Vice president of academic affairs to retire at year’s end

By Amanda Carson
September 25, 2008

At the fall semester opening convocation, Cabrini College President Dr. Marie George announced that Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Jonnie Guerra would retire at the close of the 2008-2009 academic year.

“I’m not retiring from Cabrini, I’m retiring from academic administration,” Guerra later said. Since coming to Cabrini in 1999, Guerra has been active with the oversight of curriculum and faculty, new program development, enrollment and many other tasks.

Guerra is credited with the development of The Hamilton Family Communications Center and the Antoinette Iadarola Center for Science, Education and Technology. Guerra said that her involvement with the Iadarola Center spanned “all the way from dreaming what it would be like, to dedicating it.”

In a later statement released to the college community, George announced the elevation of Guerra to the position of provost and implementation of a strategic plan. George stated that she has established “a timeline for a nation-wide search to have a new provost/vice president for academic affairs in place for the 2010-2011 academic year.”

George has also appointed Dr. Charles McCormick, dean of academic affairs, to serve as interim provost and vice president of academic affairs for one year starting July 1, 2009. A full time faculty member will take over the current duties of Dean McCormick.

McCormick expressed sadness over Guerra’s retirement, as she has been a “tremendous mentor” for him. “It will be a big loss for Cabrini. We’ll all feel her absence,” McCormick said.

During his one-year term as interim provost and vice president, McCormick plans to focus on the transition from the current core curriculum to a general education program that will “help students understand their Cabrini College education.”

McCormick will also concentrate on the Title III Grant that, for two years, he has worked with Guerra on. This $2 million Federal Government grant has helped establish the Center for Teaching and Learning and assists in faculty development initiatives. McCormick is excited and nervous to take on his new temporary position and said that “the next provost and vice president of academic affairs will have big shoes to fill. I hope I can fill those shoes.”

During her last year as provost/ vice president, Guerra will be concentrating on undergraduate enrollment and decreasing retention rate. “I’m very disturbed [by the decreasing rate],”Guerra said.

Reflecting on her time spent at Cabrini, Guerra has experienced what she considers her “best professional experience.” Amid her many contributions to Cabrini, Guerra shared that her greatest accomplishment was “hiring faculty who share in dedication to students,” and referred to this as Cabrini’s “proud legacy.” If she could have done something differently while serving as vice president, Guerra said that she “would not have moved the faculty offices out of Grace Hall.”

Guerra’s professional achievements have extended outside the Cabrini College Community, as demonstrated by her 2007 recognition as Distinguished Alumna from Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts. This honor “was unbelievable,” Guerra said as she pointed at a colorful award displayed in her office.

During retirement, Guerra plans on cooking, traveling nationally and abroad, attending service trips and writing. Guerra might also work on overcoming a struggle that many of her colleagues don’t know about: “I can’t climb a rope,” she said laughing. Guerra will possibly get to enjoy her interest, unknown to many, of women’s basketball.

Her favorite team “is the Purdue Boilermakers,” Guerra said, yet after a brief pause continued to say, “of course after the Cabrini Cavaliers.” Most exciting to Guerra, however, will be the ability to dedicate more time to her passion, The Emily Dickinson International Society. In this society, Guerra currently serves as chair of the membership committee.

A celebration of Guerra’s time at Cabrini College is said to take place at the end of spring semester. Sad to be leaving, Guerra summed up her time at Cabrini College as being “a wonderful experience.” Optimistic about her retirement Guerra said, “I can’t see the path ahead of me, but whatever challenges and opportunities present themselves, I plan on taking them.

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Amanda Carson

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