DR. Lara Luetkehans Selected for IUP Provost Role

Following a national search, Dr. Lara Luetkehans has been selected by IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll to serve in the role of provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Dr. Luetkehans was named interim provost in July 2021 and served in the interim role following the August retirement of Dr. Timothy Moerland. Dr. Luetkehans came to the interim provost role from her work as dean of the College of Education and Communications.

She began in the permanent position on May 7.

“Dr. Luetkehans is a proven leader, who listens well, building strong teams to drive progress,” Dr. Driscoll said. “She has an ambitious plan to represent academic affairs and to move IUP toward a bright future.

“Her broad and deep experience in higher education has earned the respect of her colleagues – faculty, staff, deans, cabinet, and students,” he said. “She will hit the ground running to lead positive change.” 

“I want to offer my thanks to the search committee and to search committee co-chairs Dr. Anne Kondo and Bill Balint,” he said. “The committee did an excellent job in moving qualified candidates forward, and in involving members of the community in the interview process,” he said.

Dr. Luetkehans joined the IUP community in July 2013.

“I’m honored to have been selected for this position,” Dr. Luetkehans said. “I want to thank President Driscoll and my colleagues on cabinet for their support during my time as interim, and for their confidence in me to serve as provost and vice president for academic affairs,” she said.

“Having the opportunity to serve in the interim role, and before that, as dean, I am well aware of the critical importance of choosing the next right steps. We are facing a time when we must work together to shape the future of this university in new and innovative ways.

“Serving on the university leadership team, especially in the Division of Academic Affairs where a great deal of this work must take place, is a humbling responsibility,” she said. “However, I am confident that by working together and keeping our focus on our students, we will make the necessary progress toward our vision, because we have talented, hard-working and dedicated faculty and staff who are fully committed to a culture where student success is at the core of all that we do.

“Our immediate next steps are guided by the Impact Areas of the IUP Strategic Plan,” she said.

“Focusing initially on our students’ readiness and academic success, we will continue the work of the cross-divisional committees examining and improving the relationship we establish with prospective students from the time of admission through their arrival on campus for Welcome Week,” she said.

“We are investing in strengthening the faculty-student advising relationship with professional development for faculty through Summer Academies and making available a functional suite of technology tools for program planning, monitoring student progress, and communication. 

“We will continue working within and across academic programs to ensure that we deliver curricula to provide our students with the critical knowledge and skills they need to meet their goals. Our strategy to support student success will be to identify the barriers our students face and work cross divisionally to remove as many of those barriers as possible,” she said.

“Change is hard, and sometimes overwhelming, but I know we can work through it and build even stronger working relationships with one another and with our students. We have done a great deal of the heavy lifting already, including the heartbreaking work of reducing personnel while continuing to meet the needs of our students. Students will remain at the forefront of all that we do, and I will be working to communicate that commitment to our students as we move forward together.

“I also want to thank Dr. Sue Reig for her continued good work as interim dean of the College of Education and Communications, and her team, who continues to do great things for our students and the programs and initiatives in the College,” Dr. Luetkehans said.

Interim Dean Rieg will continue in her role until a national search for a permanent dean is conducted.

Since coming to IUP, Dr. Luetkehans has led many initiatives as dean to advance the College of Education and Communications, including a 2017 name change as a result of work to rebuild and rebrand the College. She has championed the College’s commitment to diversity and inclusion with a number of innovative initiatives, including creating a taskforce that built the College’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan; this taskforce later evolved into the Diversity and Inclusion Standing Committee of the College.

For the last five years, she has partnered with the Office of International Education for an immersive professional development program for international teachers, which has provided more than $1 million in grant funds to IUP for the program. She also has successfully guided her college through a number of professional accreditations and reaffirmation of accreditations.

In her role as interim provost, she supported the efforts of the IUP NextGen Coordinating Councils to gather university-wide input and will be working with her team to determine best next steps.

“IUP NextGen Co-chairs, Dr. Karen Rose Cercone and Dr. Hilliary Creely, did a tremendous job facilitating the five IUP NextGen Coordinating Councils,” Dr. Luetkehans said. “These Coordinating Councils engaged a large cross-section of our campus community to generate more than 130 recommendations aligned with our Strategic Plan to guide IUP into the future.

“We have a great deal of suggestions and ideas to sort through, and from here, new and existing university committees will commence, some beginning this summer, to bring these recommendations to fruition,” she said.

As interim provost, Luetkehans has continued to work to move the Strategic Plan forward. Together with the college deans and academic program faculty, there has been a tremendous amount of work finding operational and curricular efficiencies. She is also leading a work group to explore the three-year baccalaureate degree in specific disciplines.

Dr. Luetkehans came to IUP from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb where she served as a department chair and faculty in Educational Technology, Research and Assessment. She earned her doctorate in instructional technology from the University of Georgia in Athens, her master’s in library and information science from Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., and her bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Loyola University in Chicago.