Vice president of academic affairs receives Distinguished Alumni Award

By Katherine Brachelli
May 3, 2007

Emily Buerger

Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts honored Dr. Jonnie Guerra, vice president for academic affairs, for her exceptional career and her commitment to community service and named her as a Distinguished Alumni.

“I was not expecting the award at all. I had no idea that I had been nominated,” Guerra said.

Other recipients of the Distinguished Alumni by Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts are notables such as C-Span founder Brian Lamb and basketball hall-of-famer John Wooden. In 1975, Guerra earned her master’s degree and in 1981 her doctoral degree in English from Purdue.

A number of academics from around the country wrote letters in support of Guerra’s nomination.

The recommendations came from four professional colleagues from the Emily Dickinson International Society, in which Guerra is an active participant. Also writing in support were Professor Dorothy Deering, a faculty member in the Purdue English department, and President Antoinette Iadarola wrote on behalf of Guerra.

President Iadarola accompanied Guerra to the awards ceremony held at Purdue University. Also, Agnes Lokke, the former director of Purdue’s business writing program when Guerra was a student and teaching assistant at Purdue, was also present to support Guerra at the awards ceremony.

Guerra has spent her entire career in higher education. Since 1992, she has served in academic administrative posts at Walsh College, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and Cabrini. Guerra began working as vice president for academic affairs at Cabrini College in July of 1999.

“The best part of this job is watching people grow and helping them find opportunities that are good for them and the students at the college,” Guerra said.

Guerra played a key role in the planning of the Center for Science, Education and Technology and the Hamilton Family Communications Center. Now Guerra is directing the project “Strengthening Undergraduate Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom,” funded by a $1.9 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Currently, Guerra is working with faculty in completing the program design for a new “Collaboratory,” the future Cabrini library.

In addition, Guerra is a scholar of American literature with a special focus on Emily Dickinson. Guerra was selected by the Emily Dickinson International Society to direct its first international conference. She joined the society’s Board of Directors in 1992, and served as president from 2000 to 2004. Since 1994, she has been editor of “Poet to Poet,” a regular feature in the society’s bulletin about poets influenced by Dickinson. Eventually, Guerra would like to teach a course on Emily Dickinson at Cabrini.

Katherine Brachelli

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