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EIU Media Relations

EIU’s Cheney named American Council on Education Fellow


Washington — The American Council on Education (ACE) announced that Dean of Eastern Illinois University’s Lumpkin College of Business and Technology Dr. Austin Cheney has been named an ACE Fellow for academic year 2023-24. Following nomination by the senior administration of their institutions and a rigorous application process, 36 Fellows were selected this year—a full list of Fellows is available here

Since its inception in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program has strengthened institutions in American higher education by identifying and preparing over 2,500 faculty, staff, and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership through its distinctive and intensive cohort-based mentorship model. Of the Fellows who have participated to date, more than 80 percent have gone on after their fellowship to serve as chief executive officers, chief academic officers, other cabinet-level positions, and deans.

“The ACE Fellows Program has a proven track record of developing agile leaders, and it fuels the expansion of a talented and diverse higher education leadership pipeline,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “ACE Fellows engage in unique learning experiences before returning to their home campuses armed with a fresh outlook and distinct skillset. I am excited to see all that this class accomplishes.”

“It is truly an honor and privilege to be recognized as an ACE Fellow,” Cheney said. “I am grateful and appreciative to have been acknowledged alongside so many other qualified honorees, and I am pleased this achievement will bring additional recognition to the Lumpkin College of Business and Technology and to Eastern Illinois University. Finally, I’m so grateful for the immense support I’ve received from Provost Gatrell and several colleagues who wrote letters of support for this fellowship, including Dr. Laretta Henderson, Dr. Robert Augustine, Dr. Jill Bowers, and Zachary Newell.”

The Fellows program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses and other higher education-related organizations, and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year. During the placement, Fellows observe and work with the president and other senior officers at their host institutions, attend decision-making meetings, and focus on issues of interest. Fellows also conduct projects of pressing concern for their home institutions and seek to implement their findings upon completion of the fellowship placement. At the conclusion of the fellowship year, Fellows return to their home institutions with new knowledge and skills that contribute to capacity-building efforts, along with a network of peers across the country and abroad. 

Cheney was appointed Dean of the Lumpkin College of Business & Technology on July 1, 2019. The college consists of a School of Technology and a School of Business with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accredited programs and specialized accounting accreditation. As of fall, 2022, college enrollment has increased 45%, multiple computer labs have been upgraded, a new Student Hub for Engagement, Leadership, and Professionalism was created, and two new alumni boards were formed—the Lumpkin Executive Advisers to the Dean and Graduates of the Last Decade.

Cheney originally joined EIU in 2013 as Chair of the School of Technology (SOT). SOT embarked on a significant program expansion during his tenure, creating new baccalaureate programs in Computer & Information Technology, Construction Management, Engineering Technology, and Digital Media Technology. The school also offers an online degree in Organizational Development. At the master’s level, newer online programs include Cybersecurity and Talent Development, in addition to an existing M.S. in Technology. Additionally, Cheney served 7 months as Interim Director of the Office of International Students & Scholars in 2017. He received the William G. Kirk International Leadership Award at EIU in 2016, a Distinguished Service Award from the Electronic Components Industry Association and served as a Visiting Professor at Dalian Polytechnic University.

Prior to joining EIU, Dr. Cheney served in various positions at Alfred State College in New York, Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro), and Rhodes State College, in Lima, Ohio. He has a Ph.D. in Management of Technology from Vanderbilt University, Bachelor and Master of Mechanical Engineering degrees from the University of Dayton, an MBA from Eastern Illinois University, and is a registered professional engineer in Ohio.

EIU is home to two prior ACE Fellows—Drs. Laretta Henderson and Jay Gatrell, current Dean of the College of Education and Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs, respectively.



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