Cabrini’s educational mission as a Catholic liberal education led a Nebraska University’s interim dean to apply for the position of Cabrini’s next vice president for academic affairs and provost .
“I want to be a part of a place (like Cabrini) that is working towards making a positive impact on society,” Dr. Peter Heckman, interim dean for the college of liberal arts and sciences at Nebraska Wesleyan University, said.
Heckman is one of two candidates under consideration to fill the role of vice president and provost. He visited campus on Wednesday, March 10, to meet with Cabrini faculty, staff and students. Heckman discussed his credentials and interest in Cabrini to its student leaders. He said that he is most interested in Cabrini because of its piloted Justice Matters curriculum.
“It embodies the charism of Mother Cabrini in a tangible manner,” Heckman said. “The fact that faculty made it and support it is impressive.”
Heckman wants to help implement and work on the specifics of this new program. He also explained that Dr. Marie George, Cabrini College president, impressed him.
“She even went to Guatemala, which was nuts,” Heckman joked. He believes that he would learn a lot from working alongside George.
Heckman listed Cabrini’s main challenges that would need to be addressed if chosen for the position. Serving in the interim dean role at Wesleyan University has given, what he believes to be, the needed experience to correct them. According to Heckman there are a lot of enrollment issues, especially regarding retention. “Your retention rate is simply unacceptable,” Heckman said.
He attributes his university’s 80 percent retention rate to its outreach programs to commuter students, mentors for transfer students, a CARE TEAM, which talks about struggling students and continually addressing curricular obstacles. These could be possible solutions to fixing Cabrini’s retention rate.
Heckman believes, however, that Justice Matters will gradually help enrollment. “Justice Matters is bold and brave and is going to make an impact on enrollment. It will build over time,” Heckman said.
Another issue of concern to Heckman was the poor full-time faculty to adjunct faculty ratio. Heckman would also want to make sure that the Cabrinian ethos has been properly established within its Masters Program. Other issues of concern included resource pressure, lack of diversity and spacial expansion.
He ultimately believes that Cabrini is the right fit for him. Heckman said that Cabrini is a special school, as exemplified by its faculty.
“This is not your everyday faculty, they are really committed,” Heckman said. “This is the right kind of education that I want to be involved with.”