Meet the dean of Lumpkin College, Austin Cheney

Meet the dean of Lumpkin College, Austin Cheney

Staff Report

Where did you receive your degrees from? 

I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Dayton, a Ph.D. in Management of Technology from Vanderbilt University, and an MBA from EIU.

If we saw your music playlist, what would the top five songs be? 

I like a lot of different kinds of music, and what I have on a playlist will change based on what I happen to be “hooked on” at the moment.  I listen to soft rock, hard rock, pop, country, and Christian mostly, but I also listen to country, blues, jazz, and rap, among others.

Where is your favorite place on campus? 

My favorite place on campus is not so much a physical location as it is when a large group of students, faculty, staff and/or alumni are gathered to celebrate or achieve something together.  I can be academic, sports, or community related – doesn’t matter to me.

What is a place in Charleston you think everyone should know about? 

Everyone should know about the outdoor opportunities.  If I had to pick a location, it would be Lake Charleston and the surrounding area (including the Embarras River).  You can do walking, hiking, biking, fishing, bird-watching, kayaking, etc.

Who is someone you admire in your field and why?

I can interpret “field” as my area academic expertise or a professional career in higher ed.  I can name one of fulfills both – Dr. Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University is both an accomplished researcher in the management of technology field and has been an innovator for many years as a leader in higher ed.  From a personal, professional journey, I have been blessed with several supervisors who have helped me to grow throughout my career and am thankful for their guidance and support.

Why did you go into the field you’re in? 

Doctoral studies were later in my career, and the MBA after that.  Early on, I had an interest in how technology and business intertwined, and that has manifested with the degrees I’ve chosen after completing my engineering master’s.

What positions have you held during your career in higher education?

I’ve worked four higher education institutions in four different states: Ohio, Tennessee, New York, and Illinois, ranging from a two-year technical college to a university with doctoral programs, holding positions as Program Coordinator, Program Director, Chair, Associate Dean, and Dean.  I also served as the Interim Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars at EIU for about eight months while I was Chair of the School of Technology.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your current position?

It’s always been about helping others throughout my career in higher ed.  That rewarding part of the job has not changed in any position I have held – just the scope of those you’re helping has changed over the years.  But the goal is always student centeredness!

What are the most challenging aspects of your position?

Probably the most challenging/frustrating aspect is that we don’t always have the resources to support all our desired initiatives, whether at the individual level or for something that can impact many.

What advice would you give to students in your department for their college careers? 

Attend class, complete your assignments to the best of your ability, and study, as a foundation.  Beyond that – GROW.  You will likely not have the same amount of time to focus on investing in yourself outside of pursuing a degree.  Get involved on campus both in academic and non-academic organizations, pursue leadership opportunities, read for personal and professional development, do at least one internship, and study abroad at some point.  You will not regret it, and years later you will reminisce!

What is your number one goal for your students? 

I want Lumpkin College students to graduate and have personal and professional success.  “Success” means something different to everyone, but I mean for each student to have a personal and professional life that is rewarding to THEM.

The News Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]