The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Women in Prominent Positions: Vice Chancellor Dr. Ilene Sheffer

Posted by iusbvision on November 21, 2006

Do you think an event where students get to meet and address their concerns directly to the Chancellor is a black-tie event, packed to the brim with formalities? Not under Dr Ilene Sheffer’s watch, where it is called “Chow with the Chancellor” – inspired from a like event, created at her previous university, called “Pizza with the President”. “As you can see, I like alliteration,” she says, chuckling. In Dr Sheffer there is that very combination of serious issues and an informal flair that puts people at ease, vital for her role as the Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs and University Advancement.

Currently in her fourth year at IUSB, Dr Sheffer has a two-fold mission. In the arena of Public Affairs she addresses criticisms, as well as the individual needs of the students. As for University Advancement her efforts are to promote the institution to continue to garner funds for the development of IUSB.  In her own words, her mission is to “put the campus’s best foot forward… and putting forward the university’s story.”

A picture may be worth a million words, but in this case, words – in way of stories we can be proud of – can be worth millions too, for the benefit of further education. In the twenty years prior to the creation of the Division of Public Affairs and University Advancement, 9.9 million dollars was raised, but in the mere three and a half years the Division has been around, the figure adds up to an additional 7.8 million dollars raised.

Where does this money go? Some of it goes to the general development of the university – people may be surprised to know that tuition and state funds do not completely cover the costs of running an institution like IUSB. Other parts of it have far more visible results, like the Elkhart Center, an IUSB university center that covers some 24,000 square feet and is due to be open next fall.

Efforts and achievements such as these come from Dr Sheffer’s career in education spanning some 30 years – starting as a kindergarten teacher, then later a secondary school principal, followed by being Vice President at Southwestern Michigan College before arriving here at IUSB. When asked about the uniqueness and characteristics of women in prominent positions, Dr Sheffer says that to women, multi-tasking is second nature. “We can juggle family, and job, and civic work, with great aplomb” she says.

The shelves in her office are some indication of that very multitasking; rows of thick official binders of university work are neighbors with pictures of family (as well as one with donor, Muhammad Ali)… and shoes.  Lining two shelves are half a dozen decorated shoes, some miniature and some life-sized, with glitter and sparkle and small American flags. Collecting shoes is one of her passions, and these are among gifts from people at her previous institution. When she came here, Dr Sheffer ensured she brought to her office the ones which had IUSB colors, crimson and cream.

Dr Sheffer and Chancellor Reck share a similar vision, to be open to criticism and “inherit something that may not be perfect, with the true desire to make it better by the time you leave.” A prominent plan uniquely unfolds myriad multitasking… apparently alliteration’s addictive!

Andrew Filmer
Graphics Editor

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