Dr. Lara Luetkehans is now serving in the interim provost position at IUP after Timothy Moerland retired on Aug. 20.
Moerland retired from the position and helped Luetkehans with the transition. Last year, Luetkehans was participating in a professional development program for higher education leaders and Moerland was her mentor.
“Our learning never ends,” Luetkehans said. “We’re always growing.”
The provost is the chief academic officer for IUP. She leads the division of academic affairs which are all of the academic colleges, the university college and offices. These would include offices such as the career planning and professional development office.
“I try to be an approachable person, and I try to relate to people and try to lead with empathy,” Luetkehans said. “I think that helps with building community.”
This role suits Luetkehans because she is committed to building the IUP community. Sharing vision, strategies and making sure people know that they can communicate were some things that she said will help rebuild IUP.
She works closely with the academic deans, provost associate and an associate vice president. Working with other leaders in the division gives it a collaborative process.
An interim position means that it is a one-year position. IUP will be doing a national search for a provost this coming year. Luetkehans’ role is to focus on four goals that President Michael Driscoll gave her.
A primary goal is to lead the IUP NextGen transformation. Another goal is to reengage the community and the academic side of things. Luetkehans wants people to feel like a part of and the future of the institution of the university.
In addition, Luetkehans wants to look at some of the structures and operations of the colleges.
IUP is her academic home, and she likes to be here because she can relate to the students.
“A lot of our students are first-generation students and are navigating higher education for the first in their family,” Luetkehans said.
Luetkehans loves watching the students mature and grow into their careers. In addition, she appreciates the relationship between the institution and the community.
“We have tremendous faculty who are really committed to students with a teacher-scholar model,” Luetkehans said.
She added that this is important for the faculty to be here to teach and help students grow professionally and personally.
There is a strong commitment to teaching, but the faculty also highly values research. Luetkehans explained that IUP is different from other institutions because it does not just focus on teaching.
“I love the balance that IUP creates for faculty careers,” Luetkehans said.
Her education began with an undergraduate degree in philosophy. Luetkehans became an academic librarian and she got her master’s degree in library science. She was working as a media librarian at Medical College of Georgia.
“I was really interested in how medical students were using media to learn, and that’s what led me to my doctoral degree in instructional design and technology,” Luetkehans said.
Individual differences in learning and how technology could be used to address individual differences were always fascinating to Luetkehans.
While Luetkehans was working there, she got her doctorate in structural design and technology at the University of Georgia. When she took her first faculty position at Northern Illinois University, she worked there for 17 years and then came to IUP as the Dean of College in Education and Communications. She continued her career as a dean for the last eight years until she had the opportunity to serve the interim provost position at IUP.
Luetkehans expressed the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in order to make IUP a welcoming place for all students, faculty and staff.