Dr. Cheryl Green formally installed as GSU’s 6th president

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Photo courtesy of GSU

Dr. Green addresses the audience during her investiture ceremony.

Nuha Abdessalam, Phoenix Staff Writer

In a ceremony draped in academic regalia and pageantry, Dr. Cheryl Green officially accepted the mantle as the sixth president of Governors State University in her investiture ceremony on Friday, Sept. 17.  

Surrounded on the stage of the Center for Performing Arts by political and educational luminaries, Dr. Green was praised repeatedly as an advocate for students, an academic leader and an innovator. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker lauded Dr. Green’s work in a video message before the honored guests on the stage created a chorus of approval. John Atkinson, the chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, called her a tireless advocate for undeserved students in Illinois, especially Black and brown students.  

Illinois Sen. Patrick Joyce, Lisa M Harrel, chair of the GSU Board of Trustees, and Dr. Andrew Leavitt, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh all hailed Dr. Green’s leadership abilities.  

Other speakers were Dr. Marlon Cummings, GSU Faculty Senate president; Sheryl Jones-Harper, Civil Service Senate president; Ruben Lopez, Student Senate president; and Dr. David McFadden, president of Manchester University. Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover, president of Tennessee State University also spoke by video. 

In her acceptance speech, Dr. Green outlined her vision for GSU, including several initiatives designed to advance the university both academically and socially.  

The first proposal was a plan to improve the university’s visibility by branding through aggressive marketing, outreach campaigns, and engagement activities. 

The second was to expand the resources and opportunities for faculty members to gain experience and increase academic excellence through a variety of corporate partnerships, legislative collaborations, and research practices. 

The third calls for urgently expanding the extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities for students in order to enhance the holistic student experience, academic achievement, and student development success. 

The Center for Performing Arts had opened its doors to all GSU students, faculty, and staff to join in the celebration. The audience – as full as it could be in light of COVID precautions – embraced her proposals enthusiastically. The cheers and applause demonstrating the respect and affection students and faculty have for Dr. Green.  

GSU’s new president shared how each educational institution in her path – from Schmid Elementary through her doctoral work at Southern Illinois University – played a pivotal role in developing her academic philosophy.  

“Education is a tool,” she said. “It’s a tool of empowerment, transformation, and enlightenment, for unserved, traditional, nontraditional, underrepresented, and disenfranchised individuals. It is a path for upward social mobility and economic change.”  

She said it is vital to provide all students access to a high quality, affordable, globally focused experience, “like the one we offer here at Governor State University.” 

“The very history of GSU,” Dr. Green said, “inherently originated in social developments, cultural relevancy … as a haven for all people, irrespective of their ethnic identities, social class, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, and primary or secondary language to come together to study, to learn, to live, to worship, to love, and to build a better society for ourselves, for our families, and our communities. GSU is still living true to its founding innovations.” 

She told the students in the audience: “You can succeed at Governors State University, and we will help you realize your dream of a college education here. Give us your best efforts, and I promise you we will give you ours.”  

(Editor’s note: This is an updated version of the Phoenix news story about Dr. Green’s investiture.)