College names Ohio educator as Interim Provost

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Cheryl B. Torsney

NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz announces the appointment of Cheryl B. Torsney, most recently the Vice President and Dean of the College at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at New Paltz, effective July 15. Torsney will serve as Interim Provost for the 2011-12 academic year, while the College conducts a national search for a new Provost.

In this role, she will serve as the College’s chief academic officer in addition to being a member of the President’s executive management team. Reporting directly to the President in her dual role as Provost/Vice President, she is responsible for the five instructional divisions, The Graduate School, the Sojourner Truth Library, Academic Advising, Center for International Programs, Sponsored Programs, the Honors Program, and the Center for Teaching and Learning. In addition, she will oversee the academic affairs budget, and work with faculty, governance groups, and other administrators to develop academic policies and standards.

As Interim Provost, Torsney will be the chief personnel officer for academic employees, including responsibility for hiring and evaluating faculty and also ensuring together with the faculty that the New Paltz curriculum is relevant, timely and adequately supported. There are 325 full-time faculty and 325 part-time faculty at New Paltz.

“Dr. Torsney has an ideal background, administrative experience, and capability to lead the academic mission of New Paltz during this important transitional period, said President Donald Christian. I am pleased that she has agreed to join us for the coming year.”

Said Torsney: “I’m impressed by the activity and energy at the College and am excited to be partnering with President Donald Christian and the entire SUNY New Paltz community. As a life-long liberal arts advocate, I welcome the opportunity to help the College achieve the goals the President has set for the institution. My husband, Eric Hansmann, and I also look forward to exploring Ulster County and learning more about the long history of the College.”

As Vice President and Dean of the College at Hiram College from 2009 to 2011, Torsney increased the College’s revenue stream through developing summer programs; ensured reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission; secured Carnegie “Engaged Institution” designation; initiated and restructured the promotion and tenure process; reinstated the foreign language requirement for graduation; and facilitated approval of online programs through the Academic Program Committee. In addition, she increased enrollment of ROTC/AFROTC and veteran students, created a Veterans Resource Center and a Hillel chapter, which was named outstanding student diversity club.

Prior to this position, Torsney was associate provost for academic programs at West Virginia University from 2003 to 2009. In this role, she improved retention rates, transformed the Honors College, which experienced a 300% growth, and oversaw the university’s 10-year reaccreditation. Under her leadership, the university received accolades from the Higher Learning Commission for its “notable success in its turn-around with assessment.”

Torsney’s academic discipline is English. She has held teaching positions at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., (1983-85), West Virginia University (1985-2009) and Hiram College (2009-11). Her current research focuses on the benefits and uses of a liberal arts education and American literature, particularly the works of Henry James. Torsney has published extensively in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals. She has taught courses on the novel and short story, Jewish-American women writers, fiction for adolescents and the woman writer as artist.

She received her B.A. in English and French, cum laude, from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.; her M.A. in English from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La.; and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.

Torsney succeeds Dr. Laurel Garrick Duhaney, who served as Interim Provost during the 2010-11 academic year, after Chancellor Nancy Zimpher appointed then Provost Donald P. Christian serve as Interim President beginning July 2010. Garrick Duhaney is returning to her position as Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.