New Structure Spurs Innovation at Gannon University

Posted: May 2, 2017

New challenges and opportunities changing the landscape of higher education call for new and creative responses. At Gannon University, an innovation in the way that new ideas in academics are planned and implemented will prepare the University to capture opportunities and bring them to students with greater speed and effectiveness.

A highlight of this new approach is the rethinking of the Office of Academic Affairs with Steven Mauro, Ph.D. serving as vice president for academic administration and Walter Iwanenko, Jr., Ph.D. as vice president for academic affairs. 

The new office was formed in recognition of the accelerating pace of growth in academic programs at Gannon, and created by the demand for new programs and initiatives. The goal was to create parallel paths to innovation and to shepherd multiple high-impact projects to completion so that they can be offered to students. Evidence of the effectiveness of this new approach will be on display at the upcoming commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 6, which is expected to be one of the largest in the University's history.

Mauro and Iwanenko each bring unique and complementary strengths to their respective responsibilities. Mauro reviews current data and assessment results to recommend the creation and implementation of new programs and procedures and the optimization of current programs and procedures. Iwanenko evaluates these recommendations and manages the process that brings them to Gannon's growing portfolio of program offerings.

"What we've done at Gannon University is to turn the vertical structure of the provost's function into a horizontal structure," Mauro said. Iwanenko added, "This is not a hierarchy but a partnership that helps us pay attention to the important things, namely people: our students, faculty and staff."

The recent formation of the Our West Bayfront community initiative was illustrative of the advantage of the new University structure. "Within a single semester, we formed a corporation, approved bylaws, did a nationwide search and hired an executive director," said Iwanenko, who oversees the University's community and government relations functions. Mauro added, "If there weren't two of us, we couldn't have assisted with the advancement of this project while also creating new academic programs at our Ruskin, Florida, campus and making progress on other projects."

"This new structure allows us to work on the quality of the education and support the hundreds of people here, faculty and staff, who deliver a memorable Gannon University experience for our students," Iwanenko said.