May 13, 2002
02-255

Valdosta State University?s cabinet appointments taking shape innew restructuring

Valdosta State University President Ronald M. Zaccari today submitted to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia the names of Dr. Louis Levy, to become the university's next vice president for Academic Affairs, and Laverne Lewis-Gaskins, to the newly created full-time position of general counsel. Zaccari also announced plans for the creation of a new position titled chief planning officer/assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. All three positions will be at the president's cabinet level.

The appointments of Levy and Lewis-Gaskins are effective July 1, pending final approval at the regents? June meeting.

Zaccari said a nationwide search will begin immediately for the chief planning officer/assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and he hopes to have the position filled by Sept. 1. He also plans to conclude national searches for three dean positions in the College of the Arts, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education by the end of the year.

Levy has spent almost 13 years at VSU as head of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, assistant vice president for academic affairs and currently as acting vice president for academic affairs. He has served in the latter position since June 2000.

?Dr. Levy, during a lengthy period of transition that included significant economic, administrative and academic challenges, has kept Valdosta State University moving forward,? Zaccari said. ?Following our nationwide search, I am very impressed with Dr. Levy's talents, leadership and enthusiasm. He already is a key player in our strategic planning initiative as we work to transform VSU to even greater heights.?

Levy earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, a Master of Science in sociology from Louisiana State University and a doctorate in sociology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

He received the 2001 Public Citizen of the Year Award from the National Association of Social Workers, South Georgia Chapter. Additional honors include the 1999 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Division III Award of Excellence in the Educational Fund-Raising category, given in recognition for a 48 percent increase in contributions in VSU's faculty/staff annual campaign.

?It is really an honor to be asked to serve as vice president for Academic Affairs at Valdosta State University,? Levy said. ?Jerriann [Levy's wife] and I are very excited about this new opportunity.

?We appreciate President Zaccari's vision for shared governance and for planned growth of the university. We are blessed with wonderful students as well as an exceptional faculty and staff. The energy and creativity of these groups will transform our institution and embellish our region.?

Lewis-Gaskins currently serves part-time as the university's special assistant to the president for legal affairs and maintains a private practice law office in Valdosta.

?I am pleased that Laverne Lewis-Gaskins will be able to join our team full-time,? Zaccari said. ?She brings strong legal advice to the daily operations of Valdosta State University and will be a very important player in my administration. I want her to review all policy of the administration in line with federal and state guidelines.?

She received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1982 and a Master of Education in guidance and counseling in 1984 from VSU. In 1992 she received a Juris Doctorate from Florida State University.

Lewis-Gaskins is a member of the Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, the Lowndes County Law Library Board of Trustees and the Valdosta Chapter of the American Red Cross Board.

?I have always felt honored to serve Valdosta State University in my capacity as in-house counsel, and I look forward to the position of general counsel,? Lewis-Gaskins said. ?This office will continue to support the mission of the institution as it progresses to the next level as outlined by President Zaccari while being responsive to the concerns of administrators, faculty members and staff.?

Zaccari said the new position of chief planning officer/assistant vice president for Academic Affairs builds upon the momentum under way as the strategic planning initiative, launched in March, continues to develop. The new position will coordinate a university-wide planning council, which will be a quasi planning retreat group composed of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.

The searches for the new VSU deans had been delayed until the nationwide search for a new vice president for academic affairs could be completed. The College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education have been served over a lengthy period with acting deans. It was announced earlier in the year that a third vacancy would occur Aug. 1, with the retirement of Dr. Lanny Milbrandt, dean of the College of the Arts.

Today's announcement is part of a series of VSU administrative appointments that began on May 2, with the selection of Dr. Kurt J. Keppler as the university's next vice president for Student Affairs. Keppler, who is associate vice president and dean of students at Georgia State University, will join the VSU team on July 22, pending final approval at the regents? June meeting. Under the reorganization, it is expected Keppler will be responsible for all student support systems.