."
What are three words to describe WCU?
"Empowering, Engaging, and Entrepreneurial."
What is the most interesting part about your job?
"I love being able to work with faculty from across institutions, as well as being in a role that enables me to help them achieve their professional goals and serve our students better. I really view my current position as a facilitative role charged with ensuring that the institution's structures and processes are aligned to make faculty and staff feel like they're empowered. It is important to me that faculty and staff have the appropriate resources to achieve everything for themselves, their colleagues, and their students."
What are you most looking forward to in your new position as Interim Dean?
"What's so exciting right now is that we're a new college in the sense that we just became the College of Business and Public Management. We have an opportunity to define who we are today. We can find the synergies that exist within these very cohesive units that share a lot of theoretical underpinnings and philosophies. I'm really excited that we have a chance to chart a new path for ourselves as we prepare for the new dean."
What is your advice to someone just getting started in a new career?
"Opportunities will not just come to you. Individuals have a responsibility to seek out those opportunities that will serve not only their own professional career goals, but the goals of their organizations. An individual who opens himself or herself to potential new responsibilities, new jobs, and is really engaged in life-long learning, is preparing themselves for a limitless array of possibilities. The information we teach students now is the most cutting-edge, innovative knowledge at the time, but the rate of information change is unprecedented. Individuals need to make sure that they're identifying opportunities for continuous improvement and learning because that will allow them to be as successful as they can be in the decades to come."
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
"If I were not in higher-education, I would be an emergency room physician. I love the fast-paced nature of that lifestyle; you're helping someone in their greatest moment of need. Not only are you helping the patient, but you're consoling the family. The dynamic of treating the whole person is appealing to me."